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Jan 17 2012

Australian hospitality

I’m looking forward to the Global Atheist Convention (have you registered yet?). I had a grand time the last time I was in Australia, the organizers have been helpful and obliging, they were responsive to the few security concerns that came up, and they’ve been accommodating — my wife Mary is joining me in Melbourne this time around. And now they’ve gone above and beyond, and the fun people of Australia are providing chew toys for us while we’re there.

Carl Wieland’s organization, Creation Ministries International, is declaring themselves pleased to have the GAC in their country — they claim it will “stimulate Christian evangelism”. I remember well their huge representation at the 2010 convention: it was one quaintly bearded guy, his wife, and their daughters, weebling about outside the convention center with a sign. It was laughable. That year they also sent out an offer to debate some of the atheists — they were salivating at the prospect of nabbing Richard Dawkins — on creationism. The organizers flatly rejected them. Then they reached out to individuals — I gave them a visual response. The snubbing was vicious and unhesitating, so they aren’t going to try that again, I guess.

Instead, they’re publishing a rag called the Regal Standard, a 12-page propaganda paper, and asking people to buy them and give them away to the heathens. Yeah, that’s gonna work. I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up a copy while I’m there.

I’m also not going to have a formal debate with these loons, but I do look forward to a few casual conversations with the sad, deluded few who will probably make brief and pathetic appearances outside the convention center. It’s always fun to travel to exotic lands, meet strange, wacky people, and gnaw on their goofy ideas for a bit. Keeps the fangs sniny and makes for a good laugh and always seems to end up on youtube.

28 comments

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  1. 1
    feralboy12

    So I take it you’re not worried about them making any irrefutable arguments?

  2. 2
    rorschach

    Wieland is like Hamza Tzortzis, or any ol’ creationist I guess, if it’s not Dawkins or at least someone their target audience would recognize, they’re not interested. Which tells us all we need to know about their intentions, they are not after a debate, just the publicity that comes from being seen next to someone who knows stuff.
    I remember that Kel and I offered to debate them, but I wouldn’t be doing that again this year.

  3. 3
    redartifice

    As an Australian, this is mr reaction when hearing about Creation Ministries International:

    Who?

  4. 4
    municipalis

    The headline on their rag is “Why the world’s most notorious atheist called it quits!”

    Does anyone know who they’re referring to?

  5. 5
    edneubaum

    My wife and I are forward to seeing you and Mary in Melbourne. Working our way through Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Counrty”. What else are you going to do with 240,000 frequent flyer miles?

  6. 6
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Municipalis – I clicked through to the PDF on their site (ew… I feel dirty) and the article is about one Prof. Anthony Flew.

    Yeah, um, never ‘eard of ‘im.

    Anyway, it’ll be fun keeping an eye out for them creationist types at the con. And I’m looking forward to seeing PZ again and hanging out with some of the local Pharyngulites over beers. (maybe if I can shake the intellectual vapour-lock this time I may even contribute more – although I still blame the others for just being damn interesting to listen to)

  7. 7
    Weedless Monkey

    Does anyone know who they’re referring to?

    Hitchens. Them ghouls.

  8. 8
    andrewbrown not the one from the grauniad

    @7 Weed Monkey,

    It’s Anthony Flew, who became a deist under the influence of a guy called Roy Varghese. PZ has already pointed out that it appears that Flew changed his mind after it had begun to decline and he was sliding down the slope towards dementia.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/11/roy_varghese_and_the_exploitat.php

    Very sad, but yet more proof of the reprehensible behaviour of Ghouls for Jesus.

  9. 9
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @Charlie Foxtrot says:

    Municipalis – I clicked through to the PDF on their site (ew… I feel dirty) and the article is about one Prof. Anthony Flew. Yeah, um, never ‘eard of ‘im.

    See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Flew#Conversion_from_atheism

    (At least while wikipedia is still up an hour left now!)

    Note from there that :

    He [Flew] supported the idea of an Aristotelian God with “the characteristics of power and also intelligence”, stating that the evidence for it was stronger than ever before. He rejects the ideas of an afterlife, of God as the source of good (he explicitly states that God has created “a lot of” evil), and of the resurrection of Jesus as a historical fact though he has allowed a short chapter arguing for Christ’s resurrection to be added into his latest book. Flew was particularly hostile to Islam, and said it is “best described in a Marxian way as the uniting and justifying ideology of Arab imperialism.”[5] In a December 2004 interview he said: “I’m thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins”.

    … [snip] …

    In 2007, Flew published a book titled There is a God, which was listed as having Roy Abraham Varghese as its co-author. Shortly after the book was released, the New York Times published an article by religious historian Mark Oppenheimer, who stated that Varghese had been almost entirely responsible for writing the book, and that Flew was in a serious state of mental decline, having great difficulty remembering key figures, ideas, and events relating to the debate covered in the book.[6] His book praises several philosophers (like Brian Leftow, John Leslie and Paul Davies), but Flew failed to remember their work during Oppenheimer’s interview. The article provoked a public outcry, in which atheist PZ Myers called Varghese “a contemptible manipulator.”

    So hardly recent news. Rather pathetic really.

  10. 10
    maxamillion

    @3 redartifice says:

    As an Australian, this is mr reaction when hearing about Creation Ministries International:

    Who?

    I have to agree, most Australian’s would never have heard of CMI or bacon boy for that matter.

  11. 11
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ maxamillion :

    If they’re the mob I think they are, I’ve delivered straw to them – one of their places anyhow – as part of my job some years ago. I think they built men out of it!

    PS. Flew’s 2007 book is subtitled ‘How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind’ Yet oddly enough Richard Dawkin’s remains as admantly atheist as ever and Flew remains obscure to nearly everyone.

    I guess “most notorious” is in the eye of the beholder and subjective judgement but if you did a poll – even a web one – I doubt many folks would have ever called Flew the “world’s most notorious athiest.” So, more dishonesty from the creationists, surprise surprise.

  12. 12
    Aliasalpha

    Hey PZ, can you ask them to have their next australian event in Wagga? it’d stimulate the local economy no end, frighten the quietly paranoid religious types (you know the sort, always worried about “those types” which changes depending on whatever new but inoffensive thing they’re confronted with) and more importantly it’d be with walking distance for me so I could actually GO to it.

  13. 13
    matthewhodson

    Hmm… are CMI and AiG aligned with the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea or is it the Popular front?

  14. 14
    cowcakes

    @ rorschach

    You know that they will just take that as a sign you and Kel are unable to counter their overwhelming arguments ;-)

  15. 15
    Charlie Foxtrot

    Hope they don’t bring any bananas…

    Those damn things terrify me!

  16. 16
    Kel

    That year they also sent out an offer to debate some of the atheists — they were salivating at the prospect of nabbing Richard Dawkins — on creationism. The organizers flatly rejected them. Then they reached out to individuals — I gave them a visual response.

    Rorschach and I offered to debate them, yet we didn’t hear back…

  17. 17
    Kel

    Oh, I see Rorshach already pointed that out.

    As for the GAC itself, I still need to motivate myself enough to lay out for tickets and accommodation and stuff. It starts to get a bit expensive when it’s 2 people to fork out for.

  18. 18
    Kel

    You know that they will just take that as a sign you and Kel are unable to counter their overwhelming arguments ;-)

    I’m still up for it. Bring on whatever Creationist or Theologian they want me to debate…

  19. 19
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Got my tickets ages ago, and booked my accomodation this week. All I need to do now is sort out my flights and put in the leave forms to take the time off work.

  20. 20
    melindakelly

    Here’s a memory of the last GAC (I’ll be there again this time).

    https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/mzFg-lKo8HgnOf0inzhsWdMTjNZETYmyPJy0liipFm0?feat=directlink

  21. 21
    David Marjanović

    have you registered yet?

    Of course not. Too expensive to get there. :-(

  22. 22
    elronxenu

    I’ve got my ticket and prepaid accommodation (in the local youth hostel).

    PZ, I’m hoping to meet you and the Trophy Wife and indulge myself in all the fringe events, get-togethers and whatever.

  23. 23
    julietdefarge

    I hope they bring more people to the GAC- so they can all be counted as part of the crowd of atheists.

  24. 24
    bassmanpete

    As an Australian, this is mr reaction when hearing about Creation Ministries International:

    Who?

    I’d never heard of them until last year when I saw a 4WD in the area (Mossman/Port Douglas) with the name across the back. Checked them out on the net and found that their headquarters are here in Queensland. Why doesn’t that surprise me?

  25. 25
    tgho

    Very much looking forward to it – 2010 was brilliant.

    Will miss Hitch though. :(

    Cheers,
    TGHO

  26. 26
    Janey Q Doe

    I am bouncing in anticipation of my first atheist soiree. I see promises in the AFA magazine that PZ will be participating in the Saturday evening entertainment. I do rub my fingers together with glee.

  27. 27
    Rich Woods

    > I’m hoping I’ll be able to pick up a copy while I’m there.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that Australia has a highly civilised and technologically advanced culture, one which results in bog rolls being cheaply available in many local shops.

  28. 28
    beccs

    I’ll see you there.

    Seriously though, the “Regal Standard”? They expect people to pay to push their propaganda?

    They’re more deluded than I thought.

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