31 May 2011
Dublin hosts first atheist congress
PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent
UP TO 350 international delegates are expected to attend Ireland’s first World Atheist Convention in Dublin this weekend.
Organised by Atheist Ireland, the event, from Friday to Sunday, will also see the launch of a newly restructured umbrella group for atheists worldwide, Atheist Alliance International. Its first chairwoman will be Tanya Smith of the Atheist Foundation of Australia.
Delegates from the US, Europe, South America and Australasia will attend.
The convention will be addressed by Britain’s Prof Richard Dawkins, Danish neurobiologist Lone Frank, British consultant Paula Kirby and Indian author Aroup Chaterjee.
Other speakers will include Skepchick website founder Rebecca Watson, internet atheist activists DPR Jones and AronRa, Thomas Prosser of Trinity College Dublin, David Nash of Oxford Brookes University, US writer Bobbie Kirkhart and Secular World editor Tom Melchiorre.
Keynote speakers will be Ireland’s Senator Ivana Bacik on Friday, American science blogger PZ Myers on Saturday and Iranian activist Maryam Namazie of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain on Sunday.
The convention will discuss “weird science versus weird religion”, secular education and human rights, speaking out against blasphemy laws, women atheist activists, accommodating or confronting religion, communicating atheism, building secular coalitions and the Dublin declaration on religion in public life.
In the 2006 census, those who ticked the “No Religion” box numbered 186,300. This was the largest ethical grouping in the Republic after Roman Catholics. A further 70,300 people did not state their religion on the form.
Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent will open the convention on Friday. Further details are available at atheist.ie