A Celebration of Reason – live from the Global Atheist Convention

By Michael Edmonds 14/04/2012 10


I’m currently sitting an auditorium in the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre with about four thousand other atheists. Wow. It is a fascinating event, having already had talks from Peter Singer, Leslie Cannold and Dan Barker. I’m about to hear a panel on religion and politics which I need to take note of so hopefully I will post later.

The audience is fascinating – the stereotypes of old white male atheists are trashed at this convention – there are lots of young faces ( making me at 43 feeling relatively old), still slightly higher percentage of men than women but not overly noticeable, and the women I have spoken to so far are articulate, passionate and just plain awesome.

Time to pay more attention to the panel, will blog some more later.


10 Responses to “A Celebration of Reason – live from the Global Atheist Convention”

  • Fascinating talks so far. Daniel Dennett incredibly popular, the feedback coming through on the convention twitter very positive, just heard someone say they would be happy to hear him read the phone book! Though the content of his talk was great. He spoke about the many clergy now struggling to come to terms with their atheism which has developed as they have looked a little too close at their own religion.
    Leslie Cannold pointed out that Australia does not have separation of religion and government with public funding of religious chaplains in schoold as well as government funding of canonisations and religious celebrations worth many millions of dollars.
    Several speakers have pointed out that many “religious”people are, in fact, quite supportive of secular government and that atheists should work with these people to fight the vocal religious minority who try and bring religion into government, for example opposing gay marriage.
    In fact, the general impression from the talks and background discussions is that most atheists don’t oppose religion per se, they just want religion to stop trying to interfere in the lives of others.

    • Marion Maddox was great. Haven’t bought any books yet – lines too long, but taking notes of what is available.

  • Lucky bugger, Michael. Would love to be there (was at the 2010 convention).

    I am following on Twitter so getting some of the flavour.

    Your point about atheists not opposing relgion – I gather that the most enthusiastic reception from the audience on the panel was for the Theologian Maddox. She seemed to be inpressive, if loud.

    Hey, bet you are doing a bit of book browsing – perhaps buying?

  • paraphased rom Dan Barker’s talk (because I can’t keep up with all the great ideas
    “There is no purpose to life, and that is a good thing. We can live lives of incredible purpose. There are problems to solve, knowledge to gain and beauty to create. Our purpose in life – we create our own.”

  • From Daniel Dennott, comparing science and religion

    Science – scientists know the anguish of data that doesn’t fit (and adjust their hypotheses accordingly)

    Religion – Fake it until you make it.

  • Michael. Did you get the Barker quote right? It appears to break the law of non-contradiction.

    Dennott’s quote-pithy,, funny, and totally ignores the anguish of millenia of theological writings in a number or religions.

  • Kiwiski, nope, that was paraphrased, as I couldn’t keep up with everything he said.
    What I think he was getting at was the is no ONE purpose in life. Rather it is up to us to create our own purpose.

    And Dennett, his talk was full of wonderful quotes. Indeed, so where many of the other talks. They should all eventually end up on Youtube, if the 2010 convention is anything to go by

  • Kiwiski, as a regular listener to Dan Barker’s podcast I can corroborate that Michael’s paraphrase is essentially correct (Dan brings this point up from time to time, he likes to put emphasis on the “good thing” part and move on to personal purpose).

  • Thanks, Darcy.
    I wasn’t aware of his podcast. That will have to go on my list of things to listen to if I have time :-)

  • Freethought Radio, up to ep 311 or so. You’ll need a lot of time if you do as I do and start from the begining for each new podcast.

    I’ve listened for a few years, out of a morbid fascination with the US issues over religion and politics.

    Speaking of podcasts I only learned that Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a radio show/podcast thats been going since 2009 a few months back, despite listening to numerous interviews with him on other podcasts.

Site Meter