Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back home again

We are back home once again. We left on a short trip to Springfield, MO on Friday morning, early. We had the alarm clock set for 5:30 am. It was still dark when the alarm went off. We got up and loaded up the car and drove over to Victor Ave. in Tulsa. There we picked up fellow freethinker and piano duet partner Gail and headed for Skepticon II in Springfield.

We stopped first just across the state line in Missouri at the tourist info center. I had brought my GPS receiver with me, and the three of us went looking for a cache. We found the cache right away. It was inside an army ammo box about fifty feet into the woods at the back of the travel center. We also looked for another cache, but we did not know exactly what we were looking for. It turned out to be a benchmark, but we did not know that until later. Had we known what we were lookikng for, we might have found it. Instead we gave up looking for it.

We arrived in Springfield about 11:00 am. The events were held on the campus of Missouri State University. Several well-known skeptics were at the conference, including D.J. Grothe, Victor Stenger, Robert Price, Joe Nickell, Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, P. Z. Myers, and Rebecca Watson. We registered for the conference and ate lunch in the student dining area in the student union.

The conference began with a student debate followed by a debate between some of the speakers and some local people representing the theist point of view. The topic was "Does God Exist?" The debate was carried on at a high level of respectable discourse. At the 4:30 break, we went over to the Arbor near where my parents live. We three checked into the motel for the following two nights. We went by my parents' apartment where Gail and I played "Birch Tree Rag" and "Irish Air" for my parents.

When we got back to the campus, we heard J T. Eberhard speak on "Why do we criticize religion?" There was a 10-minute break and then we heard P.Z. Myers talk. Myers is the 2009 recipient of the Humanist of the Year award.

While most attendees went out to the Fox and Hound pub following the Myers talk, the three of us went to the Red Lobster for our evening meal. I had the broiled fish platter.

The next day, Saturday, we went back to campus and heard D. J. Grothe introduce the speakers for the day. The first was Victor Stenger, who spoke on "The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason." Next was Robert Price, a member of the Jesus Seminar, whose topic was "The Gospels and Thorough-going Skepticism."

Following lunch, we heard Joe Nickell speak on "Investigating the Paranormal." After this we heard Dan Barker talk on "A Book of (Bad) Numbers."

Next we went to Springfield Music where Gail and I looked through the piano duet music available in the store. Gail bought $32 worth of duet music. That will give us a lot to keep us occupied for the near future. We ate our dinner at Logan's Road House.

Back on campus, Richard Carrier was speaking on the topic "Where the Hell is Jesus: Weird Stuff from the Gospels to the Apostles," in which he talked about a number of contradictions and absurdities found in the Bible. P. Z. Myers spoke again, followed by Rebecca Watson. I think it was around 11:30 by the time we returned to the motel.

Some of the talks may be available for viewing on YouTube. There were probably 200 people attending the conference, which was held in two buildings: Plaster Student Union, and Carrington Hall.

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