Veterans of the atheosphere might recognize Zoroastrianism as the ancient Persian religion whose Mithraic component is the best-attested antecedent for many Christian traditions, such as celebrating the birth of Jesus on 25 December. What I didn’t know is that Zoroastrianism is a living religion, with active fire temples singing the praises of the god Ahura Mazda and a world membership of over 200,000, a surprising fraction of which live in Canada. I can only imagine how they feel about freethinkers using their history as one of many disproofs of Christianity. My guess? Weirdly flattered.
Continue reading “Apocalypse of the Week 4: Hot, Sticky Justice”
The Raëlians are close to my heart. One of their subsidiaries, the biotech company Clonaid
, announced in 2002
within spitting distance of my hometown that they were growing an army of human clones and were picking out an island off the coast of Brazil to finish their project. Naturally, the clones never materialized, nor did any way to verify that they were not blowing smoke up people’s nether orifices, but this stunt kept genetics at the forefront of people’s minds for another decade and kept my neck of the woods in the news, so I can’t complain too loudly. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Raëlians are mostly in the news lately for their occasional parades of topless women
(in protest of laws that criminalize female but not male toplessness) and advocacy of comprehensive sex education.
For those who don’t know, the Raëlians are a UFO cult founded by former French car magazine writer and teen pop star Claude Vorilhon
in 1973. He founded the cult after an encounter in a volcanic crater with a flying saucer, which convinced him to rename himself “Raël, messenger of the Elohim.” This encounter totally
did not involve enough LSD to convince a sperm whale it could fly, no really.
Continue reading “Apocalypse of the Week 3: Waiting Room Battle Royale”
Hello again! This week’s apocalypse comes from a bit farther in time and space than the Islamic mythos previously explored. In the mountains of 6th-century-BCE Nepal, the Buddha and his most prominent disciples waxed lyrical about an endworld scenario like no other. As Buddhism would have it, civilization will end as the world suffers a steady increase in “unskillful” behavior.
That’s…remarkably reasonable. Civilization falls apart as a result of an epidemic of incompetence? I’d almost buy it, given the special class of nincompoop that seems to occupy too many government offices, including those armed with the ability to render vast swaths of the world uninhabitable for decades. Apparently the Three Stooges are prophets of slapstick.
Continue reading “Apocalypse of the Week 2: Omnidirectional Zergling Rush”
In the various circles I have inhabited, I have always, always been the one who is most okay with creepy-crawlies. My friends and family alternately flee from or declare vengeance campaigns on the many-legged urban wildlife they encounter, unless I am around. Then, they notice the demanding smolder in my eyes and let me escort the errant creatures outside, away from insistent shoes.
It’s a cliché, but most of those creatures are not dangerous, only misunderstood.
Continue reading “Think Like a Bug: How to Deal with Common Pest Arthropods”
As part of the lead-up to Centre for Inquiry Ottawa’s Eschaton 2012 conference, Celebrating Reason at the End of the World, I wrote a feature called Apocalypse When, a brief lampooning of some of the many eschatological visions and scenarios that have gained or maintained popularity over the centuries. Eschaton2012.ca is defunct now, so I’m reprising my creation here.
This week’s apocalypse is the one envisioned in the Qur’an and various hadiths and thus central to most interpretations of Islam. Unfortunately, the details of this scenario are dispersed across numerous suras and hadiths, but a few themes and tidbits stand out.
Continue reading “Apocalypse of the Week 1: Taste the Doom of Fire!”
I owe a lot of my social life to Facebook. I joined at a close friend’s suggestion back when it was still thefacebook.com, back when it was university-only and I could refer to people’s profile images as their “Facebook photos” because it hadn’t yet become the largest image-hosting service on the planet. It rapidly became a low-effort way for me to stay apprised of my friends’ activities and life events, a way to occasionally meet new people, and a way to rapidly get basic info about people I’d just met elsewhere and figure out whether I wanted to deal with them any further. Facebook was a big part of how I came out as an atheist
, among other instances of shedding secrecy, and it continues to be part of how I explore and define myself. I have an extended network of like-minded fellows largely because Facebook let me become far better informed about people than AOL Instant Messenger or face-to-face contact ever would.
Continue reading “The Facebook Channel”