Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A cartoon depicting God watching Satan burying bones. God says: “Hey Satan. Burying some fossils again?” Satan replies: “Oh yeah!”]
The really weird thing about this theory is that those who actually believe it have to believe that God did literally this – that he stood by and watched cheerfully, doing nothing while Satan went about his evil schemes.
  • [] “Fossils” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    The hovertext says that there are people who actually believe the absurd conspiracy theory about quantum entanglement mocked in the comic, which is bonkers, but not entirely surprising. I mean, hey, if you think evolution by natural selection is too far out to believe – as many people do – then quantum entanglement must be really difficult to accept. Interesting bit of personal synchronicity: I just happened to finish reading the English translation of Liu Cixin’s amazing novel The Three-Body Problem (三体), which touches on the same issues – including the connection between faith and science; I very highly recommend.

  • [] The Cost of Religion in Canada Part 1: Canadian Taxpayers Funding the Advancement of Religion

    Holy crap the BCHA has been on fire this year. Aside from their long-running campaigns for things like getting humanist officiants recognized for marriages in BC, they have done exceptional work documenting the (ab)uses of religious property tax exemptions, and government prayer, and grown and strengthened our community by reaching out to otherwise marginalized groups. Now, working with the Centre for Inquiry, they have outdone themselves yet again. What they have done is essentially looked at the tax receipts for donations to charities that claim a primary purpose of “advancement of religion”, and tallied them all up, and calculated the most conservative cost we all pay for this to be over a billion and a half dollars. I highly recommend reading the report – it’s short, and clear even to non-money-people like myself. Even more interesting: this is only part 1. So there’s more to come!

  • [] Criticism for Ontario city’s decision to grant $45K toward naturopathic clinic

    This article initially generated a lot of outrage – and contained a fair amount of outrage – but it doesn’t seem to warrant it. The initial title (still visible in the URL) was apparently something like “confused Ontario city spends 45k toward naturopathic clinic because it has a shortage of doctors”… except, no, it seems that it was the reporter who was confused here. What really seems to have happened was that a business… which happens to be a naturopathic clinic in this case… applied for some city funds to spruce up the front-facing part of the building. The program that supplies these funds exists under the logic that if you spend some cash to pretty-up the buildings in your commercial district, you indirectly raise the property value for the whole area in addition to getting a bunch of other ephemeral benefits (like a better-looking city in general). The reporter, or her sources, seem to have gotten confused about which program the clinic was using; they thought the clinic was taking advantage of a program that gives grants to doctors to set up shop, because the city has a shortage. But that doesn’t seem to be what happened, so most of the outrage in the original article – and in general – really isn’t justified here. All that said, there are two caveats here. It’s still possible that all the politicians here are flat-out lying to cover their asses, and the reporter and her sources were actually right in the first place. Though that seems unlikely, it’s not implausible. Second, the confusion about reality of the grant aside, the amount of outrage generated is nevertheless uplifting. It’s wonderful to see people calling out the bullshit of naturopathy – I love that the reporter who wrote the article makes a point of putting the “doctor” in “naturopathic ‘doctor’” in scare quotes. And I love that she gives primary space in the article to a real doctor – Dr. Michelle Cohen – who is nicely scathing in her criticism of the exploitative basis of naturopathy.

  • [] Alberta ‘Wexit’ Group Says It Wants to Roll Back Womens’ Legal Rights and Outlaw ‘Racial Agitation’

    If you’ve been paying attention to news media in the last week or two, you’ve undoubtedly heard about “Wexit”: the idiotic idea of an Alberta “separation” from Canada. If one were to judge from the coverage, one might justifiably believe this is an actual grassroots uprising of sorts – a real movement of the people fuelled by a widespread ideology. But of course, it’s nothing of the sort. In reality “Wexit” is a tiny, tiny core, surrounded by a much larger – but still rather small – mass of people who don’t really believe in the idea, but are drawn to the group because it allows and encourages them to be open about being pissed-off and racist. Basically, it’s your typical far-right rage community, with the actual “Wexit” people just trying to leverage it for their own aims. And like similar right-wing “movements” before it (Yellow Vests Canada, for example), it’s everything you’d expect it to be: racist, anti-immigrant, misogynist, etc.. And, no surprises here, it has fundamentalist Christian roots – in this case, a connection to the Christian Heritage Party.

  • [] Alberta’s Getting Opt-Out Organ Donation. What About Your Province?

    Alberta is the star of this week’s Update, but unfortunately, most of the news is negative. But not this item! I’ve written before about why a “presumed consent” system for organ donation – an “opt-out” system, as the article refers to it – is a much better system than the current “opt-in” system used across most of Canada. And earlier this year, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to do so. Now, Alberta is seriously floating the idea, and if it actually passes there, it might also automatically apply to Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

  • [] The ‘most pro-life Legislature in decades’ gets ready to make its first move to restrict reproductive rights

    Nobody should be surprised by this. It’s not like it wasn’t obviously coming, given Kenney’s waffling about reopening the abortion debate. But this bill is more insidious than that, because it not only threatens to undermine abortion rights, it also threatens other women’s health needs, like contraception, and even unrelated things like assisted dying. The real insult to Albertans’ intelligence comes in the spin that this is merely some back-bencher’s private member’s bill, and not actually government policy. As David Climenhaga points out, not only did the bill pass, 100% of the UCPMPs present voted for it.

  • [] WTF? Slurs offend young adults more than swearing

    From time to time, we at Canadian Atheist get huffy messages from people complaining about the fact that we use words like “fuck”, and are so scandalized by such coarse language that they can no longer stand to read us. No, seriously, that actually happens, and surprisingly frequently. My current recent favourite had the writer babbling on about how she first encountered the word in the – I shit you not – 1950s when reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and how she traumatized her 14 year-old (!!!) son by forcing him to listen to her define it for him after hearing him use it. I don’t know what response to give a message like that other than “LOL, OK, boomer”. Here’s the thing. First, look up the fucking definition of “profane”… now tell me with a straight face that it’s such a shockingly out-of-character act for a publication called Canadian Atheist to revel in profanity. Blasphemy is our jam, man; deal with it. Second, as more and more research is revealing (mentioned in the article), sprinkling in a little pepper in one’s language is not only not evidence of a lazy mind – to borrow a quote from Lady Chatterley’s Language Lawyer – it’s actually evidence of the opposite. And now we’re getting evidence of an even more interesting phenomenon: the kinds of words that gave Lady Chatterley’s Loser the vapours – words related to body parts or functions – those words don’t even elicit a shrug from kids these days. What does bother kids these days: slurs. That is fascinating: profanity is becoming no longer about actually being profane – no longer about being blasphemous or sacrilegious… indeed no longer determined by a religious basis at all! Instead, what really bothers people today is… dehumanizing others. This is a very subtle, but very interesting way that the influence of religion is slowly being excised from our culture. And to that I say: fuck yeah!

  • [] Toronto Catholic school board votes to include gender identity, expression in code of conduct

    Yeah, of course, they backed down. There was money involved!

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