Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The rise and rise of atheism

[...] Churches are social groups for many people, which is something atheists do not have, hence the popularity of this event which sold out six weeks in advance. Many small atheist groups were in attendance, raising their profile among the largest group of like-minded people ever gathered in Australia.

Several speakers commented that they had never addressed such a large group of atheists before, and there were a far greater range of topics presented than many expected. A question put to many attendees before the convention was, "But what can you possibly have to talk about? Nothing?"

The presenters shared some truly horrific stories of things done in the name of God or as part of some religious organisation, but the overall effort was not to paint all religions as always forces for bad. Much was made of the charitable works religious organisations do, but then, alternatives were presented. Charitable works do not need a veil of the supernatural in order to be effective, and you should not need a god looking over your shoulder, monitoring how much you are donating to disaster relief or to alleviate poverty. Peter Singer in particular talked about the evolutionary imperatives for fairness and for rendering aid. Read more
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