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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Washington D.C.

In a few days I'll be on my way to Washington (Bethesda, actually) to attend the Center for Inquiry World Congress 2009. Let me know if you'll be there and we can meet up.

Here are the main events ....

Thursday April 9, evening: Panel: The Influence of Darwin

Friday April 10, afternoon: Science and Public Policy

Friday April 10, 5:45pm: James Randi: Search for the Chimera

Saturday April 11, morning: Skepticism and Science

Saturday April 11, 5pm: Special Feature: Separation of Church and State

Sunday April 12, morning: Secularism Around the World


  1. re: "Center for Inquiry"

    The word 'inquiry' touches a nerve and sometimes it seems to me that universities need to impose this more forcibly on their assorted departments, etc., too.

    As a simple example, a local theology Professor recently delivered a piece on solving the problems in Africa. He listed a lot of problems, then—with no evidence of inquiry at all—declared that the solution was Christianity.

    (I emphasise 'example' as I'm not trying to "hit" on his group; I could equally give examples from other groups with vested interests such as those with connections to business or political activities. I choose this particular example as it so overtly avoided honest inquiry as to practically be begging for attention!)

    A brief skim of the university charter suggests it barely touches on inquiry (it certainly doesn't contain the word 'inquiry').

    Maybe this has already been done, but I'm bring this up as it seems to me that one thing that might be useful for such a conference as you are attending, is to push for a universal, concise, over-arching "charter" defining the characteristics of a modern secular university. It might include such things as:

    - all courses must be delivered in the spirit of honest inquiry (and briefly state what constitutes honest inquiry)
    - honest inquiry must include examination of any founding assumptions
    - (re: 'secular') neither individuals nor departments should be, nor seen to be, promoting personal religious agendas or beliefs; if they hold any they should be pursued in their private time
    - if presenting work under the university's name, or a title associated with the university (e.g. Professor of X), the content should follow that expected of the university charter

    etc., etc.

    I bring this up, as (genuine!) inquiry seems to be at the heart of what constitutes a university activity and one what to promote this might be to promote an international overarching charter (or the like) for universities?

    (Please note I'm referring to 'charter' in the sense of "a written constitution or description of an organization's functions", not in the sense of a granting activity!)

    Just a loose Monday tea-break thought!

  2. I'm an Australian University student who'll be attending, speaking on the Sunday. I will intrduce myself! I love your blog!