Richard Dawkins is a well known atheist who has written many books, namely The God Delusion. So when he came to Atlanta this past Easter Sunday for a speech and book signing I knew I had to be there. It was the annual American Atheist National Convention that Richard Dawkins blessed us with his presence. His speech was exceptional.

Quote mining became a new topic of discussion this time around. A new term, the quote mining index, indicate how often a quote will be mined out of a larger context. He noted how many times a famous Darwin quote had been used in defense of religion, then went to show that the next part of the quote had been omitted which surely would have rendered the theological context unusable. The Darwin quote pulled a 2 point quote mining index(2000 uses of the first part and only 1000 references to the second part showed up in Yahoo search).

Interestingly enough Dawkins own work has been quote mined tremendously, especially from one of his earliest book, The Selfish Gene, which made a concession to the complexity of life and how it appeared that life was made by some higher intelligence. Which he follows with a full explanation of evolutions ability to create complexity from seemingly random processes and that there is no need for a creator or I.D. Christian apologists are so eager to quote mine Dawkins. By Dawkins own calculation the quote mentioned in passing had a quote mining index of 19.8! That means he has been quote mined overwhelmingly.

What I liked about this new approach to quote mining is that is undeniable. I can go to Google search right now and find out the quote mining index of anything that has been said or written. This shows an obvious bias on a large scale. Quote mining doesn't just happen occasionally, it appears to be happening on a frequent basis. I will also go out on a limb here and say that I think the mining is happening because religious people are so desperate to misquote people for their own selfish interests. They do not hold the truth as high in value, it just a scrap that can be cast aside, they think, and is only used when it is advantageous to their religious ideology.

After the speech Richard was swept off to an unknown location. He was most likely stretching his right hand before the signing began. You should have seen this line! An outsider ignorant of the existence, or denying it altogether, of Richard Dawkins would have thought Britney Spears was on tour in Atlanta(she probably was, but that's beside the point). Atheists support each other, we have a community that values truth and justice. Richard Dawkins is a man of values and of principle. That is why when I stood in front of Richard Dawkins himself to get my book signed I was at that moment proud to be an atheist. To stand in the presence of an intellectual giant such as Mr. Dawkins is an honor. We made eye contact and I told him how awesome he was. Now I have a signed copy of one of favorite books. What an amazing conference I just had.

The entire speech can be found here:

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Comment by Lisa Hamilton on May 23, 2009 at 12:26am
It was my first conference and I was pleasantly surprised at how informal the convention was. I volunteered at the convention, so during Dawkins' talk I was guarding a door at a point where I saw his profile. I enjoyed his presentation very much.

What's really cool is he didn't try to separate himself from the rest of us during most of the convention. I was there all weekend (starting Thursday). He was in the buffet line with everyone. I was so impressed. He didn't insist on special treatment. He was basically across from me on the other side of the table. He was just this regular guy. He was actually rather amusing. To see someone fumble with a serving spoon brings out the humanity, you know? ;-) There were so many people there on Saturday he stayed more secluded. I waited in the long line and it was obvious he was REALLY TIRED by the time I reached the signing table. I had him sign pg 42 of The God Delusion (paperback). On that page is a very profound quote by Douglas Adams that just about sums everything up for me. Something along the lines of "Religion demands such a thick wall of respect. You can't question this or that. Why not? Because you're not!!" That's nowhere near the real quote, but I don't have the book in front of me.

I first met him the first day of the conference (Thursday) when I was standing with someone directing people where to pick up their badges and/or register. He came at a fast clip around the corner a little out of breath and asked if this was the way to the badges. I laughed as he left. Like we wouldn't recognize him! ;-)

I'm going to each and every convention from now on. I had the best time!! I live just outside of Atlanta and commuted in each day rather than rent a room. I slept in my car (or tried)Saturday because I went out with a huge group and got completely shit faced. lol

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