The Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought is set to host what is believed to be the first conference of its kind in B.C., Imagine No Religion.
Preceded by a public lecture Friday night by evolutionary biologist P.Z. Myers, the conference takes place Saturday at Kamloops Convention Centre.
"We have already more than 100 people signed up for that from all over the Pacific Northwest and as far away as Las Vegas," said Bill Ligertwood.
He was inspired to found the centre after attending a similar gathering two years ago in Burbank, Calif. Such events are generally held in major centres and are not as accessible as the one here, he noted.
"It was absolutely life-changing in oh, so many ways." Participants gain a sense of camaraderie, feeling less isolated when they have a chance to meet with like-minded individuals.
After taking flak over a column he wrote about evolution, Ligertwood figured it was time to bring in a specialist. Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota, jumped at the chance to speak on his topic, Evolution is True, Intelligent Design Isn't.
Myers speaks at 7 p.m. at Kamloops Towne Lodge, 1250 Rogers Way. Admission is $5.
The conference runs 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday but requires a $140 registration fee (or $100 for a half-day).
Speakers will include: Justin Trottier, executive director of The Centre for Inquiry Canada; Stuart Bechman, president of Atheist Alliance International; Nate Phelps, the estranged son of controversial Baptist pastor Fred Phelps; and Jen McCreight, a PhD student in evolution and genetics, who will give a talk called God's Lady Problem: Breaking Up With Abusive Supernatural Beings.
For complete conference details, visit http://www.imaginenoreligionkamloops.com.