An unbeliever’s utopia, a heathen’s heaven, a pagan’s paradise

John Allen Paulos at ABC News:

BigjapLast year’s wildly popular Beyond Belief 1.0 scientific conference primarily focused upon and championed irreligion. The Beyond Belief 2.0 conference held at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., this past November was wider in scope. Rather than aiming to be another undiluted atheist lovefest, it attempted to consider changes in the ideas of the Enlightenment that are necessary given advances in various disciplines since the 18th century.

At least that was the stated aim, but any gathering that included the diverse luminaries in attendance would be guaranteed to roam all over the intellectual landscape. Despite the roaming and the diversity, however, the conference remained — pardon the adolescent alliteration — an unbeliever’s utopia, a heathen’s heaven, a pagan’s paradise.

The complete video of the conference proceedings is available online HERE, and I urge readers to view it and related material for themselves. The video’s marquee names include philosophers Daniel Dennett, David Albert and Patricia Churchland, physical scientists Stuart Kauffman, Sean Carroll and Harold Kroto, biologists and cognitive scientists V.S. Ramachandran, David Sloan Wilson, Lee Silver and host Roger Bingham, writers Rebecca Goldstein, David Brin and Robert Winter, various stars, such as Sam Harris, P.Z. Myers and Michael Shermer, and a host of others.

More here.  And read an excerpt from Paulos’s new book Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up here. Reviews of the book are here.  I have read the book and recommend it very highly. Buy it here.