Friday, January 16, 2009

What Atheists Believe In

So the Atheist Bus Campaign is coming to Canada, or at least Toronto, which is a lot like the Centre of the Universe anyway.

Of the many misconceptions that atheists face about immorality, there's always this tendency to demand things of atheists.

The first thing to be demanded is that we prove that god doesn't exist. That's what I like about this campaign. It is clearly labelled the atheist bus campaign, and yet the statement is, "There's probably no god". This accurately describes the atheist position which is that we see no reason to believe in any gods. It's not that we positively declare "There are no gods". It's that we disbelieve the declarations of religious people that there is a god.

Then comes this bit from a minister. Sadly, the writer of the article paraphrased it rather than quoting, but I think the general gist of it is quite common.
The moderator of the United Church of Canada, Right Rev. David Giuliano, said he would rather see atheists say what they believe in, rather than what they are against.

The whole point of atheism is the not-believing, not the believing.

But if you really want to know what atheism means to most of us, I can take a vague guess with which most of us would probably agree.

It means freedom. Freedom from dogma and guilt and everything else religion brings us. But a youtube video already says it better than I could, so here ya go.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dude, That Sucks

A man who isn't the biological father of his ex-wife's twins is still required to pay child support.

The story is that Pasqualino Cornelio married a woman named Anciolina. Sometime in to their marriage she had twins through an act of infidelity that Pasqualino perhaps suspected. The two of them raised these children until they were six years old at which point the parents separated.

As part of the separation and divorce, he was permitted visitation rights and was required to pay alimony and child support which he has done, apparently faithfully and consistently, for ten years.

For whatever reason Anciolina decided that she wanted to reduce her ex-husband's visiting privileges while increasing his child support payments. Apparently this was too much for Pasqualino who, long harbouring his suspicions, had a paternity test performed to prove that the children were not biologically his.

The judge ruled that, regardless of literal genetic paternity, he was still the "father" to these girls and had to continue to pay child support. Nothing in the article indicates whether or not the judge also reduced his visitation privileges or increased the payments to his unfaithful ex-wife.

All I can say is, "Dude, that sucks." With the payments he's been making, he's probably had to forego any natural children of his own. He's been nursing this suspicion for probably a decade, maybe more. But, out of his sense of responsibility and love for the children who he suspected weren't his, he made the payments and kept them fed and sheltered.

And now, after all that, the woman who can't seem to remember being unfaithful to him wants to reduce his visitation rights to the children whom he faithfully supported? Awful.

The problem though is that the judge has a point. First that, under Family Law, he is the father. Second, there's no one else who can support those children.

The following hypothetical scenario will demonstrate the point:

Suppose the mother suddenly discovered that she was not the mother. Suppose there had been a mix up at the hospital 16 years ago and a DNA test suddenly revealed the fact. Would the mother be permitted to dump the twins off on the curb? Of course not. Is Pasqualino's case different because his wife's infidelity was more malicious than a hospital mix up? No. What if a nurse at the hospital had intentionally mixed up Anciolina's children out of some bitterness at Anciolina? Would that permit Anciolina to dump her kids? No.

And consequently, Pasqualino can not dump his kids either.

Mind you, once the kids are out of the way, he should probably be allowed to sue her in civil court for some form of damages. But as long as the kids are around, he's stuck supporting them. For what's it worth, I don't think he actually wants to abandon them. My guess is that he's using the DNA test to prove how good a father he's been in spite of his ex-wife's unfaithfulness and that he's earned - through his forgiveness of her actions - the visitation rights he has. That's giving him the benefit of the doubt, but I think he deserves it in this case and that his ex-wife does not.

But still, "Dude, that sucks."

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