CFI-Ottawa’s Speaker Series cover a wide range of topics relating to science, scepticism, philosophy/religion, and current events. Speaker events are generally held on a monthly basis and include a presentation followed by a Question & Discussion period. Ticket costs are nominal and scaled to cover the expenses of the event.
Join CFI-Ottawa’s MeetUp group to be notified of any upcoming events.
Gordon Davies spoke on David Hume – a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy.
Lecturer and author Chris DiCarlo talked about the tools of good critical thinking. A really good pain in the ass is someone who is empowered with the ability to spot faulty reasoning and, by asking the right sorts of questions, hold people accountable not only for what they believe but how they behave.
Debby Hanscom, Vice President of Dying with Dignity Canada, talked about issues surrounding the legality of euthanasia in Canada, and the limitations of palliative care.
Why are we so easily deceived? James “The Amazing” Randi illustrates how a “politically correct” attitude has blinded scientists–who should know better–to the fact that they are not proficient at detecting fraud, often managing to fool themselves, when the prize is sufficiently attractive. And he puts up a million-dollar award as bait!
Nate Phelps, the estranged son of Fred Phelps, leader of the “God Hates Fags” church, tells his story of enduring physical, emotional and psychological abuse as a child raised in the hate-filled theology of the Westboro Baptist Church. He recounts his escape from his father’s home at 18 and his journey from dogma and hate to reason and acceptance, as an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community.
Dr. Leslie Sage, editor of “Nature,” discussed the importance of astronomy and it’s impact on our culture and our ways of seeing the universe around us.
Take a virtual tour of the new international ALMA facility currently being built in Chile’s Atacama desert. Thanks to its high resolution and sensitivity, ALMA will open an entirely new “window” on the Universe, allowing scientists to unravel long-standing and important astronomical mysteries in search of our cosmic origins.
Dr. Alison Peck is the Deputy Project Scientist for the ALMA project. Prior to that, she was working at the Sub-Millimetre Array located on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
Two thousand years later, what can we know about the authors of the canonical gospels – who were they and how reliable are their accounts? Professor Crook will be joining us to talk about these books from a secular/historical perspective.
Dr. Zeba Crook is an Associate Professor at Carleton University’s Religion department. He teaches courses on the New Testament, including the historical Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, and women in early Christianity. He was a semi-finalist in the 2010 TVO Best Lecturer Competition.
In celebration of the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, CFI presents a lecture by Dr. Tom Sherratt, biology professor from Carleton University. Dr. Sherratt’s research has addressed both the theoretical and empirical models of ageing, and he will be discussing the question of why we age from an evolutionary perspective.
The golden ratio, often called Phi, is a fascinating concept that specifies a proportion that has appeared over the centuries in art, architecture, music, and many natural growth processes.
This presentation illustrates something of how the golden ratio has been studied and how it seems to have influenced many creations that are considered beautiful. A theory of Beauty is proposed, whereby those things that we consider beautiful are so because, among other reasons, they have the golden ratio embedded in their structure in some way.
William Bezanson is a retired engineer turned author. His most recent book, Life of Phi: Beauty and the Golden Ratio (2008), forms the basis of this presentation. His professional interest is in optimizing user interaction with systems and processes, and two of his books are on that topic. He lives with his wife in Nepean, a suburb of Ottawa, ON.
Check out a short presentation by Bezanson on this topic on YouTube.
Time is at once intimately familiar and yet deeply mysterious. We say it flows like a river – yet when we try to examine that flow, the river seems reduced to a mirage. No wonder philosophers, poets, and scientists from Aristotle to Einstein have grappled with the enigma of time for centuries. In his latest book, In Search of Time: Journeys Along A Curious Dimension, science journalist Dan Falk explores some of the most intriguing aspects of time. In this illustrated talk, Dan will show how our ancestors first learned to measure time, how Newton and Leibniz argued over its nature, how Einstein linked time and space, along with a brief look at the physics of time travel and the paradoxes it seems to entail.
Dan Falk has written about science for the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the Walrus, SkyNews, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist, and has been a regular contributor to the CBC Radio programs Ideas and Quirks & Quarks. His awards include a Gold Medal for Radio Programming from the New York Festivals and the Science Writing Award in Physics and Astronomy from the American Institute of Physics. His first book, Universe on a T-Shirt, won the 2002 Science in Society Journalism Award from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association. He currently lives in Toronto.
Laura-Lee Balkwill, Vice-President of Humanist Canada, will speak about the need for secularists, humanists, rationalists, and free-thinkers to take action on current issues – in particular, the Canadian government’s recent changes in foreign aid policy with respect to maternal health.
We are delighted to announce that our guest speaker at the inauguration of CFI-Ottawa is Marci McDonald, author of the controversial new best-seller The Armageddon Factor: the Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada.
A veteran Canadian journalist who has served as a Washington correspondent for Maclean’s and U.S. News and World Report, Ms. McDonald has traced the rise of the religious right in Canada and the recent inroads it has made in Ottawa under the minority government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper.
In her talk to the Centre for Inquiry, she will address how those developments jibe with the so-called “hidden agenda” many of the Conservatives’ critics fear should Harper win a majority in the next election, outlining how that religious ideology is, in fact, not hidden at all: it is already exerting an influence in such arenas as education, the judiciary, and the federal public service.
While exploring the growing influence of conservative Christians on government, Ms. McDonald will also trace the rise of a more militant group that she calls Christian nationalists, who are committed to seeing Canada proclaim an officially Christian nation governed according to biblical principles.
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