Episode 3 of The Legion of Reason Podcast now available!

A peculiar situation arising from historical contingency has been brewing in the town of Morinville, Alberta. With a population of 8500, one would expect that at least a portion of Morinville’s schools would be public and secular, but not one is. The result is a curious situation where the Catholic school board is also the public one.

Helen, Randy and Twyla discuss separate school systems in Alberta (and Canada in general), its history and the fight by Donna Hunter and other parents for secular education of their children.

And the battle isn’t over yet….

Violence, the Heckler’s Veto of the Coward

I… wow. Yesterday in the UK, the Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society was going to host a talk titled “Sharia Law and Human Rights.” As the president of their society put it (http://blog NULL.newhumanist NULL.org NULL.uk/2012/01/student-organised-talk-on-sharia-law-at NULL.html): Continue reading “Violence, the Heckler’s Veto of the Coward” »

God thinks like You?

[Cross-posted to the Freethinkers group (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/1b999ed7d221b6d0).]

Courtesy John Loftus (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/loftus/2012/01/11/creating-god-in-ones-own-image-god-agrees-with-me/), I just got wind of a veeeery interesting
study:

Psychological studies have found that people are always a tad
egocentric when considering other people’s mindsets. They use their
own beliefs as a starting point, which colours their final
conclusions. [Nicholas] Epley found that the same process happens, and
then some, when people try and divine the mind of God. Their opinions
on God’s attitudes on important social issues closely mirror their own
beliefs. If their own attitudes change, so do their perceptions of
what God thinks. They even use the same parts of their brain when
considering God’s will and their own opinions.

Creating God in one’s own image (http://blogs NULL.discovermagazine NULL.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/)

I was prepared to dismiss it with “correlation does not equal
causation,” but Epley tried to cover that angle by being careful when
he asked for God’s view and manipulating the beliefs of those taking
the study. I’d love a follow-up study with more volunteers!

HJ Hornbeck

The Beginning of the End?

Looks like same-sax marriage may be under threat in Canada (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/news/canada/story/2012/01/12/pol-harper-same-sex-marriage NULL.html):

The renewed attention was sparked by the case of an unidentified lesbian couple who married in Canada in 2005 but split up in 2009. […] The couple went to court last June seeking a Canadian divorce, despite the federal Divorce Act’s one-year residency requirement, which they do not meet. […]
But in addition to the residency requirement, a submission from a federal government lawyer in response to the couple’s case cites another reason for refusing to grant the divorce — that they are not legally married.

To be fair, the government proper seems to have been caught unaware by this, and Harper has said he doesn’t want to re-open the debate. Given how much they love back-room (http://rabble NULL.ca/blogs/bloggers/corvin-russell/leaked-memo-harper-government-plans-backdoor-restructuring-first-natio) shenanigains (http://m NULL.theglobeandmail NULL.com/news/national/the-coming-conservative-court/article2022139/?service=mobile), however, I’m going to keep a close eye on this one…

HJ Hornbeck

Glass Ceilings look very pretty when Smashed

[This is a repost of something I fired off to the Freethinkers mailing list (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/1bd004d4c7be5142).]

Changes are afoot in the skeptical/atheist community.

I’m not sure when this process began. Elevatorgate (http://bigthink NULL.com/ideas/39234)?
#mencallmethings (http://tigerbeatdown NULL.com/2011/11/07/why-are-you-in-such-a-bad-mood-mencallmethings-responds/)? Both feel like tipping points with a fair bit of
momentum already behind them. Whatever the case, feminism has become a
big deal within the community.

And it’s about damn time!

Continue reading “Glass Ceilings look very pretty when Smashed” »

The Second Episode of the LoR Podcast….

Randy, Christine, Haysn, Matthew and Graham profile Calgary psychic/clairvoyant Kim Dennis (aka Clairvoyant Kim). We examine the credulous beliefs she espouses and critique an episode of her now-defunct Public Access television show “Antiques Psychic”. We also take a look at a fundamentalist religious group appealing to the (nonexistent at this time) Office of Religious Freedom to intervene in the William Whatcott case before the supreme court. Should that not work, a day of fasting and prayer surely will! We also find time to discuss the deafening silence from the Vatican over what they will do now that ex-Bishop Raymond Lahey has been sentenced for posession of child pornography right after settling a lawsuit filed by victims of molestation in Maritime Canada. He was released this last week for time served.

Four out of Seven Candidates Agree

that Dominionism is the best way to go. Never heard of it? Read this, and weep:

There are Christians and then there are Dominionist Christians — the ones who think they have a biblical mandate to take dominion over the entire world for Christ. [… Some of them are now] denying that anything called Dominionism even exists; others are changing the definition of Dominionism, claiming that the word dominion is just used figuratively and doesn’t really mean that they want to control all areas of American society and eventually “reclaim” the world for Christ.

Continue reading “Four out of Seven Candidates Agree” »

There is no Honor

Courtesy Ophelia Benson (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/01/justice-delayed/), I’ve got a tale The Fifth Estate (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/fifth/2011-2012/escapefromjustice/) bills as

the next chapter in the story of Jassi Sidhu, the beautiful, young Canadian woman who defied her family when she fell in love with and secretly married an impoverished auto-rickshaw driver in India.

Not long after, she was murdered in a roadside attack, her new husband left for dead by her killers. In the years since, four men were convicted of Jassi’s murder and sent to prison in India.

Evidence gathered by Indian authorities at the time, and presented on the fifth estate, pointed to Jassi’s family allegedly arranging her murder from their home here in Canada.

Now, acting on new information, the fifth estate’s Bob McKeown presents stunning new information about those accused in the killing.

When your belief system encourages you to murder your own child, for the high crime of falling in love with someone, you should ditch it and look for alternatives (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Secular_ethics).

HJ Hornbeck

On Names and Labels

[This is a repost of something I typed up for the Freethinkers mailing list (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/b62d5d765bf6416d).]

I’ve heard many people disavow titles like “atheist” or “agnostic” because they don’t like to be labelled, and I’m pretty sure I did it myself for a time.

There’s a power behind names and labels, isn’t there? I have a tough time even writing an ethnic slur, because I know the weight of prejudice behind it. Not only does it claim nasty things, it claims them for a large group of people. Everyone under that label is implied to be identical, exchangeable, and we insist that isn’t true. Am I identical to Karen Armstrong, Eric Steinhart, or Julian Baggini? No, and yet we all call ourselves atheists. Taken to extremes, this sanding down of difference allows us to commit the worst atrocities we’re capable of, and form protected spaces that filter out “the other,” for an arbitrary definition of “other.”

Continue reading “On Names and Labels” »

Lacking Church, or Church-like, Behavior

Just read this from a local skeptic, Dean Morrison, and thought it was worthy of sharing:

I know that there’s at least a few of my friends that feel […] my efforts in skepticism are basically my replacement for religion.

Why Skeptics in the Pub is not “Church for Atheists” (http://demonhaunted NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2012/01/why-skeptics-in-pub-is-not-church-for NULL.html?m=1)

HJ Hornbeck