On Monday morning, April 4th, a small group of 30 people sat down to Breakfast with Dr. Richard Dawkins. The event was a fundraiser for Beltway Atheist Inc., arranged because of our affiliation with American Atheists, and the close cooperative realtionship between American Atheists and the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
The Breakfast was held at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington, Virginia. Despite taking place at 9:00AM on a Monday morning, all available seats were taken. There was no one present who had not read The God Delusion.
Rather than make a prepared speech, Dr. Dawkins headed an open discussion. Tables were set up conference-style, so everyone had an opportunity to engage directly in the discussion with Dr. Dawkins.
Discussion touched lightly on Evolution – since there was no dissent in the room – and focused more on Science education, the way it is currently failing in the US, and possible approaches to begin to reverse the downward trend. No one can dispute that Science education has been under attack in the US and has sustained damage under the assault from the radical christianism of the right. It will take a focused and sustained effort from the Community of Reason to repair the damage.
One of the most practical and realistic suggestions made by Dr. Dawkins was, in confronting school systems that are permitting the science of evolution to be silenced and supplanted the science with stealth creationism, to keep the science separate from Atheism. In other words, don’t make the debate about atheism or that is all it will be about. Make it about Science and stay on point.
Additionally, monitor your kids’ schools, find out what is going on in science classes and find ways to document religious intrusions.
Also present was Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, who spoke about the growth and outreach of a revitalized American Atheists Organization, recoverning from a decade of decline to take an aggressive new lead in the advancement of atheism, and in defending the Constitutional separation of religion and government.
Present at the Breakfast were people who drove in from Baltimore and Richmond, and one guy who flew in from Chicago for the event. There were at least 3 teachers, one EMT, the local head of CFI, and one high school student cutting class. There were student leaders from American University, VCU, and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. It as a diverse cross section of the Atheist community who took advantage of a very rare opportunity.
This was a very unique opportunity to meet and talk directly with one of the most recognizable and accomplished people in the Atheist community – someone whose book is probably visible from where you are sitting.
With the generous donation of time and resources by The Richard Dawkins Foundation and American Atheists, Beltway Atheist raised $5000 which will be applied towards the goals in our mission statement: the advancement and acceptance of atheism, the advancement of science and science education, and the defense of separation of church anxd state.