If you were planning to head down-under for the Convention, it’s off.
From the Atheist Foundation of Australia website: “We regret to advise that the 2018 Global Atheist Convention, Reason to Hope, has been cancelled. If you are a ticket holder, you are entitled to a refund (including fees) and we will be in touch with you directly. The Convention Committee secured Victorian government funding, a great program of speakers and the same venue that housed the successful 2010 and 2012 conventions. With those elements, the AFA proceeded with the Convention. However, ticket sales have been substantially below expectations and below the levels for previous conventions, so, unfortunately, the Convention cannot proceed.”
The marketing for the get-together was spot-on: Reason for Hope was a catchy theme, and a play-on-words. With faith in human reason – which, in their view, puts the dependence on deity out of play – hope is founded in logic, not divine intervention into a fallen world. Those might be their private views, but they won’t get a public hearing in Melbourne, come February…
Whether Australia or America, the atmosphere of a culture must have a sufficient dose of hope to sustain order in a world of chaos.
The Barna Group and the American Bible Society conducted a national survey earlier this year. Their finding: Americans overwhelmingly believe their country is in a state of moral decline – due in part to corporate greed, the entertainment industry and a lack of Bible reading – but they still have faith that the U.S. can change its ways. Hope springs eternal…
Americans are more confident that the Bible can bring hope to America (70%) than the president of the United States (30 %).
“The Bible remains a hands-down winner of hope for Americans,” American Bible Society President and CEO Roy Peterson said in a statement. “Those who are opening up the Word of God are discovering it to be a guide to help make sense of life and a source of eternal hope.”
The Program for the convention had Richard Dawkins – noted atheist academician from London – as their headliner, so cancellation wasn’t for the lack of celebrity. Dawkins has the right mindset: “It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge and power couldn’t think of a better way to forgive our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so he could forgive himself.” (from a radio interview, 9 April 2012) He’s the author of the book, The Devil’s Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science and Love.
The source of the quote is not clear, but the wisdom resonates: “Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only a second without hope.” If it’s that critical – and won’t be delivered in Australia in February at the Convention – where can we find hope?
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
Biological life requires air; the composite is about 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. Without it, we die. Eternal life requires a different formula, including faith, peace, grace, love and hope. People gasp for meaning without that profound compound of life-sustaining elements.
For integrity’s sake, if they’re going to put hope in their program, the atheists in Australia ought to schedule the Apostle Paul at their next convention; he can read from his letter to the church in Rome and deliver on the promise.