The Australian had a few things to say about the convention.
It sold out.
That’s probably enough. This convention could have been much, much bigger, with a little more support. Next time — and I did hear the organizers talk about the possibility of doing it again in two years, hint, hint — it can be an even bigger event. After all, you are all planning to go, right?
The venues on the first two days were smaller, the result of caution. The organisers chanced a bigger hall yesterday when Richard Dawkins was invited to speak, but could have sold more tickets on Saturday, when philosophers Grayling and Tomas Pataki and the hilarious American biology lecturer and science blogger P.Z. Myers gave talks.
The crowd was hardcore. Few gasped when comedians – lesbian former Mormon Sue-Ann Post, ex-Catholic columnist Catherine Deveny and the New York writer, radio host and stand-up comic Jamie Kilstein – blasphemed without restraint. (Dawkins succeeded in provoking gasps when he referred to the pope as a Nazi.)
Grayling was received like a rock star; the crowd shouted with laughter when Myers spoke. Pataki’s denser argument – an atheist himself, he cautioned against the prevailing wish to see religion fade away – was received more quietly, with bemusement. He spoke of people’s emotional need to be heard and loved by a non-existent personal deity, if no real person could fill the role.
Wait, wait…I’m hilarious? I was deadly serious the whole time! I’m going to have to work on my presentation style some more, I guess.
There were a lot of real comedians working the joint, and I thought it was great. Jamie Kilstein actually succeeded in converting me. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster never really appealed to me, but the Church of the Smiling Vagina…those are my people. He gave us the Ten Commandments of his faith, and I think I could follow them.
We were hardcore. There may have been a few accommodationists around, but they were quiet. Probably cowed. Or trying to accommodate to the ferocity of their surroundings. The ones who spoke were found unconvincing by most of the audience. I was rather pleased when one young woman described me in a term I found much better than “New Atheist”. I am, apparently, a Hard Atheist. I told her that I do try to rise to the occasion and that we are all much more satisfying than those Soft Atheists.