Declaration in the works

Copenhagen Conference Day 2

Dan Barker

Slotsholms Kanal (Photo by Dan Barker) Slotsholms Kanal (Photo by Dan Barker)

The article about me ran in the Danish "Christian Daily" (Kristeligt Dagblad) yesterday (Saturday), but I can't read it! If you can read Danish, go for it:

Fra overbevist kristen til ateistisk bannerfører

I overslept Saturday morning! Due to jet lag, I got up at 10:00 (which is 3:00 am back home in Wisconsin). I rushed over to the Black Diamond in time to catch Richard Wiseman's incredible show about skepticism, fire-walking, "good luck," and other dubious claims. His "boy on the elephant" metaphor for the mind is going to stick with me for a long time.

Rebecca Watson (Skepchick.org) gave some useful life tips on how to handle "I'll pray for you" and what to say when someone sneezes, showing some fun videos she made of hilarious reenactments to "real life" skeptical and atheist moments. Aroup Chattejee's presentation about "the real Mother Teresa" was eye-opening . . . he is a doctor from Calcutta with a book crammed full of facts about the exaggerated "demi-god" (as he calls her) who was more interested in politics and money than helping people.

Saturday evening was a double header: Richard Dawkins and James Randi, back to back. Dawkins' talk, "Is Religion Good For Nothing?", presented the clear case that religion is a kind of "gratitude in a vacuum" that fires off because we inherited social dispositions from our ancestors who needed a "debt calculator" to keep track of who owes what to whom. James Randi, looking smaller due to illness but lacking none of his original vigor and humor, gave us something of a "life in skepticism," including clips of his appearances on Johnny Carson exposing fraudulent (aren't they all?) faith healers.

After that most of us went to dinner at the Harbour Restaurant where some of that "Godless" beer was available. During dinner Richard Dawkins suggested to me a project on which perhaps FFRF and the Richard Dawkins Foundation can cooperate . . . but I don't want to announce it yet, because it is such a great idea that someone else might steal it!

The funnest part of this conference (and yes, "funnest" is a word--I looked it up) is hanging out with people from all over the world, people from all levels, students, professors, scientists, activists, all mingling with the cause of promoting atheism and freethought. Last night at dinner, a draft version of the "Copenhagen Declaration" was passed around, and we all made notes with suggestions. Perhaps today (Sunday) it will be announced.

But first, I am running over to the Black Diamond for more talks. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein is up next, to talk about Spinoza . . . and I wonder what "Spin" she will put on it . . .

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