Every convention has its socializing element. Every convention gives its attendees free time to talk and discuss and argue and laugh. When the convention is an atheist convention, when its attendees are inherently thinkers and talkers, and have a deep appreciation of the joy and value of each moment, the socializing element should not be minimized.
Hence you have day 2 being recapped on day 3. It was my intention to post at the end of each day, but the day didn’t end, again, until the wee morning hours, so here we go.
What a breath of fresh air to begin the morning’s session with Jamila Bey. Jamila (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgdfHVwK884) gave us her experience of atheism in the African-American community (I know, Jamila, there is no ONE African-American experience!) with passion and clarity. The social importance of the religious network in anyone’s life is not to be minimized; in the African-American woman’s life, it’s almost paramount. Jamila seems to be made entirely of self-confidence and humor, but she has faced her share of resistance and criticism from the people she loves the most.
Jamila’s talk was followed by a diversity panel that was enlightening and informative. The atheist movement by its nature is broad and inclusive, so when we have a diversity panel, we have a diversity panel! It was interesting to hear perspective from other ethnicities and cultures.
We heard from comedian Paul Provenza, reading from his book “Satiristas”, and from Troy Conrad again, who was a scream. Irreverent, thought-provoking, and interactive, both of these guys are worth Youtubing.
Then came the big guns. PZ Myers (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/) spoke to us about what else? SCIENCE.
We heard from Professor Hector Avalos, who is a Religious Studies professor at Iowa State University. If you’ve seen the movie “Expelled” by Ben Stein, you’ll be familiar with his subject.
Finally, on Saturday we heard from two psychiatrists with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. They shared with us the physiological and psychological effects of religious thinking and freethought.
Sunday started with JT Eberhard from the Secular Student Alliance giving us a report of student organizations and their phenomenal, exponential growth. JT is such a voice for inspiration and motivation in the movement, and it’s my hope to have him visit the MTSU campus when we get the SSA going there.
Next was Lawrence Krauss, a quantum physicist who gave us little talk about Richard Feynman and his work. We heard also from Matt Dillahunty, who hosts the podcast for the Austin Community of Atheists. I got to join him for a meal or two, and found a little connection – his fiance is the former leader of the secular group at ETSU, and we chatted a bit about the student group there.
Finally, after an international symposium regarding the atheist movement, we listened to a military panel tell about the environment in the services for atheists. I will leave to your imagination what their responses were.
There’s a basic outline of what we did – I’ll try to blog in more detail about specific speeches and conversations I had with other attendees. Tonight’s agenda includes more debate and beer, not necessarily in that order.
Thanks for reading!
April 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm
I’ll be happy when my life settles down and I can do some of the fun stuff you get to go do.
Glad you’re having a good, informative time.
April 27, 2011 at 11:30 pm
Ted, you’re one of the most interesting people I know, and I love hanging out with you! Can’t wait to tell you about it – we’ll do a Starbucks soon!
April 25, 2011 at 11:18 am
🙂 I want to go hang out with people that make me feel close minded, irrational, and under-read (in a good way)
April 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm
Well, this group will do it – in a good way! You know how we snarky know-it-alls never feel intellectually intimidated in any setting?? Come with me next time! Love you Sammy
April 25, 2011 at 11:26 am
Sounds like you had a great time. I want to hear the rest sometime soon. I’ll get a meetup scheduled.
And I love the title!
April 27, 2011 at 11:33 pm
Oh, Josh, I can’t wait to talk to you about the convention! I came away so inspired and motivated! I’m out again for a few days; just let me know what you schedule and I’ll do all I can to be there!
April 27, 2011 at 10:31 am
So glad you had a great time! I’ve found the atheist community to be a lot of fun and surprisingly welcoming.
April 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm
Meeting you and E was a frakkin’ blast. You guys have great energy and ask good questions (I’ve always thought you can tell more about people by the questions they ask than the answers they give).
Stay in touch. 🙂
PS – Three weeks ago I was giving a talk in Minnesota. Though I was sloshed and ill, I still did karaoke afterward. Here’s me singing while sick.
Will be warming up until Skepticon. 😉