Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
There are a lot of atheists who think that theists are generally stupid, and that “debunking” theism is a simple matter of pointing out some basic logical inconsistencies, and then checkmate. Which is a long-winded way of saying that there are a lot of atheists who are idiots. Because, of course, it’s not that simple to “debunk” theism, and even a moment’s thought – specifically, thought not blinded by arrogance and Dunning–Kruger-fuelled self-confidence – makes that blindingly obvious. Many – if not most – of the most brilliant people in all of human history were theists, and while they may have been wrong on that particular question (brilliance does not insulate one from being mistaken, especially outside of one’s area of expertise), at least some of them must have at some point at least tried using their powerful intellects to justify their faith. Which means that even if ultimately fallacious, they must have come up with some incredibly well-structured and nuanced apologetics. Which means that it’s highly unlikely that some rando who’s read a few blogs and watched a few YouTube “atheist DesTROyS theism” videos is capable of mounting a completely damning deconstruction of those apologetics with a few rhetorical flourishes… yes, even if that rando happens to be you. This blog post is only a single chapter in a book, and it’s only a very cursory introduction to the topic – just a very, very broad overview of the terrain. It ultimately doesn’t even include any “killer” arguments or conclusions; it just illustrates the ways those arguments and conclusions might be shaped. And yet, look how deep into the weeds it gets. I wanted to include this chapter because it gives a very good look at just what real debunking of theism would entail – and just how well-prepared you’d have to be if you really wanted to go out there and debate the existence of God without looking like a clueless schmuck.
I’ve been an atheist activist for almost two decades now, and because of that, I have a certain expertise in the field that I understand the average Canadian does not. So I can’t help but wonder what the average Canadian thinks when they read a story like this, with a line like:
On Sunday, Langley RCMP said they asked congregants at the small church in a strip mall to disperse. When they didn’t, police issued the fine. Congregants Tanya Gaw and Kari Simpson said bylaw officers issued the fine at the 8:30 a.m.PT service.I imagine their thinking is something like: “Gee, how authoritarian for the cops to punish these nice ladies in this tiny little church! All they wanna do is pray! Can we not find some kind of compromise or accommodation?” Meanwhile, I read the same sentences, and have a very different reaction, thinking: “Oh, I know those names,” while trying not to vomit. As with so many of these little anti-pandemic measure protests (another recent example being the “Adamson Barbecue” guy), these people protesting are not who they appear to be. These are not two random congregants of a little strip mall church in southeastern BC. These two women are monsters; they are absolute pieces of human garbage… and they have a very relevant agenda they are hiding here. Tanya Gaw is a notorious islamophobe and transphobe, who most recently has been spending her time peddling conspiracy theories about COVID-19, like that masks don’t work, and tests have rampant false positives. Kari Simpson is probably the most infamous homophobic bigot in BC, most known for her campaigns against any kind of modern, inclusive education about sex and gender, and for bullshit like comparing the Pride flag to the Nazi flag, and lying about a nonexistent holiday to get a Christian flag flown at Langley City Hall. Armed with this knowledge, re-read that article; note now that the cops first asked the group to break up, and only levied the fine after they refused. Now the picture is very different, isn’t it?
Churchgoers say ban on religious services violates their Charter rightsmy ass. “Churchgoers”? Pfft. These women aren’t innocent congregants fighting for their right to practice their faith against state overreach. They are far-right extremist bigots, promoting conspiracy theories about COVID-19, and they were looking for a fight.
The punchline of this comic is amusing, but I’m actually more fascinated by the question at the beginning. Assuming we’re of some special interest to it (that is, assuming we’re not talking about a god who just started the universe spinning without any particular interest in us specifically), why would a creator god choose to make us with the bodies we have? If we’re the special-chosen-ones-uniquely-loved by the god, why would it make us with such shitty chassis? It isn’t that hard to improve the human form; we’ve been doin’ it since the stone age by adding stuff like protective shielding (clothing, shoes, etc.), technological enhancements (glasses, artificial limbs, tools, etc.), and external modifiers (calculators, books to extend/share memories and knowledge, etc.). Not to mention there are a ton shitty design aspects of the human form. Why wouldn’t the god have done it right from the get-go?
It continues to amaze me, not that some people keep claiming that Québec’s CAQ government is “secular”, but that they actually think anyone’s stupid enough to believe it. The CAQ has always been firmly based in the Catho-fascism of right-wing Quebec nationalism, since before even it was the CAQ, going back to its source parties: the Parti Québécois and Action démocratique du Québec. It has always been apparent in everything they’ve ever done. Even if you want to wilfully ignore how Bill 21 fits that pattern, you can go back to the original “Charter of Values”, which explicitly enshrined Québécois Catholicism as its “cultural heritage” (and thus exempt from the sweeping restrictions on other religious traditions). That Legault would give special privileges to the Christian holiday that he would never dream of giving to any other religious holidays… that’s not surprising, that exactly what I would expect him to do. I could have predicted it; I did predict it. (I also predicted that he would have to walk it back, given the outcry, and given how bad the pandemic situation is in Québec. And, lo, he has. I claim to be no prophet; this prediction required no more clairvoyance than asserting that the sun will rise tomorrow.)
Well, this is a bit of a bummer, but hardly a catastrophe worth getting enraged about (as I’ve seen some atheists doing). I honestly don’t get the logic of these kinds of rulings; if someone files a lawsuit saying Frank was negligent in his duty to salt his walkway, and that resulted in the plaintiff slipping and breaking their leg, I don’t get the sense of a ruling that says, “well, Frank’s salting his walkway now, so, we’re all squaresies!” Yeah, the province has vastly improved its oversight of religious schools since it failed Yohanan and Shifra Lowen… but it still failed Yohanan and Shifra Lowen. So how is their lawsuit not valid? I don’t have access to the ruling (yet), so I can’t read the judge’s logic. (I can’t even read what the Lowens asked for, so maybe what’s going on here is that they Lowens weren’t suing for restitution, but rather for action to be taken to help prevent other victims… in which case, I guess it makes sense to rule that action was already taken, so all’s good.) But in any case, to be clear, no: the ruling was not that Tash did nothing wrong and their “education” was valid, or that the province had no responsibility for allowing the crap that passed for “education”, or anything else that’s been claimed about the ruling. It is not in dispute that the Lowens got a substandard education and that Tash must do better. It’s just (apparently) been concluded that enough has already been done in the interim between when the Lowens first made their complaint and now.
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