Andrew Brown has an annoying piece about the Global Humanist Conference that wastes most of its space ruminating about how close the resemblance is between humanism and religion haw haw geddit no god but it’s still like a religion yawn.
The World Humanist Conference in Oxford at the weekend struck me as a completely religious gathering, even though it is predicated on atheism. If it hadn’t been for the words of the sermons, we might have been at any Protestant missionary society.
Part of this was the architecture. The old parts of Oxford University date from the time when there was no clear distinction between religion and society, and most of them now have a faintly sacerdotal air. Part of it was the people: lots of beards, formidable middle-aged women and younger gay men.
Everyone was united and sharing in a sense of relief at being in a safe space where what was important to them was no longer strange or dangerous.
Yes yes yes, Andrew, we get it; very droll.
However he did manage to spare one short paragraph to talk sensibly about Gulalai Ismail. He should have taken much more space to do that and less space to recycle the atheism-is-another-belief trope, but at least there’s the one short paragraph.
It is difficult to know who was the bravest, but my nomination would go toGululai Ismail, a young woman who has set up networks to spread ideas of human rights and peace in some of the most lawless and dangerous parts of Pakistan and who has, in consequence, had her family home shot up and death threats made against her.
Well that’s actually just one sentence. He gives it its own paragraph, but it’s still just one sentence.