Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] What is Humanism?

    This is a pretty decent introduction to the idea of humanism. It kinda strays a bit from directly answering the title question as it goes on, but that’s because Law wants to not only describe what humanism is, he also wants to address criticisms of humanism. Because of that, it’s worth a read even if you’ve considered yourself a humanist for ages. I know a lot of humanists, for example, who think that utilitarian ethics are the only valid option for humanists… while that’s something I personally reject. And of course, there are a lot of humanists who only remember the first part of article 2 of the Amsterdam Declaration (about the application of science) while forgetting the last two sentences (about how science needs to be tempered by human values), and end up seduced by the idea of scientism.

  • [] Most Canadians and Americans Would Shun Debate on Abortion

    It honestly blows my mind that the abortion “debate” is still a topic in contemporary politics… but amazingly it’s actually still hard to get an abortion in some parts of Canada, and the social conservatives haven’t given up their quixotic fight to get it completely banned. Part of the reason I’m so nonplussed that it’s still a thing is because the reality is that nobody really wants it to be a thing. ~55-60% of Canadians don’t even want it “debated” again, and almost half thing it should be legal under any circumstances (if you add the “only certain circumstances” people, it goes over 90%). Even Conservative voters don’t want the issue re-opened. It really shows just how beholden our political system can be to small but dedicated and well-organized groups.

  • [] COVID Denial Politics In Quebec and Beyond: What’s Religion Got to Do With It?

    This is an interesting article by Val Wilde, connecting various conspiracy theories that are having a major impact in contemporary Québec, specifically focusing anti-maskers. Wilde suggests that the common thread connecting many of the more popular conspiracy theories is a need to take control in a world where people feel increasingly powerless. Under their surface grievances, these are all anti-authority movements borne out of frustration at that sense of powerlessness, and – and this is where Wilde’s piece gets really insightful – while it may sound weird to think of Christian evangelical fundamentalists as being “anti-authority”, if you realize that they can’t rebel against God (because, yanno, it’s God), it makes perfect sense that they would rebel against literally everyone else who tries to tell them what to do instead… such as scientists, public health officials, and just about anyone whose head isn’t up their ass and can see and explain why their beliefs are idiotic. The one thing I take issue with in the article is the claim that the threat posed by this conspiracy thinking hasn’t intruded into the physical world yet. I find that to be not just naïve, it’s outright deluded.

  • [] QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic

    This is an amazing article; I cannot recommend it enough. We’re all trying to make sense of the QAnon thing: Is it a farce? Is it a cult? Even experts are flabbergasted by it. And there is a lot of confusion among authorities and those in power over whether it actually represents a threat, and if so, what should be done about it. I think Levin’s article is important for two reasons. First, it connects QAnon’s wild and daffy conspiracy theory to a historical context chock full of similar wild and daffy conspiracy theories, all way back to ancient Rome. QAnon’s wacky ideas about children in tunnels being drained of their blood for the sake of extending the lives of evil lefties makes a lot more… okay, no, it’s still fucking crazy and makes no sense at all, but at least it becomes a recognizable form of crazy when we realize it’s just the latest iteration of the blood libel against Jews. But it’s for the second reason that I really think this article – and QAnon in general – is something we really need to take far more seriously. Levin points out that as batshit insane as QAnon’s conspiracy theories may be, so too were the conspiracy theories of the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. It’s tempting to laugh off what happened during the Satanic Panic as just some goofy blip in history, but it was less than 40 years ago – we’re not talking about ignorant medieval peasants here; some of the people in power then are still in power today (*cough*Joe Biden*cough*). Several people’s lives were destroyed by the nonsense of the Satanic Panic – entire towns were turned upside down – and at least one innocent person is still in prison to this day. What makes conspiracy theories dangerous is not the plausibility or ridiculousness of the theory, but rather how many people in power buy into it. That is what made the Satanic Panic so destructive… and that is what makes QAnon so scary, because there are shocking levels of support for it among authorities. As with religious belief generally, we need to take QAnon seriously, not because its claims are serious – they’re not; they’re absurdly idiotic, and obviously wrong – but because it has believers, some of whom have power, and some of whom could, and have, acted out violently based on their belief.

  • [] Liberals revive bill that seeks to outlaw forced LGBTQ conversion therapy

    This is a little bit of good news. It was a bummer when Parliament was prorogued and the conversion therapy ban bill vanished into the æther. It wasn’t a perfect bill, but it was good, and about as good as we can expect from a Liberal government. I’m glad to see it re-introduced.

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