When Death Calls

Today’s one of two hard days of the year for me.  Two years ago today, I lost a dear friend – my father-in-law.

Unlike some people, I actually got along with my father-in-law.  He and I would have long conversations, discussing everything from family, politics, and religion.  When I first met him, his family was deeply religious (and still is).  I was also a strong believer at the time, but began to shed that over the years.

What makes his passing hard is knowing that I’ll never have the opportunity to engage with him again.  To sit and talk.  To joke.  To vent.  To bond.  He was a strong male figure in my life.

As a believer, I had the “knowledge” that I would be able to see my loved ones again.  Now I have the harsh reality of knowing that won’t happen.

The thing is, that doesn’t make me sad.  It makes me cherish all the time I have with people all the more, knowing that at any time, this could be the last time I see them.  I make the point of being at peace about it.

And I am.

When I was in the faith, it was a common thing to hear things like “he’s in a better place”, or “he’s up there now, giving god a good laugh”.

While I miss him dearly, I will always smile when I think of our talks, and remember all the time that we had together.

Blasphemy is still illegal in Canada…say WHAT?

It’s been a bad start to the year 2015.  Charles Hebdo massacre.   Raif Badawi receiving 1000 lashes – 50 every Friday for 20 weeks – for an insult to Islam and violating Saudi Arabia’s information technology laws.  Each of those stemmed from Islam “extremists” taking issue with the perceived blasphemy.  Luckily, we live in a country where that type of law wouldn’t exist, right?

Sadly, that’s not the case.  Here in Canada, Section 296 of the Criminal Code states:

Offence
296. (1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

Question of fact
(2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.

Saving
(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 260.

Let’s read that again.  Yep.  Still says it.  Blasphemous libel can get one imprisoned for up to 2 years.  This very blog could land me in jail, if it weren’t for Subsection 3, which could con

Fortunately, this hasn’t been successfully used in over 70 years.  Interestingly, it was a case of an Anglican reverend being found guilty of blasphemy against the Catholic church.

The last time the law was used was when the Monty Python movie Life of Brian came to Canada, back in 1980.  Fortunately, these charges were later dropped.  (Side note…watch that movie.  Hilarious!)

What’s disturbing is that this law even exists on the books in the 21st century.  Will it ever be used again?  In all likelihood, probably not.  Could it be?  It sure could.  Because we hold ourselves up to be a nation “strong and free”, we should do whatever we can to abolish this law.

So what can we do?  Well, the Canadian Centre For Inquiry is petitioning the government to remove this law.

For more information:

http://centreforinquiry.ca/help-stop-the-flogging-of-raif-badawi/

http://news.nationalpost.com/2015/01/07/in-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-attacks-secularist-groups-to-seek-end-to-canadas-blasphemy-law/

http://www.mysecretatheistblog.com/2015/01/cfi-canada-and-humanist-canada-call-on.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/01/08/charlie-hebdo-attack-spurs-effort-to-abolish-canadas-blasphemy-law/

Deliver us from God’s love

I’d like to share this interesting article from a different site. Enjoy.

Pierwiastek Zła

[Polska wersja]
One of the lines that we atheists happen to be thrown at quite often is “You haven’t experienced God’s love!” or “You will get to experience the hand of god and then you will know!”. Which are in fact simple and simplistic threats, nothing more. And we need to be aware of that. The person saying this might be (although usually is not) doing it in good will, but that doesn’t change the fact of it being a threat.

So it’s worth pointing it out to the Catholics/Christian:
– Do you really think threatening me will make me believe your God?

After all – in most cases I had to deal with it was either with a solid dose of condescension or even spite – for not believing something so obvious as ‘my beloved Creator’ and stating those offending words of him not existing.

It feels like they…

View original post 937 more words

Oh Christmas Tree…oh, blasphemy!

Christmas Tree‘Tis the season for the usual rants.  “Keep Christ in Christmas!”  “Remember the Reason for the Season!”  And of course, the good ol’ Christmas tree.  While we typically throw out the typical rebuttals, there’s another elephant in the room that often gets missed.  Or rather, a tree.

According to Jeremiah 10:2-4 (here I’m referencing the King James Version, but other versions have the same basic info):

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

 Huh.  Imagine that.  That big ‘ol Christmas tree?  It goes against the bible.  Not that it’s a new thing to go against it.  That angel and nativity scene?  Exodus 20:4: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”

Do I put up a tree?  Yes, I do.  I enjoy the tradition, and it puts me in a festive mood.  I don’t associate it with what christians do.  To them (and what I used to), it represents god’s everlasting love, etc.  To me, it’s a memory of years past, and a point of focus for the holiday.  Little ornaments to remind me of people past, and loved ones still with us.

Seth Andrews, host of The Thinking Atheist, has put together an incredible video which describes exactly how I feel:

Happy holidays, everyone.

It’s Science, Folks.

There’s a video that’s been going around on the internet showing the “power of christ” to cleanse sin.  What’s hilarious is the fact they’re using science to illustrate it.  In case you haven’t seen the video, here it is:


Now for those of you with a single scientific bone in your body, it’s obvious that it’s a simple chemical reaction.  In college, I did a lot of chemical titration and reactions, so this was quite familiar to me.  As it turns out, more knowledgeable have seen this video, and have posted replies, like this one:

In case you want to do it yourself, here’s what you need:

  • You: Water
  • Christ: Water and Iodine
  • Science: Water and bleach

(Be careful with the bleach!)

So if a religious family or friend posts the first video on your wall, or sends it to you to “save your soul”, feel free to pull out the glasses and throw down some real science.

Conversation with a Missionary

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve had the agonizing misery pleasure of having married into a religious family.  A necessary part of that is having religious family members on my Facebook.  One such family member, who married my niece, is now a missionary in the Dominican Republic (perhaps because the States don’t have any more people needing saving, or that they’re preying on the susceptible).

Normally I ignore the religious posts from this odd fellow.  This one day, however, he felt the desire to try to bash science and post the following:

Creation Oh, yes.  He’s claiming that nobody but “the Creator” can create something.  I decided to take him to task in a direct message.  The conversation is as follows.

Me:  I figured I’d send this in an email so as not to embarrass you too much. A little note about your post…Technically, you’re doing the “subtle lie” by picking on a single word in the headline, “create”. If you look in the dictionary, you’ll see that the word has the definition “to make or produce (something) : to cause (something) to exist. They are using the first definition. You choose to use the second one to your own means. Your comment about a “subtle lie” could also apply to your comment. Light isn’t “nothing”, as you state. It’s energy. What they’re doing is taking light and applying Einstein’s theory to it, and producing matter from it.

Science is much more than headlines…it’s a sign of wisdom to actually read / learn about something before dismissing it. Proverbs 3:13 says, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” But of course, you already knew that, right?

Misisonary:  Generally speaking, when people use “create” in reference to the physical world, they’re using it with the idea of bring something into existence from nothing. When you have “science”, “scientists”, “matter”, and “create” in the same context, people will immediately assume the idea of creating something from nothing. There is a general movement afoot to diminish our estimation of God’s creative power and to elevate our belief in the self-existence of the physical world. Whether or not the journalist is consciously doing this, only he can know. But ultimately it is a subtle attempt to condition people’s thinking about the word “create.” I believe it was Lenin, or maybe Hitler, who said that if you tell people a lie often enough, sooner or later, they will believe it.

The fact that light is something is the whole point of my post. If man really wants to lay claim to a creative act in this context of turning energy into matter, then he first needs to create his own energy out of nothing. Otherwise he’s merely using the light God already created and turning it into something else.

The heart of man is exceedingly haughty. Were we as humble as we ought to be, we would never dare to speak of creation in reference to any of our exploits in the laboratory.

 Me: 

To be honest, I’ve heard both versions used equally, and when used in a scientific article, it works just fine. True that SOME people will equate it in the way you talk about, but for science-minded people, we don’t jump to the assumption that it’s out of “nothing”. I can’t agree that it’s a subtle way of trying to undermine a belief, but simply an article pointing out a scientific achievement that has occurred. It may speak more to the reader’s perspective, than what the topic is about. I don’t think that using the term “create” is a bad thing. It’s not owned by religion, or god, or whatever you want to use it for. The word has several meanings, as I’ve pointed out. We can create many things. I create websites, documents, incredible coconut cream pies, and so on. I even created some interesting data in the laboratory, once upon a time. And then recreated the results, to confirm it. The term, as I stated, can be used in many contexts. Nowhere (that I read) were they stating that it was coming from nothing. Light was being pushed to another state, as we’ve done with matter being turned into energy (nuclear reactions, etc.).

It’s a simple matter of word paraedolia. The word fits what you want it to look like. To many, creation merely means making something. To others, it’s a divine copyright. It all goes back to that, in the end.

—–

And that was it.  Silence.  I honestly doubt I changed his mind, but it was an interesting exercise on my part.  I had the opportunity to go head to head with someone who not just believes in it, but was educated in religion.  What can I say…it was fun.

Moving forward

I was at a funeral this past weekend at a Lutheran Church. As part of the service, the congregation were doing the reading from the hymn book.

What was interesting was that everyone was reading the verses, reciting verbatim, without thought. My wife, a believer, followed along dutifully. Suddenly, a line was read by all, which said “We believe in the catholic church…”, which was read by all – including my very baptist wife. She looked at me, horrified that the words had left her lips.

It was an interesting moment for me. I believe that just for an instant, my wife realised that she wasn’t thinking, but just following along, doing as the church said. There are many times she gets annoyed that in the few times we find ourselves in a church, that I don’t sing, bow my head in prayer, or just follow along. When it comes up again (and it WILL come up again), I’ll be sure to gently remind her that as she didn’t want to speak things which she didn’t believe was true, the same holds true for me.