Are Children Running the International Anti-Theist Convention?

Given that the International Anti-Theist Convention will feature such Intellectual Giants as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Law, I had to look more closely into it.  In other words, I read their web page.  But in doing so, I immediately discovered a huge disconnect.  If Dawkins and Krauss are so smart, why are they attending a conference that appears to be run by children?

Check out this web page announcing the bountiful supply of awards that will be handed out.  Now I ask you – doesn’t this page read like something a 14-year old would write?  And no, I am not talking about the cheesy web design. Focus on the text. We start with this:

You’ve heard of the Oscars, Emmys and Baftas?

Okay, so immediately we begin by comparing atheist intellectuals to….movie and TV stars.  Something a child would do!

The childish writer then introduces his own award:

This is the Attys! (the Anti-Theism International Awards)

The Attys?  I’m not sure how ATIA becomes Atty, but then, a child’s imagination can be quite creative.

What are the Attys?

The Atty Awards are probably the most prestigious Awards in the Atheist Community

Really?  Says who?  As far as I can tell, the organizers of this conference decided to invent these awards to get some attention, but as of December 2019, not one person has ever won such an award.  So how can an award that has never yet to have been given earned the reputation of being “most prestigious?”  Obviously, this is an example of a child’s tendency to exaggerate.  The writer probably originally wrote “The Atty awards are the most super-duper awards in the Atheist Community,” but his mom suggested a better word – prestigious.  Of course, if an adult wrote that, they would be lying.

and winning a Atty Award will not only get you recognition within the Atheist Community, it will give you a chance to enjoy giving worldwide speaking engagements as well as Keynote presentations at many events around the world.

There is no evidence any of these awards are going to make someone famous worldwide, enough to nail down Keynote presentations across the globe.  Thus, this is either more childish exaggeration or adult lies.

Another line of evidence that indicates children put this together is the sheer number of typos, errors, and awkward sentences that saturate the page.  Let’s look:

The Awards will be presented by some of the most famous atheist on the planet and

Can’t wait to see all the famous atheist presenting all those awards.

the winners will be invited to the VIP area of the after awards ceremony for photo opportunites and press talks.

A spell checker would have helped.

Atheist of the Year 2020

The recipient of this award will have shown him/herself, within the last year, to have been an outstanding member of the atheist community having contributed to making the atheist way of life come to be perceived as normal.

That sentence hurt my eyes.

Best Atheist Author 2020 for Children

The young always been a target audience for proselytizers, but now we have atheist writers addressing this market.

Young always been target.  Says Hulk.

If you think you, or someone you know, qualifies for the Award of Atheist Author 2020 please complete the form below.

Nice.  You win the Award of Atheist Author 2020 for being the Best Atheist Author 2020 for Children.

Jesus Mythicist of the year

LOL.  This one needs its own posting!

Atheist Podcaster of the year

We live in a new era of internet technology: social media makes it possible to disseminate ideas like a contagious disease.

This one made me LOL.  Disseminating atheist ideas like a contagious disease.  Not sure I’ll dispute that one.

If you think you, or someone you know, qualifies for the Award of Atheist Impact of the Decade please complete the form below.

Oh my. You win the Award of Atheist Impact of the Decade for being the Atheist Podcaster of the year whose ideas are like a contagious disease.

Public Atheist Award

The Public Atheist award will be awarded to the person or organization who are doing the most to raise public awareness about the dangers of Religion.

You get a public atheist award for bashing religion.

From fighting school systems to teaching Religion in classes. From Promoting the ideas of humanism as apposed to Religion, this award if dedicated to that person or organization which is doing their best to ensure humankind is placed before dogma.

I’m so glad I am not a teacher grading this.  My red pen would have exploded all over my face.

Young Atheist of the year 2020

This is the century of the Young. Social media can make stars of teenagers overnight – the climate change movement has Greta Thunberg and then there’s Malala Yousafzi…

We are looking to recognize the best young atheist of 2020.

If you think you, or someone you know, qualifies for the Award of Best Atheist Video Maker please complete the form below.

So the Young Atheist of year 2020 gets the Award of Best Atheist Video Maker.

Hitchens Trophy for Atheist Eloquence

His rumbling bass voice speaking, ex tempore, prose fit for an editorial in a broadsheet, including words that are not in the common vocabulary and quotes from the wise and the ancient, Hitch was mesmerizing to all who had the good fortune to hear him perform.

I don’t think this sentence would exactly qualify as an example of eloquence.

What a mess.  As I said, this page looks like it was written by a 14-year old.  And to think that people like Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, and others are taking this seriously and trying to get behind it.  I think it speaks to the level of desperation for these old New Atheists leaders. Krauss has fallen into obscurity and Dawkins is no longer taken seriously by the media (and has lost his talent for writing a best-selling book).  As such, they crave the limelight and applause.  So anything will do!

Okay, so how many awards will Dawkins win?  Y’think he is nominating himself?

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29 Responses to Are Children Running the International Anti-Theist Convention?

  1. RobertM says:

    This sounds like an event to rival the First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence!

  2. Dhay says:

    The ATI Convention is the gift that keeps giving, and no matter how much bullshit and bollocks one finds there’s always something more. This time around I spot at the Awards page top:

    … a sumptuous meal and an entertaining ceremony of awards to recognize noble atheists and ignoble theists!

    https://www.atheist-convention.com/gala-awards-banquet/

    What?! Awards to recognize ignoble theists? Would someone please rush to nominate me for Award # … uh, oh, there isn’t one.

    Did these guys read what they wrote? (No self-respecting website designer would leave in the many obvious blunders.)

    *

    Hiding in there is “noble atheists”: it cannot be “noble” as contrasted with common”, because there’s no aristocracy or titled persons among the speakers, not even a mere knighthood; and if Prince Charles or the Duchess or SomewhereOrOther are atheists deserving an Award they’re keeping very quiet about it; so it’s “noble” as in “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles.” Not Lawrence Krauss, then, nor Richard “Dear Muslima/Green-eyed monster” Dawkins either — so just who are these paragons of virtue?

    And, as with the “ignoble” Award, which Award (or Awards) is it? Is it those who “disseminate ideas like a contagious disease” who are somehow “noble”?

    From (and to — have the attendees no commonsense?) people celebrating Science and Reason, Evidence and Logic, this incoherent nonsense reveals their lack of the qualities atheists commonly like to badge themselves with.

    John Richards’ mantra, “I’m a retired Science teacher who can’t stop teaching Science”, hides a pretender: he can’t do reason and logic; he cannot even do that basic English Language task of stringing words together to make sense. Some teacher!

    *

    I wonder who’s bankrolling the obviously expensive Convention, who’s providing the up-front money without which nothing gets started? Lance Gregorchuk? Lawrence Krauss? Richard Dawkins? (It’s not Richards, a retired schoolteacher, unless his house is on the line!)

    A reputable company like Amazon banks your payment when they dispatch the goods, but this stumbing and bumbling organisation stinks of “cowboy outfit” — so are they reputable? Judging by recent exchanges with other atheists I rather doubt either organiser is noble. In any sense.

    Are the organisers already banking the entry fees, and is another Pangburn-like fiasco/swindle in the offing? We will see.

  3. nsr says:

    “the evening will end with the auction of a specially commissioned portrait painting of Christopher Hitchens.”

    Sign me up!

    Seriously though…Hitchens wasn’t even a good thinker. He was a master of rhetoric and nothing else. When that didn’t work, or when the crowd wasn’t on his side, he had nothing else to offer.

  4. Dhay says:

    I can’t rid myself of the idea that the Convention is not designed so that the speakers can educate the attendees and provide a credible opportunity for what in the professions would be called Continuous Professional Development, nor even designed as an opportunity for the apparently more important ‘Atty’ Awards; I’d hazard it’s to promote the organisers.

    And with half an eye on what FaceBook and other Big Media companies have been doing, I wonder if it’s also a data-harvesting exercise to collect the contact details of (especially rich) suckers willing to fork out £700 (if eager and early) or £1,000 if avid but slow for the VIP ticket. It’s illegal under the UK’s Data Protection to use information except for the purpose it was given for, but I don’t think I’d trust these cowboys.

    *

    Oh no, I can’t stop seeing blunders now:

    5. Atheist Podcaster of the year
    … . …

    If you think you, or someone you know, qualifies for the Award of Atheist Impact of the Decade please complete the form below.

    Evidently the organisers cannot keep an idea in their heads for more than three consecutive sentences. Short ones, too.

    *

    As you pay: “Atheist Convnetion does not collect or display VAT.”

    *

    On the ‘Program’ tab (but blunderingly not listed on the Speakers’ tab!), listed under ‘Young Turks Morning’, there’s:

    9:30 Roy Becker: No Free Will is Bad News for Faiths

    Roy is a gifted mature student who has come from The Netherlands to speak about the current issue of whether Free Will is real or an illusion and the implications to believers.
    Fans of Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett will be familiar with this debate.

    Evidently fans of Harris and Dennett will learn nothing new, it’ll be a revision of their strong disagreement on the issue. But it got me thinking: No Free Will is not bad news for the Buddhist faith, it’s an integral part of that faith; that’s why Harris, a Buddhist, proselytises it.

    *

    The “Convention” is also the “Conference. Stephen Law’s “Believing Bullshit” is also “Believing Bullshine” (polished bullshit). But I must stop pointing out these blunders, the website is awful enough that anyone can easily see for themselves.

  5. Dhay says:

    Oops, sorry, Michael picked up on that Atheist Podcaster of the year/Atheist Impact of the Decade blunder already.

  6. Isaac says:

    Now read it again and imagine if this were a Christian conference. Just swap out “atheist” and “Christian/theist.” (“Christian of the year!” “Anti-atheist Convention!”)

    Not only would Christianity look like nothing I’d want to be a part of, but I’d have to conclude that religious people were the most petty and unjustifiably narcissistic people on the planet.

    Whoever is putting on this event should have tried this exercise. “If theists were saying and doing these things, would I make fun of them?” I know humility isn’t a virtue to these guys, but I’m sure they think self-awareness is a good thing, right?

  7. Kevin says:

    I know humility isn’t a virtue to these guys, but I’m sure they think self-awareness is a good thing, right?

    When you’re already convinced that being an atheist and hating religion makes you a Person of Reason who bases your beliefs on Evidence and Critical Thinking, you not only see no need for self-reflection (you’re already correct, after all), but you most likely lack the capacity to do so anyway.

  8. Michael says:

    But I must stop pointing out these blunders, the website is awful enough that anyone can easily see for themselves.

    I’m not one to make an issue out of a typo here and there. But that page is saturated with blunders (of various types). It’s clear that someone threw it together and didn’t even bother to proofread it. What’s worse is that it has been up for several weeks now and apparently no atheist has emailed them to make them aware of all the errors. Can we say “minimal effort.” It’s odd that an unprofessional page, with so many errors, uncorrected for so many weeks, is associated with Dawkins, Krauss, Law, etc.

    Then again, Dawkins started his atheist activist routine by slumming around with the Rational Reponse Squad.

  9. Dhay says:

    Their website is changing, as it must. John Richards is now the ATI Founder, Lance Gregorchuk now omitted. Hemant Mehta’s slating of the ATI Convention and its organisers included:

    I should add that I asked several of the scheduled speakers for comment about their involvement in this conference. Two of them, Aron Ra and Maryam Namazie, told me they will be pulling out of the event. Their names should be removed from the website shortly.

    https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/12/03/anti-theism-conference-organizer-defends-sexual-misconduct-in-bizarre-rant-2/

    They haven’t been removed, not yet; they are still there on the Convention tab’s Speakers list, still there in the Program. But heading the Convention page is:

    Stop Press!
    Two new celebrity speakers are being lined up. Watch this space!
    Attendees are informed we have adopted a ‘no touching’ policy.

    Yep, they’ve already told Richards they’re not speaking, but Richards still has their names up there nonetheless, deceptively, as a celebrity draw.

    “Are being lined up” means what it says: he’s not got anybody to replace them yet.

    It’s “celebrity speakers”. Note the cult of celebrity, echoing Richards’ seeking celebrity judges for his ‘Atty’ Awards. (It’s in his Comments reply to Mehta)

    I commented in an earlier thread on Hemant Mehta’s reaction to the revelation that a celebrity, Brad Pitt, might never have been an atheist after all; there seems to be a cult of celebrity among a sufficiently large portion of atheists that Mehta, who knows his audience, reacted immediately and strongly, and he knew just where to find his ‘he said he was an atheist’ (er, no, he didn’t — Dhay) quotes:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/activists-modern-day-propagandists/#comment-33455

    “Attendees are informed we have adopted a ‘no touching’ policy.” Ah, an almost-frank admission there wasn’t a good-enough behavioural standards policy. Indeed, I realise there never was and still isn’t any behavioural standards policy; other Conventions have a clear and comprehensive policy on their websites, and you sign up to it as you buy your ticket, it’s part of conditions of purchase: there’s no such policy on the ATI Convention website, even now after the misogynist shit has hit the Worley/Myers/Zvan/Mehta fan — if you think there is one, go find it.

    Mehta finished (before his UPDATE, that is):

    So far, I have not heard back from Dawkins or several of the other speakers.

    There’s no second UPDATE from Mehta yet, so he and we are still waiting. I’m sure we are all ears. My bet is that Richard Dawkins will attend, to boost his ego and his book sales.

  10. Dhay says:

    So what’s the ATI about? It’s on the Convention tab:

    Our Mission
    Anti-Theism International seeks to combat the toxic influence of religions on government, education systems and society at large, and to normalize non-belief.

    Oh, I omitted the irrelevant “[Blah blah blah] Christopher Hitchens [died].” Someone’s really stuck in the past!

    So what’s wrong with theism, the evil that Anti-Theism International seeks to combat? It goes on to tell us – my numbering:
    1) 229 million people are subjected to theocratic rule under threat of cruel punishments.
    That’s Islam, surely.

    2) 30% of infant males are needlessly circumcised without their permission.
    Islam and Judaism, surely. Plus I gather it’s common in some African countries (and the US?) as a cultural practice, and that there are some health benefits. (Note there’s nothing about the rather more abhorrent practice of female circumcision — do these guys care nothing for women?)

    3) 10% of homosexuals are physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation.
    “Are”? (“Have been”, perhaps? But where? Over what period? Bet this is a male-only figure which continues ATI’s misogyny by not including lesbians.)

    4) No, really, that’s it.

  11. Dhay says:

    I found the Convention promo video PZ Myers referred to, the one featuring Richard Carrier; it’s on Anti-Theist International’s FaceBook page at 2 November 2019, “THE ATTY AWARDS BANQUET”:

    “Who is the next?” [Picture of Christopher Hitchens]
    “Dawkins?” [His picture]
    “Krauss?” [His picture]
    “Carrier?” [His picture]

    http://www.facebook.com/internationalatheist/videos/2601634556581162/?__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARDnRMmKN8Yuw6JAByU4fyAjusxjkPbNtVLB6KRqWJPyA4_9A1kH0lgihDdp216erY0Jl7_wy3Ll55rWWdbeoL1ys76LZfUMqR_ZnhatVVeJ_Y1XDe_36zf3qWBqvmu6iLbT8Qtpjsq1kbNVDV_wbKmvpIfoVjdLfJ7qdV2z3m2zCthl1Wh3B1KxxzsUuSbvdIoqKNo3PYMR1If5U24LqbqCz0yJiBY5pWSqi7vJvpdjqFjMNqPQHHiXjHEGGzm3DPnPvVZXA6uDqNcP3MnBu8wCLTjExH5P8rjkGgLPP4bKhLBVC5WLLPd3rkPMOMigknopbH8c39GSpNzRNCq5XajMF80iw0ffP5GU56nSCKdm&__tn__=-R

    And previously, on 22 October 2019, ATI updated their cover photo to include Carrier in their photos of speakers:

    http://www.facebook.com/internationalatheist/photos/a.114007700018944/114007646685616/?type=3&theater

    If Carrier was the only non-speaker out of the six pictured I really don’t know why he would have been included; so he was at that time a speaker.

    Then he lost his renewed court cases against PZ Myers and others, “with prejudice”. I wonder whether there is a connection between his losing the cases and his dropping out/being dropped as a speaker.

    *

    Hmmm, “Who is the next?” The question is incoherent — the next what, or the next who?

    Is it, “Who is the next Hitchins?” If so, I really don’t think Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss or Carrier would be a good fit for whatever the Hitchins role might reasonably be conceived to entail.

    Or is it, “Who’s the next to die?”

  12. unclesporkums says:

    Yeah, he DEFINATELY wouldn’t have abided by the “no touching” rule. These idiots never learn. Until they’re shamed into it.

  13. Kevin says:

    To be fair, from the brief research I just did, conferences and conventions of any type – ranging from atheist to Comic-Con to TED to Christian conferences – have trouble with sexual harassment. I did not see any information as to frequency based on the nature of the event, but it could be that mass gatherings of like-minded strangers may be good hunting grounds for predators.

    For it to be such a problem at atheist events, with people who consider themselves super rational and enlightened, does certainly show that disbelief in God does not make the world a better place.

  14. Dhay says:

    Part of John Richards’ ‘featured’ (ie pinned at the top of the Comments) reply to Hemant Mehta was:

    Secondly, I have school age daughters and I do not want them to be sexually, physically or mentally abused, or in any way treated badly. NeIther do I want them to think they can get away with making false accusations in future.

    Funny! Richards’ mantra is, “I’m a retired Science teacher who can’t stop teaching Science.” Every school teacher and, indeed, everyone who works with children in the UK, will have had to undergo initial, then regular refresher courses on child protection. Richards is retired, but the Children Act goes back to 1989 so he’ll have trained and refreshed many times, it should be second-nature to a teacher.

    Part of such a course — I’ve just done my latest refresher — is reinforcement that children rarely make false allegations about sexual, physical or “mental” ** abuse. Where’s this guy at!

    ( ** It’s correctly called “emotional abuse”, that’s the standard terminology every child protection profession will know and use, and which every teacher should be familiar with and using — why isn’t Richards?)

  15. Dhay says:

    I notice that the Privacy Policy covering nominations for ‘Atty’ Awards is 725 word long and has been there from the start. The people protection policy is a newly added 10 words, “Attendees are informed we have adopted a ‘no touching’ policy.”

    And it’s nonsensical: on the face of it, it bans shaking hands, hugging your life-partner and much else.

    Kids! They just don’t think, do they.

  16. Dhay says:

    Updated Convention tab header: “Draft comprehensive safeguarding policy posted.”

    Yep, there’s a tab for that, now. Let’s see how comprehensive it is:

    * No knives or other sharp implements to be brought into the venues
    * Bags will be searched by security guards
    * All physical interaction between individuals to be entirely by previously arranged consent, either verbally or in writing
    * All attendees are responsible for their own and each others’ safety
    * These rules apply to all participants at the convention

    https://www.atheist-convention.com/safeguarding-policy/

    Ye gods! Are they expecting London’s youth gang members to attend? Who would have expected them to be able to afford those prices. If atheists carrying knives and weapons have to be warned not to, what does that say about atheists — or about what John Richards expects atheist attendees to be like.

    Is it just me, or is this fifty-six word “comprehensive” safeguarding policy not comprehensive.

    I expect any 14-year old could do as well or better.

  17. stcordova says:

    “I swear to golly it’s the best atheist conference ever. I cross my heart and hope to die.”

  18. Dhay says:

    The title of this thread is, “Are Children Running the International Anti-Theist Convention?”

    In a later thread I have commented that John Richards seems to be pitching his videos on Facebook at a level, that’s suitable for children — children! — who just a year or two out of Nursery (or Kindergarten.)

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/12/19/jesus-mythicist-of-2020-and-the-winner-is/#comment-35040

    His 31 January 2020 latest Facebook video (announcing “Early Bird ticket prices finish in a few hours”) is even more childish: he appears onscreen holding a cuddly stuffed raven toy, he tells viewers that the raven toy is called “Raven”, that it’s “Anti-Theism International’s Early Bird”, and that in about eleven hours, at midnight UK time, “Raven… gets it” [Strangles the toy with both hands, whacks its head on the table.]

    Now you know what atheistic ‘Science and Reason’ look like when embodied by a retired science teacher.

  19. unclesporkums says:

    Great. It’s already at self-parody level. Something tells me that deep down, Richards has deep bouts of psychotic hostility.

  20. nsr says:

    That’s Richards? From the lack of organisation and competence described so far I was expecting him to be an angry young man. Surely a man of that age should have grown out of anti-theist activism by now. Unless of course it’s all a cunning plan to make money and/or introduce himself to nubile female atheists.

  21. unclesporkums says:

    Or he’s just a bitter old man.

  22. TFBW says:

    Surely a man of that age should have grown out of anti-theist activism by now.

    How many anti-theist activists do you know of that have grown out of it? Or shown any signs of maturing with age in general, for that matter?

  23. Featherfoot says:

    @TFBW: I don’t have any hard data to share, but I’ve seen a number of people who were anti-theist in their younger days. They don’t seem to grow out of atheism, but they stop seeing religion as some sort of all-pervasive evil. For instance: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/10/30/new-atheism-the-godlessness-that-failed/ In fact, that seems to be what happened to most New Atheists from ten years ago. There are reasons why most New Atheist followers seems to be perpetually young men.

  24. TFBW says:

    @Featherfoot: fair enough, but how about New Atheist leaders, rather than followers? I’ve not noticed any change worth mentioning. Have you?

    For what it’s worth, my theory about what happened to most rank-and-file New Atheists from ten years ago is that there was a massive ideological split. The last time they were unified was the 2012 Reason Rally. By the time the 2016 Reason Rally came around, the SJWs were the dominant faction, and so anyone who wasn’t part of the “atheism plus” crowd felt that the movement had been co-opted for political ends they didn’t share. It’s not that the disenfranchised atheists were any less anti-theist than they used to be, but rather that the movement had become a vehicle for a weird brand of left-wing politics with an emphasis on deconstructing gender and sexuality more than anything else. Thus it was represented by pseudo-scientists like Bill Nye and presentations about how gender is a spectrum.

    As such, the bulk of New Atheists still making a big noise today belong to the narrower group of Atheism+ folks, and harp on about Trump, misogyny, tolerance, bigotry, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. rather than God. They’re also pro-Islam, or at least include “Islamophobia” in their list of deadly sins, so anti-theism in general is somewhat less tenable than it used to be.

    This ideological split is also why we haven’t seen a successful atheist conference in years. The Woke Left will actively disrupt any conference which features speakers who don’t pass their ideological purity test, and everyone who isn’t part of the Woke Left gets disheartened by this interference and loses interest in the conference. It’s a great recipe for failure.

  25. pennywit says:

    For what it’s worth, my theory about what happened to most rank-and-file New Atheists from ten years ago is that there was a massive ideological split. The last time they were unified was the 2012 Reason Rally. By the time the 2016 Reason Rally came around, the SJWs were the dominant faction, and so anyone who wasn’t part of the “atheism plus” crowd felt that the movement had been co-opted for political ends they didn’t share.

    There’s probably something to this theory. Once you get beyond the issue of religious freedom and discrimination against the faithless, there’s really nothing to keep atheists politically unified. Not to mention that there is a wide gulf between atheists and Atheists.

  26. pennywit says:

    How many anti-theist activists do you know of that have grown out of it? Or shown any signs of maturing with age in general, for that matter?

    Haven’t seen a lot of highly visible activists grow out of it. But I’ve seen a lot of folks realize that their atheism is just one aspect of their existence, most people don’t want to hear about atheism 24/7, and concentrate on the rest of their lives.

  27. Dhay says:

    I think of John Richards as a boring old fart, set in his ways and looking forward longingly, keen to revive the past, from the good old days when Christopher Hitchens was alive.

  28. Dhay says:

    I see John Richards has a Patreon account. There’s five levels of membership, from “Follower” at £1 per month (no benefits) through to “Benefactor” at £38.50 per month (unspecified “VIP” benefits); at intermediate levels benefits increase through access to restricted content (namely 17 images, 10 articles, and 3 videos), a free copy of Richards’ next book (when he gets round to writing it), “Guest appearance of Elliot for expenses only” [Elliot???], and “Your name in the credits of my videos” as the main inducements to tempt an anti-theist up the membership ladder. I’d call those benefits very un-tempting, personally.

    It’s an opinion others seem to share: Richards has a mere two patrons.

    If that figure’s reliable, that is — obviously the figure increments for each new patron, but does it then decrement when a patron drops out?

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