My colleague Dion and I arrived at the Cambridge Brewing Company about ten minutes early for the PharynguFest. At the bar, we met Joshua and Rebecca; Dion was the one clever enough to realize what an Iowa State sweatshirt actually looked like, so we could identify Jeff, who was conversing with Liz, who had brought Ocho the puppet. Ocho tagged along with me for most of the evening.
All the pictures of me look irredeemably goofy. I don’t understand it: all I did was wear a stuffed octopus on my hat and a shirt from sexandscience.net. (Jeff says he wants one to wear when lecturing to his class. Ah, the perks of professordom.)
After our crowd had spent a while clogging up the aisle-ways in front of the bar and pulling people in from outside — “Judging from the octopus, this must be the Pharyngula meeting” — the hungriest among us got a table for four, which somehow became a table for six, at which eight people sat down. If you wanted to explain the decentralized nature of blogging, there’s probably a good metaphor in here somewhere. The eight of us then ate, drank and conversed, while the people back at the bar kept drinking (and maybe found tables of their own — they vanished into the night by the time we had eaten). As wrote Liz the PixelFish,
We chatted about potable beers (Chris and Terra were trying to find me a beer I’d like), dentistry (Juri had just had her wisdom teeth out and Blake was doped up on painkillers following a root canal), theatre, David Attenborough, the origins of names, languages, elephants, lions, ducklings, cats, heresy, religions subsuming other religions, and of course, Pharyngula.
I recall we chatted about how long we’d been reading Pharyngula (to my knowledge, I was the only one among the group to have met P-Zed), and several of us swapped “deconversion” stories. My family’s faith involved sleeping in on Sundays, and our holy pilgrimages were always to the ski slopes, so I didn’t have too much to offer in that department. Liz told us that, as a young Mormon, she was incredibly enthusiastic about transcending to the God-stage and going off to create her own world. She studied biology and geography, drew up dragons and continents for them to live on, and then made the mistake of showing them to a grownup.
“Oh, that’s so sweet! But you know, it’s going to be your husband who does all that.”
Aaron‘s journey to godlessness began when a certain man came to his college to speak about Intelligent Design. Once the guest lecturer had provoked his curiosity, he looked into the matter, weighed what he found and found it wanting. Soon enough, he had let slip the mythology of his childhood. So, thank you, Michael F. Behe.