Join us as we bring you our take on a number of news stories we consider within our purview. In this edition for June 18, 2017 we find that over half of Canadians believe that religion is a force for harm and we wonder what the hell is wrong with the rest; a new creationist dinosaur museum opened this weekend in Innisfail, Alberta where no expense regarding historical accuracy was spared, including a laser tag facility themed with an ancient city being invaded by dinosaurs; in Ontario, a court rules that students no longer have to provide a reason for opting out of religion classes in Catholic schools; and in The Regressive Left Files… indigenous peoples of some 189 countries petition a United Nations committee to make cultural appropriation illegal. Lastly, we look at lawsuits from both pro and con sides of medical assistance in dying in Canada that can only be traced to crappy federal legislation. But first, welcome back Twyla!
Part 1 of our look at Ray Comfort’s new video titled The Atheist Delusion. This video was released at the end of July and we purposely avoided any discussion of it on social media to ensure that our reactions were fresh and genuine. Has Ray finally found that golden nugget have us abandoning , or will this be yet another diatribe full of profundities like the banana and crocoduck? We put not only our atheism on the line to find out, but our livers as well! To help us survive we decided to make a drinking game out of it. To that end we found a Christian fallacy bingo card and added a few predictable fallacies specific to the Banana Man. So we have our muscle relaxants and out towels at the ready, and that’s where we begin.
We are very pleased to have with us today particle physicist Victor Stenger, who received his PhD in that arena from UCLA and whose research was focused on gluons, quarks and neutrinos. Even though he was a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Hawaii till his retirement in 2000 (where he is still Emeritus Professor), he lives in Colorado where he is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy. He has authored a dozen books for lay audiences on physics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, religion and atheism, and pseudoscience, and their intersection and have greatly influenced my own thinking. “God The Failed Hypothesis” had the most impact on me, getting me to realize that the absence of evidence of the existence of god IS evidence of absence if one has looked for the evidence and removing a blind spot that I think is prevalent. “The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason” showed me that atheism is no longer limited to the realm of philosophy. And his most recent book “God and the Atom: From Democritus to the Higgs Boson” demonstrated something I had not realized, that atomism is an inherently atheistic concept, and was the subject of his talk at last year’s Imagine No Religion conference in Kamloops.
Episode 73 (recorded August 25) is the result of a marathon recording session that was even longer, in which Kris, Twylla, Haysn and I discuss the Parti Québécois government in Quebec’s plan to enact legislation that would prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by public employees (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/canada/proposed-ban-on-religious-symbols-in-quebec-a-violation-of-freedom-of-religion-1 NULL.1420848). Is it too far? Would it apply to gratuitous symbol wearing like crucifix necklaces? Would it apply to Sikh turbans? The Calgary Herald posted a story full of sophistry and nonsense about how people turn to faith in times of tragedy (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/news/calgary/People+turn+questions+faith+times+tragedy/8571486/story NULL.html), vis-à-vis the recent floods here in Calgary. There may be listeners who feel we are unnecessarily mocking the religious, but some of this sophistic nonsense is actually downright offensive in its implications, and it needs pointing out. And where’s that infamous journalistic ‘balance’? Maybe the author should have taken five minutes to talk to a NONBELIEVER, too. Why is it always just believers, particularly when over 40% of Calgarians are nones? And my favorite person opens his mouth yet again. Bishop Fred Henry weighs in on the repressive anti-gay laws in Russia (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/life/Bigger+fish/8809483/story NULL.html), and doesn’t disappoint! Once again, Henry demonstrates that if you are doing it in opposition to what Catholic authorities tell you, you’re doing it right.
Welcome legionaries! Before we get to things I have a couple of public service announcements to make. January’s Skeptics in the Pub at Joyce’s on 4th in Calgary will be on the second and not the usual first Tuesday of the month, that being January 8. Coming up later this week is a date very important to the atheist community. December 15 marks first anniversary of the day we lost Christopher Hitchens, an unparalleled voice of reason against religion. Remember to hoist a glass of scotch in his honor and remember how much our lives were enriched because of his time on this planet. So don’t mourn the loss. Celebrate the life. Also, Imagine No Religion 3 (http://imaginenoreligion NULL.ca/) is coming up May 17-19. The speaker list is even better than last year’s, which I thought was going to be very tough to beat. Amongst those coming to Kamloops BC this time are philosopher Daniel Dennett (this year’s keynote speaker), Victor Stenger (author of such books as “God: The Failed Hypothesis” and “God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion”), historian Richard Carrier (author of “Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus” and “Not the Impossible Faith”), outspoken atheist advocate Aron Ra (when’s he writing a book?), Brian Dalton (aka Mr. Deity), and for us X-Files fans, William B. Davis. The lineup is simply fantastic! You can register at imaginenoreligion.ca.
On to this week’s episode. I said last time that it’s important to hear the stories of those who have walked the road leading away from religion in the shoes they wore. This is one I’ve been wanting to do for some time and took the plunge on Saturday. Helen, Haysn and I sat down over scotch and talked with Rainer Rohr, a former Pentecostal minister who has only recently found his way out and has entered the atheist/skeptic community with great enthusiasm and you can meet him at pretty much any get-together. We even get a crash course in speaking in tongues! His story is particuarly moving and it’s important we hear about it. And so without further delay…
G. Elijah Dann, Leaving Fundamentalism: Personal Stories (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Leaving-Fundamentalism-Personal-Stories-Writing/dp/1554580269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292428820&sr=1-1)
Tom Harpur, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tom+harpur)
Tom Harpur, Born Again (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Born-Again-Journey-Fundamentalism-Freedom/dp/0887627382/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355077927&sr=1-4&keywords=tom+harpur) (My Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom)
Mark I. Pinsky, The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Gospel-According-Disney-Faith-Trust/dp/B008SLHTIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355079019&sr=1-1&keywords=pixie+dust+walt+disney)
This weekend was a nexus for all things geek in Calgary, with reported appearances of Adam West and the reunited cast of Star Trek The Next Generation at the Comic Expo. Organizers were expecting about 45,000 nerds (writes the guy with the Star Trek science officer insignia tattooed on his chest) but had to close the doors when they realized they forgot to carry the 2 in their calculations. The expo also attracted our good friend Nathan Hinman from Edmonton. He’s a recovering Mormon – the technical term for which we learned is ‘Formon’ – and he tells us about his journey from faith to faithlessness in another of our now infamous gang interviews.
[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/a5dfcac6a99dce9c/feb25bef38c31efb)]
I had another topic planned for today’s post, but then I learned that Greta Christina is mad. And when Greta’s mad, good writing results (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/greta/2012/03/01/truth-is-not-boring/)!
You may have been following the debate about Alain de Botton’s article on CNN, What atheists can learn from religion (http://us NULL.cnn NULL.com/2012/02/26/opinion/de-botton-religion-atheists/index NULL.html?hpt=hp_t3), which began thus:
Probably the most boring question you can ask about religion is whether or not the whole thing is “true.”
And the sound you’ve been hearing over the last couple of days has been the tops (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/axp/2012/02/28/alain_de_botton_abuse/) of (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/crommunist/2012/02/29/the-unfriendly-atheist/) atheists’ (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/wwjtd/2012/02/28/alain-de-botton-on-what-atheists-can-learn-from-religion/) heads (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/pharyngula/2012/02/28/i-am-officially-disgusted-with-alain-de-botton/) coming (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/wwjtd/2012/02/29/friendly-atheist-vs-unfriendly-atheist/) off (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/wwjtd/2012/03/01/reason-as-a-moral-obligation-2/).
Including mine. I read de Botton’s piece when I was stuck at the Charlottesville airport waiting for a re-scheduled flight, getting over a stomach bug and trying to sleep on the airport floor… and I immediately started rage-writing this piece in my head.
Truth is not boring.
Reality is not boring. Reality is not irrelevant. Reality is not some trivial footnote in the larger, more serious business of keeping our brains in a bubble of happiness.
*Reality is all that we have.*
[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (https://groups NULL.google NULL.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/freethinkers-club/XFF_zjlJ1Sk)]
It started out as a joke: what was the least offensive atheist-related advertising that would still be considered offensive?
We now know the answer: “Atheists (http://www NULL.justinvacula NULL.com/2012/02/really-really-really-inoffensive NULL.html).”
[First posted to the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/59614b00bd5be594).]
OK, so your priest is a convicted sex offender, and according to the law can’t be unsupervised near small children. What to do?
According to a local Jacksonville news affiliate, Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church has banned children from attending Sunday services because their new pastor, Darrell Gilyard, is a registered sex offender and cannot have contact with children.[…]
Despite the seriousness of his offense, Gilyard’s return to the pulpit was swift. After being released from jail on December 28, he resumed preaching in January, and told reporters he hopes he can move past this incident and continue with his work.
Points for originality (http://clergygonewild NULL.com/sex-abuse/34-child-abuse/1424--florida-church-bans-children-to-keep-pedophile-pastor), I guess. And since priests are just normal people like the rest of us, with no special insight into orality or ethics, it’s perfectly natural to go out of your way to ccommodate them and listen to their interpretation of holy writ.*
* I’ve had someone hit me with that one in person. Religion does strange things to people…