Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Secular Society and It's Enemies

So last night and today I attended the Center for Inquiry's conference about the Secular Society and It's Enemies. The third part is tomorrow, but I think I'm going to have to pass that part up because I have a ton of homework left. However, most of the talks that I was looking forward to were last night and today anyway.

Last night, before the awards presentation and talks, there was a cocktail reception. It was cool seeing the people that I have read and watched for so long. It was especially exciting to see Richard Dawkins there, since he has been one of my intellectual heroes since my junior year in high school. Unfortunately, there were always people around him, and I'm extremely shy, so I didn't end up getting to talk to him there.

Afterwards, we all went into the auditorium, where Ann Druyan and Neil De Grasse Tyson gave a birthday tribute to Carl Sagan. It was very touching...Tyson told us an anecdote about Sagan's kindness to him when he was considering Cornell. Ann Druyan talked about Sagan's devotion to spreading the wonder of science and played us a very touching clip from Cosmos.

Then we heard from Matthew LaClair, who recieved an award for his efforts in upholding church and state separation in his high school in Kearny, NJ (which is only about 40 minutes away from me!). He was an excellent speaker, especially given that he is 17 or 18, and he really seemed to grasp the issues at hand.

After the awards presentation, Edward Tabash talked about "The Threat of the Religious Right to our Modern Freedoms." The title of the presentation was quite to the point, and it is exactly what he talked about. He stressed the importance of this election, because the next president will most likely be able to choose the justice that will replace John Paul Stevens. And if Rudy Giuliani is elected, this could be a disaster, especially given that he has attained the support of Pat Robertson by promising to appoint justices that are sympathetic to the religious right.

Today, there was a series of panels and speakers, but I think that at 12:40 am I will not be able to do them justice, so I will have to continue after getting some sleep.

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