Monday, 29 March 2010

People are very worried...

...About my upcoming appearance on the local ABC radio station to talk about Easter.

1233 presenter Carol Duncan put out the call on twitter - she was looking for an atheist/secular humanist to join her on air to talk about Easter, what it means to an atheist, and how belief (or lack of belief) colours one's worldview and gives meaning to life. I eagerly put myself forward and was accepted - after what I am sure was a less than frenetic response - to appear on a kind of panel discussion with, among others, the Anglican Dean of Newcastle Dr. James Rigney. A fascinating discussion it is sure to be.

However, the reaction to my (somewhat excited) announcement that I'd be gracing the airwaves of Newcastle in the next few days has been universal: A grimace, strained through a polite smile, and a dreaded question, voiced carefully. 'You're not going to cause trouble, are you?'

My reaction, typical of me (as anyone that knows me will attest), was to very politely take each of these admonitions in light-hearted spirits, assure them that not everything has to be an arm wrestle and, when the occasion calls for it (namely all the time), I am quite capable of holding a civilised,  reasonable and buoyant discussion. Even with people who do not strictly adhere to the exact same beliefs that I hold.

It is one of the greater ironies of the public perception of atheism. A movement (I think it is safe to call it a movement now) built on free thought and critical thinking is considered to be strident, beligerent, arrogant, argumentative and, it seems, incompatible with everyday, amicable discussion. As I detailed in the previous post, there are naturally going to be differences of opinion between, say, a catholic and an atheist. This doesn't mean it has to come to blows, or that anyone has to feel antagonised. Civilised people will, when left to their devices, conduct civilised discussions. Atheists, the last time I checked, are civilised people.

I plan to discuss my opinions on the Easter holiday (I'll post a wrap-up here when I'm done), what it means to me and my family, how my lack of belief in god is just as valid and fulfilling a worldview as any religious one, and to engage anyone on any topic they would care to talk about with a smile and, hopefully, a laugh.

Like I said, I'll post a wrap up on here when I'm done with it on thursday, and hopefully will be reporting on what a great time was had by all.

In the meantime, I cannot wait to get into the studio and show just about everyone in Newcastle (including members of my family and some very close friends) that an atheist is nothing to be scared of.

Quite the opposite. We are imponderably lovely.

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