Wilfrid Laurier University Admits Wrongdoing

Yesterday I pointed out that faculty and administrators at Wilfrid Laurier University were engaged in an unethical abuse of power.   Since this behavior became widely known, thanks to the student wisely taping her interrogation, the University has been forced to “apologize” in a desperate face-saving manuever.  I’m cynical about the “apology” because it does not have the ring of sincerity nor a willingness to fully acknowledge the unethical dimension of the meeting.

According to this report:

“Through the media, we have now had the opportunity to hear the full recording of the meeting that took place at Wilfrid Laurier University,” says the letter from President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy.

“After listening to this recording, an apology is in order. The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires. I am sorry it occurred in the way that it did and I regret the impact it had on Lindsay Shepherd.”

I find this statement to be dishonest.  If the conversation does not reflect the values and practices of  Wilfrid Laurier University, explain how it happened.  Keep in mind that this was a meeting that not only involved Nathan Rambukkana, but also involved Herbert Pimlott, a tenured professor and Adria Joel, manager of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support at the school.  How can three such educated professionals just stumble into something that violated the values and practices of  Wilfrid Laurier University?  And how is it that throughout the entire meeting, not one of them seems to be slightly aware that they are engaged in activity that violates the values and practices of Wilfrid Laurier University?  It looks to me like the very reason Rambukkana, Pimlott, and Joel felt so at ease playing the roles of interrogators is that this is indeed something that fits well into the values and practices of Wilfrid Laurier University.

If this is not the case, then there is another problem.  That two professors and an administrator felt so comfortable violating the principles and values of their own university indicates the University has a serious problem with its faculty and administration. Will they be punished?  The apology certainly does not indicate anything other than the President trying to treat this incident as some type of unfortunate, freak anomaly.

Rambukkana also comes across as a very dishonest person in his face-saving “apology.”
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Posted in academia, activism, post-modernism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

More Postmodern Authoritarianism

We have yet more evidence for the authoritarian nature of today’s social justice activists

A Canadian teaching assistant was reprimanded by her professor for showing students a video featuring University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson.

According to The National Post, Wilfrid Laurier University educator Lindsay Shepherd was branded as “transphobic” and scolded by her supervising professor, Nathan Rambukkana, for showing the video, which he compared to “neutrally playing a speech by Hitler.”

Shepherd, who is currently a graduate student at the Waterloo, Ontario school, reportedly played a video of a debate between Peterson and University of Toronto Sexual Diversity Studies program lecturer Nicholas Matte.

Following the event, Shepherd was told that simply showing the clip to the “Canadian Communication in Context” class implied that she was “legitimizing” Peterson’s position on genderless pronouns, and that at least one student had complained that the video created a “toxic climate” in the classroom.

[…]

Last week, Shepherd was reportedly made to attend a meeting with her supervisor; the head of the Gendered Violence Prevention and Support program, Adria Joel; and program coordinator Herbert Pimlott to discuss concerns that were raised by one or more students who claimed that the lecturer created “a toxic climate.”

If you’d like to listen to Rambukkana, Joel, and Pimlott tag- team and bully this young graduate to the point of tears, then I encourage you to go here and listen to an excerpt from a secret recording of this “meeting.”

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Posted in activism, secular values, Social Justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Two plus two does not equal five

Here’s a story of a guy who calls himself Ja Du.  He believes he is both a woman and a 636461680217152823-transracialFilipino.  He is transgender and transracial.  If he wants to believe that, fine.  The problem arises when he and others demand that I too believe that.  Or, at the very least, “go along” with it.  Those who make those demands try to intimidate others by labeling those who don’t play along as “transphobes,” “bigots,” and “haters.”

Yet the reason some of us don’t want to play along is very simple.  It has nothing to do with transphobia, bigotry, and hate.  It is all about a respect for the truth.  We don’t want to agree that Ja Du is a Filipino woman for the exact same reason we don’t want to agree that 2 + 2 =5.  At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand.  For truth’s sake.

As Orwell wrote:

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?

Posted in post-modernism, secular values, Social Justice, truth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Pence Rule

One topic that seriously agitates the Friendly Atheist is the so-called Pence Rule.

Hemant explains:

The “Mike Pence rule” (a.k.a. the Billy Graham rule) is the absurd notion that a man shouldn’t meet with a woman who’s not his wife unless someone else is present… because he won’t be able to control himself.

The origin of the Billy Graham rule is explained here and I was impressed that these men came up with four areas where they felt the need to police themselves.

The second item on the list was the danger of sexual immorality. We all knew of evangelists who had fallen into immorality while separated from their families by travel. We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion. From that day on, I did not travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than my wife. We determined that the Apostle Paul’s mandate to the young pastor Timothy would be ours as well: “Flee . . . youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 1:22, KJV).

The Billy Graham rule accomplishes three things that would seem even more useful in today’s age of social media.

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Posted in activism, atheism, Culture, Morality, secular values, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Philosopher Emily Thomas is Wrong. The Universe is Not Too Big for God.

Emily Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Durham University.  She posted an argument for atheism – Does the Size of the Universe Prove God Doesn’t Exist?

She argues: God is human-oriented: human beings are like God, and he values us highly. 

The problem?

If God is human-oriented, wouldn’t you expect him to create a universe in which humans feature prominently? You’d expect humans to occupy most of the universe, existing across time. Yet that isn’t the kind of universe we live in. Humans are very small, and space, as Douglas Adams once put it, “is big, really really big”.

Clearly, there is a discrepancy between the kind of universe we would expect a human-oriented God to create, and the universe we live in. How can we explain it? Surely the simplest explanation is that God doesn’t exist. The spatial and temporal size of the universe gives us reason to be atheists.

And quotes Nicholas Everitt

The findings of modern science significantly reduce the probability that theism is true, because the universe is turning out to be very unlike the sort of universe which we would have expected, had theism been true.

The fatal flaw for both Thomas and Everitt is that they project their own subjective expectations without establishing why we are all supposed to think like them.  I find their argument to be incredibly weak.

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Posted in academia, atheism, God, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Domestic Dispute or Hate?

While it is certainly reasonable to surmise that Devin Kelley nursed a hatred of religion and this hatred was likely a contributing factor to his mass murder of religious people, another contributing factor appears to be an underlying domestic dispute with his mother-in-law.  It has been reported he sent her threatening texts prior to the murders.

While we don’t have all the details, and probably never will, we can use the information we know to reconstruct a plausible scenario.  Kelley was mentally unstable and had a history of rage and violence.  He abused his first wife, her child, and a dog.  He married a second woman and had two children.  In 2014, there are reports he physically abused his second wife.

While it would help to have more details, I think it reasonable to surmise the nature of the domestic dispute centered around Kelley’s history of abuse and violence.  Put simply, he was beating and abusing his second wife and the wife’s mother was doing what she could to protect her daughter and grandchildren.  This would make her a target in Kelley’s mind.  Also, given that the mother-in-law was friends with the pastor’s wife, and church members would have been supportive of the victim of abuse, we can see how Kelley would come to hate this particular church.

So it is not hard to envision how a domestic dispute centered around Kelley’s violent and abusive ways would provide the trigger for this mass murder.

But I don’t think we need to play the domestic dispute against Kelley’s anti-religious views.  There is no need to frame the causal influences as either a domestic dispute or anti-religious animosity.  Both can be in play.  In fact, both can exist in a synergistic fashion.

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Posted in Hate, New Atheism, nihilsm, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Looking More Closely at Devin Kelley’s Atheism

We have seen that Devin Kelley, the mass murderer who killed 26 people in a Texas church, was likely an atheist.  But as I also mentioned, I don’t think you can make the case that mere atheism was a causal motivation behind this atrocity.   Could there be something more involved?

What we have learned over the last decade or so about the New Atheist movement is that there are types of atheists. Back in 2013, Christopher Silver from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga did some research on atheists and found there to be six different types.  One type he labeled the “anti-theist” and described them as follows:

The fourth typology, and one of the more assertive in their view, we termed the Anti-Theist. While the Anti-Theists may be considered atheist or in some cases labeled as “new atheists,” the Anti-Theist is diametrically opposed to religious ideology. As such, the assertive Anti-Theist both proactively and aggressively asserts their views towards others when appropriate, seeking to educate the theists in the passé nature of belief and theology. In other words, antitheists view religion as ignorance and see any individual or institution associated with it as backward and socially detrimental. The Anti-Theist has a clear and – in their view, superior – understanding of the limitations and danger of religions. They view the logical fallacies of religion as an outdated worldview that is not only detrimental to social cohesion and peace, but also to technological advancement and civilized evolution as a whole. They are compelled to share their view and want to educate others into their ideological position and attempt to do so when and where the opportunity arises. Some Anti-Theist individuals feel compelled to work against the institution of religion in its various forms including social, political, and ideological, while others may assert their view with religious persons on an individual basis. The Anti-Theist believes that the obvious fallacies in religion and belief should be aggressively addressed in some form or another.

As I noted at the time,

In addition to characterizing their subjects, the researchers carried out various empirical psychometric measures. And among all atheist types, the New Atheists scored highest for Narcissism, Dogmatism, and Anger. What’s more, they scored lowest when it came to agreeableness and positive relations with others.

There is a significant overlap between this description and a description of Kelley:

…[Danielle’s] family didn’t approve of him because of his lack of respect for everyone he encountered…he was awful to be around. Everything about him from the way he spoke to people from his lack of respect. He was rude and uncouth and had a very short fuse…he came from a great family but I guess that didn’t matter. He was weird and narcissistic. An angry person and anti-social…he was an awful person. He was just arrogant and honestly a jerk.

So the question is not whether Kelley was an atheist, but whether he was an anti-theist.  Was he anti-religious and/or anti-Christian?

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Devin Kelley’s Atheism

As of today, the evidence clearly indicates that Devin Kelley, the Texas church mass murderer, was an atheist.

First, a screen shot of his Facebook page had a quote displayed that is popular among atheists (for obvious reasons):

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Kelley attributed this quote to Mark Twain.  Yet most people do not think the quote is legitimate, as Twain did not live in a time when people knew the universe to be billions of years old.  Back in 2012, skeptics on the Snopes Forum tried to track the quote down to find its source.  It appeared in Richard Dawkins anti-religious book, The God Delusion. 

But as Brian from the Snopes Forum noted:

As the WikiQuotes article mentions it’s quoted in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Unfortunately, Dawkins (apparently) doesn’t say where he found it. While searching for this quote I noticed that there are only a handful of references prior to 2007 and none before 2006. In fact, the earliest reference to this quote I’ve found is this Usenet post dated 6 January 2006. And not one reference to this quote says where it’s from.

So it would appear the quote only became popular after Dawkins’ book made it popular among atheists.  In fact, since Dawkins never sourced this quote to this day, it’s possible he himself made it up as a paraphrase of similar sayings from Twain.  If so, we are left with the huge irony of Devin Kelley’s Facebook page prominently displaying a Richard Dawkins quote.

Second, the Facebook page shows that Devin Kelley liked four atheist pages:  The Friendly Atheist, Atheism, Atheist, and Atheist Republic.

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Times Have Changed

Get Salman Rushdie and Richard Dawkins to headline the Global Atheist Convention

and it gets cancelled for lack of interest.

I guess the PZ Myers endorsement wasn’t enough.  They should have probably tried to get Sargon of Akkad to speak.

Posted in New Atheism, Uncategorized | Tagged | 12 Comments

Friendly Atheist Logic

Back on October 3, atheist activist Hemant Mehta responded to speculations that the Las Vegas mass murderer was motivated by anti-religious sentiments:

And even if this person had an animosity against religion, why the hell would he shoot up a random country music festival in Las Vegas and not, say, a megachurch in Mississippi?

A mere four weeks later, Devin Kelley, an atheist,  did “shoot up” a church in Texas.  This time, Mehta argued:

As for the Texas shooter, I suggest waiting until more evidence comes in. Sometimes, you don’t know all the details in the hours following a tragic shooting. It’s better not to jump to conclusions and make a tragedy all about your pet issue.

I see.  If the Las Vegas killer was motivated by anti-religious sentiments, he would have targeted a church and not a concert.  But when the Texas killer targeted a church, that is not evidence of any anti-religious sentiments.

Activists make it up as they go along.

Posted in Friendly Atheist, New Atheism, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 21 Comments