Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ah, Democracy!

Two days ago I got to fulfill my chance to work for Elections Canada at the one of polling stations in my electoral district. It was a long day, but an interesting one too.

One interesting part of my day was seeing just how bad voter turn-out actually is. I shouldn't say I was surprised by this, since the reality of poor voter turn-out is constantly drilled into our heads here in Canada during high school (or, at least it was when I was there) in order that we will all grow up and instantly become good, caring members of the demos as soon as we turn eighteen years old.

Of course this poor turn-out might not necessarily be such a bad thing: if one isn't even bothered to come out and vote, then it may not be unreasonable to assume they don't actually know that much about the issues that a given election is being held over. So perhaps it's better to make no decision at all, rather than an ill informed one.

Then again, our election hasn't generated nearly as much buzz as the American presidential race (and good for them! The amount of interest in politics that race will inspire in young, first time voters is a good thing), and it's easy to get distracted by the politics of our southern neighbour, since the decisions of their president can affect us here almost as much as our own prime minister's governance can.

After about 14 hours at the polls we all packed it in and finished for the night. The Liberal MP won his third term in my electoral district, and Mr. Stephen Harper still gets to be Prime Minister with his minority Conservative Party government.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bigotry at Home

Here is a bit of religiously inspired bigotry for you.

What shocks me isn't really what he said, since I've gotten used to the fact that religious fundamentalists sometimes spout biblically inspired hate speech ever since I started outing myself to people as an atheist. No, what shocks me is how close to home this is. Sudbury is basically my home town.

It's one thing to see this stuff on the CFI's blog or to hear about it from the Rational Response Squad or from, but to read about it in my own local newspaper was just odd...something I'm not used to at all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Life

Rather than continuing on with my feeble and futile struggle to blog about godless philosophical topics in general, I think that from now on I shall simply use this blog to tell you about my somewhat interesting, humanist know, the sorts of things that normal people blog about.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Science is Way-Cool

I love waking up in the morning to a new and exciting 'first-time' in science, like the one in this photo for instance:

This is perhaps the first extra-solar planet to be directly imaged! Scientists are able to see it because it is a hot, young planet. Even more massive than Jupiter, it is still cooling whilst orbiting a young, sun like star. The heat it generates allows us to detect it by infrared imaging. Full story here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Going to Church

Last Sunday I went to church for the first time in my life, upon the invitation of a friend of mine who is a regular at this particular church. Since I've never ever done anything like going to church before, and since my impressions of the occasion are still fresh in my mind, I thought it might be a nice idea to blog about it.

I'm a 'natural atheist'. I was never indoctrinated into a religion when I was a child, so going to church was a pretty foreign experience for me. Nevertheless, I knew the church we were going to visit this Sunday was also the church of a few of my friends from college, so I knew that at the very least, I would see some familiar faces.

In fact, the first thing that struck me about going to church was the social aspect: everyone was very nice, and many people introduced themselves to me by their first name. I recognized friends of mine, as I suspected I would, as well as a few regulars from work. This part of my adventure was very I think I understand why many people who aren't that religious still bother going to church at all: the sense of community is strong, and it makes you feel very welcome and safe.

After meeting a few new people, and after being introduced to the Pastor, my friend and I grabbed a seat in the middle of the centre column of pews. Then there was a prayer, followed by a few brief announcements and the circulation of the collection plates, which was in turn followed by a special guest who was a hokey player, and who had his own traveling ministry which was quite involved with hockey camps around the world. I have to admit that I couldn't shake the feeling of frustration over the indoctrination of eight and nine year olds as the guest gave his presentation...but needless to say I bit my tongue.

After the guest finished speaking, there was music played by a small band which had drums, guitar, bass and keyboards. One of my friends from college was the guitar player. The band sang about three or four songs. They weren't quite hymns...they were more like Christian pop songs. Devotional songs is what some people call them. During the songs people stood up, and some of the members of the audience raised their hands towards the sky. I'm not a crowd person, so at this point I started to feel a little uncomfortable. I stood up with everyone, but I didn't sing. After the songs were over the sermon began.

The sermon itself was actually quite short. Much shorter than I expected a church sermon would be...maybe fifteen minutes long at the most. It was about the doctrine of adoption. Specifically, the Pastor talked about the doctrine that we are naturally out of fellowship with God and must seek him as an adoptive father through Christ, and that if we do not have God as our father, then Satan is automatically our father for some reason (this part of the sermon pissed me off, pardon my language). Needless to say I immediately started going over the massive amount of problems with this view of the world in my mind. For example, how come the Devil is automatically our father if we are not 'adopted' by God? Why do we have to make a conscious decision to accept God, but our acceptance of the devil is tacit? Shouldn't it be the other way around? And why isn't God a nice guy who just forgives and forgets the whole eating of the forbidden fruit thing anyway? Vengeful God I suppose...the guy can sure hold a grudge (even though Adam and Eve never existed...but I'm pretty sure this was a rather fundamentalist church where the age of the Earth and origins of man are concerned). It's that whole original sin thing again...God is an asshole is basically what this worldview boils down to. But I digress.

After the sermon there were more songs, followed by one last prayer, at which time we were allowed to go. Many people hung around and spoke with me a bit more after the service was done. I tried to steer clear of any theological debates, so I spent a few minutes talking music with some of the members of the church's band. After that, my friend and I departed.

As I wrote earlier, the social aspect of church was quite inviting. I can see why people enjoy going every week since it must build one heck of a sense of community in the churchgoer and his or her friends. However I don't think I'll be converting any time soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Martian Soil Suitable For Life?

I came across this article on the Planetary Society's blog. Apparently Martian soil contains the right stuff for supporting life. Maybe one day Mars will indeed have life, our great grandchildren perhaps? (They could grow green beans in the soil!)