Just in case you haven’t already come across enough recaps of the Reason Rally, I’m going to succumb shamelessly to the fad and feature a few of them myself, vicariously through several people who were able to attend. While I want to get these out of the way before recaps of Rock Beyond Belief come rolling out, I also greatly admire the various perspectives evident in the Rally.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that, given how often fervent-yet-fatuous religious folk manage to troll nearly every online manifestation of secularism and reason, they have been far fewer than expected within everything regarding the Rally that I’ve come across. Even Tim Minchin’s Pope Song barely got a negative comment, and hell, that’s intended to get negative comments – consider it trolling for folk that can’t fathom sarcastic irony. [If you haven’t heard it before, this is a better audio version where you don’t miss any of the lyrics, but the live version has the bonus of someone interpreting the song in sign language!] I can only surmise that, with the voluminous positive responses to the video and audio from the Rally, typical web-preachers felt like their support base was in small supply anymore and they didn’t feel capable of maintaining their viewpoints in a vacuum. I rather doubt that it was because too much of the content actually made sense, since they never took any notice of that before.
The speakers were great – normally one gets the chance to hear such things every now and then, here and there, but to have such a collection together in one place is fantastic, and I’m glad so many people shared their video, audio, and photos of the event. It’s very easy to find plenty of examples online, so I’m going to feature just a select few, and let you seek out more if you like.
Of all the great, practiced, experienced, and educated speakers in the lineup, my favorite is actually Adam Savage of Mythbusters. Not only a superb speaker, but he put together an informal yet compelling short speech about reason, science, and benefit:
True be told, I do disagree with him completely on one particular point – see if you can guess which one it is.
I’m a big fan of Eddie Izzard, and his performance demonstrated his ‘stream-of-consciousness’ style more than adequately. Lawrence Krauss gave a great talk as well, beating Richard Dawkins as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t yet found a good version of Greta Christina’s talk, but since her topic was the same as her new book, I’ll link to her promo video for that.
While putting this post together, altogether far too much of the video I’ve located has been terrible. So, a little tip: buy a cheap phone, one that works properly as a phone. Then buy a proper camera and/or video recorder. Or don’t, but don’t inflict such godawful shit on anyone else if you’re too “hip” to do it right, and only want to play with toys. If you reeeallllly insist on using your Tricorder, hold the fuck still!
Now, here’s something a little different. The American Atheists Conference was immediately following the Rally, on March 25th and 26th, and it also had some powerful speakers. One in particular I’m going to highlight because, as nice as the video above is, this one is unedited and lacking in any dramatic music, and twice as powerful for it. Teresa Macbain [I believe this is the correct spelling, but there are several variations given from different sources] is one of three former clergy members who spoke at the convention as open atheists – Ms Macbain’s testimonial was her first under her own name. After receiving stunning applause for her admission (that’s what you hear leading into this clip,) she had a little more to say:
For all those who feel offended by atheists and our attitudes towards religion, take note: It’s not you we have issues with, it’s your ridiculous standpoints. Leave behind the arrogance and the ersatz authority, the hatred and bigotry, and everything’s cool. That’s what reason is. No foolin’.