Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A parody based on the title card from a Three Stooges short, declaring "Answers in Genesis presents The Three Stooges", with Moe, Larry, and Curly replaced by Ken Ham, Jason Lisle, and Andrew Snelling.]

If I told you this was the speaker lineup at the Alberta Home Education Association convention, you’d probably think I was joking.

  • [] Why Does My Beaver Scout Have to Promise to Love God?

    A good question, that deserves an answer. Unfortunately, the answer given on Scouts Canada’s frequently asked questions page is vague and unsatisfactory. You don’t need to actually believe in God, you just need to think of “God” as a placeholder for your own spirituality and beliefs. Which is going to make a whole lot of fucking sense to the 5–7 year-olds that they expect to do the oath swearing.

  • [] Why we pretend to know things, explained by a cognitive scientist

    A nice interview, with pretty neat insight into how we form and maintain beliefs, and how we can avoid being trapped by false beliefs.

  • [] How the Islamic State uses ‘virtual lessons’ to build loyalty

    This is a really fascinating article going fairly deep into the weeds regarding how Daesh runs virtual schools in online chat rooms to radicalize people. There’s a lot of stuff in there you wouldn’t normally think about, like how they create and foster loyalty and unity by dumping on other groups, like al-Qaida.

  • [] Tories lacked heart on organ bill

    Manitoba is not going to have a good week in this Update; they’ve failed just about every ethical test they were challenged with this week. I’ve written before that there is no sensible secular objection to presumed consent for organ donation, and why it would help so many people. It’s so obviously the right thing to do that even Brad Wall – who can’t get anything else right, ethically (for example, and of course the other item mentioning him this week) – was on the right side on this issue. But Manitoba’s Conservatives failed this simple ethical question.

  • [] Liberals look online for policy suggestions, but may not green light most popular ones

    It’s probably a desperation move borne out of their tanking satisfaction ratings, but Ontario’s governing Liberals have turned to direct democracy to find out what Ontarians really want. So if you’re Ontarian, use this opportunity. Right now, the most popular item is “Amalgamate School Systems”, proposed by Spencer Lucas (possibly the Spencer Lucas, not sure), referring to absorbing the separate, publicly-funded Catholic school boards into the secular system. But it’s in position #24, probably because of a concerted down-vote campaign (it was #3 when I checked a couple days ago). Will it matter? Probably not – the Wynne government has always shown an alarming lack of leadership on the issue. But it can’t hurt. And there’s plenty of other good stuff to promote.

  • [] Brampton brain dead woman’s case could legally define death in Ontario

    There are a couple of big cases right now concerning the medical definition of death, and the possibility of religious accommodation in that definition. This is one of them. This is a messy situation even without religion involved, but leave it to religion to make things worse.

  • [] Daphne Bramham: Lawyer’s tardiness delays polygamist’s Charter challenge

    This is such a frustrating situation. It’s hard to say whether it’s incompetence or deliberately dragging things out. But Daphne Bramham asks a really good question at the end: Why are we so intent on chasing Blackmore down over the polygamy thing rather than over his proven exploitation of minors?

  • [] ISIL adept at fooling young recruits, Montreal terror trial told

    There are some neat comments in this piece from the RCMP expert on Daesh recruiting.

  • [] I’m an atheist, but I had to walk away from the toxic side of online atheism

    Yet another big name atheist is speaking out about the shitty state of atheism online.

  • [] Payette praises religious tolerance in New Brunswick speech

    I’ve seen some people spin this as Payette backtracking, or subtly apologizing for the comments that caused so much bullshit controversy last week. I don’t see it. It’s perfectly consistent to be incredulous about the fact that people in academia and positions of power are still debating long-settled questions (which is what she actually did, never mind the spin people have put on it that she “insulted” every religious Canadian), while celebrating that we live in a country where people are free to believe as they please and practise those beliefs so long as they don’t infringe on the freedoms of others. Well, except for in Québec, of course.

  • [] Julie Payette Reminds Us We Live In A Universe Based On Fact, Not Opinion

    Hot damn. I’ve lost count of how many takes on Payette’s comments I’ve read over the last two weeks, but I don’t think I’ve read any that are as searingly on point as Dann’s. He even nails the dishonesty underlying the duplicitous “outrage” feigned by people like Andrew Scheer and Rex Murphy. When I finished reading the piece, all I could do was sit with a wide grin and do a slow clap. Seriously, if any of you out there know this dude, buy him a beer.

  • [] Edmonton Christian couple says adoption nixed over views on sexuality

    I gotta say, as much as I support religious freedom – yes, even the freedom to be stupid and offensive – I’m squarely on the province’s side here. The couple’s homophobia isn’t some dry theological issue; it could result in serious harm to an adopted kid that happened to be LGBTQ. Their claim that it has no bearing on the raising on children is flagrant bullshit.

  • [] “World Sikh Organization welcomes Canadian decision to allow small kirpans on flights”(Audio: 6:19)

    Just to clarify in the hopes of staving off batshit crazy anti-religious rants: The headline is very misleading. What really happened is that Transport Canada has changed its rules to be more in line with international standards (previously the rules were made to be more inline with the dumbass reactionary US standards). As it happens (pun intended), that incidentally makes small kirpans legal. In other words, they didn’t change the rules to make kirpans legal, they changed the rules to be more consistent with the rest of the world, and the kirpan thing was just a side effect. But in any case, this is an interesting discussion, with some interesting points made.

  • [] Read: DWDC’s presentation on Manitoba’s Bill 34

    Spoiler alert: the bill ended up passing. Still, this is a decent read.

  • [] Top U.S. creationist’s invitation as keynote speaker for Alberta homeschooling convention draws fire

    I published an article about creationist ministry Answers in Genesis coming to Canada, and I was kinda disappointed by the response. Most Canadians groaned about them coming with complaints about how they were bringing US stupidity to Canada. The problem with that is: We’ve had creationist organizations in Canada for decades. In fact, AiG’s parent organization has been settled in here for a long time, and we even have our own giant Ark attraction in Canada. I was similarly disappointed by the response to this news, with people once again griping about American stupidity coming up to infect Canada. That’s missing the point entirely. The problem here isn’t that Ken Ham is speaking in Canada… it’s that Alberta’s largest home-schooling organization is actually inviting a creationist to speak. The problem here isn’t Ham… it’s whatever the fuck is going on in Alberta’s education system.

  • [] REVEALED: The white supremacists behind alt-right posters around the city

    Brilliant investigative work by Evan Balgord is pulling some of the people promoting white supremacy in Toronto out of the shadows and into the light.

  • [] Sask. government invokes notwithstanding clause over Catholic school ruling

    Well, he said he was going to do it. Nevertheless, this is still a win for us. Because the notwithstanding clause has to be refreshed every five years. Sooner or later, a government is going to come along that simply won’t… because using the notwithstanding clause is so politically embarrassing.

  • [] N.B. woman sues minister and church for damages after box-cutter assault

    Wow. I never thought the standards for getting a job as a minister were all that onerous, but apparently they’re a lot lower than I expected.

  • [] Singer finds her niche in ‘accidental’ secular spirituals

    I’m curious to get other atheists’ take on this. Coco Love Alcorn is taking the sound and style of gospel music, but stripping the religion out of it and creating “secular spirituals”. Check her stuff out, and see how it strikes you.

  • [] Why do we believe in gods? Religious belief ‘not linked to intuition or rational thinking’

    This is kinda cool. Why do people really believe in gods? Some people have speculated we have some innate need from our evolutionary heritage – a “god-shaped hole” that we try to fill. In other words, if you took a bunch of babies and isolated them from the rest of humanity, and they survived to adults and formed their own culture, they will discover theism automatically at some point. It’s even hypothesized that belief in gods is so innate that other animals have some basic concept of gods at some level. But new science is challenging that idea.

  • [] Germany Must Allow Third Gender Category, Court Rules

    Wow, I thought Canada was doing pretty well on this file this year, what with the first non-gendered child recognized, and with passports being issued with a non-gendered option. But Germany is really pulling ahead and challenging us to catch up.

  • [] Globe editorial: On Bill 62, the PQ covers up

    Well, I’ve been focusing on what a shit sandwich Bill 62 has been for the Liberals, I hadn’t paid much attention to what was going on with the opposition parties. Turns out it’s been just as much a shit sandwich for the Parti Québécois. I guess it shouldn’t come as all that much of a surprise – this was never really about principles (and I can’t believe people are actually stupid enough to believe the politicians when they say it is), it was always about hate, and ultimately, hate hurts everyone, even the haters.

  • [] Recognize discrimination against nonreligious

    One of the two must-read pieces this week – the other being G. Elijah Dann’s piece on the Payette “controversy” – this is about the BCHA’s submission to the M-103 committee hearings. There’s a link near the end that says “read the brief”…: do what it says. It is a short but very thorough tour of discrimination against the nonreligious in Canada, both at the federal and provincial levels, packed with citations to back its points up. I’m keeping a copy of this as reference material.

  • [] “’Religion is not a race’: Quebec’s face-covering law heads for court challenge”(Audio: 24:17)

    Literally nobody is surprised by this.

  • [] Political Risk & Climate Action

    Okay, this is really kinda cool. 50% of Canadians won’t even consider voting for a candidate or party who doesn’t show commitment to dealing with climate change. And it just gets better from there. Is it possible to say that the age of climate change denial in Canadian politics is over?

  • [] “U of T profs alarmed by Jordan Peterson’s plan to target classes he calls ‘indoctrination cults’”(Audio: 6:40)

    What the fuck is Jordan Peterson smoking these days?! I don’t think anyone is going to be the least bit surprised by his blatant hypocrisy about free speech – it’s the usual “don’t stifle my freedom… to stifle your freedom” bullshit you get from “freeze peach” defenders like him. But damn, he’s really getting into this paranoid right-wing conspiracy nut thing a little too zealously.

  • [] Bill C-51: Disrupting A Religious Service Likely To Stay A Crime As Liberals Move To Modernize Laws

    If this is true, it’s going to be the most disappointing news of 2017. There’s still time to do something about it, so do it now! Write your MP and anyone else you think might have some pull with the Justice Committee.

  • [] Bill 62 Is The Result Of A Country’s Failure To Decolonize

    This is a very interesting take on Bill 62. I’ve also noticed the connection – Bill 62 is in the same vein as the shit France did to Algeria… which didn’t turn out so well in the end. It’s hard to miss the parallels.

  • [] “Church of Scientology setting up shop in Guelph (CTV Kitchener)” (Video: 2:02)

    One has to wonder if Scientology is really growing in Canada enough to require a new administrative hub. But anyway, this video is amusing if only for the “person-on-the-street” comments, like Mr. Obviously-Doesn’t-Give-A-Fuck, and Ottawa’s not good enough?

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