The critics respond

My article in the Gateway on Tuesday has stirred some response. Seeing as the letters are not available online, I’ll reproduce them here (for those of you out of town).

A couple quick notes first, neither letter addresses my arguments, both are written by chemical engineers (you can extrapolate and assume from here most UofA engineers are theocratic neocons) and I think there needs to be a contest for whoever can find the most logical fallacies in the second letter (read it more than once, it’s got fractal wrongness – thanks to Alan for the phrase).

Bushfield ignorant of Christian Teachings

I wish to point out that, despite his criticism of the University’s religious reference in their graduation ceremony, Ian Bushfield knows nothing about religion.

I am a Christian, but don’t live “in fear of” my God, as Bushfield claims religious people do. This view is just as “dark-aged” as the University’s reference to glorifying God in their convocation ceremony.

Also, telling new graduates to use their degrees for the glory of God, while offensive to many and out of touch with today’s world, is not a “denigration of the hard work of all students.” The University is not saying that we receive our degrees by the grace of God or because of some aspect of faith or religion. They are simply trying to tell us, in their own, out-dated way, to try to live right and work hard after we graduate.

Now, if only they could do that in a more inclusive way – and offer modern Religion 101 classes for those like Mr. Bushfield who are a little confused about people’s relationships with their gods – we could all enjoy getting our degrees a little more.

Neil Rosychuk – Chemical Engineering III

To respond to this one I’ll likely write up a “things you likely didn’t know about the bible” op-ed in the near future. Although it is good to see that he kind of supports the gist of my point, but is offended by my tone (which I purposely made somewhat inflammatory for the sake of getting noticed).

Liberal secularists want to impost their views

The only thing abhorrent and intolerant is secularists’ treatment of religion as a mental illness, which Bushfield has done here.

I’m not sure which is stronger: your love of leftism or “progressiveness,” or your passion for secularism. Both are evident in your mischarecterization of religiosity as fear of a creator and not the rational worldview that it is.

Moreover, the venomous harping on the traditional institutions which birthed our current civilized worl is fashoinable [sic] leftist dogma. Separation of church [sic] is secularist code for “we want to impose our values on you, the religious, through the courts.”

How about we instead duke it out in the Commons. Just as secularist values need to be recognized in the public square, so do religious. This doesn’t mean I can break recognized unalienable rights which should be guaranteed within the constitution for all, but if the majority want to enact the Lord’s day, or a school have a Christmas concert [sic], touch luck for atheists.

Lastly, wouldn’t the religious be discriminated against by not having their traditional charge any longer? All victim, all intellectual, no wisdom, try again Bushfield.

Judah Mierau – Chemical Engineering IV

At least he calls me an intellectual while frothing at the mouth.

I’ll give props in a few days to whoever spots the most fallacies from the theocratic nut Judah (note the name).

I suspect The Gateway may post more positive letters on Tuesday to make the appearance of a debate, but no promises. You can still comment on the online article too.

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8 thoughts on “The critics respond”

  1. I’d like to write the Gateway a reply to Judah’s nonsense, but I’m not sure what the Gateway’s policy is on publishing letters from alumni over those of current students.

  2. List he fallacies and where they were made in my response. I only argued that religious values should be heard and enforced in the public square, just as secular ones are. If they are made I’ll admit to them and retract the statements held at fault ( I can admit I’m wrong).

    The last paragraph is unlcear on my part. It was a sarcastic use of the discrimination argument, meant to show the idiociy of decrying such an injustice in this circumstance. Neither the religious or secular are being discriminated against. The charge is a tradition of the institution you CHOSE to attend.

    For a more formal argumentative critique read further:

    “Upon reaching the gruelling end of a long and tiresome journey, students embark across a stage for the convocation. Yet, despite the movement toward multicultural inclusiveness and tolerance, this is one stage that keeps the flame of bigotry burning bright.”

    Meaningless rhetoric which preaches to the secular masses of the University.

    “At convocation, new graduates are presented with a charge by the University’s chancellor, in which he states: “I charge you to use [the powers, rights, and privileges of University degrees] for the glory of God.” It’s commonly understood that the big-G “God” here is some variant of the monotheistic God (or the one Jews, Christians, and Muslims live in fear of).”

    You speak the truth. It would refer to either Christ for Christians, or the God of the Old Testament for religious Jews. Do you tuly see your religious counterpart living in fear of the God, or worshiping Him and feeling that they are held accountable to them. To equate the to is not to understand the religious.

    “A recent Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests that around 36 per cent of Canadians under 25 don’t believe in a god. This means that when the chancellor issues his charge, he’s discriminating against all the students who disagree with the idea of living in fear of a deity. He also offends the senses of the majority who believe that a public institution should have no stance on religious issues. Atheism and agnosticism aren’t the only beliefs under attack— the idea of separation of church and state is as well.”

    Upon surveying the different definitions of discrimination at dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/discrimination) it is evident that the chancellor discriminating is either: not true; the favour would be due to the merit of tradition and respect to those who came before you (something liberals give no weight to), or it is ambigious; using terms such as unfair and thus meanigless as of course one would think he is wronged believes he was unfairly treated. Thus, the argument of discrimination against atheists/agnostics is either defeated on the grounds that they haven’t been discriminated against; or it stands but argues nothing.

    “After discovering this issue, the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics (UAAA) drafted a letter which was sent to the President’s Office on 14 July. Hope for a quick move to inclusiveness was dashed when, nearly a month later, the UAAA received a brief response stating that office had discussed the issue earlier and decided against doing anything. After the the minutes of the meeting featuring this discussion were requested, the President’s office decided that this was an issue that required a FOIPP request.”

    Fight the power.

    “It’s disappointing to hear that this University wishes to remain in its dark-aged roots, and that they couldn’t even provide a reason for their decision not to change the charge even with sizable opposition.”

    The U is an unmoving bulk of largess. What would you expect? Furthermore, the Universities roots are in the early 1900s, what is dark aged about that? Seriously, your dogmatic dislike of those values issuing themselves from religion which led to the birth of the many institutions we enjoy today is without sincere thought; a mere relflex of leftist doctrine.

    “In spite of relatively little awareness of this issue, a petition has recieved over a hundred signatures from students who are outraged by this break in secular values and the separation of church and state, and a comparable number of members in a Facebook group for the same purpose. However, their voices remain unacknowledged.”

    A hundred signitures in a institution boasting a student body of 30 000, most of which are secular? Well done sir, well done. A great injustice has been exposed.

    “The push for a secular convocation has tremendous support not just from atheists and humanists but from students, alumni, and faculty of diverse backgrounds—including people who deeply believe in God but who support the separation of Church and state and recognize that this is a public, not private, university. Yet, the University continues to ignore these growing concerns, and refuses to even take the time to justify or debate their position.”

    I would agree with you here. This issue should be debated, voted on and the resolution respected by all parties. I say this only because the majority of the University is indeed secular. If it was the other way around the minority should respect the traditions of the majority so long as they are constitutional and not malicious. With regard to the “separation of church and state” conservatives and liberals have different understandings. Conservative understanding is that it refers to the inability of the state to pass laws regarding religion. The state cannot impose a state religion, cannot require a religious test for public office, cannot prohibt prayer, etc. This does not mean one is entitled to freedom from religion, just as one’s not entitled to freedom from secular values, or just plain old values they disagree with. One is only entitled to freedom of religion. To prohibit religious values from being heard and enforced in the public square is to truly discriminate; as one is rejecting the values not on merit, but because they are religious alone (I know sounds irrational doesn’t it).

    “The push towards secularism is also not without precendence. The University of Calgary’s admission is to grant degrees to those who have “earned” them and give them the “rights and privileges, powers, and responsibilities pertaining to those degrees.” The University of Toronto also secularized its convocation several years ago. Clearly, the U of A can look to be as progressive as their fellow institutions.”

    Liberal secularist institutions are indeed liberal and secular.

    “I’m not requesting the charge to say “use your glory to disprove god and villify religion,” I just want to feel welcome in a ceremony that we have all equally earned. Further, I don’t wish to define “god” in some way that it makes everyone happy, as some would suggest. I don’t arbitrarily interepert words differently to get through the day. Interpreting an “F” on your transcript as “Fantastic” doesn’t make it so. The University’s charge comes from the charge from Oxford University, which has a clearly Christian foundation.”

    So what? Ideas and values often transcend their origins. One can appreciate the sentiment, the intent and tradition that the charge represents without believing in a diety. To do this one must not be narcissistic, but wise (somethng I asserted Bushfield lacks with the little evidence I’ve garnered).

    “The President’s disregard for such legitimate concerns is abhorrent and intolerant, and I call for a secular convocation at the University of Alberta and an end to the denigration of the hard work of all students.”

    Flaming rhetoric with no argument for intolerance or why one should abhorr maintaining a traditional charge.

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