The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

EVENT: HAT Monthly Film & Discussion Group

Sun. February 22, 3:00-6:00 pm

FILM: Clarence Darrow
LOCATION: 216 Beverley Street
Henry Fonda stars in this one man show about the famous freethinking civil rights lawyer who defended, among others, John Scopes.
FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, as well as HAT members.
Sponsored by the Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT).

Anniversary: Thomas Paine, b. Jan 29, 1737

"Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man".
"To establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to Nations, would be to take from such Government the most lucrative of its branches".
"My country is the world, and my religion is to do good"
"My mind is my own church"
"One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests".

Event: Poetry at HAT monthly meeting

Saturday February 14, 2009 1:30 pm OISE Room 3-311
George Miller, Poet Laureate of the Bohemian Embassy
George will delight us with a poetry reading culled from his three publications, Ladders to High Places, 30 Some Odd Poems, and Sancho, as well as new works. George was the founder of the Poetry Workshop at the Bohemian Embassy. 34 years later, the workshop is still going strong, rising from the ashes as the Phoenix Poetry Workshop at Harbourfront.

Note: This event is free, and open to the public, as well as HAT members.

Article: Attenborough on Creationists

Guardian. 27 January 2009

Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries. In an interview with this week's Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: "They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance."

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give "credit" to God, Attenborough added: "They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator."

Attenborough went further in his opposition to creationism, saying it was "terrible" when it was taught alongside evolution as an alternative perspective. "It's like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five ... Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact, every bit as much as the historical fact that William the Conqueror landed in 1066."

News: Israel's Rabbinate Cuts Vatican over Holocaust-Deniers reinstated

JERUSALEM, Canadian Press — Israel's chief rabbinate has severed ties with the Vatican.
The move is to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. Richard Williamson of Britain and three other bishops had been excommunicated 20 years ago after the late ultraconservative archbishop Marcel Lefebvre consecrated them without papal consent.
This story is developing rapidly. NY Times has more today.
And more about internal dissent at the Vatican.

Action: Atheist forums on the Richard Dawkins Site

If you have the urge to read and post about atheist topics or discuss philosophy, why not head over to the Forum at the Richard Dawkins site. There are thousands of posts. Also forums for philosophy, The God Delusion, and other topics. It's moderated, but still lively. Many posters from Canada. There's an "Atheists in Foxholes" forum, for those serving in the military, and dialogue from people in Kandahar, for instance.

News: Atheist Bus Campaign

Here's the CP story
Group wants to put atheist ads on Toronto transit buses, much like U.K. campaign.

TORONTO - A Toronto-based group hopes to raise enough money to put atheist advertisements on city transit buses. The Freethought Association of Canada wants to buy ads that say: "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The idea is based on a similar campaign that started in Britain...

In Toronto, organizer Katie Kish says she hopes the message will spark discussion while countering the notion that atheists and agnostics are negative people.
The group has launched , a website through which they hope to collect between $6,000 and $7,000 to purchase the bus ads in the spring...

Here's the statement by HAC (HumanistCanada) president Pat O'Brien from NatPost

Pat O'Brien, president of the Humanist Association, said his group considered working with atheistbus.cabut decided a pure atheist campaign would be too negative. "Joseph Stalin was an atheist," said Mr. O'Brien, who considers atheism an element of humanism. "He was not a humanist. We want to send a positive message. Atheism is what you're not; humanism is a positive world view."

And now the Billboard Campaign, "Praise Darwin - Evolve Beyond Belief", from FFRF enters the fray. Dododreams says:

"The science-favoring blogosphere has been pretty critical of late of the New Scientist article that lent aid and comfort to creationists by asserting that "Darwin Was Wrong." A major thread of that criticism was that the author and editors should have realized the impact that the article and, particularly, the cover image, could have in giving creationists fodder to attack science education. But a major theme of that attack on science is that evolution is, itself, a religion. Now, sure, we know that the intent of the billboard is to advocate doing away with religion, just as the intent of New Scientist was to report on legitimate science. But, just as creationists, aided by the blinders many believers wear, can distort the message in the New Scientist article, they can certainly distort the message of "Praise Darwin."

Event: Forum on Science & Religion at Hart House


Date: January 21, 2009, Hart House: Free. Time: 6:30 PM
Join us for an evening of open discussion on the topic of the tension between science and religion. There will be a reception following the event at 8:30pm. Speakers for the evening include:

- Professor Jan Sapp, a professor of Biology and History at York University, with a focus on historical research on evolutionary biology.

- Professor Yiftach Fehige, assistant professor at St. Michael’s College and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science. His focus is on Christianity and science, thought experiments, revelation, and research ethics.

- Professor Amanda Peet, a fellow of Trinity College teaching both within the college and across other disciplines including the Department of Physics. She focuses on understanding the fundamental dynamics of all forces and particles seen so far in Nature, especially gravity.

- Professor Michael Bourgeois, an associate theology professor at Emmanuel College. His particular interests include the relation of theology to the natural sciences, especially on questions of the origin and destiny of the universe and divine action; and expressions of religious ideas in popular culture.

Event: Conference on Religion/ Secularism at New School, NYC

[Note from Editor: the first time I've heard "polysemy" in a sentence this year..}

The upcoming conference from Social Research, an international quarterly journal at The New School
March 5 and 6, 2009 in New York City

As tensions sharpen, join distinguished scholars and intellectuals to explore the nature and future of religion, spirituality, and secularism in the United States, looking at their changing relations both historically and through contemporary debates. This conference will look backward at the religious secular divide and forward to what the future may have in store. The keynote address will be delivered by Charles Taylor.

Noah Feldman, George Kateb, Richard J. Bernstein, and José Casanova
on religious, political, philosophical origins of the secular
David Martin, Peter van der Veer, William E. Connolly, and Daniel C. Dennett
on religious selves and secular selves
Keynote Address by CHARLES TAYLOR on the polysemy of the secular
John T. Noonan, Jr., Winnifred Sullivan, James A. Morone, Janet Jakobsen, and Ann Pellegrini
on religion, politics, and the democratic state

David L. Chappell, Susan F. Harding, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, and James Davison Hunter
on moral crusades then and now
Sheila Davaney, Mark Lilla, Michael W. McConnell, and Charles Taylor
on the future of religion and the future of secularism

Tickets: $50, $12/session ($35 for AHA members, Free for all students)
Contact: or 212-229-5776 x3121

Quotation Vault

[Favourite quotations which appear on these posts. Send yours too]

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities". Voltaire
"My country is the world, and my religion is to do good". Thom Paine

"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it" Voltaire, Darwin day

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do". Voltaire


HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Most events are at OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, unless indicated otherwise.

The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the Second or Third Saturday at 1:30pm
The Steering Committee meets First Wednesday of the month, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly on Sundays.
The Film program is on hiatus at present.
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.