Letter to the Editor Re: War of the Worldviews religious debates in Whitby, ON

The recent War of the Worldviews religious debates in Whitby, ON was covered in the Durham Region newspapers this week. The event was also covered extensively on this blog, here, here, here and here. My letter to the editor on this event can be read below. I will be sending the letter of as soon as it has received endorsement (or declines for endorsement) by each of the humanist organizations on hand. I think I’ll actually also send it to the non-Christian religious organizations as well, to see if they would like to endorse it.

Letter to the Editor in response to the War of the Worldviews religious debates event in Whitby, ON

The recent War of the Worldviews event on religion was little more than a deviously mislabeled 2-day long endorsement of Christian literalism and sanctioned bigotry toward everyone else. This event was slanted to favour Christian literalism seemingly wherever possible, while attempting to keep up the appearance of semi-neutrality. It was run by Christian literalists, hosted at a Catholic school, and employed Christian moderators. The question-answer sessions did not allow people to go to a mic and ask their questions directly to the speakers, but required that the audience submit their questions to the Christian literalist organizer of the event, who would select which questions got asked and, more importantly, which didn’t. What better way to enable censorship and to stifle discussion? The bias didn’t end there. Each of the non-Christian groups were subject to extensive bigotry, primarily from Christian literalist debater, Dave Hunt. In terms of outright slander, Hunt ruthlessly lashed into Islam and Hinduism, accusing both of extensive evil. The bias against the humanists/atheists commenced before the debates even began. The event organizers attempted to revoke their earlier promise to the humanists for a table on which to present their pamphlets. Prior to getting a table, a humanist who was handing out pamphlets was ordered to stop as only organizations with tables could do so. The next day a Christian literalist who did not have a table was passing out pamphlets and the organizers just let it happen, even after the humanist who was ordered not to do this brought this to their attention. In addition to the bias against the humanists on the part of the organizers and Dave Hunt, there was the second-class treatment by many of the Christian attendees onto this group. Given the treatment received both from the organizers and many of the Christian attendees, a few humanists on hand claimed that they felt that the main reason they were invited was to serve as entertainment for the Christian organizers and attendees. Justin Trottier, Director of the Centre For Inquiry Ontario, a major secularist organization, who has been on hand for many interfaith events, said that he has never experienced anything like this, referring to the negative treatment of the nonreligious organizations and attendees and the pervasive pro-Christian bias. So put off by the treatment that they received, the humanist organizations and many of the humanist attendees left the event significantly before the event of the event. Numerous humanists appreciated the numerous Christian attendees who acknowledged and expressed regret regarding the inappropriate conduct of a number of their Christian fellows (including but not limited to organizers and Dave Hunt) toward this group.

A brief comment is order regarding the pulling out by the evolutionist debater. I spoke to the humanists who were going to be bringing this speaker in to debate Creationist Frank Sherwin. It is not uncommon practice for evolutionists to decline debates with Creationists on evolution. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it gives Creationism an undeserved air of scientific credibility and creates the illusion that there is actually a genuine scientific debate taking place. Secondly, the Creationists are not interested in having a scientific debate. Regardless of the counterarguments they hear on Monday, they will continue to make the same points on Tuesday. They are not engaging in scientific debate. They are pushing their cultural-political agenda to expand the power and prevalence of Conservative Christianity. Hence, they deliberately misrepresent evolutionary biology, paint a picture of a dogmatic scientific community and victimization of Christian literalists, and act as if the only scientists who oppose them are militant atheists. They underemphasize or completely leave out the fact that numerous church organizations (most notably the Catholic Church), the majority of religious scientists (most notably Francis Collins, evangelical Christian and director of the Human Genome Project), and the American court system are unified in the science-based conviction that evolution is real, and that Creationism and Intelligent Design are nothing more than dishonest anti-scientific attempts to inject Conservative Christianity into the public education and political systems. They also fail to acknowledge that the only supporters of ID/Creationism are religious literalists. If evolution is so weak and ID/Creationism so strong, where are the atheist, agnostic and religious moderates standing up for ID/Creationism and opposing the supposed dogma of “Darwinism”?

4 Responses to “Letter to the Editor Re: War of the Worldviews religious debates in Whitby, ON”
  1. Stoobs says:

    “left the event significantly before the event of the event.”

    “A brief comment is order regarding the pulling out by the evolutionist debater.”

    Fix these sentences before sending the letter! Otherwise, though, good stuff.

  2. Terry says:

    Looks good,

    but you might want to spell out intelligent design for the lay man.

  3. L. Ron Brown says:

    Stoobs and Terry: Many thanks!

  4. lovinfantasy says:

    I watched these “debates” on youtube…they are appalling. To call these events “debates” disgraces the word and spirit of what a true debate should be. If you want to see a how a real debater should act, watch Richard Dawkins in action. The man is genius personified.

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