Category Archives: Religion

Prayer in Public School? It’s the Twenty-First Century!

I read a fairly short article on Huffington Post Alberta, which I agreed with. But that’s not the interesting thing. On Facebook, there was a rather heated argument.  And I got myself involved in it briefly.

There’s a woman who was supporting the Lord’s Prayer being recited in public schools in Saskatchewan, and a lot of people argued against her, saying that the prayer infringes on non-Christians’ right to be exempt from it. In Canada, you cannot impose your religion on another person. The woman argued that since the others were asking that the prayer not be said in class, they were infringing on her children’s right to say the prayer. But that’s not what they were saying at all. They were saying that her children could pray however they like, but the other children should not be forced to do it. She went absolutely nuts. I chimed in with my own little comment:

Your kids can pray whatever they want whenever they want. That is their right. However, that prayer should not be forced on other kids who may not be Christian. It’s a public school. Atheism is not being taught. School subjects are being taught. Religion doesn’t come into it. Religion is a personal thing and should remain private. Your kids can pray if they want, but don’t make mine pray to something they don’t believe in.

You see, she claimed that her children were being taught atheism. They weren’t, of course. I presume that she believes that the teaching of evolution, the big bang, and science in general is the teaching of atheism. It’s not. She later said that scientists believed that the Earth was flat. Actually, that didn’t happen. I added this:

Late to this conversation. Judy, it’s been know that the earth is round since the times of Ancient Greece. No one suggested it was flat after that. Anyone who captained a ship knew the world was round, because they has to take that into account when calculating their location and direction.

The belief that Columbus thought the world was flat is completely wrong. He knew the Earth was round. He was trying to find a shortcut to India across the ocean. He just ended up running into a few islands in the Caribbean. But that’s another story.

Back to the original topic. The teaching of religion in public schools should never be something forced on students. If you include one religion, you must include the others. If you have prayers in class, they should be silent, and should never be forced on students. Nor should they be shamed into it. Like I said on Facebook, religion is a personal, private thing. It should never be imposed on others. And public schools are for learning the skills needed to become a functional adult in society. Leave the teaching of religion to churches.

One other thing, she wouldn’t respond to this. Someone asked her that if she follows the Bible religiously, does she obey Matthew 6:5-6? Prayer is not to be done publicly, but in the privacy of your own home. Anyway, I’m staying out of that. I’m not going to argue scripture, because I find it a pointless activity.

What do you think? Should kids in public schools have to pray? Or should religion be kept out of public schools completely? The comments section is open for a little debate. But keep it civil, please.

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A Nightmare for an Introverted Atheist

I was just talking to my wife about how annoying it can be to have small talk with a stranger for an extended period of time. It reminded me of a time when I just wanted to be left alone with a magazine.

I was reading Astronomy magazine in the Chapters store in Victoria’s Eaton Centre, minding my own business, when a woman approached me. She was around fifty years old, dressed like she had money, and a friendly face. I don’t recall what day of the week it was, but most likely Saturday or Sunday. I looked up and noticed she was looking at me and the magazine.

“The universe is so beautiful,” she said, looking at the galaxy photo on the page I was looking at. I nodded. But she continued, “Everything is so beautiful, just as God had intended it to be.”

I started feeling uncomfortable. As an introvert, I just wanted to be left alone with the magazine. I was trying to relax. As an atheist, I just wanted to be immersed in the all natural science I was looking at. I did not want a theological discussion.

She continued talking to me, but changed the subject. “Do you know Jason? Are you his brother?” she asked me.

“I don’t know anyone named Jason,” I said.

“Jason Smith, you must know him. You look just like him,” she said.

“Sorry, I haven’t met anyone with that name.”

“Well, he’s a wonderful young man. He goes to my church,” she said, smiling.

“I see,” I said, and went back to the magazine.

“Which church do you go to?” she asked me.

I looked at my watch and said as politely as I could, “I’m sorry, but I have to go now. I’m meeting my friend.” I quickly put the magazine back and walked out of the store.

At that age, I did not do well with conversations like that. I was still somewhat shy, didn’t like interaction with people in public, and as I was a very private person, I never talked about things like that. I just wanted to get away from her. Looking back now, I think she was just trying to be friendly, but completely ignorant to the fact that she was being rude. If someone is reading a book or magazine, do not interrupt them! Secondly, it was very presumptuous of her to think I was a Christian.

Today, I’d be able to handle that in a much better way. I would have said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t go to church. I’m not a Christian.” I may have added, just to politely get out of the conversation, “I’m looking up something for my studies in university right now. I’m studying astronomy. So, if you don’t mind, I need to get back to my research.”

I would be polite, but direct about it. Honestly, I’m curious how she would’ve reacted. I’ll never know, though.

Have you had an encounter with someone you just wanted to get out of? Share your story in the comments below.

In Support of a Muslim Friend

I have a friend that I went to high school with who practices Islam. Actually, I’ve known her since we were nine years old. She wasn’t always Islamic, but converted as a young adult. She is Islamic, as are her husband and children.

Some people have been posting anti-Islamic posts, and she has seen them. They are friends of hers that are doing this. So, if they are against Islam, then they are against their friend.  My friend.  Someone I have known for nearly thirty years. Someone who is an honest person. Someone who is childcare specialist, and does a damn good job at it. Someone who is a Canadian. So, I say to those friends of hers, “If you’re against Muslims, then are you against your friend?”

I know, I know, you’ll probably say, “But she’s different.” How? How is she different? I hope you realise that the vast majority of Muslims in Canada are good people. And they are Canadian. They have every right to vote, to voice their opinions about how the country is governed, and to live peacefully with their neighbours. Want to know what’s great about Canada? Tolerance, acceptance, politeness, kindness. Sure, there are some who are none of those, but that happens in every country. And you know what else? Every Muslim I have met in my life has been a kind, generous, and all around wonderful person.

Muslims aren’t scary people who are trying to blow you up. The Muslims who are doing that are extremists. There are also Christian extremists who want to kill gay people. They’re a fringe. They’re not the majority. The vast majority of Muslims, Christians, whatever, are good people.

So, to my friend, you’ve got me, an atheist, to back you up. Religion doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is the person. And you are a great person. When it all comes down to it, most of us are just people who want to live a good life and make our communities better.

I wish others would think about this. Maybe I’ve changed someone’s mind. I hope so. We need more tolerance in this world. It’s something we’re lacking.

Have You Ever Created a Religion?

L. Ron Hubbard created a religion. He made a fortune off of it. He was a science fiction author. Like any new religions, it’s highly controversial. But what about in fiction?

It’s quite common for fantasy authors to create religions for their worlds. Since they are totally original worlds that usually have no link to our world, their religions are extremely likely to also be original. The author has complete creative control over the religions, and can make them as conventional, bizarre, or extreme as they like. And they’ll often form the basis of the world’s culture, magic system, and even interfere with what happens in the world.

In science fiction, real religions are already available, but over time, religions tend to change or branch off into cults or new denominations. It’s happened in the past, and it’ll happen in the future. Many of the science fiction novels I’ve read deal with religion of the future extensively (Hyperion with Christianity, Reality Dysfunction with multiple religions, and Dune with its far future mix of Buddhism and Islam).

What I’m doing with Ariadne is no different. There are three religions I have already created: a form of militant fundamentalist Christianity, a kind of mix of Christianity and Neo-Paganism, and something entirely new that develops out of an obsession with Earth.

Have you ever created a religion?

End of World Conspiracy Theories Just Don’t Stop

I don’t like drawing attention to these kinds of things, but I just wanted to say a few words about this. Take a look at this video. You don’t have to watch all of it, just a bit to get an idea about what this is.

So, they say a “confirmed” 2.5 mile wide comet will hit the Earth between September 15th and 28th this year. Who confirms this? Not anyone I know of. I don’t believe it’s confirmed by anyone. In other words, this is complete male bovine excrement. A big cow patty. Manure. Looking at the description of this video, I see advertisements for the video maker’s book and other things about repenting to Jesus, etc.

On one hand, we have someone who’s trying to scare people into believing this pile of garbage. She (Renee sounds like a woman’s name) wants to encourage all the gullible people to buy her book. It’s all about money. Sounds like a typical evangelist, doesn’t it? “Hey, my loyal followers and those who are scared of death, repent to God and Jesus, and buy my book while you’re at it. It’ll save you from Hell when the world goes kaboom in September!”

On the other hand, this could be someone who has deep connections in world governments and astronomical societies who keep everything secret, because we all know astronomers don’t share their discoveries.  Nah, that can’t be, because astronomers love to share their discoveries. This so called “confirmed” comet would have been announced so long ago and confirmed by many amateur and professional astronomers, that it would be impossible to keep this a secret. With it being so close, a comet like this would likely be easily seen with a telescope if you knew where to find it. It would’ve been shared all over the internet. But guess what? It hasn’t. Therefore, it doesn’t exist.

The world is ending in September? No. Don’t believe this garbage. If you do, you are incredibly gullible.

Creationist Discovered 60 Million Year Old Fish Fossils

This comes straight from my home province of Alberta in Canada. It probably has the highest number of Creationists in Canada, as it’s the most conservative province, at least religiously.

A Creationist from Calgary was digging in a basement when he found what is probably a completely new species of fish dating back to 60 million years ago. This is a problem. According to him, they’re only 4,500 years old. How does he know? Noah’s flood.  He’s sure they were deposited there by the flood. This guy actually helped build the Big Valley Creation Science Museum.  Creation Science. Something that contains not one bit of science.

He’s also interested in having Alberta schools teach Creationism. He hasn’t directly asked the government, though. I have a problem with that. Creationism is religion. Public schools are secular. If anyone thinks that Creationism should be taught in science classes as an alternative to evolution, they are completely wrong about what science is. I would have a big issue if a science or biology teacher started teaching Creationism in class.

But back to this discovery. This dates back to 60 million years ago, which is extremely significant. This was only a few million years after the K-T mass extinction, which wiped out non-avian dinosaurs and most other species. These fish lived in a time when life was recovering from the devastation of the extinction and asteroid impact. We know it’s this old because of several methods of dating, which all agree with each other (fossil record, palynostratigraphic, and magnetostratigraphic).

It’s not 4,500 years old. At that time, Mesopotamia and Egypt both had civilisations uninterrupted by a giant flood.  It didn’t happen. So, how can a great flood wipe out everything but a small group of humans and the animals of the Ark, yet the civilisations continued on without even acknowledging this flood? Sounds fishy.  Oh yeah, Egypt started building pyramids around that time. He says that he has come to “accept the fact that we all have different opinions.” Too bad evolution and science are not opinions. They don’t care what people believe. They just are.

I’m Unimpressed, Indiana

With all the news about the Indianapolis state government passing a law that is “not about discrimination,” it sure sounds like it enables business owners to discriminate against the LGBT community.

It’s been said that Indiana’s not the only state, that there are several others have similar laws.  That is true.  But Indiana’s case is happening right now, and it’s important to talk about this.  The other states will be looked at as a result of this discussion.

But you may ask me why I care.  I’m Canadian, I don’t live in the US.  Well, I have friends in the US, including some in Indiana and other states that have these laws.  They have friends who could be affected.  And these days, it’s become internationally known that the US is a hotbed for bigotry, especially with the way the Republican party (particularly the old tea party group) has been going out of their way to discriminate against gay people (not to mention pretend that climate change isn’t happening, but that’s another story).  The US has been having race problems a lot, too.

I’m not an overly emotional person, but I have this to say:  Grow up, you morons! Why can’t you just learn to get along and let others live how they like?  Why do you have to push your religious and political agendas down everyone’s throats, as if gay marriage is a threat to your own way of life.  It is not a threat!  Only bigots think this way.  I mean it.  If you think that gay marriage threatens your own personal way of life, you have no intelligence whatsoever.  I dare you to try to give a rational explanation that justifies discriminating against people different than you.  Go ahead, do it.  I bet you can’t.  If you want to try, the comments below await you.

For everyone else who is levelheaded, has compassion, and accepts people for how they are, I’d also like your input.