But still a little shell-shocked. I had a terrible flight back from Denver, thanks to the incompetence of the staff at the Delta desk and the weather, and landing at the airport after 10pm and having a 3 hour drive back didn’t help, either. I just staggered up now and took a shower and desperately need a cup of tea.
But I wanted to quickly mention two things. One was something weird in my talk. I was (once again) making the argument that there had to be more to the atheism movement than just the dictionary definition, and I first made the case that we’ve comfortably accommodated much bigger, loftier goals than not believing in gods, by pointing out that we readily accept science as part of the atheist parcel. And then I moved on to asking whether there were other things we’d be willing to say that atheists, as a movement, ought to fight for. What are the secular causes?
“Science Education?” I asked. And the audience said “yes”.
“Environmentalism?” I asked. And the audience said “yes”.
“Civil rights for minorities?” I asked. And the audience said “yes,” loudly.
“Gay marriage?” I asked. And the audience yelled back “yes”.
“Feminism?” I asked. And the audience shouted “yes”.
It was weird. I kind of expected that at some point the audience would start tapering off or even saying “no,” and they didn’t. They got louder (which was also due to getting warmed up, I’m sure.) Here I was, all prepared to talk about the importance of each of those, and they just rolled over and made it easy for me. In the Q&A, I was later asked, in response to my suggestion that atheist organizations ought to have more prominent special interest groups to pursue specific sub-goals of the movement, if that wouldn’t dilute the focus of the whole organization, which was a reasonable concern, but that was the only reservation I heard. See, weird…from all the pushback we see on the web, you’d think there’d be more objections. I’m pretty sure it’s not my awesome personal charisma that overwhelmed any dissent.
Later in the talk, a similar thing happened. I showed a slide with just this on it:
The audience erupted into applause before I even said anything! I really missed an opportunity — I should have just done an Atheism+ talk and gotten wild accolades. I actually didn’t say a lot about it: I was making the case that the strong response to this idea should be telling every atheist organization something…that there is a huge swell of interest in their potential membership in making social justice issues a much bigger part of the movement.
Oh, and the second thing: I was having lunch with Matt Dillahunty and AronRa, and the possibility of doing a freethoughtblogs conference came up. We bounced around some really cool ideas about making it different from all those other conferences (for instance, what if we did it in Cincinnati, and made challenging Answers in Genesis part of it? What about bringing teenagers in to plan the social part of it all?), but it’s all very tentative and remote at this time — don’t get your hopes up. I thought I’d ask, though…would there be interest in having a free or very inexpensive con ala Skepticon centered around the FtB roster and our pet issues? Should we think a little more seriously about it?
That was quick. Video of the talk is now available.