Episode 83: Live from the Calgary Secular Church

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Greg Christensen visits the Calgary Secular Church and interviews CSC minister Korey Peters.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Calgary Secular Church Website | Meetup Group

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Episode 73: Hopes and Fears for the Future

Episode 73: Hopes and Fears for the Future

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Donna Harris, Pat Morrow, Ashlyn Noble, and Lauren Bailey discuss HAAM’s participation in an interfaith panel hosted by Ravi Zacharias Ministries, and their greatest hopes and greatest fears for the future.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Ravi Zacharias International | Gary Goodyear on Evolution (CBC, Skeptic North) | Jim Inhofe on Global Warming | Texas Adolescent Reproductive Health Facts (PolitiFact, Department of Health and Human Services) | A Manual for Creating Atheists | Brian Pallister on “Infidel Atheists” Who “Celebrate Nothing” | Awra Amba (PRI, Wikipedia) | Mars One

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Episode 69: Québec’s Charter of Values

Episode 69: Québec’s Charter of Values

In the second anniversary episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, we fulfil our CanCon requirement! Gem Newman discusses the proposed “Charter of Values” in the Canadian province of Québec with Scott Carnegie, Greg Christensen, and special guest Shayne Gryn.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: HAAM Meetup | Drinking Skeptically | Québec’s Proposed Charter of Values | Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms | Reasonable Accommodation | The “Notwithstanding Clause” | National Post: Quebec Releases Controversial ‘Values Charter’ | Montreal Gazette: The Public Favours Charter of Values | Globe and Mail: Quebec’s Secular Charter Is Clearly Unconstitutional, But Could Still Become Law | Quebec’s White, Privileged Feminists Don’t Speak For Me | Canadian Atheist: A Practical Guide for Discussion of the Charter of Quebec Values | Canadian Atheist: A Practical Guide for Avoiding Discussion of the Charter of Québec Values | Shayne Gryn: The Racialized and Gendered Impact of Quebec’s Proposed Charter of Secularism | National Post: Woman Says She Was Accosted in Mall Over Her Islamic Veil | CBC: Sikh Mounties Permitted to Wear Turbans

What Are You Listening To? The Nerdist Podcast | This American Life | Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! | Penn’s Sunday School | Quirks and Quarks | The Brain Science Podcast | Reasonable Doubts | The Reality Check | The Flop House

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Episode 68: Atheist Myths

Episode 68: Atheist Myths

Is atheism a religion? In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Donna Harris, Greg Christensen, Pat Morrow, and Jeffrey Olsson take on a few of the myths and misconceptions about atheists.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Atheist vs. Agnostic | Atheism starts its megachurch: Is it a religion now? | Calgary Secular Church | Michael Enright: Could Atheists please stop complaining? | Elizabeth Renzetti: Heavens, we atheists have become a smug, dreary lot | Betty Bowers Explains Traditional Marriage to Everyone Else

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Episode 62: Star Trek’s Humanism (and Lack Thereof), Part 2

Episode 62: Star Trek’s Humanism (and Lack Thereof), Part 2

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Greg Christensen, Richelle McCullough, Robert Shindler, and Gem Newman continue their discussion of Star Trek’s long history of humanism, and some of the places the franchise has stumbled along the way.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Episodes Discussed: The Next Generation (The Measure of a Man, Who Watches the Watchers) | Deep Space Nine (Family Business, In the Pale Moonlight) | Voyager (Author, Author) | Enterprise (Dear Doctor)

Other Links: Riker Sits Down | Gem’s Rant on the Subject of “Dear Doctor” | Mansplainer #3: I’m Sick of Television (and Real Life) | That Mitchell and Webb Look: English Civil War

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Prayer at City Hall

Cross-posted from Startled Disbelief.

On Tuesday, I was contacted by a producer with Radio-Canada (the French division of CBC) for an interview. They were putting together a téléjournal (television news) piece about prayer in Winnipeg City Council meetings, and were hoping for comment from the Winnipeg Skeptics. I agreed to speak with them, and also attempted to put them in contact with Jeff Olsson of the Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba and Robert McGregor of the Winnipeg Secularists (who, I informed them, had put together a petition on precisely this subject).

Robert McGregor speaks to Catherine Dulude. Image from CBC. Used under fair dealing.

Winnipeg City Council generally starts the day with a prayer—see, for example, the minutes from the City Council meeting on 25 April 2012. (The minutes of all City Council meetings can be found here.)

There were several points that I stressed in the interview, which I’ll summarize here.

First of all, while the Winnipeg Skeptics has no official position with regard to any particular religious claim (except for those that relate to science, such as creationism), the organisation is supportive of secular government over sectarian government.

It is true that Canada doesn’t have a constitutional separation of church and state; indeed, while we have no official religion, our head of state is also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. That said, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion.

I have no problem with members of City Council praying privately. I would never ask a politician to “check their religion at the door”. But when religious observance is carried out by an elected body that is meant to represent the people, that religious observance is effectively being carried out on behalf of the people. Canada’s government is committed (nominally, at least) to multiculturalism and religious pluralism. It seems to me that, in such a nation, governmental entanglement with religious practice (such as prayer) should be minimized.

Even the most benign, vague, and seemingly inoffensive prayers can be divisive. A simple prayer to “God” may be offensive to a deist, who may not believe in an interventionist god, or to a Hindu, who may believe in many. Members of minority religious or cultural groups may see governmental prayer as another way in which they are marginalized.

As is to be expected, the five-minute discussion that I had with the journalist was cut down to a single soundbite—but one that accurately represented my position—while Robert McGregor was (appropriately) given a more extensive interview. I thought that the finished piece (which is a distinctly Manitoban combination of French and English) was very good, and you can view it here.

Image from CBC. Used under fair dealing.

Less good was the online article summarizing the téléjournal piece, which identified me as the organiser of the Winnipeg Secularists and seemed generally convinced that Robert and I were the same person. This has since been corrected, but until about an hour ago still listed my name as “Greg”.

If you don’t read French, feel free to have Google translate the article for you. Alternatively, there is a similar article (bereft of any reference to yours truly) on CBC. The usual caveats against reading the comments section apply, of course.

Episode 6: Waging War on Christmas

Episode 6: Waging War on Christmas

In this episode of Life, the Universe, & Everything Else, Scott, Gem, Laura, and Jeff discuss the so-called War on Christmas. Happy Holidays from everyone at Life, the Universe, & Everything Else!

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Keep Christ in Christmas | Jeremiah 10:2–4 | Premier Brad Wall’s Christmas Message | Secular Holiday Alternatives | Leaving Faith Behind

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