Atheist and Humanist Activism

How do activist Atheist groups differ from Humanist groups? And how can we best work together to promote a rational, ethical and secular society?

Arguably,  the labels are relatively unimportant in themselves. Most atheists and most humanists share most of the same fundamental beliefs and values. We reject the idea that gods exist and all that follows from that idea, and we usually support rational enquiry into the nature of reality, mutual empathy as the basis of ethical relations, and secular equality as the basis of civic government.

However, the labels are useful in practice. They enable independently-minded people to socialise and bond together using whatever self-description that we each feel most comfortable with, and whatever nuances of emphasis that we each prefer. They can also enable us to promote our aims using whatever label we feel is most useful in different circumstances.

There will always be some differences in emphasis. Some groups that label themselves as Atheist can be more assertive in how they campaign, and less deterred by how others might perceive the word atheist. Some groups that label themselves as Humanist can be more focused on creating a common Humanist identity as an alternative to religion, and may conduct secular services for weddings, baby-naming and funerals.

But ultimately, if we are to achieve a rational, ethical, secular society, all people and groups who reject the idea that gods exist should work together on issue-based campaigns and projects. Atheist Ireland works alongside the Humanist Association of Ireland, and we encourage you to examine both groups and get involved with either or both, depending on what you personally feel most comfortable with.

Michael Nugent


  1. Avatar
    aZerogodist August 09, 2010

    I think the role of the HAI Humanist group should move more to international promotion of Humanist values by setting up a charity side. With the floods in Pakistan I would like to donate money to help the Pakistan people, irrelivent of their religious belief, humans caring about the plight of fellow humans.

    As an Irish Atheist group thats not our role, but should be a role of HAI.

    Even though many of the values that AI seek corrispond with HAI, the HAI have bigger things to stand for…
    Any opinion?

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    Majella Furlong August 15, 2010

    So you are the people who believe there is no God.

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    gafalagrasp October 10, 2010

    I hope you strive to express your views without insulting those with whom you differ. So many of those espousing a humanist or atheist viewpoint descend into arrogant bile that I frankly rarely can stomach them for long,and I count myself an agnostic.