Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts

Friday, 24 April 2015

Calgary Private School Possibly 'Inconsistent' But No Indication of Being 'Atheist'


Chris Selley wrote something over at the National Post about how if schools want to be atheist they should be consistent in their atheism. I think it's worth a look because it shows us that it's not only atheists (schools or people?)  who must be consistent, it's our entire system. Don't blame the atheists, okay?
If you run a private school with a position on religion, these are interesting times. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled Montreal’s Loyola High School was entitled to teach Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture curriculum from a Catholic perspective — that is, it said Catholics were not required to treat Catholicism as just another faith. You might ask: Why would anyone enrol his children in a Jesuit school expecting it to be neutral about Catholicism? Why would a government that strives toward neutrality in matters of religion allow churches to run schools and then presume to tell them how to teach about religion? But this is the country we live in. Many of our governments subsidize the religious schools they’re trying to nudge away from their faiths.
It all sort of breaks down with the very first sentence and Selley knows it. He tries to remedy things by tagging on the last sentence. Let's play it back without all the goop in the middle.
If you run a private school with a position on religion, these are interesting times. ... ... Many of our governments subsidize the religious schools they’re trying to nudge away from their faiths.
Well, that just about sums it up, doesn't it? A huge problem here is we're calling these schools private when they're being subsidized heavily per student by the government. Whether the school be a Muslim academy teaching girls they cannot do track (because running will make them lose their virginity) or a Catholic school teaching that a virgin can give birth to the son of a god whose body becomes one with your Sunday morning communion wafer, it just shouldn't be funded by the government. We definitely shouldn't have this deliberately obscured by calling it a private school.

Let's get into the goo now.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled Montreal’s Loyola High School was entitled to teach Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture curriculum from a Catholic perspective — that is, it said Catholics were not required to treat Catholicism as just another faith.
As I've mentioned before, this is one class... just one single class out of many. This would be perhaps the only class where the school would be required to present alternate religious beliefs without trashing them. Is this really too much to ask? Ultimately though, the school got their cake and they get to eat it too.

Commentor fabuloso puts it excellently:
The Loyola school was not forbidden to "teach Catholicism from a Catholic perspective"; it was, according the the Que. ministry, required to add One Mandatory Course to its curriculum that dealt with religion from a neutral or non-sectarian angle.

That requirement was there so that the Loyola students could receive an accredited degree in public education, with a few comparatives. Similarly, a cult that thought the world was Flat would need to add one course that proposed the Round Earth Theory.
 Surely this must be some form of sloppiness on Selley's part. Now for some more goo.
You might ask: Why would anyone enrol his children in a Jesuit school expecting it to be neutral about Catholicism? Why would a government that strives toward neutrality in matters of religion allow churches to run schools and then presume to tell them how to teach about religion?
I wouldn't expect it to be neutral about Catholicism, most of the time. I would expect them to abide by the education ministry's rules to insure my child gets properly educated on world religions. I would expect that especially since public dollars go into the school.

Look, I don't know how things work in Ontario or the rest of Canada. Here in Quebec, the state has a mandate to ensure a basic level of education for the children. I wonder what Selley thinks about the Quebec government meddling in the education of extreme Orthodox Jewish groups. Should they stand aside and allow children to be taught nothing but the Torah and Yiddish? Why does religion get a pass with Selley?

The first step is to stop public funding of religious schools and subsidies to students, point finale.

Now let's move on past the first freaking paragraph to the rest of the piece. The details of this case are from 2011, predating this blog. This will be my working excuse for having never heard of it.

It seems that there is this prestigious private school in Calgary, Webber Academy, which is attempting to be non-denominational. I have really no idea what that truly means. It could simply signify Christian-lite. Anyway, this school forbade two Muslim students from praying anywhere on the premises. The students went before a human rights tribunal and won. Now the school is stuck with a $26,000 fine and the students can presumably pray in the school.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission fined Webber Academy a total of $26,000 for distress and loss of dignity after the boys were forced to hide at the school or leave the property during the city’s chilly winter to fulfill their faith’s obligations.
Look, as an atheist, even I agree with the commission. So long as it's not lead by the school itself and the students do not get any special privileges and do it discretely somewhere on the premises -- hey, knock yourselves out.

Selley rightly points out that this school was fine with headscarfs and turbans, etc. It just had a problem with the physical action of praying. This was the primary inconsistency of the atheist school.
But it’s not hard to see why they lost. Webber claims visible religious practice is a direct affront to its central ethos, but its ethos doesn’t seem to be very coherent: It allows students to wear turbans and hijabs, for example. The school tried to distinguish between garments as “a state of ‘being'” and prayer as “a visible activity,” which the tribunal kiboshed on principle; but in any event the activity wouldn’t have been “visible” had the school provided a private space. And Neil Webber, the school’s president, certainly did himself no favours by suggesting a student quickly crossing himself might not be a problem.
In the end it can really be a matter of degree but that's not my issue. Selley is here saying that it's those who wish to run atheist schools who are being inconsistent. It's just that there is no indication whatsoever that the school administrators are the slightest bit atheist.

The same commentor, fabuloso sums it up well again.
The Webbers aren't "atheists", they are people who ban visible expressions by students of adherence to any particular religion. As most Christians are not required by their churches to pray out loud, or wear big crosses, this ban is a free pass for Christians. But for faiths that do require a daily prayer, as the HR council said (in one of the few moments when it has fulfilled a lucid purpose), the ban is a ban on Muslim students enrolling in the first place. Which makes Webber a nice, white, suburban, discreetly Christian academy in the near suburbs of Calgary.
It seems to me like the problem with Shelley's piece is not merely in the first sentence. The issue exists even earlier on, in the title itself: Want to be atheist? Be coherent first.

Atheist where, who?

The word atheist makes for good click bait though.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Pope Singles Out Secular & Atheist 'Threats to Society' to Jewish Leaders

Pope Francis (source)
It's interesting how you can take something really bad, like say, rising European antisemitism as a primary portion of a short speech and just slide a little something about atheism and secularism being a 'threat' in at the same time. It makes for interesting headlines, like this one: Pope warns Jewish delegation of ‘threat’ of atheism and anti-Semitism

It's neat because you're not actually saying they're the same thing -- oh no! -- but if they're practically the only two things in your short speech, they kinda end up being linked somehow inside people's minds -- even if it's at the subconscious level. I'm sure there was no intention of that, though. Especially since the likelihood a Nazi being an atheist was and still is rather low.

Here's the full speech, Address of his Holiness Pope Francis to Members of the Delegation of the "Conference of European Rabbis", quoted off the Vatican website:
Dear Friends,

I welcome you, members of the delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, to the Vatican. I am especially pleased to do so, as this is the first visit by your Organization to Rome to meet with the Successor of Peter. I greet your President, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, and I thank him for his kind words.

I wish to express my sincere condolences for the death last evening of Rabbi Elio Toaff, former Chief Rabbi of Rome. I am united in prayer with Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni – who would have been here with us – and with the entire Jewish Community in Rome. We gratefully remember this man of peace and dialogue who received Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome.

For almost fifty years, the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community has progressed in a systematic way. Next 28 October we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, which is still the reference point for every effort we make in this regard. With gratitude to the Lord, may we recall these years, rejoicing in our progress and in the friendship which has grown between us.

Today, in Europe, it is more important than ever to emphasise the spiritual and religious dimension of human life. In a society increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if God did not exist. People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will. It is so important to remember, however, that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always. Jews and Christians have the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable.

Anti-Semitic trends in Europe these days are troubling, as are certain acts of hatred and violence. Every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4). Recently we marked the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp which has come to be synonymous with the great tragedy of the Shoah. The memory of what took place there, in the heart of Europe, is a warning to present and future generations. Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere.

Dear friends, I heartily thank you for this very significant visit. I extend my best wishes to your communities, with the assurance of my closeness and prayers. And, please, do not forget to pray for me.

Shalom alechem!
Just fifty years? What on earth were they doing for centuries before this? I'll let you do the research. Get back to me on this one.

Meanwhile, we have atheists -- or at least their metaphysical position, which many religious zealots could equate as essentially one in the same -- being stigmatized as a threat to society by the leader of the word's largest Christian denomination to leaders of what's very likely the most stigmatized and persecuted religion in history.

Am I the only one who sees this as at least a little ironic?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Even Michael Coren Doesn't Think James Lunney Is Being Persecuted


Do you remember James Lunney? He's the Conservative MP that left his party and became an independent in Parliament so he could devote the rest of his time in office protecting his Christian faith (read: anti-(macro)evolution beliefs (read: creationism)). He's been increasingly against militant atheists lately.

Hey, remember Michael Coren? He was sort of like a Bill O'Reilly-lite that had his own show on the now defunct Sun News Channel (Canada's Fox News). He's written against those pesky militant atheists too!

Well now even Coren has essentially told Lunney to stop whining about being persecuted for his anti-evolution creationist beliefs.
As for "militant atheists", of course there are atheists out there and some of them are trying to influence the body politic. As someone who is a fairly prominent Christian, I have been debating with such people for years now. We all have the right to try to influence the culture but none of us has a right to assume we can dictate the result. And on a personal note, every time a Christian defies scientific truth it makes Christian apologetics all the more difficult.

Sorry, Mr. Lunney but your cries of persecution just don't stand up to scrutiny. It seems there may be some, well, evolving to do around this issue.
Wow, I agree with Michael Coren. Amazing. I suppose a stopped clock is really right a couple of times a day.

Egypt Forming 'Special Awareness Groups' to 'Inform' About 'Atheist Threats'

(source)
I've been covering Egypt's mission to stamp out atheism for awhile now. Best I can tell, they see atheism as a form of extremism, on one end of a spectrum. You've got extreme (not-good) Islam on the one end (Islamic Brotherhood) and extreme not-Islam on the other (atheism).

Well, just recently, the Orwellian Religious Endowments Ministry has put out a plan to form special anti-atheist, anti-drug, anti-bad-Muslim crack squads -- let's call them special awareness groups -- which, I as far as I can tell, will travel the lands spreading information in mosques. This is sort of like those odd roving bands of motivational speakers and actors that would come to my high school every so often, I think.
During a meeting with his deputies from different governorates on Tuesday, Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a said those groups will hold small monthly gatherings between the evening prayers in mosques.

“The groups will include one Quran reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” ministry spokesman Mohamed Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt. “The gatherings aim at spreading awareness on the threats of atheism, Shi’a, Baha’ism expiation, killings, and drug addiction.”
Threats of atheism, indeed. Lovely to be lumped in with killings and drug addiction. The last time atheists were cracked down on was in a cafe. Yes, they were drinking coffee. THREAT! THREAT!

The sole comment on the article had a pretty good point:
What, exactly, is the compelling reason for trying to force people to share your own religion beliefs using force of law? Imagine how you'd feel if atheists took over and criminalized belief in deities. Would that be wrong to do? Yet, the Egyptian government does the same thing, criminalizing a particular religious opinion.
Ah yes, but the atheists are wrong(tm) and the (specific kind of non-government-threatening) Muslims are right(tm)! Well, I'm glad that's cleared up.

Monday, 13 April 2015

James Lunney Blasts 'Militant Atheist Evolutionism' in National Post Piece


Today's Monday and I have a migraine. So, I'm just going to offer you some extracts from James Lunney's dramatic piece in the National Post today: Christianity under siege (!!!!!). If you need to know more context about Lunney, read about it on my blog! He started out being anti-(macro)evolution, but now he's become a social conservative Christian warrior against MILITANT ATHEIST EVOLUTIONISM! Oh yes, he's turned up the rhetoric against militant atheists lately.
Bigotry and intolerance are the trademark of militant atheism and its adherents’ campaign against God. Conrad Black exposed as much in his eloquently written and defended articles recently. As a multi-racial, multicultural, multi-faith society, Canada has been known to a world in conflict as a standard for respect for diversity and inclusion. However, a religious defence of science seems to be the vehicle for the most vitriolic, pejorative, vulgar campaigns of intolerance and ad hominem attacks in Canada today.
Lunney is here referring to two flamboyantly written pieces also in the National Post. I write about them here and here.

My head hurts though, so back to Lunney. Here, he colourfully compares militant atheism to militant Islam.
These public shaming assaults are not in keeping with the nature of scientific inquiry or the character of an otherwise extraordinarily tolerant nation. They are the hallmark of scientism and evolutionism bearing all the hallmarks of religion, but unrestrained by any modicum of respect for anyone who contradicts the tenets of the faith. In this regard militant atheism is more akin to militant Islam than any of Canada’s multi-faith communities.
Only with regards to just this one thing, of course!
The notion that belief in God is incompatible with pursuit of science is a falsehood clung to by a dwindling cadre of atheists in the science community today. It began with Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, a brilliant scientist in his own right; and the father of eugenics. While Gregor Mendel, was laying the foundation for modern genetics, Galton was promoting the concept that belief in God was an impediment to the advance of science.
We all know who was big on eugenics? Lunney mentioned it before on an interview. I won't say who -- but why not guess? I'll give you a hint: Godwin's Law. With regards to just this one thing, of course!
Evolutionism is based on a false construct from another century; it is as repugnant as any other form of bigotry. If this campaign for a godless Canada were successful, the Canada that would emerge is one that few Canadians would recognize and most would not want to live in. The “shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist”; it couldn’t be better stated.
I just don't understand how Lunney could believe that he's the guy who really understands evolution -- in opposition to the vast majority of scientists out there. Science isn't a religion or a philosophy or some sort of political statement -- it's the result of centuries of investigation and examining the data.

Lunney's ability to believe that he's got the truth vs the vast majority of the scientific community reminds me of something Tara Hill, ex-anti-vaxxer from Ottawa said on her blog.
I just didn’t trust civic government, the medical community, the pharmaceutical industry, and people in general.  By default, I had excluded all research available from any major, reputable organization.  Could all the in-house, independent, peer-reviewed clinical trials, research papers and studies across the globe ALL be flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy?
Could they?

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Godless Girl

Last week, I posted about Queen Silver, child prodigy atheist orator. In 1927, the middle of an anti-Russian scare in America, she started a high school atheist club. Just a week after founding the club, she made headlines in Hollywood by spreading atheist pamphlets around her high school advertising a meeting in one of the dingier parts of town.
The meeting was held in a dingy office on Spring Street. A group of religious high school students confronted the Junior Atheist League leader, a girl lecturer, who owns, edits and publishes an atheistic magazine, demanding that she quit trying to shake the faith of a Christ-loving school.
Christ-loving school, indeed. This event inspired famous filmmaker Cecile B. DeMille to produce his last silent feature film The Godless Girl just one year later.
This drama features a romance between two different teenagers: a young atheist girl, Judith Craig, and the male head of a Christian youth organization, Bob Hathaway. The two leaders and their groups attack each other, starting a riot that kills a young girl. Followed by a goofy boy, Bozo, the three are thrown into a juvenile prison with a cruel head guard and bad living conditions. The film maker makes a point of talking about the truth of prison cruelty in the middle of the movie.
I won't give away the rest of the plot. Let's say atheism predictably loses. Interestingly, the movie did poorly in the United States of Christendom but really really well in the Soviet Union and in Germany -- so much so that the lead actress, Lina Basquette received fan mail from Adolph Hitler!
In January 1937, Basquette was offered a contract with the Universum Film AG studio in Germany, after the Nazi Party had taken power. After arriving in Germany, she was driven to Berchtesgaden, where she met Führer Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, and Joseph Goebbels. She later claimed that Hitler made a pass at her, and she kicked him in the groin. When he persisted, Basquette told him that her maternal grandfather was Jewish. She left Germany the following day.
Incidentally, Basquette actually married one of the Warner brothers and had a child with him. She ended up losing custody of her daughter and never got it back.


Anyway, as I alluded to above, it doesn't go well for atheism from pretty much mid way into the movie until the end. Of course, this is only to be expected for 1928 America. What strikes me as fascinating about this film is how nearly 90 years have gone by and pretty much nothing has changed. It's both compelling and sad to see how very much the same people and ideas were back at the beginning of the 20th century as they are now at the beginning of the 21st century.

Greg F. over at Cinema Styles begins his review of the film like this:
I went into The Godless Girl with a bit of trepidation. After all, it was made in 1928 so I wasn't expecting to find a fair, even-handed assessment of the rejection of religion and belief in God, specifically Christianity. If anything, I was expecting to find the demonization of atheism and pretty much that's what I got, up to a point. The Godless Girl is to atheism what Reefer Madness is to marijuana, that is to say, a ridiculously wrong-headed portrayal of the subject at hand.

I think the comparison goes a little far. However, Greg is right in pointing out that the film redeems itself somewhat by showing the Christians as being just as bad. I would go further and say that the Christian youth at the beginning of the film were far more depraved than an atheist club which forced its members to renounce the Bible while placing their hands on the head of a monkey.

I mean, the Christian group broke in and disrupted the meeting. Why can't they just leave the atheists alone?

Atheist girl Judith asks idiot Bozo to renounce the Bible while placing his hand on a live monkey. This is a
direct reference to Queen Silver's speeches in support of evolution in the Scopes Trial.
I've been digging around the web for the past hour looking for an old article I had describing the reception of the film in America. What most descriptions leave out is that, although the general public was either cold or lukewarm to the film, atheist groups in the country were totally gung ho. It was reported that during screenings, atheists would cheer at appropriate times during the beginning sequences of the film.

Not much changes.

Here's the first five minutes of the film. Visit your public library for a DVD of the rest. I was able to find it at mine.

Friday, 10 April 2015

James Lunney vs. 'Big Atheism'


Oh wow, it's Friday and Canadian MP, DR James Lunney, has posted something else to his blog. This appears to be special content only available through his Twitter feed because I don't see it when I click on his blog from the website directly.

In case you haven't been following:
He misspelled atheist but that's okay, I understand what he's getting at anyway. I'm just happy I subscribe to his Twitter feed and I think you all should too. In addition to his blog posts, he also tweets incontrovertible proof of intelligent design -- or at least anti (macro!) evolutionism.
Hopefully more scientists in the field of biology will see his tweets and look at this video! For sure they'll realize they're wrong!

You would have gotten to see the link to this absolute proof that evolution is total hokum, which he mentions in his blog post, if only you were a Lunney Twitteratus. I'll keep plugging his feed! You can't stop me!

Along with the above video and a story about an orthopedic surgeon, this latest blog post tells us all about Big Atheism in Canada! It's the NDP party, and militant atheists in big banks and corporations. 
Militant Atheists, Evolutionism, the Campaign against a Christian World-View

Who is funding the campaign to discredit and diminish a Christian world-view in Canada? Ian Capstick former NDP strategist and communication director, describes himself as a militant atheist. He stated on national TV he had “to take James Lunney down”! Really?  Does Ian Capstick speak for the NDP when he states he is going after the charitable tax-exempt status of the church? Is it militant atheists in the big banks and corporations that are forcing doctors to undertake costly charter challenges to protect long-standing conscience provisions struck down by their licencing boards and TWU to graduate law students?

The campaign to target Christian politicians and make them appear unintelligent, uneducated and therefore unelectable is based not on science but a clash in world-views increasingly untenable due to advances in molecular and cell biology. Evolutionism is a religious world-view clung to by a dwindling cadre of scientists, militant atheists and the uninformed who insist (macro) evolution, from simple molecules to higher life forms by random undirected acts, is a fact.
The party's over! Lunney is onto us!

I like how he exposes Capstick's plans to end the religious privilege of tax-exempt churches as a bad thing!

Further developments include a rather angry looking Lunney in this CHEK news interview.



Note: Some of this post was extended to include the CHEK news piece on Lunney after initial publishing.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Do You Believe In God? National Post Readers Answer The Question

A picture of God.
Ever wonder why people believe in God? I sure do. Why not pop over to the National Post to be confused and befuddled by the responses. There are also some nice answers from atheists there as well, but most are believers with confusing support for their faith.

Here's one of my favourites from Gordon Akum in Toronto.
I embrace a rational view of God, such that finite man is not capable of knowing and understanding a complete entity outside of time. Therefore, to man, the best he can understand is what God is not in human terms, thus, a negative proof of God. Therefore, I tend to leave the door open, ever so slightly, to the possibility of God’s existence, with a healthy dose of critical scepticism. Thus, my bets are hedged.
So nobody can know and understand an entity outside of time. So we can only understand what God is not -- a negative proof for God? How about 'God is not real?'

I don't get it, but I thank him for sharing and welcome him to write in with further explanation to the blog!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

James Lunney Asks If 'Militant Atheists' Define the 'New Canada'

Brian Lilley (left) interviewing James Lunney (right). (source)
I don't recall ever seeing the news site TheRebel before, but it sort of reminds me of Glenn Beck's outfit, The Blaze. I can't quite figure out exactly how the two seem similar to me. Maybe it's because The Blaze is where Beck went after leaving Fox News while TheRebel seems to be where Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley went after Canada's own Sun News croaked.

So guess who got interviewed on TheRebel. Yes, it was the rebel creationist MP, James Lunney who's been making headlines up here in Canada and internationally. He's been talking about the horrendous abuse and persecution he and other religious folks need to endure these days.

In his case it seems to be mainly, cyber trolls on Twitter. They've have been mocking his religion and his rejection of evolution -- it's really upset him. This sort of open criticism and ridicule is apparently un-Canadian and should not be happening.

Here's the interview:


I'll admit, I stayed up way too late transcribing this stuff.
It seems that they're trying to trap social conservatives on a false construct of evolution -- which can be defined different way, means different things to different people.
Well, yes. The word evolution can mean all sorts of things, but here Lunney is referring to the biological process of evolution of living things. From what I understand, this has a narrow scientific meaning -- you cannot just pick and choose.
There seems to be a deliberate construct to attack social conservatives over this thing about evolution -- "You don't believe in Darwin? You don't believe in science." -- which is patently false. It's a false construct from another century. There's an ancient bigotry there that I'm personally offended to (sic) because I actually know something about this. 
I have no idea what this ancient bigotry is exactly. Is this people finding it ridiculous that a man with degrees in chemistry and zoology along with a four years of chiropractic -- an armchair scientist -- somehow knows more than the vast majority of professional biologists out there? You know, I think one might call that common sense, not bigotry.

Now, Einstein was a mere patents officer and he came up with a theory that changed the world in his spare time. So, by all means, Mr. Lunney, do publish your findings in a peer reviewed scientific journal and convince the scientific community. Your Nobel Prize awaits.

Anyway, this is followed by the usual creationist "it's so complicated it cannot have evolved" spiel we hear so very often. He brings up the question about how the first cell came into existence, which is not really the question evolution even pretends to address. Evolution picks up at the point where life is already in existence. How the first cell came along is a different problem.
Well, Darwin was a great scientist in my view. He made fantastic observations. It's the interpretation of those today, because you see, cell theory was just developing, they didn't have the microscopes we have today, they didn't have electron microscopes, they didn't know about organelles, they didn't know about all the mitochondria, and golgi apparatus in there and ribosomes and how that worked. And actually there are videos kids are watching today that are fascinating on the constructs of what's going on... there are factories inside your cells... couldn't possibly be formed by random events... and that's where the macro evolution theory is totally stalled. 
I've just learned that Charles Darwin died in 1882. It's so nice of Lunney to fill us all in -- along with the all the biologists who ought to now pay attention! Thanks Lunney for letting them in on all the exciting scientific developments in these past 130 years! Okay scientists, you can put down your copies of Origin of Species right now and start actually testing Darwin's theory!

What? You have all been testing the theory and tweaking it and improving on it and expanding on it since 1882 and it still stands the test of time? How could Lunney have possibly missed that after two bachelor degrees in unrelated scientific fields and four years of study in chiropractic followed by a political career? Inconceivable!
Look, the stone that has stopped evolution is a living stone, it's the cell. We had a stone that took down a big man, a giant in his day, many centuries ago, it was defying the armies of ancient Israel and Goliath took down a giant of a military man with a stone.
Uhmm... I think you mean David shot Goliath... or Achilles... or Gilgamesh or something. It's in an old book. I'm just an atheist, what do I know, right?
We had a former NDP member of Parliament who put himself between God and his purposes and he had a little trouble with his stone, it landed in his pocket. See ultimately God is not mocked. The stone that has defied the macro-evolution theory is infact living stones and you're made up of 80-100 trillion of them and they cannot possibly explain that this happened by random events - so they're looking at either ET did it or God did it -- but you're not allowed to say that God did it...
Oh please! Be my guest! I allow you to say that anytime you want!

Exactly, why are we looking at ET did it or God did it? What a stupid false dichotomy that is. How about we don't yet know how the first cell(s) came to be? Why can't we go with that?
You know, Brian, I'm concerned that every social conservative, who is running for office at the senior levels is going to be confronted by the canard -- "Do you believe in Darwin? Don't you believe in science?" ...
You don't need to believe in Darwin like he's Jesus or anything. However, the question is still a valid enough one. People want to know if you trust scientists or if you have some other wacky set of beliefs which prevent you from accepting current scientific consensus. Why should anyone be afraid to answer the question unless they are scared they'll sound utterly ridiculous to the Canadian public? Is this not all the more reason to ask?

Here's the worst of it from Lilley:
Evolution is a theory. In science there are theories and they come and they go. Newtonian physics was a theory that scientists accepted for a long time. They no longer do.
I knew I got a lousy education at McGill! They taught us Newtonian physics and we hardly even touched the Theory of Relativity. You know why? Because for things that aren't super big or going super fast, it works just fine.

His idea is that people should be constantly questioning theories in science. This is, of course, essential because we can't trust scientists to do this! Oh no! They just sit on their laurels. Is this projection? I mean, do social conservative Christians perhaps look at scientists and imagine they must hold on to some sort of holy doctrine exactly like fundamentalist Christians?

Lunney goes on to bemoan how sloppy people have become with science these days.

Then, all of a sudden: Nazis! Eugenics! Atheists! (6:50)
I think, perhaps, Darwin was far more open than his cousin, who started this false construct that you can't beleive in God -- it was an impediment to studying science. His name was Francis Galton, he was the father of Eugenics. We know how well that worked out for the world. Led to the Holocaust and murdering of millions of Jews in the worst genocide in modern history -- but also to millions of other people being killed. The notion we can get rid of the weak and disabled or people that we don't like and just kill them to build a superior race. That was Francis Galton and it is still carried through by the minority of atheists who dominate science in America, although not other parts of the world.
Wow.

At 10:43.
It's unthinkable, it's unthinkable that any faith in a multi-racial multi-faith multicultural country -- that any person of any faith should be ridiculed publicly for what they believe. It's totally out of character with our country.
Lunney then goes after Ian Capstick (@iancapstick) who he says is going after him to protect legal same sex marriage in Canada.
You know, he describes himself as a militant atheist and my question is does that define our new Canada? Let me say, Brian, just today Al Shabaab is responsible for attacking a Christian community -- 70 people dead so far -- in Kenya. The atrocities are racking up, it's so hard to keep track of them. But what does it say to people who have fled persecution in other lands and have come here to Canada like the Coptic Christian community in Toronto, who had a memorial for 21 of their co-religionist Christians who were killed by ISIS on the shores of the Mediterranean with their throats slit just because they were migrant workers and they were Christians? What does it say to them when they see their views being trashed here by people who want to take their right to their beliefs? They just fled persecution.
Oh please! Nobody is trying to take away your right to your beliefs! Here's what it says to them: 'You have the right to believe in whatever you like, but no ones beliefs are beyond criticism.' This is a basic principle of secularism and if the day comes when religious people have the right not to have their religious sensibilities disturbed, we have become modern day Russia where you can be thrown in jail for upsetting Christians. Then we've become modern day Saudi Arabia or Egypt when atheists are thrown into jail or whipped and murdered simply for saying things which hurt or upset religion. Is that what Lunney wants? Because it sounds like it to me.
What does it say to the family of Shabaz Bhatti, the man who was the Minister responsible for religious minorities in Pakistan. He was here in Canada, he was offered refuge but he went back to defend the people he was responsible for. What does it say to his family in Toronto when these militant atheists and the despicable comments I've had through social media from a bunch of people believing a false construct about evolution that want my ignorant views removed from Parliament. You know, what does that say to this community about the country that they've come to which normally had a reputation for tolerance. Is it militant atheists that define the new Canada? That's what I'm asking the media today.
I can tell Lunney is very hurt. Very un-Canadian of online atheists, eh? Back in the day, religion was beyond question, criticism, ridicule or mockery. Thankfully, this time seems to be drawing to an end. It happened earlier in Quebec, during the Quiet Revolution. It seems like the rest of Canada is catching up.

Religion is a human idea put forth onto the marketplace of ideas. Like scientific theories, it must be questioned constantly and put to tests. If it is found to rest on no evidence or on ideas which are patently ridiculous, then it deserves ridicule.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Queen Silver: 1920s Child Prodigy Orator For Atheism & Reason

Scene from Cecil B DeMille's last silent feature, The Godless Girl - 1928. 
In previous post, I reprinted a quote from child prodigy and atheist speaker Queen Silver, who stunned audiences in the early 20th century with her amazing speeches against religion and exploitative labour.

The following is an extract from a short biography of Queen from Wendy McElroy's book Queen Silver: The Godless Girl.
At eight years old -- and already a veteran speaker at the Free Speech Zone on Los Angeles St. -- the diminutive Queen stunned Los Angeles crowds by delivering a series of six lectures sponsored by the London Society of Science. The subjects ranged from Darwinian evolution to Einstein's then new theory of relativity. The internationally acclaimed botanist Luther Burbank praised one of her presentations as the best he had heard on the topic. In announcing an upcoming lecture, The Los Angeles Recorder (December 24, 1919) wrote, "A good share [of the speech]...will be extemporaneously delivered. She has already traveled 50,000 miles in work on the stage and lecture platform." Queen's lectures drew hundreds of people; hundreds more were turned away at the door.

Preaching evolution, "The Girl Scientist" became a major voice for the separation of church and state. Her most famous lecture (and pamphlet) was entitled, "Evolution, From Monkey to Bryan" -- Bryan being the famous prosecutor in the *Scopes Monkey Trial.* (There, in Tennessee, a high school teacher was tried for teaching evolution.) The young Queen challenged Bryan to public debate. He declined to reply, but her well-publicized taunts resulted in national notoriety. Her pamphlet was translated into various languages, including Yiddish and Esperanto.

Silver went on to edit and publish her own magazine which gained a readership of which even bloggers in the 21st century may be jealous.

At around the age of 17, Queen Silver founded a chapter of The Junior Atheist League at Hollywood High School. The League seems to have been a 1920s predecessor of the Secular Student Alliance. Thomas A. Robinson and Lanette R. Ruff write about the League in their book Out of the Mouths of Babes: Girl Evangelists in the Flapper Era which documents an apparently forgotten broad based movement of girl evangelists -- Christian and atheist -- at the beginning of the 20th century.
It may not have been so troubling had these societies existed only in the stale corridors of university philosophy departments or in small clubs of grizzled eccentrics who met for a good cigar and a few rounds of debate. But that was not the form the atheism was taking. Atheism was becoming very public, and it pursued controversy and insult with all the zeal of revivalist pursuing God and glory. Even children were invited to join the atheists' path. In public schools, atheist dubs were being formed, actively promoted by the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism and its school-level subgroup, the Junior Atheist League. Ihis youth group was formed in 1927 for school students from age seven to seventeen—roughly from the first grade to high school graduation.. The League had a number of early leaders, largely the consequence of a high turnover. In one case, the leader converted to Christianity—not the best headlines for an atheist dub. But not to worry. About ninety percent of the new members of atheist dubs had been members of Christian youth organizations, and the firsdeader of the Junior Atheist League
It was the middle of the Russian Revolution, so American is in the grips of ideological panic. In the volatile environment, the founding of a local Atheist League drew front page coverage in the Los Angeles Examiner on June 2nd, 1927.
Does the hand of the United Socialist Soviet of Russia reach across the ocean and aim to hold tightly within its grip the youth of this country? Is there a bond between the atheistic society known as The Junior Atheists - a thriving organization – and the Young Pioneers of Russia, embracing all boys and girls from one to seventeen years of age?
Queen Silver seems like she was probably pretty intense and not one to waste time. Only eight days later, the Los Angeles Times reported that Atheist League leaflets were found spread all over Hollywood High School (original article $): Atheists In Vain Drive On Schools.
Leaflets inviting students to a meeting of the Junior Atheist League this afternoon were found scattered around the grounds of Hollywood High School. These state that the purpose is to combat the disgusting and evil influences of religion in public schools.
Still from Cecile B DeMille's The Godless Girl - 1928.
The day after this, the Los Angeles Times reports that a group of Christian students stormed the Atheist League's meeting and demanded they stop advertising their club to students within the school (original article $): Atheist Move Ends In Fiasco. Naturally, it's the atheists who are blamed for the fiasco.
The meeting was held in a dingy office on Spring Street. A group of religious high school students confronted the Junior Atheist League leader, a girl lecturer, who owns, edits and publishes an atheistic magazine, demanding that she quit trying to shake the faith of a Christ-loving school.
Buildings and pedestrians along southeast corner of Spring and First Streets known as the Wilson Block. (LA Times, 1920). (source)
All of this inspired famous filmmaker, Cecil B. DeMille, to make the silent feature film, The Godless Girl, which was (very) loosely based on this story.
The title character is based on Queen Silver, a child prodigy and socialist orator who was accused of leaving atheist pamphlets in student lockers at Hollywood High School in 1927. The lead actress, Lina Basquette, named her autobiography, Lina: DeMille's Godless Girl, after the film.
I hope to write about the film, which is worth watching but can be hard to find, along with the fascinating lead actress, Lina Basquette.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Results! Humanist and Atheist Charities Sprouting & Flourishing In Uganda!

First building of the new atheist orphanage in Uganda.
There is something amazing going on in Uganda! People are getting together -- Humanists, atheists and others -- to help Ugandans help themselves! I know, it's not even close to religious charities in terms of size, but it's growing.

Earlier this month, I featured an interview with Bwambale Robert, one of the founders of the first atheist orphanage in Uganda -- and the world.
Like I said, we are breaking the monopoly that religious people alone have no right to own orphanages, people with no belief also care about orphans. I think this will send a signal to religious people that we are not sitting back when we see some injustices committed in the name of religion; we have had of pedophile priests, pastors defiling children, children made to do hard labor, children being molested or abused.
Well, thanks to a successful fundraiser, construction has begun on BiZoHa Orphanage. You'll find several updates on this over at the Brighter Brains blog.

Last update on the orphanage Facebook page are some photos of the first building, a hostel or dormitory for the children.

First building of the new atheist orphanage in Uganda is a dormitory for the children.

Here is a extract from Kasese Humanist Primary School Director and BiZoHa founder, Bwambale Robert from a recent update (30 March) on the page:
Here is a brief update on what is going on at BiZoHa Site in Muhokya, Kasese District - Uganda.
  • The hostel has finally been roofed with colored iron sheets.
  • The pit latrine has been roofed and plastered fully, it remains to be shuttered though plus fixing a curtain wall.
  • Tapped water has been brought to the site.
  • The latrine is almost complete as the remaining work is to put on shutters.
  • As it’s a rainy season now, we have cultivated ground nuts, maize and some beans on the Site plantation area.
  • The locals however are insisting that we put in place classrooms so that the very many orphans in this area get chance to attain quality education which still lacks in this area.
  • The constructed hostel will accommodate 16-18 orphans plus one caregiver.
For any kind of assistance to this cause, pass it through the Brighter Brains Institute through their website http://brighterbrains.org/

Attached are the images of the developments as they unfold. Many thanks indeed for supporting our cause.
In the wake of an extremely harmful anti-LGBT wave of fundamentalist Christianity flooding into Uganda from the United States, there now seems to be a small, building, wave of Secular Humanism and religion-free atheist organizations sprouting up. Although the money is most certainly coming in from well wishers outside of Uganda, these organisations are being founded locally, at the grassroots level with the plan of being self-sustaining.

You've got the Kasese Humanist Primary School, which succeeded in buying land for a permanent home (they are renting their old location). They then built a new campus and are now offering nursery school and primary school services. They also have a small medical and anti-parasite clinic on campus!

Of course, you have this new atheist orphanage under construction, with zero affiliation to any religion whatsoever -- apparently unique for Uganda.

Mario Mouton and Deanie Mouton are doing amazing work with their KidsHeartKids Humanist charity! Just recently, they completed a classroom for Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods in Uganda (HELU).

If you missed what this is about, I posted about it earlier on this blog.
There’s a brilliant and highly achievable project in Uganda like this. It’s called HELU (Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods Uganda). In Uganda, single at risk women with children often find themselves trapped in crushing poverty with little chance of escape. HELU welcomes them and teaches trades like vocational skills, farming, sewing and hair styling. HELU even builds them a permanent place to live -- brick hut with thatched roof -- and provides them with start up money to build a business so they can get their lives started!
Here's the classroom now! 



New HELU classroom. (source)
For the cost of a missionary's plane ticket and living expenses to go to Uganda and share one book, you can find locals that care, and local labor that needs the money to build a classroom and fill it with books.
I love it! You can help this project over at their website.

More recently, they have begun work on a chicken coop at the site to increase self sustainability. This is the first boost that the Kasese Humanist Primary School got a few years ago, thanks to this blog and others!

There's a lot going on in Uganda. So much that I don't think I can keep track of it all. This alone is a sign that things have picked up immensely since only a few years ago.

So I suggest you follow the above Facebook pages!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Blogging: Making Friends and Influencing People


Last Thursday, I put out a call for guest blog posts. Well, Veronica Abbass from the Canadian Atheist was nice enough to submit a short ditty calling on Canadian bloggers to get their blog on and submit compositions to one of our fine Canadian blogs! (Note that non-Canadians are also quite welcome too!)

Veronica's post is below the cut! 


According to amazon.ca,
Since its release in 1936, [Dale Carnegie’s] How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies.
However, there are other ways to make friends and influence people: write and comment on blogs and websites.

Sean McGuire is looking for guest posts; Canadian Atheist, is looking for writers and guest posts. So here are a few reasons you should consider writing for and commenting on blogs and websites:
  • McGuire asks

    Feel like you have a topic you'd like to cover that you'd like thousands... hundreds... tens of dozens of people to read about? Is it vaguely related to atheism, secularism, LGBT issues . . .?

    If you do, don’t hesitate to submit a guest post to My Secret Atheist Blog or volunteer to be a writer for Canadian Atheist; in fact, do both!
  • Bloggers cooperate and support each other. McGuire supports and promotes Canadian Atheist, Friendly Atheist and other blogs and websites; Canadian Atheist and Friendly Atheist promote and support Sean McGuire’s My Secret Atheist Blog.
  • Bloggers and writers want need to know that people are reading what they write. While they have statistics to tell them how many anonymous people are reading their blogs or their posts, they would like to get feedback (comments) from their readers.
  • Comments can influence the writer and other readers. A commenter may even make a few virtual enemies through his or her comments; that’s one of the perks. 
So, while you’re imaging no religion, image writing about religion and about the bad and if you’re so inclined, the good of religion. Imagine having a venue for your musings and opinions about secularism, atheism and religion in Canada. Go ahead, write for or comment on a Canadian blog or website that addresses those topics!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Conrad Black Has Done It Again

What have we done?
If I recall correctly, it began when Conrad Black wrote something about the shallow shabby world of the militant atheist. I assure you, I put my best men on round the clock duty to decipher his prose and tease out any meaning they could find -- even that guy who portrayed Alan Turing in that movieBenedict Cumberbatch. Yes, no expense was spared. Eventually I contrasted Black's work with a screed against atheists by a Zimbabwe preacher. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Other atheist bloggers processed the Rorschach Test in their own way. They took what meaning they could from Black's words and attempted to address inaccuracies and absurdities outright. This was a noble endeavour, but what is the real cost here? Could it have agitated Black into writing this equally bewildering response piece in the National Post: A reply to my atheist critics — they protest too much? Can the planet sustain more of this?
Not since I have written about cats and dogs has a column of mine in this newspaper stirred such a voluminous and highly charged response as my reflections here last week on John Lennox’s success in debates, as a scientific Christian, with the most articulate and learned atheists on the anti-God debating circuit. These exchanges have become almost an itinerant counter-ministry of the media and academia throughout the Western world.

Most messages I have received have been favourable, but the tenor of the unfavourable messages the newspaper and I have received is so generally vitriolic, and often abusive and bigoted, that they incite my return to the subject. Obviously, if I had any problem with people taking exception to what I write, I wouldn’t write for publication, and as I have probably been more severely and lengthily defamed than anyone in Canada since Louis Riel (where the calumniators often had truth as a partial defence), I am not bothered by it. None of the abuse was noteworthy and there were only three cyber-assailants who were so unrelievedly uncivil that I asked my IT adviser to ensure that I never received anything from their addresses again.
Is this translated into English from some other language?

I'm sorry. I just had to get that out of my system, having read the piece in its entirety. I'll spare you the play by play on this. If you're interested in a little pain to break up a boring Saturday afternoon, please be my guest and assign any sort of meaning to it you wish. Believe me, there's enough there to write a book.

I will share this. During his piece, I felt like Black was being a real tease. It often seemed that concrete proof or specific argument was just a couple of sentences away --- like a mirage -- perhaps just beyond this historical or literary reference -- perhaps hiding behind that rhetorical flourish. But when I got there... nothing.

It was only the last paragraph that I obtained enlightenment. I got to a real piece of meat and it really stuck in my craw.
The atheists’ domination of our centres of learning and information is a great vulnerability in the West: it creates acute resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, separates learning and information from the greatest pillar of our civilization’s historic development, invites contempt from violently sectarian societies, especially Islamists, and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending. This is why people like John Lennox, who flatten the marquee atheist tribunes at every encounter, perform such a valuable service. And it must also have something to do with the reaction, like that of roaring and wounded animals, of a distinct minority of my correspondents last week. If God were dead, they would not still be trying, very unconvincingly, to kill Him.
What the hell is Black talking about? Do we not have enough churches and religious schools in this country? Those are the places for religious instruction -- the point of a university is to provide an environment of absolutely free inquiry and learning outside of some stuffy minister's dogma. Is it possible for people like Black to give us a second, an instant outside of religion? Apparently not. Instead, universities must turn into places of religious regurgitation.

Oh, not religious? Don't bother attending, or shut up, or open your mind so we may fill it with our fairy stories.

Yes, when schools teach students to think on their own it can cause resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, whatever that means. If it means that it upsets those who would prefer to tow the religious line and let the faithful call all the shots, then good.

As for inviting contempt from violently sectarian societies, whose problem is this exactly? Is this some sort of veiled threat? Is this a brave call to surrender? Is this informing us that we should shut up our opinions and questions lest someone get hurt -- lest someone have to drink the hemlock? People who cannot control their violent actions when they have their religious sensibilities upset need to be locked up, period -- even Islamists.

Then there's this absurd doublespeak:
... and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending.
That's right. Universities that do not shovel dogma down the throats of students and encourage them to think and express themselves in pursuit of truth in ways that may be offensive to some is actually against freedom of thought of expression! Has someone been drinking the Kool Aid, because this is profoundly wrong and either disingenuous or delusional.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Interview With Atheist Porn Actress Shawna Lenee

Shawna modeling a new t-shirt for Reasonist Products. Check it out here.

Shawna Leneé began her career in adult films back in 2005. She left the industry after five years for what would be a four year hiatus during which she took college small business management course. Reinvigorated with her new found business skills, she returned to porn in 2014, master of her own destiny, having signed a contract with Brazzers.

All of this is pretty common knowledge. You’ll find this story all over the web if you google Shawna. What you may not find is any details about Shawna’s atheism. Just last year, she came out openly as a proud atheist and has even begun modeling secular clothing for Reasonist Products.

I was interested in some of the backstory behind Shawna’s atheism and, although she has a busy schedule, she was nice enough to answer some questions over email.

Did you have a very religious upbringing and were your parents religious?
I did not have a religious upbringing at all- besides going to church a few times with my maternal grandparents and being given religious materials by my paternal grandparents (Bible cards, religious music, Jesus quotes). My parent's weren't devoted to religion really. Church was never a part of my childhood. My father refuses to step foot in a church and I find my mother's beliefs to be agnostic.
Were you ever religious?
I have never been religious. I didn't grow up in a church and I was able to view it with an outsider's perspective. It always seemed cult-like to me. The stories never made sense when I thought about them logically, even when my mind was still young. Science has always been a passion of mine. I always believed in science, but never in religion. Science won my heart very early on, sometime before 2nd grade.
Did you “come out” as atheist to your friends and family?
I "came out" as an atheist a little over a year ago. I actually had no idea that atheism was even a thing. When I found out that there were people who thought about things in similar ways I do, I was in shock. I started coming out by sharing atheist quotes, memes, and photos on Facebook at first. Only a couple of my friends were upset by this. They weren't close friends though, so it was easy to overcome. However, it is important to know that when I came out as atheist, I deleted my family from my Facebook. I just wanted to limit the tension before it started because I was highly unsure how they would react. I believe that my family is well aware that I am an atheist and that I am in the adult industry. They have had ten years to process my career choice, but atheism was a whole new element to make public.
What were the reactions to your coming out as atheist vs. telling your parents about going into the adult industry?
My family has always been supportive of me and my choices, as long as I am happy and am not partaking in destructive behaviors. By now, I think it would be difficult for me to shock my family. I am different from many members of my family. They attend church weekly and some of my cousins have attended religious schools. I feel so lucky that I attended public school (and a great one, I think). Because of this, the idea of teaching religion in school is absurd to me! Why would we teach children ideas without proof and try to pass them off as the truth? Why would be inhibit the teachings of real science? It's hard for me to shock my family because I was always a wild one. I never had an interest in fitting in. But one awesome and amazing thing about my family is that they never tried to change me. My family accepts me for who I am. I can't help but love them so much!
Was one more difficult or awkward? How did reactions differ?
What works best for me and my family is that we don't talk about our different beliefs. When my aunts, mother, cousin, and grandmother are having a little religion argument/discussion, I just listen from the other room and giggle to myself. My grandmother is pretty old-fashioned. I plan on marrying a woman one day. No idea who, but I will find out sooner or later. My grandma has stated to the family that she knows someone in the family will be gay, but she just doesn't want to hear about it. I assume she would feel the same way about my atheism. I will let her believe that I believe in a god. I just don't want to let her down. Basically, there aren't reactions to compare I guess. My family life has continued the same throughout my childhood. How lucky am I to have this? Very. I would be broken hearted if I was disowned or shunned for my career choice or lack of religious beliefs. This happens to people everyday and my heart is with them. I love speaking out about atheism on their behalf. I don't ever want anyone to feel afraid to say "I'm an atheist".
I’d like to thank Shawna for taking the time to answer these questions. I’ve already sent some follow-ups and I hope to present a part two with more insight from within the adult industry through the eyes of a feminist skeptic!

Shawna is currently modeling products for Reasonist Products. Go check out their site!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Openly Atheist & Pro-LGBT Candidate Running For Calgary Riding in Alberta's Next Provincial Election

Terry Lo (source)
Back in November, Calgary resident Terry Lo made the news by resigning from his position as VP of Communications from the far right Alberta Wildrose party because of their anti-LGBT platform.
Today, I made a small stand for what I believed in, leading to what probably was the shortest time I’ve ever held office as VP Communications for the Wild Rose Party in Calgary-Glenmore, and the end to my association with the party as well. Being the surrogate dad to a gay son, Asian, AND atheist, I was always an unusual member of the party. But a few events in the last year made me realize that I was in a place that was morally (to me) untenable. I resigned today with no reservations.
Well, Terry is back now and running in the same Calgary-Glenmore riding in the upcoming Alberta provincial election with a different party, centrist Alberta Party.  His website describes him as:
Foodie, Dragonboat paddler, supporter of local business and  charities, defender of equality.
His campaign Twitter, (@Terry4Glenmore) describes him as this, as well as a defender of LGBT rights.
@AlbertaParty candidate for Calgary-Glenmore and avid charity, local business & food scene supporter. Defender of #LGBTQ rights.
I hope Terry wins his race. Alberta may be the Bible Belt of Canada, but if there's anywhere in Alberta Lo has a chance it's its urban centre, Calgary. I've sent him a few questions for a short interview and I'll keep you all updated when I get feedback!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Muslim Group Demanding Bahrain Government Ban Entry of Feminist Atheist Lebanese Poet

Joumana Haddad (source)
I'm sort of ashamed to say that I've never heard of Lebanese poet and feminist activist Joumana Haddad (@joumana333). Not until Bahrain Salafist Muslim groups started waving their arms around screaming that they'll not have that atheist pornographer in their country!
Several people, mainly Islamists, led by Al Asalah, the expression of Salafism in Bahrain, had vehemently opposed the poetry recital by Joumana, accusing her of promoting atheism and of targeting Islamic values.
Yes, it's those Islamists again. They're really threatened by a single woman who writes poems, speaks out for the rights of women, and publishes a magazine containing the occasional nude photograph.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the disrespect by the Baca of the feelings of more than one billion Muslims and its challenge to the beliefs of the Bahraini people by inviting an atheist who advocates pornography and adultery to Bahrain to spread her sick mentality at an event of the Spring of Culture,” Al Asalah said in a statement.
We cannot have people's beliefs challenged now can we? That might cause people to question the assumptions they've had drilled into their heads since they were infants.

Of course, Joumana will be entering into the country on the back of a mighty steed, fully-armoured, with thousands of foot soldiers. No doubt she will overwhelm the local army and authorities, take over all radio, television and print media and force all citizens into forced atheist pornographic feminist re-education camps. Minds will be assaulted by the dulcet strains of her lyrical propaganda! No wait, that's the government that's doing all that! They score 87/100 for the least free press in the world.

Joumana's was just going to attend a freaking banquet!
Joumana was scheduled to present “a banquet of poetry and music” on April 6 as part of the Spring of Culture Festival organised annually by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca), headed by Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammad Al Khalifa.
I know, Islamic groups! Why not give the banquet a miss! I'm betting you were never on the guest list to begin with.

Her pornographic magazine deals with issues of sexuality and art -- from the point of view of a feminist activist. These are parts of humanity and touch deep into our collective humanity humanity. Usually the only force which cuts into and diverts a healthy sexuality and appreciation of art is a sort of extreme religious fundamentalism. It appears that Bahrain has a significant strain of this godly prudism.

For the record, Haddad is indeed an atheist. So the local Islamists got that right, at least.

Conrad Black & Learnmore Zuze: Both Wrong, One Article Clearly Superior

Why not play logical fallacy bingo at home while reading these pieces?
By now I'm sure you've all read Conrad Black's dreadful piece over at the National Post and I hope you've all had your Bingo cards ready and you were playing along by keeping track of all the tired old debunked chestnuts of arguments as they came -- at breakneck speed.

Only a day or two before Black wrote about how inspired he was by a two hour conversation with Dr. John Lennox, I read a strikingly similar piece from Zimbabwe pastor by Learnmore Zuze who also quotes Lennox. 

Zuze's piece is far superior to Black's -- aside from not being penned by a convicted felon, as far as I know. Firstly, take a look at the titles. Black's: Shabby, Shallow World of the Militant Atheist alongside Zuze's: Atheism no smarter than Christianity. The latter lacks Black's air of pomposity and I can nearly get behind it.

Furthermore, although not directly related to the writing itself, Zuze's profile picture is that of a serious man in front of a clock at 11:35am, with the words The Final Hour inscribed upon it. Below the clock we have flames as well.

What I like about Zuze's work is his economy with words and his pragmatic use of simple language. This man gets to the point and does not waste time on metaphor.
This is precisely what the devil craves for the human race to believe. Atheism, by rejecting the existence of God, is nothing but a secreted way of propping up lawlessness, anarchy and transgression in the universe. Atheism represents the mindset that Satan (whom they think is imaginary), desires humans to have. Atheism, by design or default, is an adroit satanic ideology meant to promote immorality throughout the world. Where it not for space, I would have had readers realize the striking and salient similarities between verses from the satanic bible (written by Antony Lavey) and independent atheistic writings.
Compare this with something or other Black wrote.
This is a large part of the core of the atheist problem, and it is complicated by the vulnerabilities of some of its peppier advocates. Singer sees nothing wrong with bestiality and considers the life of a human child to be less valuable than that of a pig or chimpanzee. It is rather frivolous to raise Hitchens in this company; he was a dissolute controversialist who was a fine writer in his prime, had some enjoyable human qualities and fought to a brave death from cancer, but was a nihilistic gadfly who spent himself prematurely in an unceasing frenzy to épater les bourgeois. He entertained, until he became unbearably repetitive, but no one with an IQ in triple figures was shocked by him. Dawkins almost raves about the extremes that “faith” can drive people to, but was struck dumb like Zachariah in the temple when Lennox pointed out, in a very lengthy debate at the University of Alabama in 2009, that atheism is a faith — clearly one that Dawkins holds and tries to propagate with considerable fervour. In general, something a person believes and can’t prove is supported by some measure of faith.
Honestly, I could hardly read Black's composition. I kept wondering if he actually spoke like a bourgeois himself.
Communities untouched by religious influences have been unalloyed barbarism, whatever the ethical shortcomings of some of those who carried the evangelizing mission among them. Without God, “good” and “evil” are just pallid formulations of like and dislike. As Professor Lennox reminded me, Dostoyevsky, scarcely a naive and superstitiously credulous adherent to ecclesiastical flimflam, said “without God, everything is permissible.”
Flimflam, I say! 
When taxed with the extent of the universe and what is beyond it, most atheists now immerse themselves in diaphanous piffle about a multiverse 
Diaphanous piffle!
The two sides of this argument are asymmetrical. The atheists can sow doubt well, and spruce up their arguments with Hitchensesque flourishes such as the physical mockery of some prominent clergymen and the disparagement of the religious leadership credentials of Henry VIII and Borgia popes and some of the bouffant-coiffed, mellifluous and light-fingered televangelists. They rant against the evils of superstition and can still render a fairly stirring paean to the illimitable liberty and potential of the human mind.
Bouffant-coiffed, mellifluous and light-fingered televangelists!

I know, I'm not being fair and I could very well be guilty of doing the same thing myself. I honestly haven't read such language since my days back in University. There, I occasionally found myself reading forgotten treatises from distinguished professors of 'the' Classics from the 1920s. They exhibited similar language -- it was much more flowery than the easy to understand words from the likes of Will Durant. Words meant to be understood by all.

Our friend the pastor in Zimbabwe writes to be understood.
I have also realized that atheists, eccentrically, suffer from an extremely developed smarter-than-thou-complex. They claim to be more enlightened than the ‘manic lunatics of religion.’ A sister from Netherlands wrote, ”I have suffered much grief debating with atheists as they trash the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ and God.” This is not strange, personally I have debated with decorated atheists and one thing that surely stands out in the atheistic argument is their smarter-than-thou attitude. Atheists view themselves as having a monopoly over truth and knowledge, an accusation they ironically direct at Christians. Atheism is anchored in the belief that no deities exist. Building on this belief, atheists go on the rampage attacking everything in their path that is religion.
No fancy-smancy smarty pants words coming from him at least. We cannot say the same for Black. Zuze goes on to complain about how atheists are always demanding proof for God.
The ill-advised part of atheism is that it ridiculously demands proof of the existence of God by intending him to prove himself in a way they (fallible humans) have codified. They think of God as some petite being they can tinker with; they do not want God operating on his own terms. They want a God who would yield to their (warped) ideology of how he should operate before they validate him.
This is proof that was nowhere to be found in either his article or the piece by Conrad Black. The only difference between the two was that Zuze's piece was better written and much more comprehensible.

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