Back From INR4

I am finally home after a four day trip. I was hoping to give updates while I was away, but I found myself, for the most part, without wifi. 

The conference was good. I got to meet a lot of amazing people and catch up with a lot of the people that I do know that I don’t get to talk to on a regular basis. The speakers were, for the most part, great to listen to. I got to listen to Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, talk about why it is important for atheists to check their sources before claiming that some religious group, or person, does something. I later got to talk to him about his talk. He did a wonderful job, and he really is a very friendly man.

I also got to listen to Seth Andrews, the Thinking Atheist, give a very amusing talk. He mentioned the habit that the religious right has of adopting aspects of pop culture for themselves, such as taking the ‘got milk’ logo and changing it to ‘got Jesus.’ I was very happy to be able to introduce myself to him.

I was a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet Jerry DeWitt, but he gave a very good talk on his experiences as a clergyman turned atheist.

Margaret Downey gave a wonderful talk on her story as a freethinker. She is a very strong and brave woman and I am glad that I got to meet her on Sunday. Her story is featured in the book Parenting Beyond Belief, which I would highly recommend (even if you never want children as it is more a series of stories on how different parents have struggled with raising secular children than it is a parenting book).

Wanda Morris gave a wonderful talk on why euthanasia should be legal. Carolyn Porco entertained everybody with her presentation on space exploration. Annie Laurie Gaylor gave a wonderful talk on her work as a freethinker.

Christopher diCarlo gave a wonderful talk on fairness. I was happy to be able to talk to him about his ideas about education after the fact. He has convinced Toronto’s school board to add a class on critical thinking to their curriculum.

I was very happy with Christine Shellska’s talk on fallacies and rhetoric. She is the Humanist Chaplin at my university and a member of the Freethinkers club, so I can’t help but consider her success a bit of a ‘hometown win.’ Her talk ended with a musical performance by another young freethinker (by young I mean university-aged) on the hypotenuse. 

Unfortunately, I missed the talks given by Jerry Coyne, Dan Barker, and Darrel Ray, so I can’t comment on them.

My only real complaint was the Friday night panel discussion. It wasn’t well planned and it wasn’t well executed. I was told that the Friday night entertainment was always meant to be fun rather than serious, but I think it still should have been done better. Hopefully they will stick with fun Friday events in the future. Otherwise, I would recommend that any atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, freethinker, etc. head to Imagine No Religion if you are looking for a good conference to go to, and can afford it.

I will write about my blog plans tomorrow since I haven’t gotten a chance to deal with any of that tonight.


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