by Greg Spearritt
Cordelia Hull gives us a view on the recent Global Atheist Convention held in Melbourne. I was there also, and though I’d diverge from Cordelia’s assessment on a few points, in general I reckon she’s got it about right.
The 2,500-strong crowd was ready for some anti-religion mass-think and even some hero-worship (with Mr Dawkins on the bill), but to the credit of the organisers and several speakers (notably Phillip Adams and Richard Dawkins himself) the event wasn’t allowed to become an unthinking anti-religion rally.
Some speakers were terrific, some were ordinary and the odd one awful – but such variation is an unavoidable risk in these kinds of events. There were more than 25 speakers in all, so lots of perspectives were presented.
My only real criticism (apart from frustration at the Convention Centre staff who didn’t seem to know that those on stage needed some simple audio foldback to hear questions from the audience) is that there was no direction or overall theme to the Convention. This is perhaps understandable for the first event of its type in Oz; hopefully the next one (which I’ll be trying to attend) will be a tad more focused.
Glad it went off well. I was disappointed with the only comments in the media I had seen. I would only consider attending such an event myself if it was focused on something positive not just a shared non-belief. It does seem to beg facetious comments !
Posted by Owen Ronalds
I'd have a word of caution for the organisers, though. At one point I was sitting next to a young Uni student who was (as youth are wont to be!) brimful of enthusiasm for the Cause. She jumped up for a standing ovation for the star turn, Richard Dawkins, which (in my aged and humble opinion) just wasn't warranted, though I thought he did speak well.
Harnessing the fervour of youth for the Cause doesn't mesh too well in my view with the atheists' call for the consistent application of reason, yet Aussie universities have apparently been targeted as seedbeds for the Advance of Atheism. Please let's not have a cadre of Atheist Youth (a la Hitler Youth, the Red Army etc etc).
I'm not saying young and enthusiastic atheists should be ignored, at all: just that the voice of reason should prevail, and the likes of the AFA have a significant role to play here.
Posted by Greg Spearritt