Secular Sunday #35 – A Positive Approach to Atheism

Welcome to this week’s Secular Sunday.

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events
  • Positive and Ethical Atheism


  • So far, our Kiva team has raised US$1,775 in loans to people working to escape poverty. This is well ahead of the $1,000 goal we had set for the end of August, but the volume of loans has slowed since the initial burst of enthusiasm. If you haven’t signed up already, remember that your first loan is free, and if you have already signed up, you can get another free loan by recruiting someone else.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday 27 August, 8:30 pm, McSwiggans Bar and Restaurant, Woodquay, Galway (map)
    Galway Skeptics in the Pub: “50 Shades of Yadda Yadda” Facebook event page
  • 31 August – 2 September, Carlingford Heritage Centre, Co. Louth
    All-Ireland Humanist Summer School, organised jointly by the Humanist Association of Ireland and the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland. Facebook event page
  • 2 September, 4:00 pm, Buswell’s Hotel, Dublin 2 (map)
    The monthly meeting of the Humanist Association of Ireland. Facebook event page
  • Saturday 8 September, 1:00 pm, Bórd Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 (map)
    The biggest TEDxDublin to date: 15 speakers will take to the stage to share ideas and explore the unexpected. The theme is ‘A City of Ideas’. Tickets are €30. List of speakers
  • Saturday 15 September, 1:30 pm, Storey’s Gate, London, England
    Protest march for a secular Europe. If you’re in London, you can join this annual march for equal rights for all and the removal of special privileges for religions.

Positive and Ethical Atheism

Atheist Ireland’s chairman Michael Nugent has written a draft manifesto to promote ethical atheism. It’s divided into seven aims:

1. Promoting reason, critical thinking and science
2. Promoting atheism over supernaturalism
3. Promoting natural compassion and ethics
4. Promoting inclusive, caring atheist groups
5. Promoting fair and just societies
6. Promoting secular government
7. Promoting local, national and global solidarity

This is a draft and feedback is welcome.

Similarly and more-or-less simultaneously, Freethought Blogger Jen McCreight has launched Atheism+, a “new wave of atheism”. As Jen describes it:

We are…
Atheists plus we care about social justice,
Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
Atheists plus we protest racism,
Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

It’s obvious that these statements go far beyond any dictionary definition of atheism. And they’re meant to. If our only commonality was that we didn’t believe in gods, there’d be very little for us to do and no way to do it. Michael puts it this way: “Ethical atheism is more useful than dictionary atheism, because it applies the consequences of our atheism to real life.” And Jen says: “we want to be a positive force in the world”. It’s not necessary to agree on everything but we do need to agree on more than the non-existence of gods. And most of us already do.

That’s it for this week. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or ignore us on Google Plus.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Linda August 30, 2012

    Michael’s document on ethical atheism is excellent. Why did you have to sully his efforts by promoting McCreight’s divisive clap trap along with it?

    A few interesting comments from McCreight you failed to report:

    “I don’t want good causes like secularism and skepticism to die because they’re infested with people who see issues of equality as mission drift. I want Deep Rifts.”

    “Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time”

    “Dear smug humanists: My critique of the atheist movement included you. Your groups are infamous for being mostly old, white, men”

    And let’s no forget Richard Carrier’s infamous “join us or you’re a bigot” rant.

    Nugent’s Ethical Atheism is positive, inclusive, compassionate and worthy of our considered support. McCreight’s AtheismPlus is divisive, negative, bigoted and worthy of nothing but ridicule.