27 January 2012

A Celebration of Reason: Global Atheist Convention 2012

It was my birthday on Wednesday, and my brother gave me an especially wonderful gift: a ticket to ‘A Celebration of Reason’, the global atheist convention being held in Melbourne this April. I wasn’t going to miss this awesome event, and now thanks to my brother’s generosity it’s going to cost me neither money nor effort to grab a ticket. Epic win!

The GAC 2012 will be a three day mental orgy of intellectual stimulation, provocative discourse and irreverent entertainment. The rock stars of atheism will be there: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, PZ Myers. One star will be conspicuously absent – Christopher Hitchens was expected to grace the GAC with his eloquence and erudition, but sadly the great man has left us. No doubt the Hitch and his valuable contributions to freethought will be recognised and celebrated at the event.

It makes me feel incredibly proud that my home city is hosting the GAC. I take this as a positive sign that Melbourne is predominantly secular, liberal and progressive, a sign that the world’s most liveable city is indeed worthy of that description. Of course, an atheist convention of the scale of the GAC will ruffle religious feathers. There will be pushback from those who subscribe to various brands of sky-fairyism. While some of that pushback will be hilarious, some of it will also be unpleasant, even threatening. Key speakers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali have received death threats from religious fanatics in the past, so security at the event should be a top priority.

I encourage my fellow Melbournians to attend ‘A Celebration of Reason’, whether you’re an atheist or not. Regardless of your personal beliefs, I assure you that you will come away from the convention with greater knowledge and understanding of the issues affecting society, culture, politics, civil liberties, human rights, ethics, education, science and the humanities. You will leave the GAC a more informed, more enlightened person.


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