Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Kamloops Imagines no Religion

Posted by Ethan Clow on May 9, 2011

I’m back home in front of my computer after spending a great weekend up in Kamloops BC attending the Imagine No Religion Conference, organized by the Kamloops Rationalists and CFI Okanagan.

I really want to thank Bill Ligertwood and Loren Price for putting together such a great event and I’m really happy to see it be such a wonderful success.

During the conference I recorded interviews with all the speakers, including Justin Trottier, PZ Myers, Brian Dalton, Jen McCreight, Chris DiCarlo, Stuart Beckman, and Nate Phelps. We’ll have those interviews on Radio Freethinker over the next few weeks. I have to say, I’m very excited to share those with our listeners.

Speaking of listeners, thanks to those at the conference who said kind things about our show. We really appreciate it!

The first night of the conference featured a discussion by PZ Myers “Evolutions is True, Creationism isn’t” I was honestly surprised a bit as PZ is usually very reserved as a speaker, but at this talk he really gave creationism the condemnation it deserved, any reader of his blog will know exactly what PZ thinks of creationism. Surprisingly, a few creationists did show up and asked inane questions. One of them spent about 10mins arguing at the mic while PZ causally destroyed his attempt to gish-gallop him with “evidence” that evolution is a lie.

Photo by Fred Bremmer

At the reception later, this fellow confronted PZ again and was eventually dubbed the creationists energizer bunny by conference attendees. He just kept going and going and going…

The conference opened with a talk by Justin Trottier, National Executive Director of CFI Canada, on the state of organized free thought in Canada. He also discussed the sudden removal of the “There’s probably no God” signs on buses in Kelowna.

Pictures by Fred Bremmer

Next came Stuart Bechman, president of Atheists United of Los Angeles. And former President of Atheist Alliance International. Stuart talked about the Enlightenment and radical changes that came over society as reason and rationality became more popular. The effect this had on politics, religion, race, all contributed to the rise of more secular and free society.

Jen McCreight gave a very good talk “God’s lady problem: Breaking up with abusive supernatural beings” What was surprising (in a scary way) is how recognizing abuse in a relationship between people can be equally be recognized in the relationship between a person and a supernatural being. Jen also went beyond the Abrahamic religions and reminded us that even Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism can be just as misogynistic and difficult to leave. Escaping these abusive supernatural beings requires the help of skeptical free-thought groups. By making sure our groups are diverse and welcoming to women and anyone else who feels marginalized will allow those seeking rationality a place to land.

Nate Phelps gave a powerful presentation about his life growing up in Westboro Baptist Church under the tyranny of Fred Phelps, the “god hates fags” guy. As Nate discussed his past, explaining the abuse and terror of growing up in the shadow of Fred Phelps, the audience was so silent, you could hear a pin drop. Yet Nate’s story is ultimately a story of triumph over religions terror. He escaped the Wesboro Baptist Church and now works as a activist for CFI Calgary.

Nate Phelps. Photo by Fred Bremmer

Next came Chris DiCarlo who talked about the big 5 questions in life, who are we, where are we going, how did we get here, why are we here and what will become of me when I die? Chris gave us the supernatural explanations and the skeptical answers to these questions.

After some technical problems trying to find Brian Dalton a mac adapter, we finally got to see Mr. Deity himself! Brian discussed his show, answer questions like where their ideas came from, his life as a former Mormon (a Formon as he calls it) And more. I had never seen Brian give a talk before so I was really looking forward to what he had to say. I wasn’t disappointed.  Brian showed us how some of Mr. Deity’s best moments were actually inspired by ridiculous things said by Christian apologists like Ken Ham and William Lane Craig.

PZ Myers ended the evening with his talk “Dancing on the graves of Gods” where he advocated that the best way to deal with religion is to laugh in its face. He talked about how many religious people see us atheists as sad, lonely, people who have no point in life and wander bleakly through it, miserable and angry. Yet that doesn’t seem to match the evidence, PZ mused to the audience of happy atheists. He said it was sort of like a civilization of people who all had tape worms. But instead of being disgusted with tape worms, actually likes them. And whenever someone manages to escape their tape worm, some tape worm loving acolyte tries to convince you that your sad without a tape worm.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a skeptics meeting without heading to a pub afterwards for drinks and conversation. And that’s exactly what we did. Although the first pub we went to was full, we eventually went to the pub in the hotel, despite its higher beer prices. It didn’t bother us much as we were soon discussing bestiality with Jen McCreight. (She brought it up)

Skeptics in a pub. Photo by Fred Bremmer

Remember to tune into Radio Freethinker to hear the interviews!


6 Responses to “Kamloops Imagines no Religion”

  1. Jen said

    I was going to defend myself and say that I was most definitely not the person who brought up bestiality, but then I couldn’t remember how it was brought up…so it probably was me. Damn it.

  2. Robster said

    “Escaping these abusive supernatural beings requires the help of skeptical free-thought groups”. How can there be difficulty in “leaving” a supernatural…err..being? They don’t exist. There can be no difficulty leaving an invisible, non existant “thing”. It’s a bit like putting an empty Coke can in the bin.

    • Ethan Clow said

      Sure there is no “thing” to leave. It’s not like God will reach out and grab you and pull you back. But you are abandoning a belief system and fellow believers. Those are both very real things. Keep in mind that when someone leaves religion, many of the believers take it upon themselves to either convince their lost sheep to return or to ostracize the fallen one, destroying their social circle and leaving them alone.

      In addition, since many religious beliefs are very misogynistic, women who leave may have issues with confidence, self-esteem etc. And not just women either. Anyone from an overbearing religion could have such feelings. That’s why its so important skeptical free-thought groups are there to be welcoming and supportive of anyone who shows up to events and activities.

    • Monado said

      Robster, if you’ve never had to struggle against the role or self-image that your parents ascribed to you, you’re lucky. Or had arguments in your head with an ex-lover. And remember post-traumatic stress disorder — the persistence of nightmares, reactions, coping mechanisms from a bad time in your life. Do you think it’s easy for people to throw away “Catholic guilt” or other religious indoctrination? I don’t.

  3. Monado said

    I’ll have to try that:

    “You have a Jesus-shaped hole in your heart!”

    “And you have a tapeworm-shaped hole in your gut!”

    Yeah, that should do.

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