Weekly Update: to

by | August 29, 2020

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[An infographic by the British Columbia Humanist Association about legislative prayer across Canada, published August 27, 2020. At the federal level, it says: “The House of Commons and the Senate begin with the speaker reading a standard ‘non-denominational’ prayer, followed by time for silent reflection.” For Yukon: “The speaker reads one of four standard prayers.” For Northwest Territories: “MLAs deliver a prayer of their own devising.” For Nunavut: “MLAs deliver a prayer of their own devising.” For British Columbia: “MLAs deliver a prayer or reflection of their own devising or from a sample prayer provided by the Clerk.” For Alberta: “The Speaker reads a prayer of their own devising.” For Saskatchewan: “The Speaker reads a standard ‘non-denominational’ prayer.” For Manitoba: “The Speaker reads a standard ‘non-denominational’ prayer.” For Ontario: “The Speaker reads the Lord’s Prayer and a prayer from a rotating schedule ‘reflecting Indigenous, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Baha’i and Sikh faiths.’ For Québec: “Sittings begin with a quiet ‘moment of reflection.’ The practice of opening sittings with a prayer was ended in 1976.” For Newfoundland and Labrador: “Has never opened with a prayer.” For New Brunswick: “MLAs read Christian prayers for the Queen, the Legislature and the Lord’s Prayer.” For Prince Edward Island: “The speaker reads Christian prayers for the Queen, the Legislature and the Lord’s Prayer.” For Nova Scotia: “The Speaker reads a shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer.”]
So what is the situation in your province/territory?
  • [] Post-Supernatural Cultures: There and Back Again

    This is a very interesting research article, though of course, being a research publication, it’s a heady read, so I suggest Friendly Atheist’s summary article for an easier read. The research was basically trying to answer to questions: What factors cause the growth of nonbelief in supernatural religions in certain societies rather than others, and; why has it happened so rarely in history? The authors take the six most dominant theories of what causes nonbelief, then try to create a unified model, and then use computer modelling to simulate the alleged effects of each variable to determine which factors really matter. Turns out there are four key conditions that must all exist to some degree in order to trigger a significant surge in the number of heathens in a society: existential security, freedom of expression, education, and diversity. In order for a nonreligious population to emerge and blossom, all four of these conditions are necessary, and – and this is the important part – they must all exist for a sustained period of time. That’s why it’s been so rare throughout history; very few societies have been free from war, disease, and famine for long periods of time, and even when they have, they weren’t well-educated, or free, or diverse. The paper also notes that it is very to backslide; even if you do have a significant nonbeliever population, if you lose one of the four conditions, it can start to decline and the society can regress to belief in the supernatural… which is something we’ve arguably witnessed in recent decades.

  • [] Corporate diversity targets could help dismantle systemic racism

    The science is pretty much in on diversity targets, proving that – properly viewed and pursued – they do produce significant demonstrable benefits both to the companies/organizations implementing them, and to the broader society. (And “properly viewed and implemented” is not a “no true Scot” fallacy-style cop out; there are clearly described rules for how to do it and how not to do it – like that quotas are bad, and that the diversity must not be merely superficial – and if those rules are followed, the benefits are guaranteed appear to some degree or another.) That’s not news; of course, there are still denialists, but… 🤷🏼. What really caught my eye about this item is not the restating of the obvious and already well-evidenced, but rather some peripheral information buried in the article. It’s widely understood that modern-day racism finds its roots in quasi-“scientific” ideas from the Enlightenment. But the author interestingly suggests that contemporary institutionalized racism actually finds its roots in the “Doctrine of Discovery” – an idea promoted by the Vatican in the 15th century. Obviously, the modern flavour is more subtle, and more internalized – so “natural” we don’t even think about it. But it’s interesting to think that institutionalized intolerance may have started as a conscious policy decision.

  • [] “Of Course Jordan & Mikhaila Peterson Caught COVID-19 Because They Thought It Wasn’t a Big Deal” (Video: 8:20)

    If you’d forgotten about Jordan Peterson… you lucky bastard, you. But at one point, Jordan Peterson was the darling of a certain sector of the atheist community… the shitbag sector, it was the shitbag sector, in case you didn’t know. He kinda disappeared for a while, and… wow… what a story there is there. You know what, I’m not even gonna try to summarize. Rebecca Watson has his number, and his daughter’s too. Just watch the video (or read the transcript; it’s complete), and prepare to have your mind blown.

  • [] N.S. woman’s attempt to stop husband from medically assisted death continues

    This story is probably going to enrage you, and I’m sorry for that. Brace yourself. X is 83 and Y is 82, and they’ve known each other for 62 years, and been married for 48 of those years. (I’m following from Justice Rosinski’s recommendation not to name either person.) They’ve apparently had a happy marriage, and no real disputes in the past, despite the fact that X is not particularly religious, and Y is a devout Christian. X has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and he wants a peaceful death, so he applied for medical assistance in dying. He was assessed by multiple medical professionals – including respiratory experts and a psychiatrist – and four agreed that he met the criteria for MAiD. For full disclosure, a couple others did say that he may not be eligible because they didn’t believe his death was reasonably foreseeable… which is a weird legal but non-medical term that several of the doctors admitted they didn’t really understand. And there were concerns about dementia and cognitive impairment, but only one – a nurse, I believe, right at the beginning of the process – thought it was bad enough to be a problem. The final recommendation was written by a guy who actually helped write Nova Scotia’s laws on assisted dying, and he meticulously went through all the concerns of all previous recommendations, and still ended up saying X was eligible. Unfortunately, Y has religious objections to assisted dying, and that’s sad, but it should only be a tragic footnote in this story… but wait until you hear what this monstrous piece of human garbage up and did. She got some pseudo-doctor – the son of a church friend, apparently – who managed to diagnose – despite not having a medical licence, and apparently via a single telephone conversation – X as being a delusional hypochondriac who isn’t really dying from COPD, but just suffering from old guy stuff. Note that this “doctor” was certified in family medicine 25 years ago, not respiratory medicine or psychology. Armed with this, Y proceeded to file a court injunction blocking X’s medically assisted death. Aaaand, it’s been working its way through the courts every since, with X forced to wait for a decision – suffering the whole time. X already won at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (this is the decision I have access to, and am reading), and is now awaiting an appeal decision from the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. X is understandably upset at having his suffering extended, and on top of that, hearing Y basically call him a loony bin case. They’ve split up, but X still has to wait for the decision, and he’s blaming it all on Y’s religion.

  • [] James Sears Distributing Flyers Claiming Covid-19 Pandemic is a Satanic Hoax

    If you don’t recognize the name, James Sears is one of the shitbags who was responsible for Your Ward News, a virulently antisemitic, neo-Nazi flyer that was put into people’s mailboxes in Toronto’s east end up until last year, when the publishers were convicted for hate speech (though they dragged out the sentencing for almost a year with endless courtroom antics). So what’s new? Well, he’s still virulently antisemitic, but now he’s on about COVID-19 and masks. And Satan. Who is apparently Jewish. And Marxist. 🤷🏼

  • [] B.C. moving ahead with massive reform of system for regulating health-care workers

    So, the backstory here is that after several years of disaster and embarrassments – including damning allegations of cronyism and lack of oversight, and some truly wacky stories like major figures in chiropractic and naturopathy making absurd public statements like that fruit smoothies cure cancer, or one infamous case where a naturopath diagnosed a boy as a werewolf and treated him with live rabies virus – British Columbia had pretty much had enough of the bullshit going on with their professional medical colleges. They called in an independent expert, and he basically said to burn the whole thing down. (He also pointedly called out the inclusion of bullshit like homeopathy in the field of “medicine”, but… well, more on that in a moment.) BC’s NDP/Green coalition government actually listened! (I know I sound shocked, but I’m living under the Ford government in Ontario and the Trudeau government… neither of which has a good track record of listening to experts.) They not only announced major reforms… they’ve actually started implementing them already. They are collapsing their 20 professional colleges down to 6… but it’s one of the six that’s really raising some eyebrows: a professional college specifically to regulate “Complementary and Alternative Health Care Professionals”. In other words, a quack college – a provincially-recognized professional college for medical woo. The British Columbia Humanist Association has already condemned the proposed college, and I don’t… disagree… with them. I mean, they’re absolutely right: it’s fucking ridiculous that the province is giving the official stamp of credibility to freakin’ accupuncture (as just one example). However… the pragmatist in me can’t help but feel that while this is definitely a compromise of integrity and principles… it’s not an unjustifiable compromise. If there were no professional college for medical charlatans, that won’t make them go away. And without careful regulation, they might even become more dangerous. It won’t matter one whit to the average person-on-the-street whether the naturopath’s professional college is provincially-recognized and -regulated, or just a farce set up by practitioners to ape a real professional college. The quacks are going to act like doctors – they going to put on as much airs as they can possibly legally get away with to bamboozle innocent dupes into thinking they’re real medicine – so the tighter we can keep them under control, the better… and a provincially-regulated professional college is a damn good way to set some strict standards. Plus, there are two other things here that give me hope. The first is that the woo college is explicitly a separate college from every other college devoted to real medicine; it basically creates a silo for bullshit, separate and distinct from everything else. The other is that the college board is apparently not going to be internally filled – instead, the province will assign people to the board, presumably based on competence, and will review performance. That means that… in theory… if the province really cares, they can really rein in a lot of the bullshit that currently exists in practice. Whether the province will exercise this obligation properly remains to be seen… but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that they will at least tamp down on some of the most egregious aspects of the clown show that is “alternative medicine”… especially after the embarrassment of the next werewolf diagnosis or fruit-smoothie cancer prescription, which, let’s face it, is inevitable for those quacks.

  • [] A Vancouver Man Stood Up to Anti-LGBTQ Street Preachers, So They Broke His Leg

    The story is pretty much summed up by the title. Justin Morissette was on his way to a date, happened to spot some hate preachers using a microphone to blast out racist and anti-LGBTQ2S+ shit, walked over and asked them to stop, and… they pushed him down and broke his leg. That’s pretty much the whole story as you’ll get it from most media sources… except as Val Wilde at Friendly Atheist explains, there’s actually a lot more going on here. In particular, there’s the fact that Vancouver police have ignored the fact that the hate preachers were literally broadcasting hate speech – and doing so at volume levels that clearly exceeded what local bylaws allow – and have a long track record of threatening and harassing passersby. It had to get to the point where they were literally breaking bones before the VPD did their jobs? This isn’t even the first time Love caused a massive disturbance – he triggered a small-scale riot just two months ago, as local residents mobbed his group and demanded they leave. Note, residents demanded they leave… they cops did next to nothing other than say, yeah, maybe you’d better pack up and leave before the angry mob tears you apart. Residents have been documenting the hate group’s antics. Not the cops. Imagine that.

  • [] Legislative Prayer Across Canada

    At last, the report we’ve been waiting for! I haven’t had a chance to read it yet – though I’m dying to – but even the freakin’ infographic they published along with the report is eye-opening. I am aghast at how many legislatures open with the Lord’s Prayer – I honestly didn’t know Ontario was still doing it (I knew they do rotating prayers from other faiths, but thought that was all they did… I didn’t realize they did that in addition to the Lord’s Prayer). I don’t think there is any organization in Canada that has done as much in recent years for the cause of secularism and for nonbelievers in general as the British Columbia Humanist Organization. Seriously, you name a major event in Canadian secular news in the past five or ten years, and you will find the BCHA was not only actively campaigning on it – in many cases, they were one of the key, integral players involved. If you’re looking for a secular, humanist, atheist, or freethought organization to support, I strongly recommend the BCHA.

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

    I was always told that God answers prayers in one of only three ways: yes, no, or “wait”. (Which always struck me as a little bit of bullshit, because “wait” ultimately ends in “yes” or “no”, doesn’t it? Unless God just says “wait”, then forgets about it, I suppose.) This sure is a new way to answer.

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