The focus on science advocacy and away from atheistic horn-blowing is intentional, says Grothe. "Our strategy is to go into classrooms talking about the Center for Inquiry's issues," he says. "If we're out there as knee-jerk village atheists or skeptics, people aren't going to be receptive to that dialogue." With that philosophy in mindand standing in stark contrast to some of the proselytizing campus religious groupsthey are helping to fund an upcoming Darwin Day conference on February 10 and 11, at SUNY Stony Brook. The featured guest will be Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University professor and author of Freedom Evolves. "It's kind of a science festival, kind of a secular celebration," says Grothe, with planned panel discussions on topics such as the pseudo-theory Intelligent Design, and perhaps the traditional Darwin Day fish fry.
And Grothe makes no bones about the social component of these secularist gatherings, considering that for many attendees, church-as-pickup-spot is out of the question. "Nonreligious people want community also," he says. "When you find someone that you like and who is attractive and shares your basic worldviewhow rare is that when your worldview itself is rare?"