Mark W. Gura is the president of the Atheist Alliance of America and the host of the Richard Dawkins Award. He is also the president of the nonprofit Association of Mindfulness Meditation and Secular Buddhism (AMMSB.org).
Mark has over 20 years’ experience in practicing mindfulness meditation/Vipassana which he learned from the late S.N. Goenka in India. He is the author of the books, Atheist Meditation and also of Exploring Your Life. He co-founded and hosts the iSecularBuddhist.com podcast with CW Brown.
Mark was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States at a young age. He is inspired by travel and exploration, and throughout his life, he has lived abroad and explored more than 85 countries. Above all, Mark seeks to eliminate dogma and indoctrination by empowering individuals to learn evidence-based meditation techniques and to encourage science, reason and critical thinking.
Dr. Gura is an atheist and Secular Buddhist. She serves as board member for the Atheist Alliance of America. She took her first meditation course with S.N. Goenka in India in the ’90s. Michelle was born in Poland and is inspired by travel and exploration. She has visited more than 70 countries and seeks to normalize atheism and promote humanism.
John W. Loftus earned MA, MDiv, and ThM degrees in philosophy of religion, the last of which was under William Lane Craig. John also studied in a PhD program at Marquette University. He is the “Debunking Christianity” blog owner and author of “Why I Became An Atheist,” “The Outsider Test for Faith,” “How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist,” “Unapologetic,” and co-wrote “God or Godless” with Randal Rauser. He’s also the editor of “The Christian Delusion,” “The End of Christianity,” “Christianity is Not Great” and “Christianity in the Light of Science.”
Derek is one of the hosts of Skepticality; The official radio show and podcast of Skeptic Magazine and the Skeptics Society, a top-rated audio talk show dedicated to the promotion of critical thinking and science. He is currently one of the co-hosts of the Dragon-Pod podcast, The Official Podcast of Dragon*Con as well as the Director of Skeptrack, a programming track devoted to skepticism at Dragon Con (the world’s largest culture convention) which is held in Atlanta, Georgia every Labor Day weekend.
Joanna Wills is a mother, a healthcare worker, and she owns a photography business. Joanna has a B.S. degree in Biochemistry, she loves animals and works to help others.
Darek Dalas is an entrepreneur, social justice activist, and world traveler. Darek enjoys promoting socially positive change, and collaborative projects that empower people and help the world.
Herb Silverman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston, founder of the Secular Coalition for America, founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston, SC, founder of the Atheist/Humanist Alliance student group at the College of Charleston, and a recipient of the American Humanist Association Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, a colleague pointed out that atheists were ineligible to hold public office in South Carolina. After an eight-year battle, Herb won an unanimous decision in the South Carolina Supreme Court, which struck down this religious test requirement. He has written for the for the Washington Post, Huffington Post, The Humanist, Free Inquiry, Humanistic Judaism, and other magazines and blogs. Herb has appeared in a number of debates on topics that include: Can we be moral without God? Does God exist? Is America a Christian nation? He has also debated at Oxford University in England on the topic, Does American Religion Undermine American Values?
Herb’s books include Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the
Bible Belt and An Atheist Stranger in a Strange Religious Land. You can browse a collection of
his public speeches and debates here, and visit his website http://www.herbsilverman.com
Ian Harris is a comedian, director, mixed martial arts trainer, voice over artist and above all an unrelenting champion of science, skepticism and critical thinking! A national touring act for 20 years, Ian’s comedy is a fascinating and funny mix of spot-on impressions and clever, cutting-edge comedy, that has landed him appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Comedy Central, as well as two hour TV specials! His first “Critical & Thinking” (2014), AXS TV called “A truly masterful hour of wit, humor and derisive jabbing.” His second “ExtraOrdinary” is due out in 2017. A top headliner for over 20 years, Ian was named #25 on Entertainment Journal’s Top 100 Comedians list, was a semi-finalist in Comedy Central’s “Laugh Riots Competition” and dubbed “Top Character Comedian in Town” by Backstage West. He has also been heard on Playboy Radio and regularly on SiriusXM Raw Dog. Ian is also one of the top Voice Over artists in Hollywood, having provided voice talent to clients such as McDonald’s, FOX, Disney XD, DirecTV, Bravo, Fuel, the FOX series “Bones” and narrated the music driven show “Mad Genius” on Fuse TV. You may have also seen Ian perform at many of the atheist and skeptic related “Cons” such as, AAA National Convention, DragonCon, AHA National Conference, CSICON, CFI National Summit, and the 2016 Reason Rally. His keen grasp of science, evidenced by his satirical, skeptical take on everything from religion to global warming-deniers and beyond, has also earned him comparisons to favorite thinking-man’s comics like Lenny Bruce, Bill Maher and George Carlin. With a unique point of view and an impressive array of comedic talents, Ian delivers a thought provoking style of stand-up all his own.
SCOTT JACOBSEN – SECULAR NATION BLOG DIRECTOR
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. You can contact Scott via email, his website, or Twitter.
Artur Perez-Cruz is a Polish artist, a fan of extreme metal and various anti-religious forms of expression. He is interested in philosophy and religious studies, he devotes a lot of time to reading books on this subject and uses his art to fight all forms of religious programming.
Gary has been passionate about science, music, and audio since he was a small child. He realized at a young age that religion was not special but did not realize until much later in life there were other non-religious folk called atheists and Humanists. He learned about the skeptic and atheist movement listening to podcasts while contracting overseas and desired to be part of that upon his return. Since then he is Good Without God by participating in his local and national Atheist and Humanist organizations, ramp-building, regularly donating platelets, and shaming his surname on podcasts.
Seweryn is an athlete, sailor, atheist activist and key contributor to the Atheist Alliance of America.
He resides in Slupsk, Poland where he is the current Polish runner-up to the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games in the 470 Class double-handed dinghy event. He is also the founder of the Polish atheist Facebook page “Ateizm to Przyszłość.”
Sara Al Iraqiya is a USA-based 2nd generation Iraqi-American social scientist, writer, and activist. Raised under Sunni Islam and a survivor of attempted radicalization in American mosques and centers — she has both lived experience as well as academic experience with Islam. By age 20, after gaining the freedom to live autonomously and exercising her right to protect herself, she left Islam altogether. Sara aims to educate her fellow Americans and lovers of Western civilization on the horrors, inequalities, and injustices that occur in Western-based mosques and Islamic centers. Sara has been published in two languages (and counting). A world traveler, she briefly lived in France, Jordan, and even Cuba in order to complete her Masters of Arts in Global Affairs specializing in Global Culture and Society. Sara Al Iraqiya has been published in Conatus News and Spain’s ALDE Group.
Candace received her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from North Carolina Central University. She received her Master’s degree in mental health counseling from Wake Forest University. Candace’s religious background is varied, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Methodist. At 18, she joined a very charismatic ministry during which time she was ordained as an evangelist, prophetess, and elderess. Becoming involved in and leading extremist activities such as casting out demons, fasting for weeks at a time and faith healing, Candace was a believer’s believer. She worked hard to be the minister, wife, and mother that she believed god had planned her to be. When real world problems were overwhelming her, she tried even harder to win god’s approval and blessing. Suffering with major depression to the point of being suicidal and facing severe financial hardships, Candace thought that she must have been doing something wrong. She dove into studying the Bible more than ever before. She became disillusioned with the contradictions and blatant errancy she found. Mounting questions regarding the similarities between Jesus and other god legends before him, the nature of god, and concepts of hell and evil were just a few of the issues that caused her to eventually decide that she could no longer believe in a deity. From a place of empathy and compassion, Candace decided to start the Ebony Exodus Project which aims to highlight the harmful effects of religion on all believers, but especially for black women. In addition to ongoing work as a counselor, Candace is a member of The Clergy Project and the Secular Therapist Project.
Angelos Sofocleous is a skeptic and agnostic atheist who studies Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Durham, UK. He is the current President of Durham Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society, in which he is involved since 2015, and Head of Membership of Atheist, Humanist, and Secularist Students of the United Kingdom. He is a writer and a journalist. He has published 2 short-story and poetry collections, and writes for progressive news website ConatusNews on philosophical, religious, and human rights issues, and has had numerous articles appearing in Greek-speaking and English-speaking newspapers.
He is continuously active in promoting the values endorsed by humanism: Considering reason and rationality as the way through which one can reach truth, maintain respect for all living things, and separation of church and state while giving value to the importance of the scientific method and principles.
Steve Polgar grew up in Oneonta, NY where at age 14 he created his high school’s first website. He continued his passion for improving his community by founding Children’s Learning Foundation (CLF), an education charity that gives to schools, educational programs and projects of teachers. While Steve Polgar was living in Florida, CLF fought to fund school programs that taught evolution because it was not mandatory until 2008. After 5 years of trying, in 2016 he successfully petitioned Merriam-Webster Dictionary to change the word “evolution” from a theory to being defined as the fact of evolution and also the scientific theory of evolution (change went into effect in 2017). In January of 2017, he was honored as the youngest person in history to be awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from Barack Obama for his volunteer service with many charities and nonprofits. Steve also currently serves on the board of LiiNCS, a charity for young professionals on Long Island to better their community and careers through new connections, professional development, civic engagement, and social impact. He now resides in Medford, NY.
Dr. Christopher DiCarlo is a philosopher, educator, and author. He is an internationally-recognized expert on Critical Thinking and Ethical Reasoning. He teaches in the Faculties of Human Biology and Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is also a lifetime member of Humanist Canada and an Expert Advisor for the Centre for Inquiry Canada.
He has been invited to speak at numerous national and international conferences and written many scholarly papers ranging from bioethics to cognitive evolution. His latest book entitled: How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Asking the Right Questions was released worldwide by Prometheus Books in August 2011 and is currently in its fifth printing and is an international best-seller.
He is a past Visiting Research Scholar at Harvard University in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences: Department of Anthropology and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. His latest book: Six Steps to Better Thinking: How to Disagree and Get Along will be on the shelves in May 2017 with a Canadian, U.S., and European tour to follow.
In August 2008, he was honored with the Canadian Humanist of the Year Award from the Humanist Association of Canada.
Dr. DiCarlo is the Principal of Critical Thinking Solutions, an educational consulting business for individuals, corporations, and not-for-profits in both the private and public sectors. He is also the developer of the first Pilot Project in Canada to introduce Universal Critical Thinking skills into the Ontario Public High School curriculum which has begun in the Upper Grand District School Board.
Micael Langer is a writer, producer, and director who’s been involved with advertising, television, and cinema for over a decade and half, working with Rede Globo, Brazil’s largest television network, for the last few years. His previous documentary, “Simonal – No One Knows How tough it Was,” did well at international festivals, and he is currently working on, “Godless – The Truth Beyond Belief,” a documentary that “does not discuss the existence of God, but tries to understand the foul behaviors sometimes adopted in his name.”
Anderson Thomson, Jr., M.D.(Andy) is a psychiatrist in private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia.
He is also a staff psychiatrist at Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Services, as well as the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy. Since 1992 Marilyn Minrath, Ph.D., M.S.N. and Dr. Thomson have conducted a private forensic practice. Their cases have encompassed the full range of legal issues including child custody, capital murder, competence, and mental state at the time of the offense.
Andy received his B.A. from Duke University (1970), his M.D. from the University of Virginia (1974) and did his adult psychiatry training at University of Virginia (1974-77). His private practice is oriented toward individual psychotherapy, forensic psychiatry, and medication consultation.
He served as the Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction at the University of Virginia, which involved interdisciplinary intervention and research in large group ethnic and political conflict.
Dr. Thomson has publications on narcissistic personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, the psychology of racism, religion, psychobiographical essays on Robert E. Lee and Lee Harvey Oswald, depression, bipolar disorder, the function of serotonin, antidepressants, and forensic psychiatry. His current research interest is in the area of evolutionary psychology and using its principles to understand depression, resilience, suicide, suicide terrorism, and religious belief.
For further information or copies of his work go to www.jandersonthomson.com
Stephen Law is Reader in Philosophy at Heythrop College University of London. He is the author of many popular philosophy books, including The Philosophy Gym, The Great Philosophers, and (for children) The Complete Philosophy Files. He is also author of Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction to Humanism and has published a book on faith schools: The War for Children’s Minds. His main research interests lie in philosophy of religion, naturalism, philosophy of mind, essentialism, and the later Philosophy of Wittgenstein.
Buck Bowen is a freethinking MC with a lyrical appetite for skeptical inquiry and critical thinking. He believes in mental fitness through music and that if you think better, you live better.
His music has been described as a Sunday-School-in-reverse. Although it doesn’t glorify drugs, violence, or objectify women, it’s controversial because it challenges one’s most cherished beliefs. “Could the teachings of Jesus be improved?” “Are the Ten Commandments all they’ve been cracked up to be?” And, “What exactly is the soul?” are just a few of many questions his music addresses.
An entertainer at heart who aims to inform and inspire, Buck hits the stage equipped with catchy choruses, vibrant storytelling, and a splash of dry wit.
He has shared the stage with author and philosophy instructor Peter Boghossian as well as released the first ever rap song and music video for the Openly Secular Campaign.
Knowing intimately that the borderlands are a place of learning and growth, Robyn draws on their identity and heritage as a queer Latinx in everything that they do. From doubt to divine and everywhere in between, their call as an activist-theologian demands the vision to disrupt hegemony and colonialist structures of multi-layered oppressions. As an anti-oppression, anti-racist, non-binary Trans*gressive Latinx, Robyn takes seriously their call as an activist theologian and ethicist to bridge together theories and practices that result in communities responding to pressing social concerns. Robyn sees this work as a life-orienting vocation, deeply committed to translating theory to practice, and embedded in re-imagining our moral horizon to one which privileges a politics of radical difference.
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, PhD | Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethics at the Pacific School of Religion, Graduate Theological Union | Berkeley, CA | Public Theologian in Residence | Faith Matters Network | Nashville, TN | Gender Pronouns:
Robyn/They/Them/Their | Twitter: @irobyn | Academic Site: www.iRobyn.com
Mark Ditsler is the founder and CEO of AbruptMedia, LLC, a digital media company producing videos for movies, TV, and promotional purposes. He is also the founder and CEO of Calico Cove, LLC, a hardware development company focused on the development of embedded microprocessor circuit boards for custom electronics. Calico Cove assists and consults with other companies to develop their electronic products and bring them to market. He is also a founding member of Decatur Makers, a non-profit Maker community, and currently holds the Facilities Chair position at Decatur Makers. Mark is passionate about critical thinking and skepticism. For eight years running, AbruptMedia has provided all the A/V needs for the Skeptics track as DragonCon to support the promotion of critical thinking skills and skepticism. He has also spent seven years supporting the Atlanta Science Tavern with their science outreach efforts and also supporting the Atlanta Skeptics. He has done science outreach work with many notable organizations including NASA, JPL, The Planetary Society and Georgia Tech. Mark has worked in TV, live theatre, and studio productions for over thirty-five years. He has four decades of programming experience in over twenty programming languages. He has used his skills at software and IT networking architecture to design and build systems for everything from small companies to large global corporations. Mark was born and raised in the Catholic faith and spent many years questioning that faith. Not obtaining answers that made sense, he explored various other religions and now is an Atheist.
Ryan has been an Atheist for 25 years and has pretty much dedicated a majority of his life to publicly debating and also helping people get away from god. He loves science, reason, and humanitarian pursuits. Also, he loves what Atheist Alliance of America is doing.
He’s a long time artist, in multiple fields of the term artist. This includes writing music, digital art creation, canvas painting in various arrays of the spectrum of genre. You can find his work on Deviantart at Cifercrossing.deviantart.com
On instagram @ryandavidspurlock
Or on Facebook @ Ryan Spurlock (The Traveling Painter)