By Jason Schoenack
The Red River Freethinkers held an enthusiastic conference in Fargo on September 18. The conference, called “Project 42”, attracted an overflow crowd at the downtown Hotel Radisson. The name was taken from the novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, where 42 was the ultimate answer to everything. Attendees came from six states and two Canadian provinces.
The conference planners set out to book speakers that atheists in this region that people would know and enjoy. One was Minnesota Atheists’ own, August Berkshire. Along with August was Minnesota’s best known atheist blogger, PZ Myers. From Wisconsin came Annie-Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The list of speakers was topped off with “Mr. Deity”, Brain Keith Dalton. “Mr. Deity”, of course, is the God-like character seen on MrDeity.com. and Youtube.
Also present was Fred Edwords, Director of the United Coalition for Reason. Fred presented a seminar on “How to get media attention for your group.”
Media attention was what Project 42 received. August Berkshire’s observation, ”If going from belief in many gods to one god was an improvement, what’s the next logical step?” was quoted in the Fargo Forum. The Forum also made note of Annie-Laurie Gaylor’s remark that every freedom women have earned, whether wearing bloomers, riding a bicycle or voting, has been opposed by the church.
PZ Myers discussed the ongoing clash between the rationality of science and the mythology of religion. Several attendees are regular followers of his blog, “Pharyngula.” Dan Barker told the story of leaving his religious faith and moving on to become a leader in the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Brian Keith Dalton, that “Mr. Deity” guy, was a delightful addition to the conference. He and some other speakers stayed over for the Red River Freethinkers’ equinox potluck on Sunday.