What is it like to live in hiding, knowing that people want to kill you for not accepting their religious faith? Join us on Thursday, September 10, at 8:00pm EST, as author and podcaster Ali Rizvi* interviews “Omer,” a refugee being supported by CFIC.

Asking questions is one of the most noble things that humans do. The two simple words in the question “What if?” have propelled humans from a near-extinct hominid to the dominant species on the planet. Asking questions led Omer away from blind faith. A bright, sensitive young man, he became an atheist.

But for Omer, these questions got him tortured and pursued. He is a non-believer from the religious nation of Pakistan. When his family heard of this, they immediately threw him out and disowned him. He was then sexually assaulted and tortured. He is scared and running for his life. Many want him dead.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has officially recognized Omer as a refugee. Now he is on track with the asylum process to begin a new life in Canada. But that process has been delayed by the pandemic and it could be over a year before any progress is made in getting him here.

CFIC is helping Omer pay for food and shelter while he remains in hiding. He is isolated, alone, and still fears for his life. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this event will be used to support Omer while he waits to come to Canada.

Go here to sign up for this fundraising event (minimum donation $10).

Can’t attend? You can still donate here.

Read more about Omer’s story here.

* Ali Rizvi is author of The Atheist Muslim: A Journey From Religion to Reason and co-host of the podcast Secular Jihadists for a Muslim Enlightenment.

Confessions of a Former Fox News Christian

Seth Andrews takes a deep dive into how the U.S. became so divided, and how Fox News in particular contributed. Seth is a former far-right Christian evangelical radio host. He breaks down his personal transformative journey from drinking the Fox News Kool-Aid to becoming an atheist speaker and podcaster. He currently hosts one of the most popular atheist podcasts on the planet, The Thinking Atheist.

This talk will be hosted by CFIC, and held via Zoom on Sunday, September 20, at 7pm EST (4pm PST). Find the Zoom link here, the Meetup link here, and the Facebook link here.

Marina Elliott: Canada’s Underground Astronaut

Join caver, biological anthropologist, archaeologist, and Homo naledi team member, Marina Elliott, as she takes us along her incredible journey into the Dinaledi cave in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa.

How did a Calgarian end up in a deep, dark South African cave to help discover one of the most important paleoanthropological finds in history? How did she fit through the 18cm crevice to get to the chamber with the bones, 30 meters underground? What bones did they find? What do the bones teach us?

CFIC is excited to bring this amazing story from an equally amazing Canadian to our members. Stay tuned for further details.

Global problems require global solutions — and climate change is one of the largest challenges our world has ever faced.

On October 10, communities from all around the world are coming together to establish a global action plan of climate solutions. CFIC is proud to present a vision of this action plan through a TEDx virtual discussion called Countdown, a worldwide call for scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, executives, investors, artists, authors, and government officials to present the solutions they have to address climate change.

We will host three speakers bringing crucial messages for this cause. Marc Schaus, author of Our Livable World: Creating the Clean Earth of Tomorrow, will speak about the vast new scientific and technological advancements occurring around the world furthering state-of-the-art clean energy options. David R. Boyd, author of The Rights of Nature and UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, will speak from an experience of international legal initiatives focusing on environmental action at the highest levels. And finally, CFIC’s keynote speaker will be MIT-trained physicist and Harvard professor David Keith, founder and chief scientist at Carbon Engineering here in Canada — a now world famous company specializing in the direct air capture of CO2.

Together, they present an account of the latest scientific, technological, and legal achievements necessary in our fight to stop global warming and re-balance our changing climate. For more information, click here.

CFIC is looking for volunteers to help with this event. If you are interested, please email us.

Watch: Stab Everyone You Love

Vaccinations are one of humanity’s greatest medical innovations, saving over ten million lives since 2010 alone. Given their decades-long track record of preventing illness, why are so many skeptical about their safety and efficacy?

Stab Everyone You Love is a talk by CFIC’s own Leslie Rosenblood that tackles the anti-vaccination movement, while distinguishing the denialists from the vaccine-hesitant, providing some dos and don’ts on how to engage anti-vaxxers, as well as examining cognitive biases and how to distinguish between objective information vs. propaganda.

Check out the talk via YouTube.

Donation to BAND

Thanks to everyone who attended and donated to Anti-Black Racism in Canada. CFIC was pleased to donate $1544 to BAND (Black Artists Network in Dialogue). For those who missed this event, or would like to watch it again, a recording is available on YouTube.

CFIC is committed to asking difficult questions, which can include talks on controversial subjects. Hosting a speaker does not imply agreement with their views.

In Memoriam: Ed Brayton (1967-2020)

By Steve Watson

I discovered Ed’s blog, Dispatches From the Culture Wars, around 2006 when it first came to ScienceBlogs. Ed was a passionate defender of civil liberties (particularly free speech) and secularism, and a fierce opponent of religious privilege. He took frequent joy in skewering the “wingnuts” of the religious right, exposing their bigotry, hypocrisy, and the theocratic impulses that motivate them.

Ed’s ire was not only directed at religious encroachments on freedom; he was equally concerned about the growth of the surveillance state and the unchecked powers of the police in the years following 9/11. He was also one of the founders of the Panda’s Thumb, a website devoted to defending evolution against creationism and intelligent design.

While an atheist himself, Ed was tolerant of religion in general, recognizing that Western secularism represents an experiment in learning to live together without having to resolve the theological debates that had raged for centuries. His accommodationism often put him at odds with the more militant atheism of his ScienceBlogs colleague P.Z. Myers. Nonetheless, they respected one another enough to bury the hatchet, and in 2011 co-founded the Freethought Blogs network, where they continued their campaign against unreason and tyranny.

I enjoyed Ed’s wit, as well as the spirited discussions that took place in his comments section, and learned a lot from that experience. His health had been declining for the past few years, and earlier this month he announced that he was entering hospice care. He died a few days later.

Ed’s death is a tremendous loss to the humanist community.