Last weekend I was in Pittsburgh for the 39th National Convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
This was my fifth convention already! I’ve been to Hartford, Portland, Madison, Los Angeles, back to Madison and now Pittsburgh. Next year will be in San Francisco. This is one reason that I attend; I get to travel to cities that I might not otherwise visit. First and foremost though is the socializing with like-minded people.
This convention was no exception to that. On Sunday afternoon, I walked around Pittsburgh for over two hours with a fellow attendee. We crossed two bridges (Pittsburgh has more bridges than Venice) and used two funicular railways to ascend and descend Mount Washington. But I get ahead of myself!
The link above will tell you the names of the speakers. I’d like to summarize how many of them made me feel.
FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel gave a preview of his forthcoming book with his talk, “Is Christianity Un-American?” This promises to be an excellent read – I cannot wait for it to be released. Andrew has set out to completely dismantle the argument that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.
Friday evening was rather moving when a former preacher from East Tennessee came out publicly as an atheist. “Adam Mann” was one of the first people in The Clergy Project and he went to great lengths to conceal his identity. He had yet to tell his wife that he no longer believes in the fairy tales of the bible.
I hope his coming out to friends and family goes just as smoothly. It really is a serious problem for many clergy. Welcome to the ever-growing family Carter! We’ve got your back!
Professor Lawrence Krauss accepted his Emperor Has No Clothes award and gave a science-heavy talk that built on his excellent book A Universe From Nothing. He suggested that last year’s confirmation of gravitational waves might be used to see beyond the cosmic microwave background. Exciting stuff!
Unfortunately, my copy of A Universe From Nothing is still packed in a box somewhere. So I bought The Physics Of Star Trek and had Professor Krauss sign that instead.
The new Forward aware was bestowed upon Rafida Bonya Ahmed. She barely survived the Islamist machete attack that killed her husband Avijit Roy. Her speech was inspiring and helped to explain the major problems facing atheists in Bangladesh. I certainly never had to fear for my life while living in Texas; so the atheist bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh deserve mighty praise and even more support.
Professor Jerry Coyne – who won Emperor Has No Clothes at the Hartford Convention – spoke on “Evolution & Atheism: Best Friends Forever.” My recent move thwarted me again, I couldn’t get my copy of Faith vs. Fact signed. Professor Coyne has given a interim blog post about the Convention.
Lastly, Professor Daniel Dennett spoke on “Has The Dam Broken? Omens and Worries.”
It should be obvious how much I love the FFRF National Conventions. There is always interesting and inspiring stuff – I only scratched the surface here.
I have intentionally left out the group tour of Fallingwater. That amazing part of the weekend deserves its own post after I have sorted through my photos.