Super, Natural Kamloops, British Columbia
I was reminded of the current marketing slogan for British Columbia as our plane descended into the Kamloops airport. As the Thompson River passed beneath, "Super, Natural British Columbia" seemed just about right.
The Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought held their first ever major conference this past weekend, entitled "Imagine No Religion". I was invited to speak at the conference and it was a remarkable experience. Bill Ligertwood and his wonderful group of volunteers went out of their way to make the event a great success.
I was honored to meet and spend time with fellow presenters PZ Myers, Brian (Mr. Deity) Dalton, Jen "Boobquake" McCreight, Christopher DiCarlo, Stuart Bechman, and Justin Trottier.
There were some great highlights, but to try to list them here would leave the wrong impression that I didn't learn something important from every one of the presentations. PZ opened and closed the conference with timid presentations on evolution and dead gods. Justin discussed the growth and direction of organized freethought, Jen challenged the movement to consider the benefits of including the wealth of information available from women and minorities, Chris offered tremendous insight into why we think and act the way we do, Stuart discussed the history and roots of modern scientific inquiry and Mr. Deity gave us much needed insight into the mind of Him whose ways are past finding out.
The crowd was, in short, amazing. One guest presented me with a beautiful, hand crafted, silver book marker. Another one gave me a provocative T-shirt from the Saskatoon Freethinkers and near the end of the conference Bill presented all the speakers with a bottle of "Blasted Church, Big Bang" wine from a nearby Okanagan winery. Don't think that didn't take some explaining at airport security.
As the director of the Centre for Inquiry in Calgary, I make much of the importance of creating social systems within our growing community...providing regular opportunities for those in the atheist/freethinker/skeptic community to connect and interact. As West Jet climbed homeward I reflected on how grateful I am to be involved in such a community. The immoral, deviant atheist that my father imagined is as much a figment of fevered mythology as the gods and demons of his blind faith. The people of Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought are as thoughtful, kind, caring and giving a people as you will find, and I am better for having met and interacted with them.