Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] James Randi & The Horror of the Skeptic Movement

    As mentioned in a previous Update James Randi, perhaps Canada’s most famous skeptical activist, died last month, and most of the skeptosphhere responded with measured eulogies: he was an amazing for skepticism, but he had his flaws. That was essentially my own take on it, too, and I still stand by it, but Hayley Stevens has a different point of view. She, like so many others, was driven out of the skeptic movement by people like Randi. She writes: The skeptic movement is largely for people who think that their non-belief… makes them superior to those who believe. It doesn’t. How someone treats a person they think is inferior to them is often a good indicator of what kind of person somebody is. Many in the skeptic movement fail this test. I mean, yeah; I see this all the time. Many atheists seem to only be in it for the malicious glee they get out of pointing out their moral superiority over believers, and they lack all empathy for they’re simultaneously pretending to be so concerned about. I don’t think it’s contradictory to say Randi had, on balance, a massively positive impact, while also saying he wasn’t really a great role model himself. He may have been the best of the bunch, but he was still very much a member of the old guard of skepticism, which we have come to realize in the last few years, that we really need to move beyond.

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

    This is an amusing observation, but from my understanding, theologically incorrect. You see, if you read the Bible carefully, it’s not true that only your “ghost” goes to Heaven. Heaven is a physical place, where prophets like Elijah and Enoch could be physically lifted to. Jesus also, if you’ll recall, rose physically from the dead (hence the empty tomb), then ascended bodily to Heaven. The original belief (so far as I can tell, of course), was not that our souls go to Heaven when we die, but that they sort of stay in stasis with our corpses. Then as described in 1 Thessalonians 4, when Jesus returns, he will raise the dead, and then lift both the living and the recently resurrected into Heaven (or, at least, “the clouds”). In other words, no, Heaven is not full of ghosts. It’s full of zombies.

  • [] Child should attend Hebrew school, not secular school, court rules in family case

    This decision leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but it’s important to understand the context. A lot of people read this as a case of one parent wanting the kid to go to a secular school while the other wants them to go to a religious school, with the court sided with the religious option… and people who viewed the case this way understandably blew a gasket. But that’s not what happened here at all. Both parents wanted the kid to go to Jewish school. The difference was that the mother wanted him to go to school five days a week, while the father wanted him to go to school six days a week: weekdays in secular school, then Sundays at a supplemental Jewish program. Five days of school versus six days of school; that’s what it came down to. All the other stuff didn’t matter. The difference in distance between the schools was negligible, the difference in class sizes was marginal, and even the difference in cost worked out to be irrelevant. (Although the religious school cost around $14k versus the secular school costing around $9k, once you include the cost of the supplemental Jewish program, plus the tax rebates for the more expensive school, it works out to a difference of a few hundred dollars. And both parents’ incomes are over $100k, so… yeah, peanuts.) So it really came down to a decision about what was best for the kid, and no, religion didn’t factor into it all. It was just a matter of having an extra day to play and socialize. Oh, but one more thing. A couple people whinged about whether the quality of education would be the same at the religious school. Seriously, come on. This is kindergarten. The kid is 3. I’m pretty sure that a Jewish school could do just as adequate job as a secular school of teaching him to colour within the fricken’ lines. (Now, the judge noted that there is a dispute about whether to transfer the kid to public school for grade 1… but… that’s in the future; it wasn’t something he was interested in dealing with in this decision.)

  • [] Church of Atheism of Central Canada v MNR: Charitable Status for Atheists and the Triviality of Religious Freedom Infringements

    Ugh, this fuckin’ case again. 🤦🏼 There’s a reason so many atheists were infuriated by this dipshit and his horse-ass attempt at using an “atheist church” to challenge Canadian law, and the reason – as nicely elucidated in this very in-depth review of the legal situation – is that the law really does need to be challenged. But it needed to be challenged properly. These are serious, deep legal issues, with potentially widespread consequences across Canadian jurisprudence and legislation. A legal challenge that targeted those issues, properly done, has the potential to be the the most impactful Canadian legal ruling on secularism since Saguenay, or possibly even Big M Drug Mart. It could be fucking huge; truly landscape changing. But we didn’t get a serious or intelligent challenge. Instead we got this clown blathering about the “ten commandments of energy” or some shit that he probably thought was oh-so-clever. It was one of the most criminally wasted opportunities in Canadian secularism of the entire 2010s. Just read this review, which touches on just some of the legal questions about how Canadian law views religion that this case could have brought under scrutiny.

  • [] Quebec’s ban on religious symbols threatens education, health of minorities, trial hears

    So this week, the court challenge to Québec’s Bill 21 – the religious accessories ban – got underway. Honestly, there’s really not much to say about it at this point. Thus far it’s simply been expert witnesses pointing out facts that (to me at least) seem blitheringly obvious. Yeah, the law is discriminatory. Yeah, it only gives credence to one particular interpretation of what a hijab symbolizes, and notably not the interpretation of anyone who wears it Yeah, it targets visible minorities, and because of that, exacerbates existing prejudices against them. None of this is new or interesting information (well, except to the usual parade of bigots and halfwits, who inevitably get apoplectic every time the Bill comes up (well, technically, they get apoplectic every time Islam comes up, but pointing that out really takes all the mystery out of their motives)). Sure there are some really fascinating legal arguments in the mix in order to get around the notwithstanding clause. (My favourite is the argument that Québec can’t use the notwithstanding clause to grant itself powers it doesn’t have, and by trying to create a state (non-)religion and by attempting to regulate religion, it is claiming powers that only the federal government should have. This is really neat, because I can see the courts being loathe to simply rule that the notwithstanding clause is bullshit, given that its purpose is to give Parliament more power than the courts; the courts are not going to want to shatter that illusion. So this is a way of saying, why yes, Parliament does have the last word… but the federal parliament has a last-er last word. So a provincial government could use the notwithstanding clause to allow itself to do something that it was already allowed to do (other than being disallowed by §2, etc.), but it can’t use it to steal power from the feds (or other provinces). Clever!)

  • [] Doug Ford Wants This Bible College to Grant Science Degrees. It Supports a TV Channel That Pushes COVID-19 Conspiracies.

    Wow, this whole scandal involving Doug Ford’s underhanded accreditation of Charles McVety’s “school”, Canada Christian College, is really blowing up. And I gotta say, I don’t feel the least bit guilty at enjoying it just a little. I’m not the least bit surprised at all the dirt that’s being dug up about McVety himself; I already knew the guy was a grade-A scumbag. What’s surprising me was just how shady the College is, too. There are so many accusations of at least questionable, if not outright illegal shit, coming so quickly, that I couldn’t find a single article that covered them all. For example, while this article covers the dodgy entanglements with John “God was on Hitler’s side” Hagee, an evangelical TV station, and the fucking NFL – yes, the football league – it doesn’t mention at all the very fishy “loans” the College made to McVety and his family… that appears to have been spent on crap like jet skis. And neither article mentions that McVety is a creationist (but is the college? we don’t know! he won’t say! so much for integrity). Last I checked, Ford has yet to offer any sort of explanation for the whole mess, other than a wishy-washy insistence that the accreditation was being handled properly (despite the obvious evidence that it’s not). But then again, his hands are probably tied. He probably wants to repudiate McVety, at least publicly, for the sake of his own political image… but he really does owe McVety a lot for getting him the so-con vote. Plus, now that that cringey video of Ford wishing McVety a happy birthday has come out, it’s really going to make any claims that he’s not deeply entangled with the bigot a lot harder to sell.

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