Chilliwack: Rejects Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality

Mar 31, 2015

By CFI Canada

As a registered educational charity, CFIC’s mandate is  to provide education and training to the public in the application of skeptical, secular, rational and humanistic inquiry through conferences, symposia, lectures, published works and the maintenance of a library.  As a project to provide a critical thinking educational resource to the public, CFIC’s education committee determined that it would like to provide Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality to students.

Recognizing the opportunity to provide the printed version of The Magic of Reality to a population of students with a demonstrated need for access to an age-appropriate, science-based critical thinking resources, CFIC determined that we would approach the Chilliwack School District – a community where Gideon Bibles have been distributed to Grade 5 students for many years.  Following an exhaustive attempt by CFI Canada to work with BC’s Chilliwack School District #33 to provide educational, critical thinking resources to students in their area, CFI Canada has received a letter from the Superintendent of Schools stating,

Thanks you for your continued interest in providing the resource, The Magic of Reality to the Chillwack School District. As per my last correspondence, according to local school policy, the Superintendent reviews all requests for the distribution of materials.

Further to my letter dated January 7, 2015, I have reviewed the resource The Magic of Reality, which you kindly provided.  The resource does not meet some of the local Administrative Regulations the district has that provide guidance in the selection of learning resources.  Therefore, this resource is not approved for distribution in the Chilliwack School District.

Despite CFIC’s attempts to work within the School District’s policies and procedures dating back to November 2014, CFIC’s attempt to fulfill its mandate has been declined.  We are providing documentation of our process to work within the Chilliwack School District’s process for public input.

Why Chilliwack?  Gideon Bible Backgrounder

The Chilliwack School District has a long history of promoting Gideon Bible distribution, despite community opposition to that activity.  In October of 2012, local parents objected to Gideon Bible distribution with complaints to the provincial Education Minister.  Over a period spanning 2012 and 2013, the School District unanimously approved a policy which would allow the distribution of Gideon bibles.  The policy states:

Recognized charitable organizations and other organizations having educational or community service attributes may be authorized by the superintendent of schools or the superintendent’s delegate to have information or materials distributed.


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40 comments on “Chilliwack: Rejects Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality

  • OP:

    The resource does not meet some of the local Administrative Regulations the district has that provide guidance in the selection of learning resources. Therefore, this resource is not approved for distribution in the Chilliwack School District.

    Christians 1, Dawkins 0.

    I suppose they are happy for the crap about Noah’s flood to be taught though ?



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  • It sounds like some of the incompetent “make-it-up-as-you-go-along” bureaucrats, I have encountered from time.
    (Like the ones who disputed my “interpretation” of their statements of “policy”, when I told them they were quoting from the wrong document, had no idea about the subject, and needed to get a competent policy document written as a matter of urgency before they caused a disaster. – They were still covering up and sitting on a pile of unanswered letters two years later, when the government inspectors turned up to see why their standards of achievement, now rated them bottom in the country, why they had been obstructing key developments, and why they still had no relevant policy document in accordance with national regulations.)



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  • Perhaps the humanist organisation should organise a “Gideon Bible Amnesty” stall!

    Hand in an old Gideon Bible in exchange for a copy of the Magic of Reality! –
    or just distribute them themselves after some teen event.



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  • Perhaps the humanist organisation should organise a “Gideon Bible Amnesty” stall! Hand in an old Gideon Bible in exchange for a copy of the Magic of Reality! – or just distribute them themselves after some teen event.

    LIKE. Sounds like a wonderful media event. It would get world wide coverage.



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  • It would make more sense for CFI to try and get the Magic of Reality into a Vancouver, or Suburb program, rather than the more rural and “backward”, and traditional Chilliwack.

    That being said, the issue should be pursued in Chilliwack as well. Further, all those “free” bibles circulating around the school district are probably discriminatory against non Christians. Next it will be free Quran’s, something that should be pointed out to the Superintendent. I wonder how that will go across with the bible thumpers? jcw



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  • Chilliwack is rural town south of Vancouver. It had a yearly rodeo. Agriculture and beef are the industries. There is another similar nearby town called Abbotsford which is the fundamentalist Christian redneck capital of BC.



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  • You have to wonder what policy allows Gideon but not Dawkins. I think it is basically the wants pro-Christian books and nothing that might question Christianity.



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  • 11
    GigaWa77 says:

    Geez, I’m from Chilliwack and I didn’t realize how bad the school district is… I thought this sort of thing would happen in Abbotsford, but Chilliwack?



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  • @OP – Chilliwack: Rejects Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality

    Committees infested with creationists, have been rejecting reality for centuries! – Magical or otherwise – as Galileo and others discovered !!!



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  • That is a perfect idea! Hold the event outside the local school board office or high school and invite the local and national media to cover the event!! Post it on social media and let it go viral.



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  • I’ll take this topic as a reminder to have another go at my copy of The Magic of Reality.
    My 9-year old liked bits of it, especially the family portraits (185,000,000th grandparent in particular, very strong family resemblance I reckon) and sometimes dips into it here and there, but neither of us has as yet read the whole thing. I’m not sure if that’s a criticism or not, perhaps it’s just meant for dipping. Maybe there’s a Topic somewhere here for reviews? I’ve not noticed one.



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  • Recognized charitable organizations and other organizations having educational or community service attributes may be authorized by the superintendent of schools or the superintendent’s delegate to have information or materials distributed.”

    Apparently there is an invisible codicil to the policy statement that reads:

    – But only if said charitable organization is Christian.



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  • 19
    daddyhominum says:

    It may have changed but I believe Evolution is only taught in a Grade 11 option throughout BC. I did a search a few years back through the curriculum did not find it anywhere else. I think teachers who are strong advocates for science probably have very little opportunity for promotion throughout BC. I`m sure the same is true in Alberta and in other provinces. We currently have an MP from Nanaimo dropping out because people responded negatively to his comment that evolution is not a fact. Canada mirrors the USA and Britain in the general anti-ness of the population and the elected leaders.



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  • daddyhominum Apr 1, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    We currently have an MP from Nanaimo dropping out because people responded negatively to his comment that evolution is not a fact. Canada mirrors the USA and Britain in the general anti-ness of the population and the elected leaders.

    In England, teaching evolution is a statutory requirement of the science curriculum, from primary school onwards.

    https://humanism.org.uk/2014/09/01/evolution-now-part-english-primary-national-curriculum/

    Evolution now part of the English primary national curriculum
    September 1st, 2014

    Today sees a new national curriculum in English schools come into force, and for the first time this includes a module on evolution in primary schools. The module on evolution and inheritance is part of the year six programme of study (ages 10-11).

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-science-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-science-programmes-of-study#year-6-programme-of-study

    Evolution and inheritance

    Pupils should be taught to:

    recognise that living things have changed over time and that fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago

    recognise that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parents

    identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution



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  • What – you mean God didn’t protect them from measles? What’s up with that? Wasn’t they faithful enough? Did they let some gay people or slutty wimmin hang around town or somethin’?



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  • I once wrote to Dr James Lunney (a former chiropractor) my member of parliament for Nanaimo – Port Alberni, asking why atheists were not included for protection under his government’s new department defending religious rights. He did reply but ignored my original question and simply presented a rant about the merits of religion. He does make an interesting point though. We hear that Americans would be unlikely to elect atheists. Here in Canada we are pretty hard on fundamentalists such as James Lunney. He claims that he has suffered bigotry at the hands of atheists however, I would defend his right to believe as he wishes. His beliefs are fair game though if he chooses to invoke them as my member of parliament. Atheists support critical thinking. He does not.



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  • If I can add my penny’s worth here – I find it amazing that these same people who, in a court of law as jurors, would accept DNA evidence (or lack of) presented by the prosecution/defence, but fail to see how the same DNA traces back our humble origins and links us to all other living matter…..



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  • sounds more like the sort of after lights out enforced game one might find in a dickensian public school.

    or even a modern one. could someone Stephen Fry if the sound of an older boy shouting “chilliwhack!” filled him with dread?



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  • Yes, I know the place too. It’s a bit scary, frankly. But Abbotsford used to have an outstanding air show. Best thing I can say for the area. Oh, and the fishing’s pretty good too. But, yes, it’s a hotbed of biblical hellfire.



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  • My child is in the Vancouver School District, but we have friends and family with kids in Abbotsford and Chilliwack school districts. Rather than try to fight an ignorant Superintendant (that has more power than they should), I’ll have my child give them the book as part of birthday gifts. This is about the kids and getting to them after all, so we should all do our part to impart upon them the ability to think critically and to have a full understanding of what evidence is.



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  • South of Vancouver? Well there’s your problem they’re to close to North America.

    The reality is, what they teach can’t survive the light of day, if their kids read Dawkins’ book, they would very quickly, see that they been lied to by their parents. That’s exactly why Isis is demolishing anything that disagrees with them and burning books. Keeping their children ignorant, is the key to keeping them religious.



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  • Yet another in a long list (and getting longer) of the “church” interfering in government and loudly proclaiming that it is government that is interfering in the church. I say tax them if they want to govern.



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  • This nearby school district is an embarrassment to those of us in British Columbia, Canada. I can only guess how they would feel about my childrens book The House at the Edge of Space (critically thinking atheist student protagonist, Higgs boson, adventures in science . . . ) in their classrooms. Kudos to CFI Canada for shining light into this dark corner of “public education.”



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  • When I was at school in England in the fifties the English teacher came into the classroom looking unusually serious and formal, such that the room went quiet. He placed a pile of mimeographed sheets on the corner of his desk, saying “This is a list of books I am not allowed to teach, or even mention, in my class.” He then launched into the day’s lesson. Needless to say, at the end of the class, everyone of us left with a copy!



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  • bonnie Apr 2, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Sounds Native North American – and it is (chihl-KWAY-uck).

    Loose translation, according to sources, up the river.

    As an education system, it sounds more like, “Down the drain”!



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  • Some might be generous enough to term that cognitive dissonance, I say that religions create hypocrites.

    Witness all the anti western education and everything nitwits, who relish using the fruits of the enlightenment to spread their dumb messages, and murder people.

    It’s not possible to debate with the faithful, the only thing to do is ridicule them.



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  • 39
    fadeordraw says:

    This is embarrassing because of the missed opportunity. But as the CFIC interview, Teaching The Controversy, in the fall article explained, dealing with a similar situation in Niagara, there is difficulty for school authorities to open up free distribution of whatever religious and secular literature is being offered to school children. In this regard, I suppose, it would seem that the distribution of the Gideon bible has been grandfathered from practices dating back to, in Canada, 1911, though apparently this is no longer common. In the Niagara example, it was, apparently, the free distribution of the Koran that had school authorities maintain the status quo. So the non-success of CFIC to distribute RD’s book, which is regrettable, does not equate to teaching creationism and not science in Chilliwack schools. It does, nevertheless, highlight the challenges CFIC has to fulfill its “to provide education and training to the public in the application of skeptical, secular, rational and humanistic inquiry through conferences, symposia, lectures, published works and the maintenance of a library”, as least as far as schools are targeted.



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