Secular Sunday #98 – Remember, Remember

I hate to nag but the world won’t just change itself. There are a few fairly easy ways you can help our cause of promoting atheism, reason and an ethical, secular state. To make it even easier, I’ve grouped them all together in one section. It’s called “Reminders” because we’ve mentioned them before. Thanks to all those who have done their bit already, and to those who haven’t, don’t feel guilty. Just take a few minutes or a few euros and lend a hand in whatever way you’re most comfortable with. Please.

– Derek Walsh, Editor


  • The Constitutional Convention will be in Dublin this week; at Dublin City University tomorrow 11 November at 7:30 pm and at the Royal Irish Academy on Wednesday 13 November at 7:30 pm.
    The Constitutional Convention is holding public meetings throughout Ireland to get the views of the public on changing the Constitution. You can give your views on the separation of Church and State to the Constitutional Convention for consideration in the next phase of the Convention’s agenda.You can find information on the work of the Constitutional Convention here. The full list of the various meetings throughout the country can be found here.
    Some Atheist Ireland committee members will be at these events from around 6:30 pm  if you would like to meet and discuss the meeting.
  • Last Thursday Michael Nugent took part in a debate st the Oxford Union on the motion “That Religion Harms Society”. You can read his account and a transcript of his contribution here.


Some things we’ve told you about a few times already, that you’ve been meaning to do something about but probably haven’t yet. This could be your week.

  • Atheist Ireland is financing, developing, designing and piloting Ireland’s first ever primary school course about atheism. We are working with Educate Together to coordinate this project, with information provided by us and developed into lessons by professionals. This is our biggest project to date and has made global news. Please donate to help us make this course a reality. Learn more.
  • The Equality Authority is seeking Submissions on the Proposed amendment to Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act 1998-2011. The deadline is Wednesday 13 November. Read more
  • There is still time for members of the public to make a submission to the Department of Education on inclusiveness in schoolsThe closing date for submissions is Friday 22 November. Read more
  • The Constitutional Convention is taking submissions from individuals on any topics people feel they should address. We are encouraging people to make submissions on the topic of separation of church and state. You can do so here.

Competition Winner

Congratulations to Simon Henleywillis who has won last week’s competition. He correctly told us that Tony Philpott grew up in Crumlin and wins a signed copy of Tony’s book Faithless


All events are free and open to everyone unless otherwise stated. Listing is not necessarily an endorsement.

  • Monday 11 November 2013, 11:00 am, Mahony Hall, The Helix, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 (map)
    Nobel Laureate Lecture Series from Magnet. “Shedding new light on Schrödinger’s cat” by Professor Serge Haroche, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, 2012. Register. (The event will also be live-streamed on the registration page.)
  • Monday 11 November, 7:30 pm,  HG20, Nursing Building, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 (map)
    Public meeting of the Constitutional Convention. See News section for more details.
  • Wednesday 13 November, 6:00 pm, Science Gallery, Dublin 2 (map)
    “Media Hype and Synthetic Biology” with Alok Jha and Christina Agapakis. Free but booking essential. Read more
  • Wednesday 13 November, 7:30 pm, Royal Irish Academy, Dawson St., Dublin 2 (map)
    Public meeting of the Constitutional Convention. See News section for more details.
  • Thursday 14 November, 6:00 pm, Science Gallery, Dublin 2 (map)
    “The Synthetic Biology Smackdown” with Alok Jha. €5. Read more
  • Wednesday 20 November, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick (map)
    The Mid West Humanists are meeting. There will be a talk by John Mullin onWhat is “science” and where did it come from? A condensed history of thousands of years of human knowledge and progress, and what it means now.
  • Friday 6 December, Trinity Capital Hotel, Pearse St., Dublin 2 (map)
    Atheist Ireland Christmas Party. An end of year celebration with finger food and good company. Admission is free for Atheist Ireland members, and €10 for non-members. (If you’re not already a member, you can join on the night.) Facebook event page


There only seems to be one topic for consideration this week in the corner of the blogosphere we frequent: namely, the news that the government plans to hold areferendum on same-sex marriage by 2015.

If opponents of equal marriage were truly concerned about the natural ties between children and parents they would be focusing on the methods used non-biological parents to have children: IVF and surrogacy. However these methods are overwhelming used by heterosexual couples. The debate about surrogacy and IVF is an important one but it is not solely an LGBT issue and it certainly isn’t a marriage equality issue because if the Irish government banned both IVF and surrogacy gay couples would still want to get married. – Peter Fergusonexplains the difference between equal marriage and same-sex parenting

Iona will be against same-sex marriage because at heart, the very thought repels them at a visceral level.  They lack the maturity to accept the idea  but they won’t express it in those terms.  Instead, they’ll invent studies, research  and papers to support their opposition.  They’ll make stuff up, as they’ve done before, and for some inexplicable reason, people sympathetic to their point of view in RTÉ will ensure that they get access to the airwaves despite their being no more than a tiny self-appointed group of right-wing ideologues. – Bock the Robber dreads “the onslaught of lectures from self-appointed moral guardians” that will come with the equal marriage debates.

I can’t decide if I’m looking forward to the next 18 months or dread the long months of unpleasant interactions that I’ll be subjecting myself to. Knowing there will be a referendum on marriage equality is a source of great relief, but with that relief comes a tightness in my belly. As I get older the opportunities to be involved in truly important events, democratic and life enhancing events, grow ever scarcer. Helping gay people finally achieve full citizenship is an exciting prospect, yet the fear of failure is like a gripping knot of tension. – datbeardymanexamines his mixed feelings about the struggle for equal marriage.

Secular Sunday