One problem facing atheists is that of perception among theists. Many theists are only hearing about atheism from prominent scientists and philosophers, basing their counter arguments on positions held by those particular atheists. While I agree with the ideas many of those scientists and philosophers espouse, I came to many of those ideas on my own and can express myself coherently on those matters, as is the case with many other common or garden atheists. I would like to make the fact that atheists are not exclusively academics, but part of every demographic other than those arbitrary ones with a religious label, more widely known, the ambition being to assuage some of the demonisation with which atheists are regularly targeted.
The Global Atheist Conventions drew well known speakers together to speak to an audience of atheists, in part as a means to engender a sense of community. The events were highly successful on this front, but I see a need for atheists to reach outside the communities they are making, both online and in their daily lives, to help religious people understand what they are, what they are not, and what they want.
To this end, I am organising a public event in Melbourne – Average Atheists
. This will comprise five atheist speakers, drawn by lot from a pool of potential candidates, speaking for five minutes each to an audience of theists. By making it a random, or at least haphazard, selection of speakers, I hope to show that the average atheist has something relevant to say to theists. I realise fear of public speaking will likely skew the potential pool of speakers toward activists comfortable at a podium, but this can’t be helped, and Average Atheists
is far catchier than Modal Atheists Willing to Speak in Public
. I think the standard deviations will be kept somewhere near a true value around the mean if GAC presenters and similarly publicly visible atheists are excluded from the potential speaker pool.
I would also like to exclude theist trolls and sheep in atheist clothing from the pool, and so will not be accepting potential speaker volunteers with less than a one month long history (as of today) of posting online as an overt atheist.
Whether the proposed title of the event is mathematically valid or not, I would like to use the mechanism to allow a handful of atheists to speak their five hundred or so words on what they think is important, to an audience who might be surprised by what they hear. Average Atheists
will be held at Embiggen Books
on the 7th of June between seven and eight pm. If you could attend and would be willing to speak if your number came up, please make yourself known via PM and start thinking about exactly what you want the religious to know about you and your godless ways. Random selection from the potential speaker pool, overseen by a professional statistician, will occur on the 1st of June to give speakers lead in time to hone their presenting skills and build up a good head of butterflies.
I encourage atheists, whether based in Melbourne or not, to write the presentation they would give, given the opportunity, even if the thought of public speaking makes their skin crawl. The exercise might help people bring their goals into focus, and that’s always good in terms of gaining traction toward said goals.
A note on presenting: You can say a lot in five minutes, but the people I find most compelling at the podium speak clearly and leave themselves time to think/check their notes/take a sip of water/let a point sink in. A hundred words a minute is a rough guide I gave myself based on timing Dan Barker's output. This is not a hard and fast limit, but five minutes time at the podium is.