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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

End of Faith by Sam Harris

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of ReasonThe End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mainly focusing on the monotheistic faiths, Sam makes a compelling case for letting go of irrational beliefs in favour of rational ones.

However, it appears that (faith in) religion is evolving to a gentler, kinder sort and as long as it learns to incorporate the current state of knowledge (generally of the scientific kind rather than divinely inspired) it will continue to be a force for good in the world. We are already seeing some of the more liberal flavours of Christianity accept LGBT orientations as biological while others continue to accord them the death penalty. Guess which ones will survive?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Annual HPHC General Meeting

The meeting was held on Tuesday, May 18th at Cheri's beautiful place in Caledon. It was well attended by stalwart members as well as newbies. The discussion centred around what Humanism meant to each of the attendees. This was in preparation for the appointment of the new executive committee which was as follows:

John Jackson, President
Cheri Cowan, Vice-President
Mark Devenish, Treasurer
Jim Young, Secretary
Kostas Tsembelis, Webmaster
Matthew Bin, Communications

Welcome to newest member Kerem

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Darwin Day Event

When: Monday, February 22, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

Where: UTM, South Building, Room 2080
Who: Dr. Jason Head (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UofT)

Jason Head is a vertebrate palaeontologist and biologist who studies the evolutionary histories of reptiles, primarily from 66.5 million years ago to the present. He received a B.S. in biology from the University of Michigan in 1995, a Ph.D. in geology from Southern Methodist University in 2002, and has conducted field research in Pakistan, Tanzania, Mali, India, Jordan, and North America. While collecting Miocene reptile fossils in Pakistan, Jason developed an interest in the relationship of reptile diversity and body size to climate change, especially in snakes. His subsequent research includes quantitative analysis of skeletal morphology in modern and fossil lizards and snakes in order to reconstruct historical patterns of genetic control and development of the reptile axial skeleton, as well as continuing studies of paleoecology and paleoclimate, inferred from the fossil record. In 2009, Jason described the Worlds largest snake, Titanoboa cerrejonensis, and developed a method for estimating paleotemperature from body size in fossil reptiles. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, a research associate and the Royal Ontario Museum, and an Adjunct Assistant Curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

He will be giving a talk entitled “Natural selection and adaptations as logical theories in studying evolution”

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Humanlight celebration and Tree of Knowledge dedication

December was an exciting month as we had our HumanLight celebration on the winter solstice, December 21st, 2009, at my place in Mississauga.

However, preceding this social event to close off our annual activites, we had a dedication ceremony to a Tree of Knowledge at the Halton-Peel Freethought Centre at 5330 Creditview Road. The event, styled after the annual event in Philadelphia, saw a few friends and members of the centre decorate a tree with their favourite book covers, laminated to protect them from the elements. The event was covered by the local Mississauga News.

Humanists celebrate the season

Many people decorate trees this time of year, and the Halton Peel Humanist Community didn't want to be left out of the fun.

The group, founded three years ago, hosted an event Monday night in which its members decorated a tree with covers from some of their favourite books read this past year.

Being humanists, there were plenty of books that focused on science and logical thinking; Charles Darwin's Origin of Species made an appearance as did Al Gore's The Assault on Reason and David Suzuki's The Sacred Balance.

Kevin Saldanha, the group's president, said the event wasn't designed to denigrate people's faith. Rather, it was a way for the group to celebrate and enjoy the season in a way that's in line with their beliefs.

"It was our way of celebrating with a tree that we felt was appropriate and, hopefully, would inspire people," said Saldanha. "It allows us to celebrate the season in a positive way without being offensive."

About 15 people took part in the tree decorating, which was held on Saldanha's property on Creditview Rd.

Saldanha said it seemed like a good idea because many people are decorating Christmas trees this time of year. He pointed to the recently erected Loving Memory Tree for grieving families outside City Hall as another example.

"Our tree promotes knowledge, education and scientific literacy," said Saldanha. .