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2nd World Atheist Conference, December 1980
"If we look back through the corridors of time what comes to mind most prominently are wars and cruelties and large scale destruction in the name of religion. The pages of history are blotched with the blood of innocent men and women. Religion has only divided, not so far succeeded in bringing together and binding the human family" said Mr. Lakshmanan, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, while inaugurating the Second World Atheist Conference held at Atheist Centre. Vijayawada on December 25, 1980.
"In our Age of reason, man can no longer abdicate his responsibilities for his actions. When we have established moral, social order in which man accepts his responsibilities to shape his destiny and that of society, will there be optimum development and human progress" he said.
In her welcome address. Mrs. Ch. Vidya, Member of Parliament and Chairman, of the Reception Committee said "Atheism is a positive way of life, atheism strives hard to promote freedom, morality, equality, fraternity and scientific temper."
The Second World Atheist Conference attracted world wide attention and 1200 delegates from India and abroad participated. The foreign delegates include participants from USA, England, Holland, Denmark, Finland West Germany and Sri Lanka.
Prof. H. Narasimhaiah, Former Vice-Chancellor of Bangalore University who had headed the University Commission to investigate the claims of so-called miracle men, highlighted the necessity to develop rational and scientific outlook among people through education. He said that it may be easy to bring economic change and it is much more difficult to bring social change as it involves attitudinal change. Prof. Narasimhaiah paid rich tribute to Gora for his pioneering role in propagation of Atheism and castelessness.
Dr. Kulandaivelu, Member of Parliament, inaugurated the International Exhibition of Atheist literature, which displayed books and periodicals from 40 countries in 27 languages. Prof. Harry Stopes-Roe, President of the British Humanist Association, released the Souvenir of the conference.
Mrs. Saraswathi Gora, Co-founder of Atheist Centre said that Atheism is not a mere philosophical discussion but it is a positive way of life aimed at solving people’s problems in all spheres of life social, economic and political-leading to all round development of the personality of individuals. She said that mere political equality unaccompanied by social and economic equality-will not yield necessary results. She said that future belongs to Atheism and atheists should proceed further with grim determination to solve problems.
Mr. Lavanam, Chief Convenor, presented Atheism in the global perspective as a philosophy and a life style for the post-religious society and said that in atheism, knowledge and social structure are human-centered. Distinguished people from different countries of the world addressed the conference. Mr. Erikki Haritikainen, General Secretary of the Free Thinkers Association Finland, highlighted the growth of Atheist and Free Thought Movements in Finland and the Scandanavian countries. Mr. Y. Balarama Murthy, explained the significance of ancient Indian Atheism and the role of Charvakas and Lokayatas. Mr. John Edwards, Atheist leader from California, gave a detailed description of the Atheist movement in the United States and said that in the west many people are getting benefit from science, without developing the scientific attitude towards life. Mr. Casper Vogel, Director of the Dutch Humanist, T.V. and Radio Service, described the development of the Humanist movement in Holland and revealed how religion which was a strong force in Holland a century ago lost its bearings now.
Prof. Harry Stopes-Roe, analysed the role of secular humanist and atheist movements in England. He gave a detailed account of the contribution of national secular society, Humanist Association, Rationalist Press Association and the South Place Ethical Society. Dr. Vijayam of Atheist Centre dealt with Atheism in Soviet Union and East European countries. In the concluding session of the five-day conference Mr. Lavanam presented the Appeal on behalf of the conference, cautioning about the dangers of the revivalist trends and calling upon all the non-religious sources to fight it unitedly.
All India Radio broadcasted a special programme for half-an-hour on the inaugural function and also broadcast a resume of the proceedings, of the conference everyday for 15 minutes. The conference was covered extensively in the press. The Second World Atheist Conference was a landmark in the onward march of Atheism.