John Michael and I have returned from the American Atheist Convention in Atlanta. The Convention was exciting and informative in and of itself, and JMS and I got to do a few fun things in addition to cavorting with the godless.
On Friday we did CNN, which may have been John's favorite part of the whole trip.
Satuday, we spent over an hour on the campus of Emory University, which John has identified as a "definite maybe". (The picture above is John Michael with the statue of Dooley, the student body's unofficial mascot.)
Saturday evening we had dinner with my daughter, John's half-sister, Katie and my soon-to-be son-in-law James. (Does that make him John's half-brother-in-law?) A December wedding is in the works.
But of course the big news was the Convention, and following are a few notes on what I felt were the highlights:
- Probably the single most informative session was the presentation by Dr. J. Anderson Thompson, a psychiatrist, who described the latest research in the area of the neuropsychology of religion. Greatly distilled down, the findings support the claims of evolutionists who have described religion as a highjacking of some of our earliest survival and hierarchial learned behaviors. His talk requires a seperate blog, and I will work on that soon;
- Richard Dawkins was at his best; humorous, gracious, and commanding in both language and detail. John and I got our books signed and deprecating reply when I thanked him for all he has done for the causes of science and reason; and
- The emotional highlight was a talk by Nate Phelps, estranged son of uber-hate monger and Baptist preacher Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Nate described the beatings, physical and psychological, that were and are a regular part of Pastor Fred's personal style of family relations, as well as his increasingly irratioanal ranting against and hatred for all that are not part of his own little cult. Nate is working on a book, which should prove an incredible read once published.
Daughter Kate - a moderately devout Catholic, asked if I thought it was a good idea to expose John Michael to a meeting such as this.
Yes Sweetpea, I believe it was a damned good idea. I'm only sorry you couldn't see fit to attend too.