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Home / Conferences & Seminars / 4th World Atheist Conference

4th World Atheist Conference, January 1996

Mr Levi Fragell addressing the
Fourth World Atheist Conference
4th World Atheist Conference , was held at Atheist Centre, Vijayawada on January 4-6, 1996. "Humanity gains from unbelief. Mixing of religion and politics is detrimental to human progress. 21st Century symbolizes the march towards a post-religious society. Atheism is a positive way of life." These were the views echoed at the Fourth World Atheist Conference held at Atheist Centre, Vijayawada, on January 4-6, 1996 in which hundreds of people from India and abroad participated. They include 78 eminent people representing atheist, humanist, rationalist, freethinker, secularist, skeptic organizations in USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, Bangladesh and Australia joined in the deliberations.

"Positive Atheism for a Positive Future" was the theme of the conference. Rich tributes were paid to Gora. Mr Abu Abraham, noted cartoonist and former MP, inaugurated the three-day Conference. He highlighted the necessity to strengthen the secular ramparts we guard. He cautioned against mixing of politics and religion and warned against the growing trend of religious fundamentalism. ‘The difference between theism and atheism is the difference between faith and truth."

Sir Hermann Bondi, a renowned astro-physicist, President of the British Humanist Association on his Presidential address, highlighted the significance of Positive atheism and its positive message. Positive atheism liberates, strengthens and unifies people all walks of life. He called for a united fight against the arrogance of religions of the world which say that their scriptures were the last word. He said that atheists were not one more sect or religion but a unifying force. According to him atheists were a minority but their strength was power of reason and persuasion. The guiding principles for atheists were equality, cooperation, positive attitude and democracy.

L to R: Ch. Vidya Ex-MP, Mr. Abu Abraham and
Sir Hermann Bondi
Dr Vijayam extended welcome of Atheist Centre;. Mr Veeramani, one of the convenors of the Conference, and General Secretary of the Dravidar Kazhagam, delivered the welcome address highlighting the significance of this International Atheist Conference. Some of the distinguished delegates from India and abroad extended their fraternal greetings in the inaugural function. They included Ms Jane Wyne Wilson, Co-chair person of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Ms Marie Castle, leader of the American Atheist Alliance, Ms Lee Baker, President, Atheist Alliance, Mr Norman Taylor, Representative, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Mr Robin Joannes, Vice-President, European Atheist Union, Mr Levi Fragell, General Secretary, HAMU, Norway.

Mrs. Saraswathi Gora, in her forceful address stressed the significance of atheism as a positive way of life. Mr Lavanam, co-convenor, presented the theme of the Conference. He said that the world was in constant flux and the old values and institutions are fast crumbling. Religion is fast losing its holdover the human affairs. In this context the positive atheism has a great significance as an alternate way of life.

Ms Patricia Lopez Largos, of the Association Mexiacana Etica Racioanalista, presided over the Plenary session of the Conference on the second day. She said that poverty and misery of the developing countries cannot be eradicated unless people turn their attention from the imaginary other world to the realities of the life and stove for betterment. She expressed concern at the growing trend of fundamentalism and religious fanaticism all over the world.

Mr. Jim Herrick, Editor, International Humanist presented an interesting paper on "Positive Atheism for a Positive Future." He said for Gora, the atheist way of life was full of initiative. It continually progresses towards increasing happiness through scientific understanding and technological control of the forces in the world. The Valedictory address was given by Ms Marie Castle, from the American Atheist Alliance. Dr Vijayam who chaired, said that religious fundamentalism was a threat to world peace and urged to develop alternate culture, alternate education and a new value system in society.

The Atheist Conference received wide attention in the press and the electronic media. All India Radio, Vijayawada broadcast a radio report on the inaugural function. A comprehensive radio resume of the proceedings of the Conference was also broadcast on AIR.