Freedom from Religion, but only for the religious

Recently, the Alberta Human Rights commission refused to consider a complaint brought by some parents in Morvinville, Alberta, regarding the complete lack of secular educational options for their children. […] It’s also rather ironic that some Albertan students are unable to access secular public education while next door Saskatchewan is moving to fund faith-based schools and Ontario ensures every Catholic in its province can access publicly supported religious education.

While Alberta’s government passed a “parental choice” amendment to its Schools Act to allow parents to opt their children out of classes addressing sexuality, sexual orientation or religion, Morinville’s only school system – Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools – has refused to allow secular children to opt out of its religious classes.

The entire article is worth a read (http://life NULL.nationalpost

HJ Hornbeck

Episode 6 of The Legion of Reason Podcast

It’s here! It’s here! Yay!

This episode is a potpourri of topics. Last month the Saskatchewan government announced that it will fund 86 subjects to undergo the so-called ‘liberation therapy’ for multiple sclerosis and the Legion takes a closer look at the science behind it, or the lack thereof, whichever it may be.

As part of the Darwin Day celebrations (all hail Darwin!) the Biology and Philsophy departments at the University of Calgary brought in horseman Daniel Dennett to lecture us on the “evolution of reasons” [not a typo]. A number of The Legion were in attendance to comment.

Lastly, Haysn gives us the skivvy on the claim that WiFi can make children ill, and a number of schools have acted on this fear by eliminating wireless networks on their premises in a return to Stone Age networking technology.

Sorry, no Xerion nonsense this week – the episode was getting long as it was. But more is coming!

A surge of Santorum

[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups]

Rick Santorum is vying with Romney for first place in the Republican primaries. I have to shake my head at how such a vile, hateful person can come so close to leading a secular democracy.

Does that seem harsh? Here’s something Santorum said recently (http://freethoughtblogs

Continue reading “A surge of Santorum” »

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]

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

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

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]

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