More Recent Comments

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Look What Just Appeared Right Beside My Office!!!

My next door neighbor used to be the chair of the Immunology Department but Immunology recently moved to another floor of this building. The entire corridor became part of the Department of Biochemistry—or so we thought.

Last week, the old office was renovated and I assumed that the space would become offices for biochemistry students. So did my biochemistry colleague whose office is on the other side.

Surprise! The sign went up yesterday. This room is now a religious chapel, or prayer room, with the rather misleading title of "Multi Faith Room." I assume that its purpose is allow people of all faiths to visit the room from time to time (it's open from 7am to 10pm) and pray behind the screen.

The room has not been transferred to biochemistry, it has been assigned to the Faculty of Medicine. A little island of faculty controlled space in the middle of the Department of Biochemistry.

The Dean knows me. She is well aware of the fact that I'm a prominent defender of evolution in the war against creationism. She also knows that I am an atheist who doesn't shy away from the the conflict between science and religion. She probably doesn't know that I'm a strong supporter of the Centre for Inquiry and adviser to the University of Toronto Secular Alliance.

I put posters and banners on the wall outside my door advertising atheist events and I often post articles promoting evolution over creationism and science over religion.1 I'll be putting up even more posters in the near future since the Faculty of Medicine has decided to send me the very people who need to hear my message.

Thanks to the Dean for giving me this opportunity to reach out to the other side.

UPDATE: The Multi Faith Room no longer exists. See Multi Faith Room Disappears!!.

1. I'm looking for more posters. Please let me know if you find something appropriate.


  1. You probably know this:

    Teach the Controversy

    I don't know if it is free, but I've seen it on many blogs.

    1. It's a fine cartoon, but I wish it didn't illustrate astrology with a palm chart. I've never seen an astrology book refer to palm reading, and as I understand it the names Mars, Venus etc on a palm chart refer to the gods not the planets.

  2. Sorry, but I find this event very funny.
    Could this be a message to you from higher up (way beyond the Dean, if you know what I mean).
    Think of it as an opportunity to "preach" your own version of the gospel. Everything happens for a reason, right?

  3. See the "GNUSADER" image at

  4. I actually use these places when I'm at airports to get a quiet place to read or secularly meditate. Some of them have a wonderful ambience with soft light and are often empty, at least in Europe.

    They should really be called Chillout Rooms...

  5. In the Department of Biochemistry?! Really?!
    How immature of whoever made that decision.
    Doesn't seem like something a sane adult would do.
    More like the behaviour of a Veruca Salt who wants everything her way.
    Maybe the dean will offer classes in alchemy next door too.
    I went to and typed in "atheism poster" in their search engine. Some pictures were very thought provoking and funny. You could always ask the people who they belong to if you can print them.

  6. Personally, this is a HUGE misallocation of valuable resources. Generally, floor space is at a premium. This room is going to be at a VERY low average population density. People can meditate, pray, self flagellate or whatever in their car. BIG mistake. I like the positive spin you are applying but - what a waste.

  7. Errm, what? Your department has so much free space that they can give it away to irrelevant fripperies like this?

    We're scrabbling to turn closets into lab space out here. Maybe you can ship one of your spare buildings to Minnesota? We could really use it.

    Don't you suspect that your dean just lobbed a warning shot over your bows?

  8. Does anyone really visit this room?

    btw if i was the visitor, i would never pay attention to such posters

  9. Clearly, it was ordained that you would be given this opportunity to spread the reality that divinity is mythical. What better proof could there be of higher power at work (pun intended)?

    And you sit there and say there's no god. :)

  10. Here's what I'd do:
    1) invent a religion in which the only commandment is "though shalt get roaring drunk every friday afternoon"
    2) get certified as a ordained minister in ontario
    3) party in the "multi-faith room". really, really hard

    Its win-win; either the room will be closed and put to a better use, or you'll have one hell of a time every friday

  11. wonder whether "multi faith room" allows for atheists to enter/occupy and talk about issues accommodationism vs. gnuism or just have coffee there?

  12. See Zak's post:

  13. Cross posted on the Canadian Atheist website

    This post really captured my interest, so I did a quick check on Google to find out how prevalent prayer rooms are in post-secondary institutions. I checked out two Ontario universities and two Ontario community colleges; all four promote, on their websites, the availability of a quiet place to meditate or say a prayer. While students pay tuition at these institutions, post-secondary institutions receive substantial government funding.

    1. The University of Toronto already has a Multi-Faith Centre. The University of Toronto Secular Alliance (UTSA) is listed as one of the participating "Faith Communities."

      I assume that UTSA can also use the room next to my office for their meetings (beer and all-beef hotdogs). The pagans are also part of the multi-faith community. I'm looking forward to seeing their worship ceremonies.

  14. Larry said, "She also knows that I am an atheist who doesn't shy away from the the conflict between science and atheism." - Is it me, or did I just read that Larry thinks there "is a conflict between science and atheism."? I've tried rubbing my eyes several times to refocus, but it doesn't help.

  15. I have the same ICR pirates poster outside my office (a kind gift from Jim Rupert)!

  16. Cool, you've just been given some free space you and your students can use in whatever way you like! You just need to find out the rules governing the room: does it allow users to deliver sermons/seminars? Or is it reserved as a quiet space (study area)? You need to know this in order to decide whether to move in computers and tables or just chairs and an OHP. Either way, once you've used up the scribble space on the screen I suggest throwing it out and replacing with a whiteboard - they're re-usable.

    Also, those bare walls need some scientific posters double quick.