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Critical Links 2015/06/05: CFI Canada News and Updates

June 5, 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

  • 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 15 The Okanagan Branch hosts Khan Academy and the Flipped Classroom (talk)
  • June 22: CFIC finalizing details of a talk with Tony Ortega (author of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely) on Scientology!
  • Get a CFIC Ballcap!  We have a limited quantity of ballcaps for sale.  With summer vacations coming up, they make a terrific way to keep the sun off and include a bit of skepticism in your travels! For more details email:  torontoteam@cficanada.ca

CFIC Ballcaps

  • June 2015:  CFIC grows past 500 members! Thanks to all the new and renewing members for pushing CFIC past 500 members!   We are thrilled to see the commitment and renewal of Canada’ largest and fastest growing national skeptic/secularist community!
  • June 25: Okanagan Branch Hosts Ask An Atheist (panel discussion)
  • July 20: Okanagan Branch Hosts How Does the Creative Process Work? (talk)

Friends and Members in the Community

CFIC has some of the most interesting and active, creative and engaged people in the community!  Here are some of the activities of our friends and members.

Let us know if you have an activity you’d like to share!

Blasphemy News, Observations in Canada and the World

  • In Egypt, Coptic Christians are fleeing after accusations of blasphemy
  • Is Islam El-Beheiry a kind of sacrificial lamb to prevent an Egyptian Muslim Revolution?
  • A Former Archbishop defends blasphemy
  • In the US, House Resolution 290 calls for a global repeal of blasphemy laws
  • An author cancels a book project “Because of a small group of fringe maniacal ‘radical’ bullies who equate the transfer of lead and pigments into shapes on paper as blasphemy – punishable by death.”
  • An organization calling itself South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has formed an anti-blasphemy commission to consider “the repetitively cyclical blasphemous acts by certain notorious quarters like Jyllands-Posten, Charlie Hebdo, AFDI, Pamela Geller etc.”; see a press release from this group; in a second release, this group provides a perspective on blasphemy
  • National Secular Society reports of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) warning to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation against pushing for an international blasphemy law.
  • Pakistan must protect Religion Freedom – a report from The National Interest
  • In Bangladesh, threats against academics and government officials continue as militant Islamists use blasphemy as an excuse to commit murder and push for a Sharia state

Faith-Based Violence and Bigotry

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

  •  Religious bigotry debated on Fox news – American Atheist’s David Silverman participates
  • A Raw Story report on reactions to Christian bigotry.
  • Tony Blair in  The Economist

Britain already has draconian legislation on religious insults—a possible seven-year jail term with a low prosecution threshold. Politicians have already called for the outlawing of Islamophobia, playing into the hands of those intent on closing down honest debate about and within Islam. There is no need for more laws, and the ones we already have failed to adequately protect freedom of expression. A robust civil society with a deep commitment to free expression is our best hope for challenging and countering bigoted narratives and misguided views. Driving extremist views underground will only allow them to fester and allow their proponents to present themselves as martyrs

  • An Ontario Court will rule on whether the Law Society of Upper Canada can ban Trinity Western graduates – as reported by The Sun
  • Is Islam becoming one of North America’s “privileged religions“?

Science and Ethics 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?

  • Is there a correlation between mind and brain matter?  Science Daily reports a study which shows “High levels of moral reasoning correspond with increased gray matter in brain.”
  • A Texas A&M Health Science Centre executive may be on the outs as organization leaders wish to bring in more grants and move in a more “interdisciplinary focus“.  What might it mean given that this organization was already doing very well?  What does “interdisciplinary focus” mean for a Health Science research organization?
  • A study indicates that a third of teens changed their health habits following research online.
  • Did climate concerns in Europe, and resulting policies, lead to problems in a different part of the world?
  • Can viruses be used to fight disease?

The Harms of Superstition  

What the panic has shown is that we must examine what is taking place among the children and give them a clear explanation of what is happening. –  Annette Connell on Charlie Charlie Challenge

  •  Tanzanian politicians have been warned about superstition in advance of their election
  • In Orange County California, some residents have objected to a Veterans memorial park and cemetery  based on feng-shui principles
  • 8 people charged with attacks on people with albinism  in Tanzania

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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