Workshops & Panels

“Debating Christianity” Workshop

Matt Dillahunty and JT Eberhard have agreed to do a reprise of their “Debating Dynamics” workshop, which was hugely popular at the 2015 American Atheists’ convention in Memphis.  To watch Matt in action at a live debate, get details HERE.  He will be debating APSU’s Phillip Christie on Sunday, March 19 (the day after NaNoCon) in Clarksville, TN.  Don’t miss it!

Albert Einstein

Matt Dillahunty

JT Eberhard

JT Eberhard

“Exodus” Movie on Black Non-Believers: Producers’ Panel

Black non-believers in the Bible Belt tell their personal experiences leaving the church, interviewed in the “Exodus” documentary about this growing trend. Special screening of the 7-minute sizzle reel of the upcoming movie “Exodus”, followed by panel Q&A with the producers.

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The church is the primary focal point of the African American community, especially in the Bible Belt, but many former adherents are declaring themselves non-believers and leaving the faith. They now identify as non-religious, non-believers, humanist, agnostic, or atheist, disassociating from the religion of their families. African American non-believers tell us in interviews and conversation what caused them to leave the church, the social and personal problems that resulted, and why identification as a non-believer is important to them. Pastors and theologians commenting on this trend provide a counterpoint revealing how the African American church and community are responding to this growing exodus.

Followed by a Panel Discussion with Key Personnel:

David Person is producer and director of Exodus. David is a journalist and consultant with more than 25 years of experience as a broadcaster, producer and reporter. He writes columns as a member of USA Today’s board of contributors and hosted “WEUP Talk,” a daily call-in talk show for WEUP-AM/FM. David has also hosted and produced two nationally distributed public radio documentaries “Uncommon Courage: The Viola Liuzzo Story” and “The Afro: Personal Reflections”. In addition, he has done feature reporting for National Public Radio. He has traveled to Cuba, Brazil, Colombia and Jamaica, reporting for the African in the Americas project for the Institute of Advanced Journalism Studies. His most recent documentary project is The Biblical Prophets of the Qu’ran, an examination of the commonalities of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Charles R. “Chuck” Miller is executive producer of Exodus. Chuck is a secular activist and consultant. He was a founding director of the Secular Coalition for Alabama and served as that organization’s Executive Director. He is American Atheists Regional Director and a Life Member of that organization. His writing has appeared in American Atheist Magazine and a frequent speaker at rallies and other events and has appeared on the Atheist Viewpoint television news magazine of American Atheists. He is a voice actor and can be heard in the upcoming radio dramedy “Space Cruises and Planet Tours, LLC” He has recently launched an exploratory campaign for the Alabama State Senate in 2018.

Mandisa Thomas, president and founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc, is a consulting producer for this documentary, and will moderate this panel.

Twitter     @ExodusTheDoc

Exodus video

Producer/Director: David Person           Executive Producer: Chuck Miller

Mandisa Thomas

Mandisa Thomas
Consulting Producer
(panel moderator)

DEBATE: “Is Intelligent Design the best causal explanation for the origin and diversity of life?”

NaNoCon is proud to present a 50 minute debate by two members of our community:
Aaron Anderson – Christian, network systems engineer, Intelligent Design advocate
Bryan Gitschlag – Vanderbilt biology grad student, theory of evolution advocate
Each will present a workshop on their position in the first workshop slot, then they will link up for this debate in the second time slot. NaNoCon welcomes this event with the intent of promoting dialogue and rigorous scientific scrutiny. It is important to understand the arguments and fallacies of this pivotal issue, which will undoubtedly be an issue of heated political contention, not only in Tennessee, the state that hosted the original “Scopes Monkey Trial”, but at a national level as well.

Aaron Anderson

Aaron Anderson

Bryan Gitschlag

Bryan Gitschlag

Podcast-Palooza! Panel

Learn how to plan, host, produce, and post your own podcast from the experts! Learn the hurdles and challenges of creating and maintaining a podcast in the secular world as our panelists share their experiences and perspective.

Chris Watson

Chris Watson

“The Podunk Polymath”

Tucker Drake

Tucker Drake
“The Atheist in the
Trailer Park”

Cass Midgley

Cass Midgley
“Everyone’s Agnostic”

Joe Kindic

Joe Kindic
“Unbuckling the Bible Belt”

Jen Aldrich

Jen Aldrich
“Not Another
Atheist Podcast”

Bobby C

Bobby C.

“No Religion

LGBTQ In The Bible Belt: Panel Discussion


Callie Wright

Callie Wright
The Gaytheist Manifesto

Carla Lewis

Carla Lewis
Military Veteran

Staying Sane in an Insane World


Two secular therapists will address secular self-care, how to find a therapist who is a good fit, what you can expect from therapy, and how to handle those difficult conversations about being a “none.”

Steven Davidson

Steven Davidson, PhD

Brynda Quinn

Brynda Quinn, PhD



All workshops last 45 minutes. Each workshop will be presented twice, back to back. (Giving participants the opportunity to attend their top two picks!)  Click on the panelists’ photo to read their bios in the Speakers page.

Sonica Li

Achieving Fulfillment By Living Your Values

with Sonica Li, of Sunday Assembly Atlanta

Fulfillment is not something you acquire after you’ve achieved the right goals, nor is it the exclusive domain of those who dedicate their lives to a god or religious faith. Fulfillment is a state of being that you can access in any moment of your life by living your values, moment by moment.

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In this workshop, we’ll do some creative reflection activities and discussions, in groups and individually. Think of it as an archaeological dig for the most important themes of your life. At the end of the workshop, you’ll have a working list of values that are vivid and specific to you, as well as a high-level view of how you’re living those values in various parts of your life. This workshop is part of Life Lab, a life skills school that sprang out of Sunday Assembly Atlanta last year. The Atlanta folks found the workshop enjoyable and elucidating, and we hope you will too!

Leaving the Faith to Focus on the Family

by the Cullimore family, of Chibi Kodama

When transitioning out of religion to the life of a “none” life can get confusing. Moving from the limitations of faith to free thought and exploration can feel like walking naked in a big city. How do you talk to the little ones? How do you we learn to be okay with saying “I don’t know the answer to that?” Join the Cullimore family for a discussion on non-belief and family life. You’ll even get to hear from the kids!

Alt-Atheism: The Alt-Right & the Atheist Community

by Casper Rigsby, Atheist Republic publisher

The Alt-Right has become a real force in the US with this past election, due in part to some within the atheist community who pander to them and even fuel their growth. In this workshop Casper Rigsby will discuss those atheists, how they’ve helped legitimize the alt-right, and what we can do to fight back against them. Let’s discuss how we can help make America decent again!

Bryan Gitschlag

Approaching Science with a Critical Mind

by Bryan Gitschlag, Vanderbilt biologist

The risk of adopting a belief for bad reasons exists regardless of whether a person is religious. Adding to this risk is the technical and sometimes intimidating nature of scientific literature, which can make it difficult to exercise rational skepticism on issues that concern science. This workshop is intended to inspire and equip people to be critical thinkers whenever engaging on such topics, by providing an introductory overview of several of them.

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1) the “politics” of science: how the peer review process works and how bias can creep in;
2) examining the primary literature: what to look for;
3) evaluating scientific studies: identifying rigor versus weaknesses in experimental methods, and interpreting experimental results.

To help illustrate these three topics, this workshop will make use of real-world examples of scientific findings that are sensationalized to a misleading degree in the popular press, groundbreaking discoveries that turned out to be based on flawed research methods, and topics that continue to remain controversial among scientists.

Aaron Anderson

Intelligent Design – None Of The Above

by Aaron Anderson, Christian, Intelligent Design advocate

Regarding Intelligent Design (ID), Michael Shermer checks the “god of the gaps” box, Jerry Coyne selects “synonym for scientific creationism,” Barbara Forrest chooses “Trojan horse,” and Richard Dawkins marks them all and writes in “wicked, stupid and insane” as a bonus.  This workshop aims to bypass the caricatures and deliver a serious exposition of ID’s limited claims.

In addition to laying the groundwork for the NaNoCon debate that follows, this workshop will give attendees a genuine target when debating creationists and strengthen their critical thinking skills as they consider the merits of an alternative view.  As Thomas Nagel advises, even if one is not drawn to design as an explanation, the problems ID “pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously.”

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Aaron Anderson is a Christian husband, father, and grandfather who loves science, music, the beauty of the outdoors, and seeking to persuade others of their inherent worth based in the love of their Creator.  He received his B.S. in Computer/Electrical Technology from Murray State University and his M.B.A. from Tennessee Tech.  Aaron has spent the majority of his career at AT&T as a network systems engineer and counts as his heroes AT&T luminaries Claude Shannon (communication & information theorist) and Arno Penzias (discoverer of Cosmic Microwave Background radiation).

Beth West

Hedonistic Comedy Hour!

by “Beth West,” improv activist from Atlanta

When individual values and beliefs clash in days to day social situations, it can make for awkward situations, and thus hilarious storytelling.  Come learn elements from improv and standup comedy to get in touch with what your personal moral compass (or lack thereof) says about how you communicate in the world with people who have grown up in a different walk of life.
This is an interactive workshop where people will exaggerate personal stories based on what’s important to them. Depending on the group that shows up, we’ll entertain each other while simultaneously building community. All attendees are expected to participate, nobody should come just to watch. No performance will occur. No previous performance experience necessary.
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Bio:  Beth West goes by a fake name since she is a secular agnosticy atheisty jewey pagany whateverist working at a christian non-profit for the money and not because of the overlap in doing good things for people and building communities on this planet.* At this touchy-feely nonprofit she trains people across the country in community development. Her side hustle has been teaching improv for 8 years. Recently, she has combined improv and community development to facilitate social justice workshops that have taught empathy to engineers, gender to circus performers, and performance to the socially anxious.
*denotes sarcasm