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.

The Sumerian Heresy

I’m not pleased. Enki would not be pleased. The foul Icelanders have besmirched the honour of Sumer. Followers purport to be worshipping ancient Sumerian gods, but the group’s raison d’être seems to have more to do with political and tax reform, with a long-term ambition to creatie a separation between … Continue reading

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