Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Photo of Loujain al-Hathloul]
Al-Hathloul has been in Saudi prison since 15 May last year, and has allegedly been tortured.
  • [] Hey, academics. Get out of the ivory tower. We need your expertise.

    I like this piece, and it’s a good piece. Timely, too. Even if it is directed at academics, I think it does a service to lay people as well, reminding us that posturing academics who speak as if they are experts on whatever field popped into their head that morning don’t really represent an academic way of thinking at all.

  • [] Intellectual humility: the importance of knowing you might be wrong

    One of the most important, defining differences between religion and science is that science learns. It adapts to new discoveries and knowledge. But to do that, it has to be able to acknowledge when it’s wrong. Here it is, happening in the real. Mind you: what Resnick calls intellectual humility, I’d call intellectual honesty. I think that’s a more accurate description. But I could be wrong!

  • [] People with extreme anti-science views know the least, but think they know the most: study

    This is probably not surprising to any readers: GMO opposition is generally ignorance-based. Last year a study found that something like a third of Americans believe that non-GMO food doesn’t contain genes.

  • [] What Was New Atheism?

    This is primarily US-oriented, but that’s hardly surprising because New Atheism was a primarily US phenomenon. I don’t particularly agree with Hamburger’s conclusion (assuming he’s not being merely tongue-in-cheek), but his overview of the rise and fall of New Atheism – particularly in the political context of the time – certainly tracks with my own experience and memory of it. Though, in my opinion, Hamburger was far too lenient in the “fall” part.

  • [] With spotlight back on Saudi women’s rights, Loujain al-Hathloul’s fate remains unknown

    I’m not keen on the comparison between the cases of Rahaf Mohammed and Loujain al-Hathloul. Mohammed’s story was dramatic, and had a happy ending – which doesn’t always happen in cases like hers – but Mohammed was just a kid trying to escape a bad situation. Loujain al-Hathloul, meanwhile, is a woman who boldly and deliberately stood up to the Saudi government in defence of all women, and is now probably being tortured for it. But I suppose any occasion taken to remind Canadians of the people Saudi Arabia is still holding (and torturing) is a good one.

  • [] Proposed religious “campus of care” undermines MAiD access

    The BCHA makes a completely reasonable request here that shouldn’t be controversial in the least. Regardless of whether grandfathered-in “faith-based institutions” should be allowed to have policies that prevent medical professionals from doing legal medical procedures at their patients’ requests (they shouldn’t), it makes perfect sense to refuse to award new contracts to organizations that straight-up admit they won’t do their damn jobs.

  • [] Why I Helped Rahaf Mohammed

    A really cool write-up that really gives all the dramatic details of the Rahaf Mohammed case, this piece actually touches on one of my biggest frustrations about the story. Read most any major news story about Mohammed’s escape, and you’ll be left with the impression that she was granted refugee status because of her familial abuse, and the threat of being “honour killed”. But that’s not actually true. It doesn’t even make sense if you think about it: domestic abuse, even rising to the level of honour killing, is absolutely horrible, true… but it’s not the kind of thing that earns one international refugee status. I don’t care how bad your home situation is, you can’t go to the border and demand asylum because of it. You’ll be laughed out of the country (literally). As bad as her family may have been, Mohammed was not granted refugee status because of their abuse… she was granted refugee status because she is an apostate. And that’s a death penalty in Saudi Arabia. But most news stories seem to go out of their way to either not mention that fact, or bury it deep. (I’ve even seen misguided opinion pieces grumbling about her jumping the queue past other needy refugees who also come from shitty circumstances, where they don’t realize that she actually has a much stronger claim of immediate danger than most because of her apostasy being a capital crime.) This bugs me for two reasons. First, it’s yet another symptom of poor media representation for nonbelievers. More importantly, though, I worry that the next woman who flees Saudi Arabia thinking she’ll get the same package because her family is also awful will get a nasty surprise if she’s not actually left Islam.

  • [] Group challenges ruling requiring doctors to give referrals for services that clash with beliefs

    This piece actually gives a pretty nice, comprehensive summary of the arguments of both sides in the case. I am going to give an equally comprehensive, though less nice, summary. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario argues: There are many patients who can’t find alternative care on their own, and anyway, doctors can either avoid fields where their “morals” may be challenged or simply let their assistants do the actual referral. The Christian doctors argue: Meh, fuck the patients.

  • [] Learning to live after a loss of faith: why some may back away from religion

    It’s a CBC piece about atheism, so you don’t even need to read it to guess the précis. “Atheism is (ominous tone) growing in Canada. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid!!! Here’s some positive news about religion in Canada to keep you from freaking out!” Sure as shootin’, this piece with a title purporting to give some insight about why people leave religion comes with the subtitle: both say religion is important, even though they don’t believe.

  • [] It was wildly inappropriate for the Yukon gov’t to get in bed with the Salvation Army

    Holy shit. I mean, I could have told them this was going to go badly. (The indigenous people the shelter was supposed to help did tell them that; of course they didn’t listen.) But even I wouldn’t have guessed it would go this badly. The Salvation Army has been trying so hard of late to behave, too – been a while since we had a story about their horribleness! We went the whole holiday season without one this year! But this more than makes up for it.

  • [] Montreal priest convicted of sex crimes pleads guilty to additional charges

    Well, after his shitty blame-the-victim tactic failed so spectacularly in his last trial, Boucher seems to have given up. Good. But the facts in this case may be even more horrible than in the previous case. This kid was abused in the 1990s… when he was 11. And the way it was done was so fucked up: he’d rape the kid, and then say they both had to go do Confession because of it.

  • [] WELCH (McTAGGART), Deborah Gail

    The Canadian atheist community lost one of our own on Sunday. Deborah McTaggart, aka Heretic Woman, the Canadian on Beyond the Trailer Park, died suddenly in her sleep on . I wish I could give you more of a eulogy, but honesty, I only knew McTaggart by reputation… but wow, what an amazing reputation. Her people were the podcasters – she appeared on Left at the Valley as recently as , and did a live stream on her own show as recently as – but unfortunately the nature of podcasting means it takes time to get the news, let it sink, think of what you want to say about it, and then produce and release a show with the message. Presumably, the next wave of shows coming out this week will mention McTaggart, and share their experiences with her. (At the moment, the only show I’ve heard come out with a statement so far is, of all things, The Scathing Atheist… but I actually recommend it: Noah Lugeons used his “diatribe” segment to talk about McTaggart and the meaning of death to nonbelievers.)

  • [] “Eve” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    You know, I have always wondered about the bizarre logic of this. After all, God wanted the humans to be fruitful and multiply. So… why make childbirth painful? Why not something he didn’t want women to do? Why not make it painful to think for themselves?

  • [] James Sears, Editor of Canada’s Most Racist Paper, Guilty Of Hate Charges

    Even before reading this piece, I would have cheered the ruling, saying it couldn’t have happened to a more worthy asshole. But having read the piece, I realize what a massive understatement that would have been. There are assholes, and then there are legendary-level assholes. James Sears is an asshole exemplar.

  • [] Race or class irrelevant in intelligence of babies, groundbreaking Oxford study finds

    This is pretty huge, but not because it really tells us anything new. We’ve had this kind of evidence for ages, and even without that we could have predicted these results, because “race” is unscientific bullshit and class is an accident of socioeconomic power distribution. But this study provides huge, latitudinal and longitudinal evidence. How will the “racial differences in IQ” peddling crowd respond? (I’m looking at you, Sam Harris.)

  • [] Half Of Canadians Think The U.S. Is Full Of Nazis: Survey

    Far more than half of Canadians are in for a nasty surprise about the number of Nazis in Canada. What’s really going on here, though, is yet another story of a failure of education. Deep in the article they say that half of Canadians can’t even name a single Nazi camp or ghetto.

  • [] Wolves of Odin visit to Edmonton mosque prompts police investigation

    Wait, the Wolves of Odin? What happened to the Soldiers of Odin? Apparently, these assholes change their names more often than they change their underwear. Now they’re “The Clann”. They went to a mosque to intimidate the attendees, and provoke them by “JAQing off”. Now, whenever I post something like this, some shithead – usually on Facebook – crawls out from under a rock and does their own version of JAQing off by asking: “what does this have to do with atheism?” This is what this has to do with atheism: Those assholes were wearing tags that identified them as “infidels” in Arabic, and among their many previous names, they called themselves “Odin’s Heathens” and “Canadian Infidels”. That inevitably leads to assumptions that they are an atheist group, and that leads to atheists in Canada in general being tarred by association (it’s not like news organizations across Canada aren’t actively looking for excuses to dump on atheists: I’m looking at you, CBC). If we say nothing about those assholes, it’s no different from religious groups staying silent while people rape or commit terrorist acts under the banner of the religion. We can’t condemn Muslims for failing to adequately condemn terrorism, or Catholics for failing to adequately condemn the Vatican for covering up child rape cases, and then sit there and do nothing when people are using the atheist identity as a banner for hate. Especially when, as is often the case (and I suspect is the case here, too), they’re not actually really atheists – or, as sometimes happens, they are atheists, but still believe Canada should be a “Christian country”.

  • [] Performance artist Lucy McCormick is queering the New Testament

    I’m just going to quote the first paragraph of the article: Lucy McCormick isn’t afraid of controversy. Her latest show Triple Threat features a bevy of foul language, nudity and Nutella smearing. Oh and it’s all about Jesus. Count me in.

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