Following on from the Atheist Alliance International convention in Los Angeles, which had over 700 people in attendance, the biggest ever convention devoted to atheistic thought will be held in Melbourne next year. The 2010 Global Atheist Convention, "The Rise of Atheism", is scheduled for 12-14 March, and it is expected to attract 2500 people.
I understand that Atheist Alliance International is also planning to be involved in large conventions in Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro, and I look forward to announcements about those.
The current list of speakers for the Melbourne convention is a treat: Richard Dawkins, Catherine Deveny, Phillip Adams, Taslima Nasrin, Peter Singer, PZ Myers, Dan Barker, Stuart Bechman, Sue-Ann Post, Kylie Sturgess, John Perkins, Tamas Pataki, Max Wallace, Russell Blackford (ahem!), Ian Robinson, AC Grayling, Robyn Williams, Jamie Kilstein and Simon Taylor. This blends Australian and international activists; local media celebrities (but very much at the intellectual end, rather than, let's say, the Paris Hilton end, of the spectrum); and some very high-profile international public intellectuals. It should provide for a fascinating and entertaining mix.
All speakers are giving their services for free to help make it a success. In my case, I'm prepared to do that, despite the work that will be involved, because I strongly support the organisers' aims. A major global convention like this can highlight the political and other concerns of non-believers, in a society where too much deference is still given to the views of religious leaders and their organisations. It's time to contest the authority that religion claims, and the Global Atheist Convention can be provide one rallying point.
Please help spread the word and give this wonderful convention the publicity and profile it needs. Some letters to newspaper editors, commending the idea, would be helpful, but please talk it up however you can.
And as PZ Myers reminds us, non-Australians are welcome. And don't forget that Melbourne is beautiful at that time of the year - late summer/early autumn. So come on down, or across the Tasman, or from wherever you come from, and enjoy yourselves. We'll be putting on a good show. By March, I'll be living in Newcastle, but this is going to be an exceptionally enjoyable visit to Melbourne. It's gonna rock!