I want, or perhaps better put, I need to extend my enthusiastic and heartfelt gratitude to the Critical Thinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers of Lawrence University [http://www.cthulu-ssa.org/] for bringing unapologetic anti-apologist and avid atheist activist AronRa to Appleton (and for setting me up for THAT absurd alliteration).
It should not be overlooked that the host venue, Lawrence University, was founded by Methodists and named after an Episcopalian. So (as the kids probably no longer say) “mad props” to such an institution for risking Yahweh’s righteous reciprocity by inviting one of Satan’s most well-spoken evil minions to address our group of wide-eyed infidels. Nearly a day has passed and still no brimstone in our northeastern-Wisconsin forecast so, for now, it appears we’ve escaped any sort of divine wrath.
Evidenced by the parking lots of area churches on any given Sunday morning (or during a Fish-Fry on any Bingo Friday for that matter), the Fox Valley is arguably the epicenter of the dairy state’s devout Frozen Tundramentalism, so it wasn’t too surprising that the turnout to hear an ardent apostate speak was modest. In fact, the gathering turned out to be delightfully intimate. To be honest, I felt as I often do on election days: the fewer other people who’d bother to show up, all the better for me.
In the course of an hour, Darwin
from every superfluous
leveled against him…
It should be appalling to everybody that today, a full century and a half since the Huxley-Wilberforce debate, anybody should have to waste a single precious breath still defending Charles Darwin. But since America’s smoldering embers of fundamentalism still flare up from time to time, it’s best to use the largest feet available to stomp that inextinguishable fire back into history’s ash heap.
And few sport a larger, more efficacious ash-kicking boot than does AronRa.
In the course of an hour (time that absolutely flew past), Darwin was exonerated from every superfluous creationist charge leveled against him, from his purported racism (if Darwin was a racist, Gandhi was by comparison a Grand Dragon in the KKK), to the unlettered notion that the author of ‘On the Origin of Species‘ rejected evolution in that same book, to the sad and desperate contrivance that Darwin had a “come-to-Jesus” epiphany just prior to passing away.
(A deathbed conversion story has likewise been floated regarding Christopher Hitchens which, I’d hope, would inspire even the most ardent pacifistic atheist who gives the slightest damn about Hitch’s legacy to at least consider a solid throat-punch to anybody proffering that maddening claim. I pledge to help raise your bail money, should the situation arise.)
AronRa was gracious enough to entertain our Q&A at the end of his lecture. The crowd asked him two or three questions which, before the man had a chance to get his coat and hat on, had somehow abiogenetically grown into a few dozen more. I’ve seen enough of his archived material to know that, in one manner or another, he’s addressed these same inquiries a number of times, but he patiently responded with an enthusiasm and passion that made no hint whatsoever that he dreaded answering them again for our benefit.
There was no obligatory book-signing, no passing of the hat, no plug for his extensive YouTube archive, nor his blog— not even a hint at supporting him via his Patreon project account. This was a wonderfully sincere, marketing-free face-to-face that, I feel very confident in asserting, left nobody in the room wishing they’d spent their night elsewhere.
Thanks again CTHULU, and AronRa, for a wonderful, enlightening, and unforgettable evening…