Challenges for Atheists in 2016

Atheist Ireland is a short and pithy name for “an Irish advocacy group” that promotes

atheism and reason over superstition and supernaturalism, and . . . an ethical, secular society where the State does not support or finance or give special treatment to any religion.

On January 1, Michael Nugent, chairperson of Atheist Ireland, published a post entitled “Five Challenges for Atheists and Secularists in 2016.” Nugent’s post is getting a lot of praise and attention. Hemant Mehta highlighted two of what he calls Nugent’s “big challenges” for 2016 and Jerry Coyne says,

Michael’s article is a good way to start the year, and a good tonic to pep us up for the coming battles. He’s one of the good ones.

Michael Nugent’s earlier post “My Review of 2015 for Atheists and Secularists” describes Atheist Ireland’s members and volunteers’ efforts to promote atheism and reason over superstition and supernaturalism. Nugent draws from Atheist Ireland’s numerous successes to encourage

Those of us who live in secular liberal democracies should actively support those who courageously promote these ideas in more dangerous regions. We should also directly promote the ideas in our own democracies and online.

Nugents five challenges for atheists and secularists in 2016 will help us do that:

1 Oppose the silencing word ‘Islamophobia’

2 Promote robust civil dialogue not Internet rage

3 Normalise the use of the word atheism

4 Promote fundamental human rights

5 Promote ethical secular democracy

As one atheist colleague points out, #3 “is very important” because

“other terms — if used in the absence of the explicit word “atheism” or “atheist” — are a cop-out and help to maintain atheophobia which is the main problem we need to fight against!!!”

David Silverman, the President of American Atheists agrees. In his book, Fighting God, Silverman says,

the best way to normalize [atheism] is to de-demonize us . . . . that’s why I am such a proponent of using the word atheist. . . . How openly and frequently the word atheist is used can be seen as a barometer of how we’re doing. (136)

The effort to normalize the word atheism is implicit in the title of this website. Canadian Atheist writers, in their widely differing ways, will continue meet and at times, exceed the challenges Michael Nugent encourages us to address, and Canadian Atheist posts will, occasionally, reflect Silverman’s version of firebrand atheism.

11 thoughts on “Challenges for Atheists in 2016

  1. Standing loud and proud worked for the gays, it should work for atheists.

  2. “Is Islam a religion of peace or a religion of violence? That’s like asking is a rainbow yellow? Parts of it are, but the rainbow itself is not. Like most religions, Islam is a religion of contradictions.”

    He seems to have a suitably nuanced understanding of religion.
    I suggest “phlogistonists” as the word to describe those who embrace anti-religious bigotry.
    Prejudice is after all a false source of fire… Hopefully Harris and the others will keep their phlogiston in check, in the new year. After all, it’s 2016!!1

    • Joe

      One day your comments will cause me to spontaneously combust. see http://mentalfloss.com/article/60468/how-charles-dickens-fueled-world-spontaneous-combustion-truthers

      • The final stage of atheism is just apathy. The thought that religion is based on anything should never comes to mind. It’s hard to experience an emotion about nothing.

        Religion motivated crime is the only grabber. It’s like the reoccurring deaths caused by drunk driving. Actually worse. There is no psychotic intention associated with drunk driving, usually.

        Oh yeah, there’s that disquiet when looking into the eyes of the hopelessly deluded. This happens infrequently since my religious family members became less active.

        For myself, the contagion seems to be abating. I realize things are different for others. So, for the good of the wider community, I’ll confess to atheism.

        For whoever it offends, I’m opposed to multiculturalism as well. Anyone who supports multiculture thinks culture is a static condition. All those who try to create a static culture are a great bloody nuisance.

        • Tim Underwood says

          “I’m opposed to multiculturalism as well. Anyone who supports multiculture thinks culture is a static condition. All those who try to create a static culture are a great bloody nuisance.”

          Bravo!

        • “For whoever it offends, I’m opposed to multiculturalism as well. Anyone who supports multiculture thinks culture is a static condition”

          I’m not offended.
          I wholeheartedly support multiculturalism, and reasonable accommodation.
          I don’t think culture is static.

          Culture evolves…. Only god believers think evolution means a fish can turn into a goat over night.

        • > For whoever it offends, I’m opposed to multiculturalism as well. Anyone who supports multiculture thinks culture is a static condition. All those who try to create a static culture are a great bloody nuisance.

          Er, the whole point of multiculturalism is that culture isn’t static. That’s why it’s foolish to try to “maintain” some stagnant notion of “Canadian culture”, rather than accepting that “Canadian culture” is just the aggregate of what every Canadian brings to the table.

          • In practice the whole purpose of multiculturalism can be to isolate and control. I do understand your defence of outside contribution though. For all the interesting and fun traditions we may appreciate, we hopefully indulge in these practices free from any form of coercion.

            Canadian culture has always had a dynamism that traditionalist think should be tamed. I defend our traditional dynamism, if that isn’t too close to a contradiction in terms.

          • I agree with you Indi, Multiculturalism smells a little “ghettoish”.
            Only… “Canadian” culture promises to be quite a bit more than the sum of its parts.
            Rather than multiculturalism – more should be done to encourage transverse mingling. When one is able to view a situation from various prospectives it becomes easier to be more rational and realistic and inherent contradictions and the absurdity of all religions should become more obvious to more people.

  3. Atuheistwatch challenge to atheists

    Atheistwatch challenge

  4. This multicultural issue is new to me. I am in Texas we are so backward here we think Canadians are all living behind unlocked doors and want to be multicultural. A couple of Canadian friends have told me a bit about it. It’s not just an atheist thing right? Not that that’s bad per se.

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