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Global Atheist Convention 2018: who will speak?

February 28, 2017

I saw yesterday that the website for the Global Atheist Convention is announcing a brand new 2018 convention. The 2018 Global Atheist Convention: reason to hope. It will be held in Melbourne, Australia from February 9-11.

The title is intriguing: reason to hope. I’m not entirely sure what atheists have to share about hope, because ultimately atheism is a hopeless philosophy i.e. there is no individual, personal hope beyond my death. This is obviously a moot point because many atheists do claim to have hope (and this convention will obviously deal with that topic). So I am intrigued as to exactly what is the ‘hope’ spoken of here.

I thoroughly enjoyed the 2012 Global Atheist Convention. I am wondering who will speak at the 2018 convention?

Who would you like to see?

Personally I hope that the remaining three horsemen (Dawkins, Dennett and Harris) come. I wonder if Matt Dillahunty will get an invite? (Or others from the Unholy Trinity?) Personally I hope that he does.

Other well known atheists? Lawrence Krauss? PZ Myers? Dan Barker?

What about local speakers? Peter Singer, Jason Ball, Kylie Sturgess?

Which women will speak?

Will there be a comedy night like last time?

What issues will be addressed as the speakers provide reasons to hope?

I can’t wait for more details to be announced. It is sure to be a fascinating and stimulating convention.

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From → Comment

5 Comments
  1. G’day Rob, it’s been a while.
    So many posts I’ve missed commenting on, and while this one is barely worth the effort, I’m here now, so…

    “…ultimately atheism is a hopeless philosophy…”
    This is old ground – so old that it shouldn’t have to be re-trod. But atheism isn’t a philosophy at all. It is just a lack of belief.

    “…i.e. there is no individual, personal hope beyond my death.”
    This remark is ambiguous.

    You might mean that once a person dies, they no longer have the experience of hoping. And while that’s true, it is also meaningless, since it’s a truth that applies to everyone (not just atheists).

    You could mean that atheists are only concerned about people and events that occur within their own lifetimes, and have no concerns about anything that might happen after they die. This is so evidently false that it should warrant no further discussion.

    I suspect that what you really mean is that atheists don’t have any hope for their own existence (eg., as some kind of transcendental or ectoplasmic consciousness) after they die. In which case, you’re right. But then you’d be taking a triviality of atheist (lack of) belief and distorting it to imply wrongly that atheists have no hope for anything at all – viz. the comment above about hope in general (such as quality of life for one’s children and later descendants, the ecological survival of the planet, the future of humanity, etc.).

    Maybe your intention is none of these things, in which case you might choose to clarify.
    Regardless, while the intention might have been to make a statement that appears somewhat provocative, the actual result is a statement that just looks unintelligent.

    • Paul!! Great to hear from you. It’s been a bit quiet from me as well so thanks for commenting. I certainly don’t want to appear unintelligent. I suppose the comment on lack of hope was meant to be somewhat provocative, but it is also borne out of my own personal experience. I.e. when I have contemplated atheism, I feel the force of the sense you describe about not surviving death. I feel that there is nothing to ‘hope for’ after I die.

      As we have discussed before, I do contend that the atheistic belief (or non belief) in god(s) does entail further implications (one being destiny), but there is no need to rehash that discussion here.

      I am still intrigued by the types of ‘hope’ atheists possess. Of course we all have hope for this world, but my point was more in the sense of ‘ultimate’ hope. Because no matter what we hope for, within an atheist/humanist/no god framework, I.e. this is all there is, whatever I hope for will ultimately come to nothing. It’s like building sandcastles or snowmen, it lasts for a while, but will ultimately come to nothing.

      So this is the sense in which I speak of hope.

      I ‘hope’ this makes some sense?

      Will you be coming to the GAC 2018? Are there speakers you would like to hear? Which speaker would convince you to make the trip? Hope to see you in Melbourne sometime!!

      Rob

      • I’m not likely to attend GAC2018, unfortunately. Criticising religious beliefs is, for me, a rather minor distraction or hobby only, and not something I could justify the expense or time of interstate travel to pursue…! But, it is a year away. Things could change, I suppose.

        On the subject of ‘hope’, it seems you are using a single word to describe an extremely large set of human wishes. And in doing so, not only have you made no adequate distinction between religious and non-religious wishes, but you also highlight, inadvertently, the incongruity of having any kind of ‘hope’ of a spiritual nature.

        I’ll try to explain. One the one hand, we have this: “…when I have contemplated atheism […] I feel that there is nothing to ‘hope for’ after I die.” And all that tells me is that you are looking forward to your personality or consciousness persisting after your physical body dies. While I will always be perplexed by the belief that such an experience can have any kind of resemblance to what we know of as consciousness, it is no less a trite, or vain ‘hope’ of the selfish variety that everyone experiences every day. Examples: I hope I see my mother when I die; I hope I don’t miss my bus; I hope heaven really is eternal everlasting bliss; I hope this milk hasn’t gone off…
        Some of these hopes might be on a grander scale than others, but they all amount to a similar type of wishful thinking about future events over which you have limited or no control. Furthermore, if the future result of an event is perfectly known, then that result is no longer a ‘hope’, but rather a piece of knowledge.

        But you also make reference to some kind of “‘ultimate’ hope”, and although this might be at the extreme end of the continuum described above it is somewhat different in nature. Atheists do not share any sense of a singular, ultimate hope – and this is actually far more rational than your religious reflexes might initially cope with. Many atheists may share a general hope for the ongoing flourishing of humanity, a hope that in the future we might evolve into a species able to shed itself of superstition, extreme conflict, and other flaws and limitations. Individual atheists might embellish such general hopes with more specific ones, such as their own descendants playing productive roles in the progression of various positive ideals.

        In contrast, the religious sense of ‘ultimate hope’ makes no sense at all. The good (or elect) among us are destined to everlasting bliss, and the rest of us get something else, presumably less nice, but also everlasting. Regardless, for the non-living (in the earth-bound sense), time is transcended and the notion of a future has no meaning. In this context, hope is not only irrelevant, it is also incoherent.

  2. Hi Robert, if you are attending the earlier event Cosmic Shambles LIVE or would be interested in doing so, can you get in touch with my email given in comments? It’d be great to get a review of the event on your blog.

  3. Yes, I was really keen to go, but unfortunately it is the start of the holidays and I won’t be around as I’ll be travelling. Mind you, I am VERY keen to go to the convention and will certainly be posting reviews and comments on the blog.

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