Saturday, November 30, 2013

What do you think of Brian Pallister's statement?

Brian Pallister is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba. Here's a statement he made the other day. I'm not particularly offended by what he say about atheists. I think it demonstrates that he is really stupid and probably should have kept his mouth shut but that's actually good for secularism, no? It's pretty clear that he doesn't know any atheists, or, even more likely, none of of the atheists he knows want to tell him that they are nonbelievers.

… I wanted to wish everyone a really really Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, all the holiday… all you infidel atheists out there, I want to wish you the very best, also. I don’t know what you celebrate during the holiday season — I myself celebrate the birth of Christ — but it’s your choice, and I respect your choice. If you wish to celebrate nothing and just get together with friends, that’s good, too. All the best.


(I think I understand why his parents gave their farm to his brother. )

[Hat Tip: Friendly Atheist]

47 comments :

  1. Please don't get me started. I've ranted enough this morning. I going out to get some fresh air and blow away the toxic fumes coming out of my ears and directed at Brian Pallister.

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  2. I don't really know what the issue is. I've been an atheist for as long as I've had any coherent opinions about the matter, I live in a relatively secular, Nordic country and most of my friends are atheists. I could of course give an account of what most atheists actually do during the holidays, but what we ought to do is hardly obvious. How nonbelievers should relate to religious holidays seems like a perfectly sensible question to ask.

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    1. I suppose it's about as reasonable as asking how people who don't believe in the ancient Celtic gods celebrate Halloween. Or how non-Roman Catholics celebrate St. Valentine's Day. :-)

      Any adult who lives in a secular society where a substantial percentage of people don't believe in Jesus has to be pretty stupid not to realize that most of them celebrate a non-religious Christmas. Where has Brian Pallister been all his life if he doesn't know any atheists who have Christmas trees and look forward to Santa Claus, eggnog, colorful lights, presents, and turkey dinners?

      I'm pretty sure there are atheists in Winnipeg.

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    2. """I don't really know what the issue is."""

      For starters, he could avoid the childish "infidel atheists" attitude.



      """"I suppose it's about as reasonable as asking how people who don't believe in the ancient Celtic gods celebrate Halloween. Or how non-Roman Catholics celebrate St. Valentine's Day."""

      Pretty much.

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    3. I think Brian's simple little stereotyped mind would be quite blown by what my family does. Let's see, decorate the house, put up a tree (always a real one), play Christmas music all day for a month, shop for presents, light the house, donate to charity, buy "bagged" dinners for the homeless every time we shop for groceries, drink vast quantities of egg nog and champagne (not together!), have a grand Christmas Day feast, open presents, have fun, love each other's company and go to sleep happy.

      We celebrate Boxing Day, too, because we can and leave the decorations up until after New Year's.

      Alas, no baby Jesus. Just a celebration of humanity and our love for each other and our fellow man.

      I'm sure on Brian's scale we are horrible, horrible people.

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  3. Larry, All I can say is that Christmas has very little or nothing at to do with Christ, so Brian Pallister has not much to be proud of. Even the date of Christ's birth is unknown and scholars are estimating it to be around beginning of October.
    It is pretty much a pagan holiday and not much to be proud about if that makes you and other atheists as well as agnostics feel better in any way.

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

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  4. Isn't "Progressive Conservative" an oxymoron?

    I laughed when I read "infidel atheists". That guy really knows how to hurt us atheists. LOL

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    1. The "progressive" part has been dropped from the name of the federal party. It was a wise decision.

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    2. I have the same thought whenever I read the name of that party. What were they thinking when they first came up with it? Does Canada also have a Libertarian Communist Party?

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    3. It wasn't such a bad name in the past. The party was conservative on fiscal matters but progressive on social issues. The new leader in 1942 was from the Progressive Party and he pushed through the name change from Conservative Party of Canada.

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    4. Aha, I understand. But that sounds as if they are basically what the USA and Canada call 'libertarian' and the rest of the world 'liberal'.

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  5. One could celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Issac Newton, the most important scientist who ever lived.

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    1. The birthday of the most important scientist who ever lived was February 12.

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    2. Re Larry Moran

      http://goo.gl/mC45Ao

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    3. @colnago80,

      You link to a video where Neil deGrasse Tyson, a physicist (astronomer), says that one of the founders of his field, Isaac Newton, is "the smartest man to ever walk the face of the Earth."

      That's not very helpful. Keep in mind that just because Newton has a much bigger tomb than Darwin in Westminster doesn't mean he was a better scientist.

      Read: Was Newton the Greatest Scientist Who Ever Lived?.

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    4. Re Laurence A. Moran

      Let's see here, Prof. Moran implies that somehow Tyson may be somewhat biased in favor of Newton because he's an astrophysicist. Of course, Prof. Moran is in no way, shape, form, or regard biased in favor of Darwin because he's a biologist. Not a bit of it, perish the thought.

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    5. Of course I'm "biased" in favor of Darwin. However, I would like to point out that physicists and astronomers probably have more trouble appreciating Darwin than we have in appreciating the contributions of Newton.

      My only intention was to point out that scientists in different fields have different views on who is the greatest scientist. Thus your link was useless in making an objective decision.

      I thought it was pretty obvious that the bias applies to me as well. Did you think you were making a profound discovery?

      When you said originally that Isaac Newton was "the most important scientist who ever lived" did you consult biologists?

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    6. When you said originally that Isaac Newton was "the most important scientist who ever lived" did you consult biologists?

      Actually, I was just rattling Prof. Moran's cage. IMHO, the three most important scientists so far are Newton, Darwin, and Einstein and actually I think it is not particularly informative to try and rank them.

      Incidentally, I think there is a certain symmetry between Darwin and Newton. There are many out there who think that the contributions to the theory of natural selection byf Alfred Russell Wallace have been overlooked in favor of Darwin and there are also those who think that the contributions of Gottfried von Liebnitz to the development of calculus have been overlooked in favor of Newton.

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  6. Larry wrote:

    "I suppose it's about as reasonable as asking how people who don't believe in the ancient Celtic gods celebrate Halloween. Or how non-Roman Catholics celebrate St. Valentine's Day. :-)"

    Good point Larry... I knew you were smart...
    However...

    "Any adult who lives in a secular society where a substantial percentage of people don't believe in Jesus has to be pretty stupid not to realize that most of them celebrate a non-religious Christmas. Where has Brian Pallister been all his life if he doesn't know any atheists who have Christmas trees and look forward to Santa Claus, eggnog, colorful lights, presents, and turkey dinners? "

    Here is where you hit the low point Larry.... Dingogenes probably would say something about that but he is scared you will ban him and I will ask him the famous question about the origins of life. Dinggene has been avoiding me but that is fine.... I will not bully him to acknowledge what he already knows....

    Low point- Why would an atheist so opposed the religion celebrate a well-known-religious holiday dedicated to Jesus who YOU VERY-WELL- BELIEVE IT DID NOT EXIST? WHY? Is that a bit of hypocrisy creeping in on you Larry?

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    1. What's atheistic Christmas like Larry? Does the Christmas tree resemble the Darwin's tree of life, perhaps? Does Santa look like Joker Coyne or Joker Frankenstein? Larry, I'm confused again....

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    2. When are you ever not confused, Quest?

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    3. Quest, Christmas is an old winter solstice festival assimilated into Christianity. The Christmas tree is a recent custom, borrowed from German folklore, and surely not of Christian origin either. Anyway, what the hell has it all got to do with the actual birth of Jesus (assuming for the sake of the argument that we are talking about a historical figure)? The baby Jesus of the popular tradition is no more real than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

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    4. Piotr wrote: "(assuming for the sake of the argument that we are talking about a historical figure)"
      Could you give reference to any serious historian that argues the case that Jesus is not a historical figure?

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    5. I have accepted the historicity of Jesus for the sake of the argument. Now, please, name any serious historian who argues that Jesus was indeed born of a virgin on the 25th of December, laid in a manger at Bethlehem, and visited by Three Wise Men from the East soon afterwards.

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    6. Piotr, one step at a time, do you or do you not admit that Jesus undisputedly among scholars is a historical person?

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    7. It's like the historicity of King Arthur of Britain. There was possibly a genuine historical figure -- a Brittonic military leader active ca. 500 CE -- who became the model for the legendary Arthur, but it's doubtful whether his real name was Arthur, and no single detail of his biography is certain. Or rather, the only certain thing about him is that he wasn't King of the Brits.

      I wasn't arguing that Jesus never existed, but that the circumstances of his birth are literary fiction, not historical fact. I don't think ANY serious historian would disagree. Neither do we have any non-literary evidence of the rest of Jesus's biography.

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    8. Piotr, how can it be so hard to just come out and say that virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed and that he was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.

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    9. Re Andy Wilberforce

      There is precious little evidence outside the Christian Scriptures as to the existence to the man known as Yeshua ben Yusef of Nazareth. The accounts in those writings were written at least 40 years after his alleged demise by writers who never met him or observed him in action. Their evidence is all hearsay, not acceptable in most courts of justice.

      By the way, Muslim scholars believe that Yeshua was not the man sent to Calvery, but that it was Judas Iscariot and that Pontius Pilate sold him to get out of Dodge and don't come back. Some think he traveled to Damascus where he presumably eventually died in his bed.

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    10. Ok, so you compare the multitude of contemporay accounts of Jesus from Christian and non-christian sources to the accounts in the Quran that were written some 600 years later...
      If the only references to for example the trial of Jesus came from Christian sources, then there could have been reason to wonder if such a trial ever took place, or if even Jesus ever existed. There are however some important surviving references to the trial of Jesus in non-Christian writings. One comes from Publius Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian who was hostile to the Christian movement. Other references can be found in the writings of Josephus, a Jewish historian, the Talmud, and Mara bar Serapion, a Syrian prisoner. Each of these references confirms three central facts: that there was a leader of a movement called Jesus (or Christ), that Jesus was executed, and that the movement that Jesus was part of survived his death. Jesus, however, is variously portrayed in these writings as a troublemaker (Tacitus), a teacher (Josephus), a sorcerer or magician (Talmud), and a wise king (Serapion).

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    11. Is it? I have no problem with the historicity of Jesus (or some Jewish prophet remodelled as Jesus by later tradition). But it's easier said than demonstrated. And no, there is nothing close to universal consensus even on either of the points you mention. John the Baptist, by the way, is only marginally less mythical than Jesus. Yes, I know Josephus mentions him, but neither Josephus nor any other source independent of the New Testament confirms that Jesus was baptised by him. The historicity of Pontius Pilate is certain, but unfortunately there are no surviving Roman records referring to him or to his alleged involvement in the Jesus affair. Testimonium Flavianum is at least a partial forgery, so again the gospels remain the only source.

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    12. Piotr, suspect you did not read my entry above before you wrote your response. I can add that Tacitus a member of the Roman consular nobility (55-115 AD) wrote "Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, and the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular." So it is clear that even if the direct roman accounts are missing today, they were available at that time.

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    13. Tacitus did not reveal his source, though, and since he got Pilatus's official title wrong, it's unlikely that his info came from "direct Roman accounts".

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    14. The early governors of Judaea were of prefect rank, the later were of procurator rank, beginning with Cuspius Fadus in AD 44, i.e. about 8 years after Pilatus left office. When applied to governors, this term procurator, otherwise used for financial officers, connotes no difference in rank or function from the title known as prefect.

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    15. The fact that such an anachronism was committed by Tacitus -- a meticulous scholar and himself a senator, consul suffectus and governor of Asia (just as he was writing the Annals) -- makes one wonder what kind of source he used. The Christians' own tradition or some other form of "common knowledge", I suppose. I also doubt if actual Roman records would have referred to "Christus" rather than "Jesus".

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    16. There are plenty more evidence, but I will stop here since the point is already clearly made and you are unlikely to change your mind. This is virtually undisputed among historians, to the extent that Dawkins had to use a professor in the German language as his expert reference in "The God delusion" (he only stated that he was a professor, not what his field was).

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    17. Change my mind about what? The historicity of Jesus? I'll gladly concede that (or any facts warranted by the evidence). So what?

      You know, we know beyond reasonable doubt that Joseph Smith, Jr. was born on 23 December 1805 and was killed on 27 June 1844. We also have the signed statement of three real people (whose dates and facts of life are also documented in some detail) that an angel showed them the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was supernaturally translated by the said Joseph Smith, Jr. Moreover, we have the signed testimony of eight more people who saw and handled the plates. All those people really existed, and none of them ever retracted his testimony. Some fifteen million people worldwide believe this story to be true. Why, then, no serious historian concludes that the golden plates were real and that Smith (as well as some of his his witnesses) really conversed with Angel Maroni? Unless of course the historian happens to be a Mormon.

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    18. Piotr, you go between "assuming for the sake of the argument that we are talking about a historical figure" and agreeing that it is a fact. It is confusing. I have argued that we can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the historic person Jesus existed and that he was the leader/founder of the religious movement that that we know as Christianity. I never claimed that the historical records prove that he is God's son and I do not know anyone that thinks that he was borne on December 25th...

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    19. OK, so we are more or less in agreement. "Assuming for the sake of argument" meant that I didn't want to get bogged down in discussing that part, not that I rejected the historicity of Jesus. Back then, the talk was about Christmas traditions (and "baby Jesus in the manger"), not Jesus as a historical person.

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    20. I am still interested in Andy's claim that the consensus of historians is that Jesus was actually baptised by John the Baptist, "that virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree" on this. Is this really the case?

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    21. Andy said:

      "I have argued that we can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the historic person Jesus existed and that he was the leader/founder of the religious movement that that we know as Christianity. I never claimed that the historical records prove that he is God's son and I do not know anyone that thinks that he was borne on December 25th..."

      I'd be interested in seeing "we" prove the existence, "beyond reasonable doubt", of the biblical character 'Jesus', in a court proceeding outside of the USA or any other 'Christian country', that is presided over by a non-christian judge and has a non-christian jury.

      And even IF the biblical character 'Jesus' or 'Yeshua' or whatever existed, so what? A caveman named Ogg could have existed and he could have been the first caveman to conjure up a 'God' and proclaim himself the son of that alleged 'God' but that certainly doesn't mean or 'prove' in any way that Ogg's alleged 'God' or any alleged 'God' exists or that Ogg or anyone else was/is the son of any so-called 'God'.

      One of the things that I find to be funny, but also irritating, is the appeal by god pushers to alleged "scholars" when they're trying to support their religious fairy tales. It's like appealing to alleged "scholars" to support the veracity of the contents of Harry Potter stories.

      Andy, it's pretty likely that there are people who call themselves scholars or are labeled that way by others, who study Mayan gods/religion, or Egyptian gods/religion, or Polynesian gods/religion, or Mongolian gods/religion or some of the other thousands of non-christian gods/religion, so does that mean that any or all of those gods/religions are true?

      Some of the people who lived either recently or a long time ago and who claimed to be a god (or its son/daughter), or were proclaimed to be by their subjects/worshipers, actually did exist (as a person) and it can be 'proven' by a lot of actual evidence, including preserved remains of the person (bones, teeth, mummy). Does that mean that they actually were gods or the offspring of gods and that the religious beliefs associated with them were/are true?

      I'm curious about something else too. If christianity is the one and only true religion, why wasn't it the very first religion that was conjured up and practiced? How could yhwh/jesus/holy/ghost let Ogg and so many other people throughout history be so wrong?

      P. S. I've met lots of people who believe that 'Jesus' was born on Dec. 25th.

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  7. You Canadians may be appalled, but compared to what many U. S. politicians seem compelled to say, Pallister's statement is pure benevolence.

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    1. It seems in many parts of US, the way to win elections is to talk about god whereas in Canada it is the surest way to lose an election. By and large, god-talk by politicians at any time is not well-tolerated in Canada. Though there may be localized exceptions such as in Alberta, apparently our equivalent of a bible belt.

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  8. Didn't the Church just steal a winter solstice festival from the pagans and rebrand it for JC's birthday? Mid winter seems to have been a big deal for many northern hemisphere folks throughout the ages.

    I like to view a jesus-free christmas as taking the festive period back to it roots, or a little closer, at least.

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  9. The "Infidel" part of the Atheist thing indeed is not a common term. His foloowup about what they celebrate indicates its a aggressive statement.
    Indeed the Christmas season has for many nothing to do with Christ.
    Its just what it is.
    It is only christmas time and other things shouldn't be added. they are just minor coincidences of the calendar. I mean Hanukah .
    In fact everyone knows everywhere the words Christmas before some term of the season are banned . Its holiday time this and that.
    In everyway christmas is under attack as both a religious and secular holiday.
    North americans must defend our festivals from attempts from foreigners to change it to accommodate them and their sense of identity or pride because its Christmas is so powerful as a thing of identity.
    Its only christmas , first, and it includes those uninterested in Christs birth.
    by the way the old Puritans banned christmas celebrations because it was seen as so Catholic and hostile to christianity.
    Now they ban the words. Don't say it doesn't matter .

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  10. Re DAK

    Actually, the date December 25 was chosen because that makes Jan. 1 the 8th day of his birth (counting Dec. 25 as day 1), which was when Yeshua received his bris. For some 7 thousand years, Jewish boys have been circumcised on the 8th day of their birth and Yeshua was no exception.

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