Okay, the last podcast episode was actually number 4, but I promise this one really is number 5!

In the fifth episode of the Legion of Reason, Christine, Twylla, Haysn and Randy look at the recent Shafia “honor killing” guilty verdict and violence that can erupt when values clash. On January 29, in a trial that has received international attention, Afghan immigrants Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed were convicted of the first-degree murder of Mohammed’s three daughters (Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13) along with his other wife Rona Amir Mohammad. The victims’ bodies were found in a car at the bottom of a Kingston Mills, Ontario canal lock. The motive for the killing was the daughters’ unwillingness to kowtow to being the chattel that their religion and former culture says they must be. Yeah, having boyfriends and wearing clothing that might make them attractive is such an awful thing. Taped conversations between the family members was the nail in their coffins, as the daughters were referred to as “treacherous” and “whores”, and said to Tooba, “I say to myself, ‘You did well. Would they come back to life a hundred time, for you to do the same again.’ That is how hurt I am. Tooba they betrayed us immensely.” The only betrayal and dishonor is the actions of these criminal scum.

We also continue our adventure in anti-vaxx land, looking at how the anti-vaccination community views additives to vaccines that are not only safe, but actually increase their effectiveness.

Religion vs. Women, round Infinity

[First posted to the FreeThinker’s Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/1a00a3b8210dc20a)]

Three interesting stories here, covering all the Abrahamic traditions. First up, we have a harrowing tale from a former Hasidic Jew (http://www NULL.nypost NULL.com/p/entertainment/was_hasidic_jew_but_broke_free_IeRSVA4eX8ypg4Ne8cBdSK):

Continue reading “Religion vs. Women, round Infinity” »

Legalized Discrimination

A scenario: you get sick and have to leave work for a while, work says “Don’t worry, you’ll still have a job when you return.” Only when you do return, they pressure you into quitting. Sounds like a slam-dunk anti-discrimination case, no?

Well, not if your employer is a religious institution. Cheryl Perich lost her case against Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, because the church successfully argued that good Lutherans would never sue anyone and since Perich was a minister that made her unfit for her job.

Perich was a teacher, not a minister, but the legislation is so vague that it permits anyone facing the public to be slapped with that label. Net result: legalized discrimination for religious institutions. (http://blogs NULL.ssrc NULL.org/tif/2012/01/19/religious-freedom-defeats-secular-law/)

HJ Hornbeck

One Argument against any God, Parts two and three

Part two.

There’s an obvious way to defeat this argument: say your god is not supernatural. However, if we define “god” this way:

An entity which can or could act contrary to the laws of nature.

then I can extend the previous argument and show that definition to also be logically impossible.

Continue reading “One Argument against any God, Parts two and three” »

Episode 5!

Dr. Jim Linville, associate professor of religious studies and OT biblical scholar at the University of Lethbridge, was in Calgary to give us a glimpse of what it’s like to be an atheist teaching biblical scholarship and share his experiences in professional circles. I cornered him after his excellent lecture.

Haysn, Graham, Twylla and I discuss my super-secret trip to Xerion Homoeopathie (why do they spell it that way?) and explore the minds of the local anti-vaccination community. Be warned: your IQ will slip a bit as a result of listening! Also, I say something stupid which Twylla catches. I of course meant 85% of vaccinated children will NOT get the the disease the vaccine was designed to prevent. Where my brain went I don’t know, but it deserted me in a moment of need. It was a long week.

One Argument against any God

[First posted on the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/bdce670b44e00d6e/e3fc56a98615713b#e3fc56a98615713b).]

Here’s an argument I’ve used twice in the past month, once
successfully. I thus throw it to the wolves…

All gods are considered supernatural, right? So what do we mean by
“supernatural?” The easiest definition is “not natural,” but of course
now we have to define what “natural” means. I’d argue that “exists
within the universe” is a reasonable definition, but now I have two
words to define: “universe” and “exists.”

Let’s start with “universe.” I’d argue that’s best defined as “the
collection of everything that exists.” (Tangent: note that this
implies the universe itself does not exist. Otherwise, a jar of
cookies would contain a jar of cookies! Also, we never interact with
the universe, only things contained by the universe, and as we’ll soon
see this rules out existence. This point has nothing to do with the
main argument, but since several proofs of God assert the universe
exists, it’s a good tangent to keep in mind.)

Now, “exist.” I’d define that as “anything which could interact with
me, even if only in theory” (Told you!). That leaves one word left,
“interact,” but I’m fine with letting my opponent define that one. If
I was pressed, I’d go with “the potential to change state via an
external entity.” So far, I haven’t been pressed.

All the pieces are in place! Now, we ask a simple question: can any
god interact with me?

If yes, then by definition that god exists, and by definition that
god is contained by the universe, thus that god is “natural.”

If no, then by what rights can you argue that god exists? I can name
countless things which could never interact with me, but I wouldn’t
take a single one of them seriously. Why would a god be any different?

HJ Hornbeck

Evolution, the controversy that shouldn’t be

[First posted on the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/a250ae9cae7ba541/cd6bda3368a36b78).]

I once stopped reading “On the Origin of Species (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/On_the_Origin_of_Species)” because I was
sick of Darwin’s introduction; page after page was full of
acknowledgements of every person who’d come up with parts (and once or
twice, even the whole) of evolution. In the scientific realm, it was
an inevitable, uncontroversial theory.

Alas, Christianity and Islam decided to use the variation and
design of life as a proof of their god. And no religion takes kindly
to criticism or contrary facts; it’s been more than 150 years after
“On the Origin” was published, and yet we’re still dealing with crap
like this (http://www NULL.washingtonpost NULL.com/national/on-faith/on-eve-of-darwins-birthday-states-take-steps-to-limit-evolution/2012/02/01/gIQAzxnAiQ_story NULL.html)

Continue reading “Evolution, the controversy that shouldn’t be” »

the changing nature of Blasphemy

Oooo, this is such a good talk! I never realized this, but our
notion of blasphemy has changed over the years. It used to mean giving
the finger to God; now, it’s treated as a personal attack (http://kenanmalik NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2012/01/29/beyond-the-sacred/). Thanks, Ophelia Benson (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/01/too-westernized-secular-and-progressive-to-be-authentic/) and Kenan Malik (http://kenanmalik NULL.wordpress NULL.com/)!

HJ Hornbeck

A Learning Experience

[First published on the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/249d3b65eecff039).]

There I was, working up to a rant against Allain de Botton’s idea of building an atheist temple, and then he had to go spoil everything by being reasonable (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/tokenskeptic/2012/01/31/token-skeptic-interview-with-alain-de-botton-on-religion-for-atheists/). Jerk.

Continue reading “A Learning Experience” »

Not what I Expected

Death threats are a rite of passage for outspoken atheists. Most trash them or file them away, just in case the sender is crazy enough to hunt them down.
This is the first time I’ve seen an atheist respond by a href=”http://freethoughtblogs.com/rockbeyondbelief/2012/01/28/death-threat-itll-be-painful-god-bless-your-family-in-spite-of-me/”posting his old phone number and home address/a.
/ppiHJ Hornbeck/i/p