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

February 9, 2016 Newsletter Roundup

Unfortunately our scheduled speaker was unwell this week so on Sunday, February 7, 2016, a group of 36 of us watched a video of Jared Diamond speaking about the ideas in his new book, The World Until Yesterday. Diamond (who was just named the 2016 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association) argues that there is a lot we can learn about risk, raising children and more by studying traditional societies.

We hope to reschedule Dr Samir Gandesha's talk on terrorism and nihilism at a later date when he's recovered.

Read more

The problem with human head transplants

By Andrew JacksonNewcastle University

In a 1978 essay, titled Where Am I?, the philosopher Daniel Dennett suggested that the brain was the only organ of which it’s better to be a transplant donor than recipient. Now Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero wants to turn philosophical thought experiments into reality by transplanting the head of Valery Spiridonov, who suffers from a debilitating muscle wasting disease, onto the healthy body of a dead donor.

Beside posing questions about personal identity, there are more prosaic challenges that must first be overcome. The brain would have to be kept alive during surgery by cooling it to 10-15°C, and the immune system would need to be powerfully suppressed to prevent transplant rejection. But the greatest hurdle may be how to restore connections to the spinal cord. Without this connection the brain would have no control of its new body.

Read more

February 1, 2016 Weekly Newsletter Roundup

On Sunday, January 31, 2016, Cherise Louie of Canadian Blood Services spoke to 35 of us on the value of donating blood, as well as their new initiatives, One Match for bone marrow and stem cell donations and cord blood donations. Read more about how, starting in February, we will be hosting regular blood donation sessions in Vancouver.

Take god out of anthem

Today the BC Humanist Association and Centre for Inquiry Canada wrote to Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger asking for God to be taken out of O Canada. Last week Bélanger tabled a private member's bill to make the national anthem gender neutral. Read the letter.

Symbols like the national anthem may not have a great effect on the day to day lives of most atheists but they matter nonetheless.

Read more

The importance of working with interfaith groups

People have asked me why, as a Humanist, I'm involved in the interfaith events and why I think the BC Humanists should be involved in the interfaith movement in general. After all, what are a bunch of non-believers doing associating with religionists?

There are a few reasons why I believe it is important that we take part in interfaith activities. It helps to boost our name in the larger community. It allows people of faith to learn about us. And it is one way of showing the world and each other that we care for our fellow humans and are able to put differences of worldview aside in order to accomplish a greater good.

Read more

The toll of spanking on the mental health of children

By Ronald W. PiesSUNY Upstate Medical University

Spanking, or, as it’s formally known, “corporal punishment,” has been much in the news of late.

Out on the presidential campaign trail there was Senator Ted Cruz’s revelation that

If my daughter Catherine, the five-year-old, says something she knows to be false, she gets a spanking.

And recently, in Canada, following a call by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to prohibit spanking, the Liberal government has promised to abolish a parent’s right to physically discipline children. Along similar legal lines, in June 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that the state was justified in denying foster parenting privileges to a couple who practised corporal punishment and supported spanking or paddling children. The couple in the case had argued, unsuccessfully, that physical discipline was an integral aspect of their Christian faith.

Read more

January 25, 2016 Weekly Newsletter Roundup

On Sunday, January 24, 2016, Nader Abdullah of the Syrian Canadian Council spoke to 37 of us on the history behind the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the challenges facing Syrian refugees in Canada. A lively discussion followed.  Read more about our own effort to sponsor a refugee family.

Our Executive Director Ian Bushfield was on the Left at the Valley podcast yesterday speaking about some of our work. You can hear about how we plan to challenge the distribution of Gideon Bibles in Abbotsford public schools. You can listen to the podcast here.

The Fraser Valley Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists meets every Sunday at Legal Grounds Coffee in Abbotsford. Check them out on Meetup.

Read more

January 18, 2016 Weekly Newsletter Roundup

The BC Humanist Association was in the news last week, challenging the tax exemptions religious groups are entitled to by many municipalities. Spencer Anderson's great front page story for the Nanaimo Daily News showed that city alone awarded over $170K in property tax exemptions to church properties such as parking lots. Let's hope this is the start of a dialogue about whether it's time to stop subsidizing megachurches.

Also last week, the Supreme Court of Canada decided to partially grant the federal government's request for a further delay before assisted dying becomes decriminalized. While this means four more months of suffering for Canadians who have made that decision, the justices did rule that they could apply to a judge to hasten their death in the meantime. We will continue to make the case for compassion and choice and will be writing to the MPs and Senators who are studying this issue.

Yesterday, January 17, 2016, John Ince spoke to 36 of us on happiness and how to maximize it. We're hoping to have the recording online later this week. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes so you can listen to the speakers at our meetings.

Read more

Basic income could change how we think about inequality

Basic income for all could lift millions out of poverty – and change how we think about inequality

By Ralph CallebertVirginia Tech

The idea of a basic income for every person has been popping up regularly in recent years.

Economists, think tanks, activists and politicians from different stripes have toyed with the idea of governments giving every citizen or resident a minimum income off which to live. This cash transfer could either replace or supplement existing welfare payments.

Pilot projects and feasibility studies have been run or are under way in the NetherlandsIndiaCanadaFinlandFrance and elsewhere.

Read more

January 11, 2016 Weekly Newsletter Roundup

Yesterday, January 10, 2016, 36 of us were energized and engaged by David Simpson's talk on how he came to be a Christian Atheist. David still worships Jesus as a heroic figure even though he's lost his belief in all the alleged miracles and the supposed reality of God. His talks stirred up considerable controversy but was generally appreciated as very interesting and thought provoking.

Read more

A letter from Canada

This article first appeared in the November edition (Vol 120 No 11) of the Ethical Record published by the Conway Hall Ethical Society in London, UK.

It is with great pleasure that I write to you to report that my local humanist group in Vancouver, Canada has grown exponentially in the past three years. The membership has grown and the organizational activities have blossomed with a wide variety of programs. This is the first time that I’ve been part of such a burgeoning society and so I wished to share with you the story of our organization. Presumably the context for this growth has been international, and so many readers may see parallels with their own organizations in England and elsewhere.

Read more

Created with NationBuilder Creative Commons License