August 2020 Newsletter

Event Updates

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

We are hoping to have brunch on a restaurant patio in mid-late August. The location (in Winnipeg) and date will be announced only a few days ahead, as outdoor seating will make the event weather-dependent. Likely dates are August 16, 23, or 30 at 9:30 AM. We’d love to see you in person again!

If you’re interested in attending, check our home page for updates, or subscribe to our MeetUp group, or Contact Us via email and ask to be notified when details are confirmed.

Virtual option: For those not comfortable attending brunch in person (or those in remote locations), you’re welcome to attend a virtual brunch. We’re looking for volunteers to take turns hosting and we’ll blind-forward the links from our e-mail to protect people’s contact information. If you’re interested in hosting and/or attending, please e-mail us. (info@haam.ca)

Winnipeg Pride Parade

This has been rescheduled for September 13th. We are looking forward to the celebration and showing our support for Winnipeg’s GSRD (Gender, Sexual, and Relationship Diverse) community. HAAM is entered as a walking group, and everyone is welcome to join us – so cross your fingers that it will proceed as planned. Watch for details in our September newsletter.

Stay connected

We can continue to interact, support each other, and maintain friendships online. If you are not a member of our private Facebook group, and would like to join it, contact us. It is open to anyone in Manitoba who identifies as a Humanist/atheist (i.e. you do not need to be a paid member of HAAM).

Check our Events calendar for the latest information on all upcoming HAAM events.

Like so many other organizations, HAAM’s activities have been dramatically disrupted by COVID-19. We will continue to rely on evidence-based information and follow the recommendations made by Shared Health Manitoba before deciding when to resume in-person meetings and events. We encourage you to visit this website (haam.ca), our Facebook page, or Meetup for information and updates.

Online Events of Interest

Flatten the curve of the ‘infodemic’

Are you starved for real information about the pandemic? About every two weeks, beginning in August, Skeptical Inquirer Magazine will be presenting online (Zoom) lectures by experts in science, skepticism, medicine, media, activism, and advocacy, all devoted to the cause of advancing science over pseudoscience, media literacy over conspiracy theories, and critical thinking over magical thinking.

 August 13thDeveloping a SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine: Is Warp Speed Too Fast?

August 27th – The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Pandemic

September 10thViral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall For Them

These lectures are free but require advance registration. Check out these upcoming topics, and register, at Skeptical Inquirer Presents.

Presentations from CFI Canada

Some varied and provocative topics are included in this series.

August 7th – A Conversation with Aron Ra: How does religion influence bigotry, the removal of historical statues, COVID denial, and critical thinking, and more.

August 15th – Introducing Homo Naledi – Our Newest Relative

August 20th – Stab Everyone you Love: Vaccines and the anti-vaxx movement.

August 29th – Confronting Racism Rationally: how the anti-racism movement of today has gone astray and its connections with critical race theory and postmodernism.

Visit CFI Canada’s Toronto branch MeetUp page for more information and to register for all these events.

Latest News

Comedy to lighten your mood – atheist limericks and cartoons

We’ve all heard and read enough depressing news lately. So take your mind off it all for a few minutes with some humor, courtesy of the Humanist Global Charity, an NGO working in Africa. The complete booklet of 42 irreverent limericks and 7 original cartoons is available for free from their website.

One of the cartoons depicts Australian Cardinal George Pell (who was found guilty of protecting child-molesting priests) with a snake (a la Sir Hiss from The Jungle Book) popping out of the top of his head.

And then there are limericks that begin like this:

Glory, glory hallelujah,

You don’t believe in God, do ya?

And

There was a young lady named Alice

Who peed in a Catholic chalice

We won’t give away the punchlines. If you want to read the rest of them, you’ll have to get the PDF. It’s available (free) from Humanist Global Charity. 

How will the pandemic affect religiosity? Your votes are in!

In the July newsletter, we presented opposing views about whether the COVID pandemic is likely to increase or decrease religiosity over the next year or so. If you missed that article, you can catch up by exploring both sides of the argument here (however, the poll is now closed). The gist of it is:

  • Religiosity will decrease because the pandemic is proof that faith doesn’t keep people from harm and prayer doesn’t work.
  • Religiosity will increase because when life is uncertain and stressful, people turn to faith to give them hope.

We asked our readers about their thoughts on this issue and which scenario is more likely to prove correct. Their responses show no consensus, except that no one predicted an overall increase in religiosity (wishful thinking?). Almost half, however, think that religion may gain influence in some regions. Some admitted that they had no idea.

Of course, this poll is neither scientific nor representative of the average Manitoban, or even of Humanists/atheists. Still it’s interesting to consider that our opinions vary widely and that trends in the level of belief can be unpredictable and easily influenced by outside factors.

Here are a few of the comments that we received along with the votes. Most people chose to remain anonymous.

– I have to admit I chose a decrease in religiosity because I HOPE that’s the result. I think some people (especially those who were teetering on the belief fence) will realize that scientists like Dr Tam and Dr Fauci had something important and logical to say based on science and facts, not based on prayer and fanciful gods. – Anonymous (I’m still in the closet because of religious in-laws and friends)

– It depends on the country and the different religious groups. The Southern US will probably increase.

– I think that pandemics like this widen the gulf. There are fence riders when all goes well, but in a pandemic some will become scared and turn towards religion, others will see that the virus is no respecter of beliefs or religions, and thus this would be their turning point away from religion. – Peter Enns

– I think religiosity will decrease but it will probably take more than a year. Some believers will ask “why didn’t god save my X?”; others will come to the realization God’s not there. For some, COVID will be another crack in their faith.

– Who cares…shit is still shit! – Henri

– It depends on what messages and the amount of transparency governments and NGOs provide to citizens about the science associated with Covid-19.

– It will both increase and decrease religiosity. That is, make things more polarized. If the measure is church attendance, that will go up. If the measure is how many choose non-religious in a census, that will also go up. – E. (Evan) Jellico (this clever pseudonym is a play on the word “ex-evangelical”)

– Some of the numbers in that poll are depressing!!! It’s just that too many people are still religious, that’s what amazes me! What’s also depressing is seeing Americans saying COVID is a conspiracy theory. How do you explain 120,000 dead people as a hoax! Also, see the POTUS chumming with religious idiots like Jerry Falwell. EYE ROLL.

Editor’s note: The poll referred to in that last comment is this one, conducted by Angus Reid in 2015, showing that about 30% of Canadians ‘embrace religion’. I used the pie chart from that poll to illustrate baseline religiosity in last month’s newsletter. There are more recent numbers from the Pew Research Center (2019), although the questions weren’t asked in the same way. It will be interesting to compare these statistics to the ones that will come out in the national census next year. We’ll certainly be watching for future polls. In the meantime, if you see updated data or something interesting about trends in religiosity in Canada or the US, please let us know. – Dorothy Stephens

Reminder – Humanist Canada Essay Contest

If you’re a Canadian student age 16-19 who identifies as a Humanist (or you know someone who is), consider putting your ideas and values to paper for a chance at $1000 prize (not to mention that being the winner would look good on your resume).

“This year’s contest gently challenges young writers to passionately express their ideas in a coherent, informed, and persuasive manner,” said Dr. Lloyd Robertson, Vice-president of Humanist Canada. “In a media rich world where making evidence-based arguments is increasingly important, practice in critical thinking skills is essential. I openly invite any journalist to speak directly with me on the educational benefits of our contest.”

Humanist Canada Essay Contest Committee member, Richard Thain said, “Each generation discovers enlightenment values in their own way and applies them to their own issues. Our expert panel of judges are keenly interested in seeing how young, fresh perspectives can be brought to bear on humanism in relation to the Canadian educational system.”

Humanist Canada encourages emerging young writers to explore the wealth of specific essay topics that connect to the overarching theme while remaining consistent with humanist values across Canada. The deadline for essays is September 30th 2020.

Full contest details and rules are available at Humanist Canada.

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Save the Dates!

HAAM and Eggs Brunches

Watch for an announcement about brunch (outside on a patio) in August.

Other Upcoming Events

For community events of interest to HAAM members, click here.

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