Opinions expressed on the BC Humanist Association's blog do not necessarily reflect those of the BCHA or the Board of Directors.

A budget for science & equality? - Mar 5, 2018 Newsletter

Last week, the federal government announced nearly a billion dollars in new investments in science in its annual budget.

This follows actions by groups like Evidence for Democracy who have been pushing for a renewed investment in science and research since the last election. Some of you will recall the #SciencePledge we took part in back in 2015.

Evidence for Democracy has more about what this budget means for science.

For Humanists, the budget also talks a lot about promoting equality with new initiatives to close gender gaps in pay, ensure clean drinking water in every community and support the many indigenous children in foster care. Time will tell whether these are any more effective than past efforts.

Read more

On Lawrence Krauss and sexual misconduct in atheism

Having gone to university in physics and been active an atheist groups for the past decade, I’ve been to something like five separate conferences where Lawrence Krauss was a keynote speaker. He’s well known in physics circles for his important theoretical work on dark energy and more broadly for being able to popularize science and scientific skepticism. I’ve found his books (I own several, including a couple signed copies) and talks to be entertaining and accessible.

At each of those conferences I attended though, it was an open secret that there was a whisper campaign that followed him. So the multiple, independent and documented sexual misconduct allegations that came out against him recently were honestly not that surprising to me. I believe these women.

Read more

A child's right to Secular Schools - Feb 26, 2018 Newsletter


We pointed out last week that the Government of BC continues to give hundreds of millions of dollars to religious independent schools in BC. This includes schools that teach creation in science class and exclude LGBTQ2+ students and families.

This isn't about a parent's choice but the rights of children to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and their right to a good quality education.

With the support we've build over the past few months, we're going to hold the BC government accountable for the money it continues to give to these faith schools. You can help us by inviting people to join our Secular Schools campaign.

Read more

February 19, 2018 Newsletter

On Saturday, thirteen happy Humanists helped sort donations at the Vancouver Food Bank for three hours.

On Friday, our Humanist Chaplain from Kwantlen University Polytechnic Dr Marty Shoemaker and his ex-wife spoke to fourth graders at Stratford Hall.

Read more

Happy (belated) Darwin Day - Feb 13, 2018 Newsletter

Yesterday was Darwin Day, the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and a chance to reflect on the theory of evolution.

While we didn't participate in formal celebrations in BC this year, one event that caught my eye was a Darwin Day lecture in Pittsburgh. At this lecture, Princeton emeritus professors Peter and Rosemary Grant discussed their research into how Darwin's finches are continuing to develop and evolve. Their research found that some new species evolved in as few as three generations!

As I told Gurpreet Singh on SpiceFM over the weekend, the theory of evolution is alive and a vibrant area of study.

But it's also under threat from religious fundamentalists in India and Turkey, despite the victories we achieved in BC in the 1990s.

Let me know if there's something we should do next year to stand up for evolution and to celebrate Darwin Day 2019.

Read more

Millennials abandon hope for religion but revere human rights

By Galen Watts, Queen's University, Ontario

A sea change in the religious landscape of Canada is underway. Led by millennials, Canada is increasingly moving towards a secular culture. “Spiritual but not religious” has become our new normal.

A 2015 Angus Reid poll found 39 per cent of Canadians identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Another 27 per cent identify as “neither religious nor spiritual;” 24 per cent as “religious and spiritual;” and 10 per cent as “religious but not spiritual.”

What sparked this dramatic change in beliefs and self-identification? And what does it mean for the future of Canadian society?

Read more

Looking back on the Abbotsford creationism battles

All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school.

This section of British Columbia's School Act was written in 1876 and is, as far as I know, unique in Canada for explicitly establishing the school system as secular.

Nevertheless, it was in Abbotsford, BC where the biggest controversy over teaching creationism in Canadian science classes occurred. Today, we're re-publishing Melissa Story's four part series on Creationism in Canada that tells that story.

Read more

What's changed in one year? - Jan 29, 2018 Newsletter

Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane.

One year ago today a man walked into a Quebec Mosque and shot and killed these six people and injured another nineteen.

After the shooting, I wrote in our newsletter: "Now more than ever the world needs an impassioned defence of compassion, human rights and secularism. The world needs Humanism."

As we reflect on one of the worst shootings in Canadian history, I'm thinking about what's changed, what's still the same and what's gotten worse.

Read more

Barriers for Humanist refugees - Jan 22, 2018 Newsletter

As a Humanist, Hamza bin Walayat fled Pakistan for the UK fearing that he could face execution or vigilante attacks for his "apostasy."

The UK Home Office recently denied Walayat's asylum application, however, as they claim he couldn't identify Plato and Aristotle as Greek Humanist philosophers and that he contradicted himself by saying Humanism both is and isn't a religion.

The case is frankly baffling. While Greek philosophers laid the groundwork for Humanism in Europe, it's hardly the only path to freethought. Similarly, whether Humanism should be considered a "religion" or not is a philosophical and semantic question; it's not a sensible basis to reject a refugee application. There's more information about the case at the International Humanist & Ethical Union and Humanists UK.

What this story highlights is the ever present threat faced by atheists and Humanists in theocratic states around the world. It also shows the importance of programs to support refugees fleeing those situations.

In 2016 we started a process to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to come to Canada. That application is still working its way through the bureaucracy. We're hopeful that we can welcome those people to Vancouver later this year.

But we're just one small organization with neither the resources nor the capacity to meet the demand. Luckily, we're not alone and this recent feature in The Atlantic discusses some of the other important work being done.

Read more

Our arguments from Ottawa - Dec 4, 2017 Newsletter

I just got back from my week in Ottawa last night. There I was supporting our lawyers in our intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Throughout the two days of hearings, I provided a running commentary from our Twitter account and did Facebook live recaps with our legal team.

You can find all of that content, along with the webcast of Wes McMillan, our lead counsel, arguing before the court on our website.

We can never know in advance what way a court will go. That said, I was encouraged by the fact many judges, particularly Justice Rosalie Abella, were engaged with the issues we planned to raise, namely whether a law school can even claim to have religious rights. No lower court has yet considered these questions in their decisions.

There's no timeline for when the Court will make its decision, though it will almost certainly be before June 15, 2018 which is the last day retiring Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin is able to contribute to a decision.

What this shows is that our efforts are being paid attention to. We were only able to do this, however, with generous pro-bono support and donations from dozens of you. Please read our 2018 case for support and consider making a donation to our year end campaign if you haven't yet.

To everyone who's supported our work thus far: Thank you.

Read more

Created with NationBuilder Creative Commons License