Is there a new face of atheism?


Sir, – The world and its communities as envisioned by atheists and described by Michael Nugent (October 30th) is self-centred, subjective and lacking in any foundation that can stand the test of worldly pressures, personal or political.

How much more potent and sustainable is the Christian belief that we are all made in the image and likeness of the loving creator. Of course we all spend our time falling way short of living up to that; we fail to value each and every person in the way we should, but the aspiration is there and the reason is there and the help is there if we genuinely ask for it.

In contrast with that what does it mean to: “Where possible make individual ethical decisions on the basis of personal autonomy and individual conscience, while not infringing on the rights of others”? Where do the ethics come from? How is the conscience formed? Who decides on the rights of others? And that “where possible” far too easily becomes a general let out allowing me to do only the things I feel like doing.

Atheism, to me sounds hollow, shallow, empty of any serious aspiration to make the world a better place but using the language of religion to sound something it is not. As for the insistence on “evidence”; I have on several occasions heard Richard Dawkins use the phrase “I believe”. – Yours, etc,


Dublin Road, Shankill,

Dublin 18.

Sir, – Séamus de Barra (October 30th) highlights a major problem with mystery religions such as Christianity.

If an afterlife is supposed to be eternal, then, however shadowy such a life may be, its value must outweigh all of earthly life. No doubt when the notion was first proposed it was intended to improve moral arguments, but it has only succeeded in skewing them. For instance, from an eternal standpoint the only party requiring attention, sympathy and protection is the perpetrator of abuse, since the victim’s soul is in no danger. Understandably this argument gets no public airing, but it follows inescapably from the doctrine of an eternal afterlife moderated by a just and punitive judge.

Mr de Barra writes “if there is no God and no afterlife, one’s deeds in this life are not going to have any longterm consequences” – as though the only consequences one might consider are the first-person consequences.

When I was baptised as an infant I undertook to renounce the world, the flesh and the devil. I have since come to respect the first two of those, and regard them not as enemies, but vulnerable wonders. To value their renunciation is, to some degree, to consent to the neglect of our clear duties, for instance in limiting climate change. – Yours, etc,


Marlborough Road,

Dublin 4.