2500 PEOPLE WITH NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT? [Excerpts]
The Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne next month has sold out, nearly six weeks before it opens. All 2500 tickets available for the Sunday session are gone, while the Friday and Saturday sessions are in smaller auditoriums because the organisers – with little idea of the numbers to expect – were reluctant to gamble.
The convention, spearheaded by Richard Dawkins and some fascinating international speakers, is a remarkable achievement, especially as it has been done without any government help.
But, if the atheists who post on this blog are to be believed, they have nothing in common with each other except a lack of belief in “imaginary friends.” They stand for nothing together, hold no ethical precepts in common, hold no ambitions in common (except, perhaps, a desire to see a religionless world). So what on earth (given that heaven is ruled out) will they talk about?
Will they exchange recipes? Knock knock jokes? Will they go door to door, evangelising Melbourne, saying “have we got a non-belief for you”? (This is a joke. I know atheists are never short of things to talk about — That’s a joke too).
I was rebuked in a recent threat by an atheist who pointed out that lack of belief in a divine being didn’t mean one had to take a reductionist, mechanist line about the universe. Atheists can and do believe in astrology, ghosts, New Age philosophies and many other things we might categorise as paranormal.
(2500 people with nothing to talk about?, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2, 2010)