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A report on the Delhi Freethinkers’ Meet: Skeptics in the Pub

By Ankit Yadav and Gautam Kumar

Nirmukta’s Delhi regional chapter, Delhi Freethinkers, meets on the last Sunday of every month, usually during the day or early in the evenings. Over the past month, we have been trying to experiment with informal niche meets to compliment our regular meets. On the 12th of August, we had a meet at Delhi University, North Campus. It was held on a weekday and was primarily catered to those of our student members who aren’t able to meet on Sundays and prefer meeting after class on weekdays.

In a similar vein, we decided to hold a meet on a weekend night at a pub, for those who find it easier to attend at such times. Indeed, the Skeptics in the Pub meet that was held on Saturday, the 31st of August saw a few new members – members who otherwise aren’t able to attend on Sundays.

The concept of Skeptics in the Pub isn’t new. Skeptics in the Pub meets take place in over a 100 cities and towns around the world, in over 16 countries. We are proud to add Delhi to this list. Although the Skeptics in the Pub meets in other cities are far more structured (with presentations, live comedy, etc., preceding casual socializing), our first meet was held as a taster, where we pretty much discussed religion, science and other issues over a few beers. Not everyone had alcohol, however, and there was no peer pressure to drink.

We met at around 7 PM at Route 04, a pub in Khan Market. We had ex-Hindus, ex-Muslims and ex-Christians amongst us. We discussed various issues, including our personal experiences with religion and irreligion in our families. Two of our members revealed how their childhood friends – no different to them back in the day – had now turned into priests and evangelists of different denominations.

Another member – a student in Delhi, originally from Uttar Pradesh – reflected on how Delhi is far more liberal than Uttar Pradesh is. We also reflected on how some people in the big cities are often not actively religious, but how they normally don’t tolerate criticism of religion either.

The music playing in the pub also prompted us to discuss the relationship between music and religion. A few of us agreed that religious songs are often good to hear. However, we also added that with or without religion, good music would be composed.

We also very briefly discussed the marijuana legalization movement in the USA, the Zeitgeist movement, Delhi University’s new four year undergraduate programmes and other issues. We also decided to have a meet in Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Overall, it was a fun night of discussion, food and drink. We leave you with a few amusing comments that were overheard on our table:

  • A: “Scientists discovered Higgs Boson particle.” B (tongue in cheek): “Well, that has been already mentioned in Vedas!”
  • “Sharia law is the solution of all the problems of our nation!” (Said with plenty of sarcasm, in reference to how the likes of Zakir Naik propagate their belief systems).
  • “How many Hindu priests does it take to invent a light bulb? None. They’ll wait for someone to invent it and later claim it has already been mentioned in the Vedas.”
  • A: “Did you know, someone created a website mocking Nirmukta members and called them spiritual terrorists?” B: “But that’s true! Can’t you see the spiritual bombs we’re all equipped with?”

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