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Critical Links 2015/05/29 CFIC News and Updates

May 29, 2015

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CFI Canada’s mission is to provide education and training to the public in the application of skeptical, secular, rational and humanistic inquiry through conferences, symposia, lectures, published works and the maintenance of a library.

Events, News and Updates

  • May 25: Massimo Pibiri told us about a film project he is launching; see the pilot scene via Youtube.
  • May 29: Christian Mythology For Kids: This kickstarter campaign  was brought to our attention and we’re passing it on to you.
  • May 29: Nicole Simard’s SkepTalks launched with a CFI Canada event: Jarret Ruminski’s talk on Bigfoot
  • June 10, 2015: CFIC Toronto will host author Jerry Coyne in support of his latest book: Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible
  • June 11-15 CFI US will be hosting the Reason for Change conference in Amherst, NY
  • June 22: CFIC finalizing details of a talk with Tony Ortega (author of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely) on Scientology!
  • September 19 & 20: River City Reasonfest in Manitoba
  • October 17-18: Society of Edmonton Atheists is hosting  a secular conference
  • November 25-27: Canadian Science Policy Centre Conference

Blasphemy News, Observations in Canada and the World

  • In Nigeria, a mob ran through the streets and eventually set fire to a Sharia court when a religious cleric was accused of blasphemy for comparing a leader of his religion with the Islamic Prophet Mohammed; the cleric’s home had already been set on fire
  • An opinion recommending that blasphemy be protected but not praised.
  • In Nigeria, religious police seek the death of Sufis accused of blasphemy
  • A former Archbishop defends blasphemy
  • How closely connected are the blasphemy laws of Pakistan and Canada?  Do they both find their roots in British Colonialism?
  • A man name Masih, described as mentally-ill was detained by police in Lahore, Pakistan as a mob gathered to lynch him for blasphemy
  • An Irish priest unleashes a nasty attack on Ireland for the supposed blasphemy of  voting in favour of same-sex marriages.

 The landslide vote in Eire for legalizing the fictitious form of marriage between persons of the same sex, in contradiction of all laws natural and divine, unearths the pulsating Druidism that Saint Patrick and his fellow saints defied…. the Irish vote is worse than perverse: it is blasphemous.Father George Rutler

  • Father Rutler is probably best answered by a few thoughts on whether Christianity should be ridiculed

Christians ridicule others all the time. They ridicule the Theory of Evolution. They ridicule miracles of other religions. They ridicule tribal ancestral worshippers. They ridicule pagan traditions. So what makes their beliefs any less mock worthy than these others that they ridicule?…Christian beliefs in biblical myths that violate natural law, contradict science, and fail to correspond with reality or logic are superstitious claptrap and qualify for ridicule.Victor

Faith-Based Violence

CFIC continues to monitor, document and condemn faith-based violence around the world.

  • 106 people have been charged, with 30 accused still at large, in Pakistan for the murder of a Christian couple; the couple were accused of burning pages of the Koran; according to The Gospel Herald report “the couple [was] locked up in a room adjacent to the brick kiln by their employer, Yousaf Gujjar, who also had a running dispute with the couple over money,” Gillani wrote. “Some accounts in local news media suggested that Mr. Gujjar accused them of blasphemy after they refused to repay money he had lent them.”
  • Since 2013 Anita More has been facing faith-based ostracism and bigotry for her refusal to donate to a local religious ritual – the sacrificial killing of a pig
  • Lahore Pakistan – A Christian church faces “a charged mob led by local clerics” following accusations of blasphemy

Science News

Major announcements of advances in science should be greeted with skepticism and verification.  Following are several recent science announcements which reached our attention.  Are they Extraordinary Claims with Extraordinary Evidence?

  • As reported by CBC, Let’s Talk Science has received additional funding from the federal government; meanwhile reports of muzzled scientists continue
  • A pair of BC students win at the world’s biggest high-school science fiar; one is a $75k prize for inventing a new way to prevent the sperad of epidemics; the second for inventing an HIV test
  • What happens when a creationist finds  rare and ancient fossils during a construction project? See the CBC story

The Harms of Superstition  

  • A woman, Sarswati Gagrai, was brutally murdered in Seraikela-Kharswan district of Jharkhand (India) following accusations of practicing witchcraft.
  • Important comments from India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari on the respective roles of science and superstition in India; the full text of the speech is on Mr. Ansari’s website; are people in India considering an anti-superstition law?
  • Although people with albinism face terrible superstition, they are also very vulnerable to skin cancer; In Tanzania, there are discussions of monitoring the movement of people with albinism to protect them from superstition-driven murder.
  • Did you know that the Canadian Science Policy Centre is looking for volunteers for its upcoming Conference?  Sounds like a great way to be involved with advancing science!
  • Is the fear of GMO-foods based in superstition?  An interesting opinion piece in Forbes
  • Almost two years ago Dr. Narendra Dhabolkar, an anti-superstition activist was murdered  in India.  Authorities continue to investigate.
  • Superstition prevents parents from immunizing their children in Africa; instead they go to witchdoctors and herbalists.  Is there a connection or parallel to anxi-vaccination proponents in Canada?

Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE)share_logo_big

In response to the outpouring of concern expressed by members and volunteers of CFI Canada over the earthquake in Nepal (May 2015), we have launched the Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE).   The SHARE fund was initially developed by CFI (US) as a service for their donors who wished to give to disaster relief in a way that is consistent with their ethics and standards; in Canada, the SHARE model is a service to CFIC members and donors who wish to give to disaster recovery initiatives through secular charities.  CFIC will provide a tax receipt to donors and pass 100% of donations to a secular disaster recovery charity partner.  Donor names and details will not be shared with other organizations (unless explicitly requested by the donor).  Giving to assist during disasters should respect your ethics and reach the vulnerable.  We can help.

Please support the Centre For Inquiry Canada by joining as a member or donating today!

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