Atheist Convention cancelled due to lack of interest

no interest in atheist convention

To be honest, I’m disappointed.

“Reason to Hope”, the third Global Atheist Convention scheduled for Melbourne in February 2018, has been cancelled because of “lack of interest” (according to my sources).

The conference was to be headlined by Sir Salman Rushdie, the highly esteemed – one might even say revered – novelist.

In 1989 the Iranian cleric Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against him after his novel The Satanic Verses was published.

It was the Islamic world that took offence for what it said about the Prophet, but the novel took aim at Sikhs as well, and at religion in general.

Rushdie once called religion a “poison in the blood”. He argued that respect for religion is not deserved:

“What is there to respect in any of this, or in any of the crimes now being committed almost daily around the world in religion’s dreaded name?

“How well, with what fatal results, religion erects totems, and how willing we are to kill for them.”

Rushdie is himself totemic; not simply an artist but a piece of history himself. If anyone knows what damage excessive religious zeal can do, it is he.

Richard Dawkins was also to make the trip, along with a range of other commentators and scholars, including locals Leslie Cannold and Jane Caro.

Alongside the thinkers, there was also going to be the “entertainers”.

Comic atheism is a particularly strong strand, and religious pomposity provides it with plenty of material. No doubt there was to be a feast of gloating about census figures.

But it isn’t to be.

It’s a great shame there’s a lack of interest.

I say that as someone who believes in God and thinks that it is the most reasonable thing to believe.

I say that as someone who is very much in the sights of the Atheist Foundation of Australia as an active theist.

I think faith, and in particular Christian faith, is good for Australia.

But I also think that the full and frank discussion of fundamental ideas is part of what a healthy culture promotes and enjoys. Continue reading

  • Dr Michael Jensen is rector of St Mark’s Anglican Church Darling Point
  • Image: ABC

News category: Analysis and Comment.