Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

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

    Technically the joke here is about how people have an innate need that is satiated by authoritarianism and conspiracy theories. But it’s hard not to see how it works for religion, too – especially theistic religion.

  • [] The real reason the Ford government wants to let Canada Christian College grant degrees

    This may be the story that got the most attention in Canadian atheist communities this week… but unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. So here’s the actual story: earlier this month, the Ontario Progressive Conservative government tabled Bill 213, the “Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2020”. Behind the silly name, Bill 213 is mostly a massive, omnibus bill intended to remove red tape for businesses in order to promote economic recovery (it was actually tabled by Prabmeet Sarkaria, the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction (yes, that’s a thing)). However… buried in the bill is a section that would change Canada Christian College and School of Graduate Theological Studies to Canada University and School of Graduate Theological Studies. It would also allow them to issue Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Now, there’s a lot to be infuriated about here – I mean, burying this shit is a COVID relief bill is obviously underhanded. But the problem with accrediting Canada Christian College is not – as most atheists seem to be assuming – because of the “Christian” in its name. There are tons of legit universities that started out as Christian schools – hell, my own university, McMaster, started out as a Baptist project, and still has very deep connections with that history (like McMaster Divinity College)… yet it’s also one of the most prestigious universities in Canada, boasting two Nobel Prize winners (including Donna Strickland, from 2018). No, the problem with Canada Christian College isn’t that it’s Christian. The problem is with its president, Charles McVety – perhaps Ontario’s most prominent homophobic and islamophobic bigot – and with its strict, oppressive policies requiring students to live “Biblically”. Not only that, there are serious questions about the way this is being done, bypassing the post-secondary education quality assessment board – from what I’ve heard, it seems unlikely the school’s academic quality would pass muster. As Michael Coren notes, this really stinks of political cronyism. I should also mention, because I haven’t seen anyone else mention this, that Bill 213 doesn’t just try to stealthily accredit Canada Christian College. It also tries to stealthily accredit Redeemer Reformed Christian College (it would become “Redeemer University”) and Tyndale University College & Seminary (it would become “Tyndale University”).

  • [] End-of-Life: A Guide for Humanists and Non-Religious People in B.C.

    There are still a few areas of modern life where religion is almost completely entrenched, and the area of death and dying is one of the most challenging. There are humanist perspectives of death and dying, but they’re not exactly mainstream yet. The BCHA dives right in with this effort to demystify dying as a humanist… and arguably more important, how to live as a humanist without fearing or ignoring our eventual deaths.

  • [] Right-wing extremism: The new wave of global terrorism

    A lot of our readers are young enough that their only concept of “terrorism” is religiously-motivated terrorism… and, let’s be honest, specifically Islamist terrorism. But it’s important to understand that that particular flavour of terrorism is really only a relatively recent phenomenon. I mean, there was always religiously-inspired terrorism, but before the mid-1990s with the World Trade Centre bombing (1993), the Tokyo sarin attack (1995), and, of course, 9/11 (2001), when one thought about major terrorist attacks, one usually thought about politically-motivated attacks, usually by groups that wanted to create their own, separate state; for example, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Babbar Khalsa, and the Tamil Tigers. And of course, anyone who’s read early-20th history knows that when they thought about “terrorism”, they thought about anarchists, Marxists, socialists, communists, and far-left extremism generally. But the times, they are a-changin’. It took some time, and at first authorities seemed determined not to recognize the new trend, but now it’s becoming accepted wisdom that far-right extremism is what terrorism is going to look like in the next couple of decades. Oh, for sure we’ll still be keeping an eye on religious fundamentalism, though.

  • [] Education experts slam leaked Alberta curriculum proposals

    The last few weeks we’ve been focusing a lot on BC and Saskatchewan; understandable since they’re both about to have elections. But what’s been going on in good ol’ Alberta while we’ve been distracted? Ah, of course. The usual UCP bullshit. What are they up to now? Well, as The Beaverton hilariously puts it: “Alberta removes education from curriculum”. Let’s set aside the absolutely ridiculous and obviously partisan aspects proposed; what makes this of interest to Canadian Atheist is the stealth inclusion of religious teaching, via the teaching of Biblical verses about creation as poetry. All par for the course for the UCP.

  • [] Canadian magician, skeptic The Amazing Randi dead at 92

    This week we lost one of the greatest Canadian atheists of all time. James Randi was a pioneer, and one of the founding fathers of modern-day atheism. His debunkings of the mystical claims of Uri Geller and Peter Popoff are the stuff of legend, and who hasn’t heard of the classic million dollar challenge for any proof of the paranormal? But Randi was also instrumental in making science and the scientific method the foundation for all his work; he repeatedly insisted he wasn’t a “debunker”, he was an “investigator”, because he didn’t look into each claim with the predetermined conclusion that it would be false, but rather made every effort to be neutral and fair, and give the claim every reasonable chance to be shown true (but of course, they were always proven false regardless). Of course, he wasn’t a perfect man. He was a climate change denier and a eugenicist, among other things, and he sat back and did nothing while the organizations he founded slid into right-wing nuttery. But on the whole, I think Randi’s work, and the philosophy he bequeathed to an entire generation of atheists and skeptics, nevertheless balance out to an incredible, possibly unmatched net positive contribution to the world.

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4 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Is there a University in Canada that doesn’t have a religious connection? That was the last thing on my mind when I went to the Universities of Waterloo and Ottawa. Now I wonder, should I decide to do a Master’s, could I find a university suitable for a Moral Atheist like me? Maybe it’s time for a new university.

    • There are lots of services that really need an atheist or atheist-friendly version – all sorts of charities, non-profits, political parties, senior’s homes, schools and so on. A seat on the city or local police service diversity committees. Lawyers, hairdressers… There are enough of us.

      • Is there a University in Canada that doesn’t have a religious connection?

        If the “connection” is just historical, does it really matter? It’s not like McMaster is a front for some Baptist church. (Nor is Waterloo a Lutheran operation, nor is uOttawa a Catholic diocese.)

        Maybe it’s time for a new university.

        Why? Is there something wrong with the ones we have?

        There are lots of services that really need an atheist or atheist-friendly version…

        But why? Why would there be a problem with an atheist getting their hair styled by a Sikh, or being represented in court by a Muslim, or being taught in school by a Jew?

        If we assume they are actually doing their jobs, then it really doesn’t matter whether the service provider is religious or not. And if they are not doing their jobs… then again, it really doesn’t matter if they’re atheists. A Buddhist hairdresser that refuses to style your hair is exactly as useless as an atheist hairdresser that refuses to style your hair.

        I’ll grant that there are a few problem areas where too many people are refusing to do their jobs using religion as an excuse, like health care. But it is absurd to think we can fix that problem by removing all religious people from those domains. There are better options, like maybe mandating that religion cannot be an excuse for refusing to provide service (which seems unlikely to work, except in special cases, like health care). Or maybe requiring businesses that intend to refuse service for religious reasons to have a sign out front stating as much.

        We’re supposed to be the ones who are tolerant; we’re not the ones who discriminate against others based on their beliefs (or lack thereof). We’re supposed to be the ones who are “not tribal”. I see no problem with working with religious people, so long as those religious people are not forcing their beliefs on others. And the exact same is true for atheists: I have no problem working with atheists that aren’t trying to force their beliefs (or lack thereof) on others.

  2. People using violence to achieve their goals goes back a long way. Easier to destroy than build. Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot circa 1600s England – was “guy” a pawn or and independent thinker? When people wear the V mask to protests, do they understand that they are signalling their willingness to use violence? The “V for Vendetta” movie glosses over the real story. To those who use “guy” in an casual way, are you aware that you are saying the person is someone willing to use violence? This is a serious thing. Normalizing violence makes it easier to commit. Who wants that? Terrorism is a global human problem, that we can fix by providing systems to manage inevitable conflict. We need robust justice and governance systems, an educated population that knows how to use those systems and has the resources to do so. Those who are blocking these things need not be afraid.

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