Christian professors vs. little “Mr” Jack Scanlan (at the Reason for Faith Festival)

You’re all familiar with the Global Atheist Convention 2012, right? It’s a massive event being held at the Melbourne Convention Centre from April 13th-15th, featuring both international and local speakers – philosophers, scientists, writers, comedians, and more – who will all be discussing various topics surrounding atheism or non-belief in religion. My good friend Kylie Sturgess (along with Australian comedian Lawrence Leung) will be MC-ing it. What, you’ve never heard of it? How curious.

Anyway, whether or not you’ve heard of it is beside the point – all you need to know it that it exists: because various Christian organisations have come together to organise a series of events  – the Reason for Faith Festival – as a counter to the 2012 GAC’s presence, on various aspects of religion, faith, spirituality and disbelief in the weeks afterwards.

One such event, on Monday, April 16th (the day after the GAC), is a screening of part of a documentary called “Test of Faith”, followed by a panel discussion centred around the interaction of science and religious/Christian belief, discussing questions such as:

  • What are the limits of science?
  • Can theistic belief be rational?
  • Does evolution preclude theistic belief?
  • Are science and religion in conflict?

The panelists include:

  • Professor Graham Oppy, an atheist philosopher from Monash University
  • Emeritus Professor John Pilbrow, former President of the Australian Institute of Physics
  • Associate Professor Alan Gijsbers, a neuroscientist and specialist in Addiction Medicine at RMH
  • Dr Bruce Yabsley, a high-energy particle physicist, involved with the Large Hardon Collider

…and me, little “Mr” Jack Scanlan!1

Besides Graham Oppy, all of the other members of the panel are Christian scientists2 – and academically esteemed ones, too. They’re big names! I’m just an undergraduate science student, with views on the relationship between religion and science uninformed by graduate study and many years in academia.

I feel rather inadequate.

But anyway, it should be fun and hopefully somewhat educational. My thoughts and ideas on science and religion are complex, so I’ll probably need to write them down on here sometime to get them in order before the event. I might more/less sympathetic to the theistic scientist’s position than you might think! Stay tuned!

Of course, if you’re in Melbourne around the time of the GAC, please come along if you can. A good audience is a diverse audience and I have a feeling that the organisers of the festival have been advertising primarily through theistic communities and channels. Skeptics need to get in on this!


  • What: Test of Faith – Screening and Panel
  • When: April 16th, 7pm until 9pm
  • Where: State Library of Victoria, Village Roadshow Theatrette (Melbourne)
  • Cost: $10 per person (no prior registration required – just turn up on the night)

There’s also a Facebook event page if you’re so inclined.

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  1. I’m described on the event’s page as being “editor of ‘The Pseudo Scientists’ podcast, founding member of Young Australian Skeptics”. Probably the most impressive things they could say about a person such as I, really.
  2. Scientists who happen to be Christians, not members of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

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