Secular Sunday #17 – Watch Globally, Meet Locally

Welcome to Secular Sunday.

We have a packed issue this week so clear some space in your schedule and settle down with the beverage of your choice.

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events
  • Atheists Down Under
  • Remembering Hitch
  • Beyond the Pale


  • Michael Nugent debated Sami Zataari in London last Thursday. The opening statements of the debate are now available to watch and the rest will be online soon.
  • We have (finally) enabled an RSS feed on the Atheist Ireland website. This means you don’t need to keep clicking Refresh on our homepage to make sure you’re not missing anything but can get everything we post delivered to the device of your choice. Subscribe. (Learn more about RSS here.)

Upcoming Events

  • Monday 23 April, 8:30 pm,  McSwiggans Bar And Restaurant, Galway (map)
    Galway Skeptics are meeting to talk about science. Facebook event page
  • Wednesday 25 April, 9:00 pm, BBC Four television
    Beautiful Minds: Professor Richard Dawkins reveals how he came to write The Selfish Gene, and explores how this set him on the path to becoming an outspoken spokesman for atheism. Read more
  • Sunday 29 April, 12:00 noon, The Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, Co. Galway (map)
    The monthly meeting of Humanists West, a Galway-based humanist group. Facebook event page

Atheists Down Under

The Global Atheist Convention 2012 took place in Melbourne, Australia last weekend. Many of the biggest names in atheism were there. Richard Dawkins got off to an early start with a debate with Cardinal George Pell and a perhaps more productive discussion with Lawrence Krauss.

You can watch the opening video of the convention here. The main events don’t seem to be available yet, but they will undoubtedly appear first on the AFA’s Youtube channel.

YouTube user David Ingram has compiled a playlist of videos featuring the crowds, the protesters (Muslim and Christian) and some of the impromptu debates that took place outside the main events.

Bruce Everett has done a great job of reviewing the whole convention.

And of course PZ Myers had plenty to say. But you knew that already. Here’s his quick review anyway.

Let us know if we’ve missed anything unmissable. We’ll post more videos and reviews as they become available.

Remembering Hitch

A confluence of recent events means we have a number of tributes to Christopher Hitchens to share with you. Prepare to emote.

  • 13 April would have been Christopher Hitchens’ sixty-third birthday. To mark the occasion, American talk show The Charlie Rose Show featured a discussion about his life and work with his friends and fellow authors Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, James Fenton & Ian McEwan. Watch it here.
  • Hitchens had been scheduled to appear at last week’s Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne. It was always an optimistic booking given his condition. The organisers honoured his memory with a video tribute. Watch it here.
  • On 20 April, a memorial service was held in New York for Hitchens. It featured a eulogy from his closest friend Martin Amis and contributions from James Fenton, Lawrence Krauss, Salman Rushdie, Stephen Fry, Ian McEwan and many more. Watch it here.

Beyond the Pale

Invariably, when we announce an event in Dublin, some of the responses are from people outside the capital expressing a desire for similar events in their area. The reality is that due to demographics and population density, Dublin is the best place in the country to meet other atheists. But don’t despair, we are commited to growing, supporting and publicising regional groups.

Our new Cork group is headed by Joe O’Regan who can be contacted by email or phone on 089-4113099. And they have a Facebook page which is a little quiet at the moment, but the more people who show an interest, the more active it is likely to become.

We also have nascent groups in Galway, Limerick and Sligo. Email us if you’re interested in being part of any of these groups. If you find you’re still too far from a group, get in contact with us telling us where you live, where you’d be willing to travel to and whether you’d be willing to lead a group (there’s not much more to it than picking a pub and sending a few emails).

As well as Atheist Ireland, there are a number of other similar groups that regularly meet around the country, and are likely to be of interest to our readers. Below is as complete a listing as we can find. If anybody knows of any others, let us know and we’ll publicise them.

  • Cork Skeptics is a group dedicated to promoting skepticism, science, and rational thinking. They meet monthly in Blackrock Castle Observatory.
  • Cork Humanists are associated with the HAI, and meet around once a month on a Sunday afternoon. They have also recently formed a book club.
  • UCC Atheists or, to give it its full name, the “University College Cork Atheists Agnostics Secularists and Humanists Society”,  is primarily geared towards students at UCC but may sometimes host publicly accessible events.
  • Mid-West Humanists serve Limerick, Clare and Tipperary. They meet once a month.
  • Humanists West, Galway meet on the last Sunday of every month.
  • Galway Skeptics meet in a pub around twice a month. (Obviously quite hardened thinkers.)
  • NUI Galway Skeptic Society doesn’t seem to be exceptionally active at the moment but is certainly worth contacting if you’re a student in NUIG.
  • Letterkenny Skeptics is a brand new group and had their first meeting just over a week ago.

And across the border:

  • Humani is the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland and meet in Belfast on the second Thursday of the month.
  • Belfast Skeptics meet on a monthly basis at a central location in Belfast.
  • There is at least one Belfast Atheist and the UK Atheists are looking for more.

That should keep you busy till next week. If you see, hear, read or do something that you think will interest other readers, let us know and we’ll try to include it.

Till next time,

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

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