Is there a new face of atheism?


Sir, – How does Patrick Davey (October 31st) come to the conclusion that an atheist world would be unable to handle worldly pressures, personal or political?

I’m an atheist and I manage these pressures daily in the same manner as any theist. I can also aspire to being a better person without having to believe in god – Christian or otherwise.

If he needs religion to fill a space in his life, that is his choice. I do not feel any sense of being hollow or shallow nor do I need his like forcing their beliefs on me to fill this “space”. – Yours, etc,


Harrisons Place,

Charleville, Co Cork.

Sir, – I mean it as a compliment to Michael Nugent to say that he is just stating the obvious in his letter (October 29th).

Nevertheless, I think he makes an error of omission regarding “New Atheism” (although, as I just did there, he also puts the term in quotes).

The point is that “New Atheism”, like political correctness, is in the eye of the beholder.

Certainly I could ask two questions and, in the unlikely event that there is a positive answer to either of them, I think I should be told immediately.

First, does anybody (including Richard Dawkins) describe themselves as a “New Atheist”? Second, is there some document which could be described, formally or not, as “The New Atheism Manifesto” and recognised as such by its author(s)? – Yours, etc,


Evergreen Road, Cork.

Sir, – Michael Nugent’s strident views on religion, as expressed in his letter on behalf of Atheist Ireland (October 29th), and his intolerant and insulting remarks such as “intervening personal gods who answer prayers and impregnate virgins to give birth to themselves” undermine his credibility when he puts forward his vision of a society that should address ethical issues, human rights and compassion. The tone of his letter is one of Fundamentalist Atheism and is lacking in any sense of charity or compassion.

Mr Nugent’s brave new world would seek to banish religious faith from the public square. Which of the Catholic charities would he suggest be closed down first, St Vincent De Paul or maybe the Capuchin Day Centre where meals are provided daily to the needy?

The Catholic Church, of which I am a member, advocates a distinction between the political and the religious and deplores any form of religious fundamentalism or aggressive secularism.

Mr Nugent is advocating “personal autonomy and individual conscience, while not infringing on the rights of others” except, of course, if you happen to believe in God.

There is room for all belief systems in our country; however I would be greatly concerned if ridicule, cold-hearted reason and intolerance became accepted forms of dialogue in our efforts towards the common good. – Yours, etc,



Firhouse, Dublin 24.