November 2nd, 2015 Newsletter Roundup

Through our weekly newsletter, we like to let you know about our upcoming events as well as a number of issues and campaigns that we think might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any suggestions to include in future roundups. Email: [email protected]

And for the latest news items, be sure to like the BC Humanists on Facebook and follow @BCHumanist on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions which appear in the newsletter and in this roundup of all the news which didn't fit within the newsletter are not necessarily shared by all or even most of the members and board of the BC Humanist Association.

This past Sunday, November 1, 2015, 42 of us watched a video of a panel discussion featuring Maajid Nawaz, chair of Quilliam, and Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, at Harvard University's Institute of Politics about their latest book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance. A lively discussion followed on the importance of how we should respond to Islamic extremism. The lecture and discussion period are available on YouTube

Upcoming Events

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have a presentation by Marylen Reid on The Therapeutic Value of Touch.

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have another presentation by Joyce Arthur on Polyglots and Linguistics - Why only about 3% of people manage to become fluent in more than 4 languages, while most of us have a big challenge with mastery of a second language.

On Sunday, November 22, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, Nick Taylor of Basic Income Vancouver will speak on the movement to implement a basic minimum income for all Canadians and why that is a good idea.

On Sunday, November 29, 2015, we will hear from Obi Canuel, an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  Obi will be speaking about his Church and his struggle to get a BC driver's license while wearing the religious headgear (a spaghetti colander) mandated by his faith. 

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The November book club selection was Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Dan Kahneman. The meeting will be on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting.

The December book club selection is Waking Up by Sam Harris. The meeting will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we may decide to change the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting or we may stick with the choice of Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law as decided at the November book club meeting.

The January book club selection is A Fair Country by John Ralston.  The meeting will be on Tuesday, January 5, 2015 at Goldis and Kirsten's home.  At the beginning of the meeting we will decide on the March 1, 2016 book club selection.

The February book club selection is Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law unless we decide otherwise at the December 1, 2015 meeting.  The February meeting will be on Tuesday, 2 February 2016 at Goldis and Kirsten's home.  At the beginning of the meeting, we will decide on the April 5, 2016 book club selection.


Doors open for our Vancouver meetings at the Oakridge Seniors Centre at 10:00 am for BYO coffee, tea, and socializing. Please help us welcome all attendees by introducing yourself and asking about themselves (if you are comfortable doing that). We want all attendees (and especially first-timers) to feel welcome and part of our Humanist community. At 10:30 am we start our presentation. The meetings take place at the Oakridge Seniors' Centre at the West side of the Oakridge Mall at 41st and Cambie. There is a Canada Line station which exits right into the mall.

Check the BCHA Vancouver Meetup page for more details on the meetings mentioned above and for what we have lined up into November and beyond. Also, please RSVP there, so that Meetup members have an idea of how many people usually attend these meetings. Please be aware that while we do our best to ensure that the scheduled programs go ahead as scheduled here, there are no guarantees and last minute changes may be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.

Coordinated attacks on Bangladeshi Humanists

This weekend religious fanatics murdered Humanist Faisal Arefin Dipon and sent three more Humanist bloggers to hospital in Bangladesh. Dipon published freethought and pro-secular books, including some by Avijit Roy who was murdered in a separate attack earlier this year in Dhaka.

Following these latest attacks on Bangladeshi Humanists, the BC Humanist Association has joined CFI Canada and others to call Prime Minister designate Justin Trudeau to make Canada a safe haven for Tareq Rahim, whose wife is Canadian, and others facing persecution for their views.

Read more about this assault on free expression. Please also send your own letter to the federal government.

Dying With Dignity

Last week we condemned reports that the Liberals were considering asking for further delays to giving Canadians choice in dying. This was followed by Catholic Bishops and Evangelical Ministers, in the words of Christian columnist Michael Coren, "fighting like zealots" to oppose changes in assisted dying legislation.

But the evidence is clear: The safeguards work and investment in palliative care has increased in jurisdictions that allow choice in dying.

This is why we'll be speaking at the Dying With Dignity's National Day of Action at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Wednesday at noon. We hope you can join us.

BCHA Store

Did you miss your chance to buy one of our t-shirts or pins at our Vancouver meetings? Good news, you can now order them online!

More News


December 10, 2015 is Amnesty International's Write for Rights dayPlease click the link and write a letter to a government official demanding the release of an unjustly incarcerated person somewhere in the world.  There are, sadly, far too many such people to choose from.


Please sign the petition from Evidence For Democracy demanding the re-instatement of the long form census for the 2016 Census. Help close the information gap.

The Toronto Star is reporting that restoring the long-form census is one of first items on Trudeau's agenda.


As thousands of Syrian refugees flood into Europe to escape the civil war, US and Russian air attacks, and Islamist atrocities in the middle-east, we are seeing a prelude to the even larger refugee crisis looming as more of the land currently occupied by millions of our fellow human beings is flooded as a direct consequence of man-made global warming.   Where will the estimated 200 million climate refugees go? 


The Vancouver Institute presented a talk by Mohamed Fahmy, former English bureau chief of Al Jazeera on Saturday, October 31, 2015. Mr Fahmy, who is also an award winning author, was finally released from an Egyptian prison where he was being held on trumped-up terrorism charges, barely in time to make this gig. The event was attended by well over 700 people and required two overflow rooms to accommodate attendees. Mr Fahmy spoke movingly about his misadventures after running afoul of the Egyptian government for the "crime" of reporting on events there for Al Jazeera. He described the appalling conditions under which he and his fellow incarcerated journalists were kept (in his case for over 400 days). He thanked profusely all who worked hard to eventually win his release and who helped pressure the former Harper government to apply diplomatic pressure on the Egyptian government to drop the absurd charges against him and his follow journalists, many of whom are still in Egyptian prisons. He ended his talk with a list of journalists still imprisoned in various middle-eastern despot-infested countries and urged public support for his foundation which provides legal and logistical support for those brave souls. At the end of his talk, Mr Fahmy received a well-deserved standing ovation. One of the journalists mentioned in Mr Fahmy's list, Mohammed Rasool, is still in a Turkish prison. Please sign a petition demanding his release.

Upcoming Vancouver Institute lectures are listed here.


From Amnesty International, an open letter to Prime Minister elect, Justin Trudeau.


Despite thousands of pages of documents and hours of testimony, Republicans in the US congress failed to prove that Planned Parenthood did anything illegal or wrong. Despite this, they continue their efforts to shut down the organization which is the only means for many poor women in the US to access health care. This story is a warning to Canadians to continue to diligently counter the relentless propaganda campaign pressing for more and more restrictions on women's health care options -- propaganda which has no trouble spilling over into Canada to influence public opinion here. 


From The Raw Story via The Friendly Atheist blog, a story about a Christian fascist pastor explaining why women don't own their bodies because God owns them. This is just one example of thousands of public pronouncements from Christian extremists whose ideas influence public policy in the US and Canada unless they are consistently and vigorously opposed.


In a breathtaking case of wilful blindness to reality, the Home Minister of Bangladesh,  Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, today said such attacks are not new in Bangladesh. “Yesterday’s attacks are isolated incidents and such attacks also occur in other countries of the world,” the minister told reporters at his ministry office today.  This is what happens when the most significant prerequisite for a peaceful society: separation of religion from state power -- breaks down. 


And as if the news from Bangladesh wasn't terrible enough, Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is scheduled to suffer another round of torture in the form of more lashes from the Saudi Arabian government. Hopefully our new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, will be less reluctant than was his predecessor to apply pressure on the Saudi government (unbelievably, now head of the UN Human Rights Commission) to end this barbarism.


Please sign the petition to put pressure on the Uzbeki government to end slave labour in government operated cotton harvests -- an ongoing violation of the civil rights of the country's citizens.


From our friends at Atheist Republic, a bit of faux internecine strife among satirical fake religions.


In this short video from Big Think, Daniel Dennett presents some thoughtful speculation about what we likely will have in common with intelligent life-forms evolving on planets in orbit around other stars within our Galaxy.


Jesus was not a real person according to 40% of UK residents polled by the Church of England recently according to the BBC.  Good news for free thought in the UK, especially in the light of the demographic breakdown of Christians, atheists, and Muslims.


Lawrence Krauss posts yet another brilliant article in the New Yorker magazine explaining how a new experiment shows that the spooky action at a distance in Quantum Mechanics (which Einstein tried and failed to discredit) is real but nevertheless does not open the door to mysticism and/or post-modern anti-scientific nonsense involving the supposed breakdown of cause and effect.

Check out the above excellent video from Mr. Deity on the inevitable conflict between science and religion.


Here is a preview of what the space near our Sun will look like a couple of billion years hence.  This image shows the coldest observed (by human instruments) object in the Universe.  It is the result of a dying star shedding its outer layers in the transition from red giant to white dwarf.

This is an interesting video from Brave New Films showing the distortions happening in the US higher education system. Instead of paying adjunct professors a living wage, US Universities are funnelling their ever-increasing tuition revenues to football coaches and college CEOs.




Phillosophy Dinners are starting up again, sponsored by Glen Brauer. The next topic is The Basic Income Movement, which is also the topic of an upcoming BCHA Sunday Meeting on November 22, 2015. Anyone interested in taking part in Philosophy Dinners must sign up and pay the small fee ($5) in advance via Meetup since there a limited number of physical seats (and their format involves no more than 6 people to a table in order to keep the groups small). Glen is also co-ordinator of psychology dinners, and calopia, your one-stop shopping site for worthwhile causes.

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