Friday 26 December 2008

Separation of Church and State

In America, the separation of Church and State was made law by the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.

This is why they don't have prayer in State schools and why they don't have prayer in Congress or the Senate. In Australia, we also have an Establishment clause in our Constitution that separates Church and State:

116. The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

The problem is that in Australia the law hasn't been enforced. So we have not merely prayer, but enforced scripture periods in State schools, and compulsory Christian prayer in Parliament. As well as highly illegal activities like donations of hundreds of millions of  dollars from the Federal government to the Catholic Church, but to no other non-profit organisation.
It would be interesting to see the Secular Party challenge breaches of this part of the Australian Consititution in court.

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Catholic Bishop unhappy with Pope's gay comments

In the true spirit of the season, the Pope does it again! Apparently the 'ecology' of humanity needs to be preserved just like the global ecology...that means traditional roles for men and women and trust in the 'creator' apparently. I think a belief in the creator is a necessity for putting any trust in him/her.....

Originally posted by John Attwater

Monday 22 December 2008

A bit late, Benedict

ABC News tells us that Pope Benedict has paid tribute to the work of the 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was convicted of heresy by the Catholic Church in 1633. This is only 375 years late, good on you, Catholics!
Around the time of his discoveries, when his peers were congratulating him on discoveries such as proof the earth goes around the sun, not the sun round the earth. Discoveries that would lead to Galileo being called "The father of modern Science" in our own time. At that time, good religous folk took the following actions.
  • Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy", namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to "abjure, curse and detest" those opinions.
  • He was ordered imprisoned; the sentence was later commuted to house arrest.
  • His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future
I wonder what issue the "Unchanging and Everlasting Catholic Faith" will be back flipping on next? Birth control when food riots start? Having a net worth of billions while people starve? I predict stem cell research gets it's apology 375 years after a future pope travels to a more secular country to receive lifesaving treatment.

Originally posted by Nathan Dunn

Monday 15 December 2008

Critical mass podcast #2

Alan Conradi, Rachel Macalpine, Dave the Happy Singer and Ian Woolf talk about religion and psychopathology.
Atheist news about Newtown festival, Parody religions, Atheist advertising, and blessed oil.
Critical Mass podcast #2

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Newsletter of the Sydney Atheists

#3 November 08

Hello everybody and welcome again to the newsletter of the Sydney Atheists. It’s been another busy month for us! We have been expanding our public image this month through various events, while also maintaining a bust social event schedule. It truly is great that everybody seems to get more involved the more active the group becomes. It’s like fuelling the fire and watching it glow white hot.
Firstly, Sydney Atheists has successfully received incorporated status, formalising the organisation and allowing us to deliver a more professional front to our activities, events and products. A big thanks is in order for Anthony and everyone else who has worked hard to make this happen.
The biggest event this month (and arguably in the history of the Sydney Atheists) was our involvement in the Newtown Festival. We shared a stall with the Secular Party where we handed out pamphlets, signed up new members, sold bumper stickers and t-shirts, had a lot of really interesting conversations with passers by and even sang a few tunes to the crowd. There was an estimated crowd of 80 000 people, only a few of whom took umbrage at our message of positive atheism. Read more about it at Critical Mass.
Our 100th meetup was a booming success, with a terrific talk about Fake religions by Ian Woolf. He covered Pastafarianism, The Church of the Subgenious, and the Universal Life Church (of which Ian has been canonised as a saint!) among a smattering of others. It was a great night, well attended and a lot of fun. Check out the photos on the Sydney Atheists Flikr stream.
A small group of our members attended a bible study of Riverstone Baptist Church, which was a civil night of discussions about the similarities and differences between the Baptists and the Atheists. We must have made a good impression, as we were invited back and a few of the Baptists said that they would come along to one of our meetings some time. Read more about it in Tiffany’s report below.
In what has become a worldwide phenomenon, atheist advertising is coming to Sydney! We have been working on an advertising campaign and are now ready to release it to the public. We will be running with the slogan ‘No God? No Worries!” and have a variety of different approaches through which we will be presenting the message. We are currently looking for donations and sponsors, so please donate to make this happen, spreading reason and positive secular values throughout Sydney. You can donate through Electronic funds transfer to the Sydney Atheists account:
BSB: 112-879
Account No: 410136189
Or contact us via eMail at:
Finally, we will be running our second blood drive on Saturday, 10th of January at the Elizabeth St Donor centre. Last time we had 8 donors, which was excellent! This time, lets see if we can get even more people to donate to such an important cause. If you can’t make it on the day, you can still donate for the cause, just say that you are donating under the Sydney Atheists’ club red group and fill out the form when you donate. Please consider giving blood. It is a great way to make a positive contribution to those who need it and an embodiment of our ‘good without god’ message. We will create events on Facebook and Meetup for those who are coming. For more information contact Alan at

 Articles by members:

Here's a hand-picked selection of articles from members of the Sydney Atheists. To submit an article for inclusion in either this newsletter, or the Critical Mass blog, email We would like to use this newsletter to share what members have been up to, so get writing!
A Friendly Encounter with Riverstone Baptist
By Tiffany Day
On Tuesday November 18th, the Sydney Atheists were kindly invited to attend a bible study held by the Riverstone Baptist Church, at the home of Pastor Marcus and his wife Reem. The purpose of the evening was not for us to attempt to de-convert the Baptists, but rather to gain an insight into their worldview and into their thinking; ultimately attempting to establish some common ground between our two very different groups.
 After first arriving at their home, we enjoyed some nibblies and refreshments which allowed for some informal introductions and chatter between both parties. We then proceeded to the living area where we sat around each other in a circle, and discussed a select part of the Bible. This particular study mainly dealt with the definition and meaning of sin, how to approach it and how to deal with it in your daily life. Needless to say, this sprung vigorous amounts of friendly questions from us atheists, which were answered quite interestingly, and gave us a clear insight into their day-to-day thought process about God.
 Some important subjects were discussed, with morality being the key issue. The Baptists explained to us the importance to them of their relationship with God, and of living the way that they think they know God wants them to. On the other hand, we expressed our passion for being good, ethical and moral without a need for any particular belief system in a supernatural being. The general vibe in the room was a positive one, with all opinions from either side expressed in a friendly manner. The conversation proved to be so interesting that time escaped us, and two hours seemed to have flown by in 2 minutes! Having to stop our discussion short due to time, the study was ended with a prayer (of which we only observed). We then hung around for some more informal discussion before making our friendly goodbyes.
All in all, the evening was considered to be a great success by all in attendance. Later reports from the Baptists told of how they had stayed back after we had left, and discussed how friendly we were and how interesting they had found the evening to be. For many of them, they had never met a group of atheists before, nor been able to hear about how we approach the world and live without a belief in God, of which most of them have never known life without. The final outcome was a welcoming invitation for the Sydney Atheists to come back any time we wish, as well as many of their members being eager to attend one of our own future events in return.
Well done Sydney Atheists! We really showed this group of Baptists a positive side to atheism, and exposed ourselves as open-minded, friendly and approachable people.
by Rachel Macalpine
Too often I listen to and read apologists that use the phrase "But what's the harm? These are private beliefs, and who are we to challenge what people believe?" Well, all too often, irrational beliefs that are acted on cause a great deal of harm. Just look at the fantastic website What's The Harm. "3,284 people killed, 306,068 injured and over $2,815,114,000 in economic damages ..." and that's just the beginning.

The three terrorists known as the Bali bombers are due to be executed by firing squad sometime within the next day or so. In 2002, they targeted nightclubs packed with western tourists, killing 202 people, 88 of which were Australians. They have never expressed one ounce of remorse, with Amrozi often seen with a huge grin on his face, which gained him the name "the smiling assassin."

They view themselves as martyrs for their religion. Their brother believes that when they are executed, they will be placed in paradise because they stood up for their religion. Their mother is pleased that they will be put to death, again because they will be martyrs for their religion and will be sent to paradise. There are no doubt countless others that believe the same thing.

In the interview below with CNN, the interviewer tries to insist that the bomber is "twisting the Muslim religion completely", however the bomber is able to point out an exact passage in his holy book that justifies killing for his religion.

The interviewer asks "What gives you the right to take the lives of other people?"
The bomber answers "The verse... blood by blood, soul by soul."

That is the harm.

This also raises another point which I often struggle with understanding. These people not only believe that they are right, they "KNOW" that they are right and are willing to give up the one life that they are certain to have. If you don't hold the belief that they do, then you are either going to hell, or not going to heaven, or whatever particular teaching that religion has. Then there are people from other religions that make similar claims about their own belief systems, and they believe and "know" JUST as much as the other group. It goes on and on, with countless religions making these claims. Some one MUST be wrong. They cannot all be right. Yet each group is just as convinced as the other, and in some cases willing to die for the cause.

As an atheist, I reject all claims of any type of god/s until I have good reason and am justified to believe. Hence there is no dogma, no beliefs to follow, nothing to worship, nothing to want to die or kill for, and in fact makes me love and enjoy every day I have in this life, doing as much good as I possibly can.

It seems to me that atheism makes far more sense.
Book Review:           
Your Inner Fish, A journey into the 3.5 billion year history of the human body. by Neil Shubin.
Neil Shubin is an expeditionary palaeontologist who, due to a staffing shortage at his university, found himself teaching introductory anatomy to first year medical students in the cadaver dissection room. What does human anatomy have to do with palaeontology? Well that's what he thought too, and the answer is surprising. It turns out the easiest way to explain the paths of nerves in the human head is to show students how things work in sharks, before things were twisted, shifted, and co opted in the evolutionary path to humans. Limbs owe their design to fish, the human brain is simply extensions on the reptile brain. Shubin's experience as a palaeontologist proves invaluable to the upcoming medical students. This book emerged out of his experiences in the classroom.
Every chapter of Your Inner Fish explains the origin of an aspect of human anatomy using evolutionary genetics, paleontology, embryonic development, and the great tree of life. From teeth to breasts, knees to facial nerves, eyes and hearing, even why we get dizzy when drunk. All is lucidly explained in an accessible and engaging style showcasing the personal stories of the scientists making the discoveries.
The first chapter is Shubin's own exciting, deeply personal story detailing a ten year search for a transitional fossil lying between fish and amphibians. This search culminated in the discovery of Tiktaalik, arguably the most spectacular transitional fossil ever discovered.
Tikaalik's discovery is a resounding confirmation of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, ten years in the making... 
1, Shubin predicted that a transitional form had to exist in an extremely precise time period,
2, He studied university geology maps together with oil company aerial surveys to determine the best locations where rocks of that exact age were being exposed by erosion in a manner that wouldn't destroy any fossils that may be present.
3, He led three palaeontology expeditions to the remote frozen islands in Canada's far north to dig up rocks.
4, and he found exactly what was predicted, in exactly the right place, in exactly the right time strata.
Evolutionary Theory predicted an incredibly rare fossil with a stunningly exacting set of features, in an area less than one billionth the possible surface area of the earth. And it was exactly where it was supposed to be!!! I've never seen the "power of prayer" prove useful enough to predict so much as a coin toss beyond you would expect by random chance, and I've never understood the wilful ignorance that pervades the religious mindset. How can they possibly ignore a fish with elbows such that prayer seems useful and Darwin wrong?
Your Inner Fish is a great read, you will be fascinated by the personal stories contained within its pages. Infectiously carried along as the science is done and discoveries are made. Highly recommended.
More information on Tiktaalik, and transitional fossils in general can be found at these sites gives the only possible response to creationists gives basic info and further links gives more information specifically on Tiktaalik manifestly disproves the common creationist claim that there are no transitional fossils.
Review by Nathan Dunn
Further reading:

There's a lot going on out there, and this section will collect the best and most relevant content from the web and funnel it down for you. In the meantime, here's a collection of interesting stuff to keep you busy. Content suggestions can be emailed to
The Australian Government wants to censor the internet, which will disable access to many interesting sites and slow down speeds dramatically. Read the stories here, here, here, here, here, and here. There will be a protest in Sydney on the 13th of December. Come along and stand up for freedom of information.
The financial crisis has been called an ‘act of God’ by Labor MP, James Bidgood.
Dorothy Rowe, a psychologist, talks about how churches are keeping her in business.
And there have also been baby beatings, crucifixions, and exorcisms here there and everywhere! It’s a mad, mad world indeed.
Other stuff
A selection of links that members might find interesting. Each month there will be a different selection of sites.
Religion News Blog- Keep up with the latest religion news headlines from across the globe. This blog brings together stories from all over so you don’t have to search through all those news blogs to catch up with the wacky world of the religiously afflicted.
This month I have collected so many links to share that to list them all with descriptions would make this newsletter ridiculously long, so instead I’ll put together a ‘Lucky Link Dip’. Click around and see what you get, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there! Each “I” links to a different article, site, video blog etc. Have fun!
To find out more about the Sydney Atheists, check out our sites below
Please forward this newsletter to all of your atheist, agnostic, secular, humanist, freethinking, critical thinking, rationalist, open-minded or generally interesting friends and help to spread rational thinking.
Originally posted by Alan Conradi

Monday 8 December 2008

Some Links

Please add any others that come to mind, or post links in the comments section to grow the list.

Australian Atheist Meetup groups

Canberra Atheists Meetup
Melbourne Atheists Meetup
Adelaide Atheists Meetup
Perth Atheists Meetup
Brisbane Atheists Meetup
Atheist Foundation of Australia
Australian Skeptics

International links
The Non-Prophets
Freedom from Religion Foundation
Point of Inquiry
God Is Imaginary
Infidel Guy

TV Shows
John Safran VS God
Evolution: narrated by Liam Neeson
Space: narrated by Sam Neil
Origins: narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Penn and Teller’s Bullshit!
The Real Hustle
The People Watchers
Cosmos: Carl Sagan
Sleek Geeks
Naked Science

South Park
South Park: Imagionationland
Moral Orel

The God Who Wasn't There
The History of the Devil
Suicide Killers
Angels and Demons: Andrew Denton
God on My Side: Andrew Denton
Jesus Camp
Guns, Germs and Steel
Breaking the Spell
Friends of God
The Most Hated Family in America
Flock Of Dodos
Bloody Cartoons

Kids' books

BANG! The Universe Verse: Book 1, a scientifically accurate, rhyming comic book about the origin of the universe can be viewed, downloaded or bought in hard copy at
It's Alive! The Universe Verse: Book 2 is in progress, and can be supported at

Growing Up in the Universe
Breaking the Science Barrier
The Genius of Charles Darwin
The Blind Watchmaker
The Root of All Evil
The Root of All Evil: The Uncut Interviews
The Enemies of Reason
The Enemies of Reason: The Uncut Interviews
The Four Horsemen
Voices of reason
Appearances and Events
Voices of Science

Beyond Belief Series,
AAI (atheist alliance international) Convention
TAM (the amazing meeting)

Other Films
Apollo 13
The Ten
Magicians: Mitchell and Webb
The Golden Compass
The Life of Brian
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and TV Series

Web links

Here are some web links I have found useful.

A massive collection of statistical information, with a lot of interesting background discussion

Objective information on religions and religion-related issues, describing different viewpoints

Compendium of information, articles, and literature from a non-religious point of view

A discussion board for the non-religious

A Wikipedia article

And here are some links relating to the School Chaplaincy program: (overview, including consultation arrangements) (official program guidelines) 

Originally posted by Alan Conradi

Saturday 6 December 2008

The Bible and Spade - a fundamentalist Biblical archaeology journal

Here is a very amusing biblical archaeology journal written from a fundamentalist/creationist perspective:
I can't tell for sure, but I think it's serious. Perhaps this is a good resource for our 6 day creationist friend Marc Kay...
Some of my favourite quotes from the 'sample issue' 19(4):2006

On that evil pseudo-science, geology:
"the Flood is a very plausible triggering mechanism for the Ice Age, which required a set of unique and simultaneous circumstances unexplainable by uniformitarian principles"

On dinosaurs and why they're no longer with us:
"The Flood or its subsequent affects serve to explain animal extinctions on a massive scale. This includes dinosaurs, which have been hijacked by the evolutionary establishment as a propaganda tool against the Scriptures. Most of the dinosaurs were simply unable to survive the adverse environmental conditions that existed after they left the Ark."

How to get around C14 dating:
"Since the Flood lasted for a period of 371 days, the carbon cycle of the entire earth was completely disrupted in a relatively short period of time. This state of affairs would drastically affect the results of C-14 dating methods as one moves back in history closer to the Flood. Rejecting the historicity of the Flood leads to erroneous assumptions built into the C-14/C-12 ratios needed to calculate dates."

And my personal favourite...
How to refute one hundred millennia of biological and social evolution in one tremendously uninformed paragraph:
"...the Tower of Babel incident (Gn 11) ... fractured the human community and sent various people groups all across the globe. Genetic distribution in human culture was vastly affected by this event. People groups were separated because they could not communicate with one another and therefore the human gene pool was split apart. Cultural identity began with similarity of language and expanded to include physical features such as skin color and various other physical, yet superficial, differences. Modern anthropology and archaeology are entrenched in a paradigm antithetical to the Biblical young earth/Flood/Babel paradigm and therefore have continuously drawn incorrect conclusions from the data in their respective fields."

Originally posted by Russell Hobson

Friday 5 December 2008

Dad files protest on school Ark story

A QUEENSLAND father of five has taken action in the Anti-Discrimination Commission after his four-year-old daughter was asked to help make a replica of Noah's Ark at the local state school.,25197,24752539-601,00.html

Originally posted by John Attwater

Wednesday 26 November 2008

World Catholic Youth Day Cost

So it looks like in the washup of World Catholic Youth Day, it's cost the State of New South Wales ( and me as taxpayers) in excess of $100M. Not a bad 'handout' to another privileged religious organisation:

Originally posted by John Attwater

Some Muslim leaders condone rape

Originally posted by Dr Kay

Monday 17 November 2008

New book - The End of Biblical Studies

Anyone interested in biblical scholarship might like to read a review of the latest book by Hector Avalos at

Avalos is a respected Havard trained biblical scholar at Iowa State. Here's the general thrust of his latest book: "... academic biblical scholarship has clearly succeeded in showing that the ancient civilization that produced the Bible held beliefs about the origin, nature, and purpose of the world and humanity that are fundamentally opposed to the views of modern society. The Bible is thus largely irrelevant to the needs and concerns of contemporary human beings.... Avalos argues that our world is best served by leaving the Bible as a relic of an ancient civilization instead of the 'living' document most religionist scholars believe it should be. He urges his colleagues to concentrate on educating the broader society to recognize the irrelevance and even violent effects of the Bible in modern life."

Originally posted by Russell Hobson

Monday 10 November 2008

Clean feed or Church feed?

The Federal government plans to censor the internet down to the level of a 5 year old child. Senator Conroy is basing this on a Church-circulated petition that he brought to parliament: Petitions to parliament drove ALP’s Internet filtering policy

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

The Rapture Is Coming!

A great list of all the times in history that the world was supposed to end, as well as details as to what they did about it, and what happened to the believers after the world kept on existing :)

Originally posted by Tiffany Day

Sunday 9 November 2008

Dangers of religion

Marcus Brigstocke - Comedy Genius

Probably the funniest atheist rant in existence :)

Originally posted by Tiffany Day, updated youtube URL

Friday 7 November 2008

Critical Mass

Critical Mass is the blog of Alan and Rachel. Sydney Atheists are proud to have Critical Mass as a major contributor.

You can see all the Critical Mass content at

Or, visit the original site at

Originally posted by Ian Woolf


Sydney Atheists accept donations to help us carry out advocacy and education programs on various issues.

The easiest way to donate to Sydney Atheists is through PayPal's secure servers.

Alternatively, you can make a deposit directly to the Sydney Atheists St George Bank account: BSB 112-879 account no. 410 136 189.

We are a strictly non-profit organisation and all donations are used to support the activities of Sydney Atheists. Deposits via PayPal are in accordance with PayPal’s terms and conditions which include the deduction of PayPal’s handling fee.


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Why might you be interested in Sydney Atheists?

Tired of religious dogma?

Want your kids to grow up able to think critically and have open minds?

Looking for positive secular values?

Feeling under-represented or ignored on important social issues?

Then welcome to Sydney Atheists!

Our vision, mission and values

Our vision is of a society that lives and grows through evidence-based reasoning and secular values.

Our mission is to be:

  • an active atheist resource for the people of Sydney,

  • an open and welcoming community for atheists and atheist-friendly people

We work through education, supporting secular charities and by representing the voice of reason in public debate. We also get together to celebrate life and have fun!

Our values are:

  • an open and inquiring attitude;

  • evidence based reasoning;

  • inclusiveness and diversity; and

  • respect, compassion and goodwill.

How we work

We hold regular get togethers:

  • talks starting 6 pm on the second Sunday evening of every month at different pubs; and

  • social lounges starting 6:30 pm on the last Thursday evening of every month (venue changes).

We also promote secular education for all and we run events where we all chip in to do things like support charity work. We are an open organisation led by a Committee whose job it is to enable us all to express ourselves as atheists and atheist friendly people, do good community work and have fun.

Major activities in the pipeline

We are currently planning an advertising campaign intended to make sure people know they can be good without gods.

Continue to Sydney Atheists content


Sunday 2 November 2008

Critical Mass Podcast

Critical Mass podcast MP3

On the show are Anthony, Ian, Dave and Alan

We talk about

  • What the Sydney Atheists have been up to

  • What we're all about

  • Religion invading schools

  • Kevin Rudd's argument from design

  • The London buses

Also, Dave does the topical song, 'On the buses'

Check it out now!

Podcast #1 out now!

The first Critical Mass podcast is available now!

You can get to it via this site,

or you can just download the file here (high quality 47 MB) or here (med quality 23 MB)

On the show are Anthony, Ian, Dave and myself

We talk about
  • What the Sydney Atheists have been up to

  • What we're all about

  • Religion invading schools

  • Kevin Rudd's argument from design

  • The London buses

Also, Dave does the topical song, On the buses 'Freethought Bus'

Check it out now!

You can subscribe to it by clicking the feedburner link at the top of the page.

Originally Posted by Alan Conradi

Wednesday 29 October 2008


Who are Sydney Atheists?

We are your friends, family, colleagues, coworkers. We are present in every walk of life and we work in the community in a wide range of ways. What we have in common is that we think that religion causes harm and that it is time for a more positive answer based on reason and empathy.

Notable atheists

A small selection from

Richard Dawkins

David Hume

Carl Sagan

Philip Adams

Bertrand Russell

  Daniel Dennett

Noam Chomsky

Jack Nicholson

Ricky Gervais


Douglas Adams

Richard Branson

Arundjati Roy

Ian McKellen

Oliver Sacks



Our Goal is to move beyond concepts like religion, gods and atheism and simply be able to interact as decent, considerate human beings

We aim to bring our goal about by doing the following things:

  • Until the day it is no longer needed, embracing the label “atheist” and wearing it as a badge of honour

  • Peacefully and constructively explaining to others why religion is harmful

  • Explaining how atheism provides a better way

  • Articulating and living our ethics on an everyday basis

Only by doing these things can we build the positive secular communities that we wish to see.


This website is intended to provide a resource for Sydney Atheists to help us do the four things set out above so we can achieve our goal of a religion free society. It is a tool for participating in building positive secular communities, learning how to bring the atheist point of view to into everyday life, meeting up with other friendly atheists and having some fun celebrating existence.

A quick introduction to our views


We believe that religion is a natural phenomenon, not a supernatural one. It was created by human beings a long time ago to help explain the world around us and how we should live in it.

But religion’s explanation of the world has long been superceded by science. More importantly, religion causes harm. By privileging faith over reason, it prevents us from solving our differences constructively. It can also limit the ways in which we express our sense of wonder and joy at the very fact of life (what some call “spirituality”).

A better way

We need a framework for living that is grounded in the natural, not the supernatural. We must understand the world and solve the problems we face together using reason and compassion, not dogma. We also want to encourage creativity and diversity in how we respond to the wonder of life.

Our actions

Our actions are about building positive secular communities by showing how we can be good without God. This involves constructively engaging in social issues and activities by bringing the atheist point of view. It also means getting together with likeminded people, having some fun and celebrating life.

Also see the FAQ

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Religion on roster highlights absurdity of daily prayer
From The Sydney Morning Herald letters page:

Religion on roster highlights absurdity of daily prayer

If Senator Chris Evans thinks non-Christians are comfortable reciting the Lord's Prayer each day ("Daily Lord's Prayer should remain: Evans",, October 26) then he must also agree that Christian parliamentarians would be happy with a rotation of daily prayers through the spectrum of beliefs held by all Australians. Given that about a quarter of us don't have a religion, that would make every fourth day an affirmation of the non-existence of gods.
-Rory Delaney Alexandria

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Sydney Atheist t-shirts!

t-shirts T-shirts now available to Sydney Atheist members at a cost of $20 each! They come with either “Sydney Atheists” or “Atheist!” on the front and one of five slogans on the back. Available in a variety of colours and sizes. Out yourself with one today. Simply send an email letting us know your size, colour, front and back slogans and we’ll be in touch to check your order.

Sizes      Mens s/m/l/xl     Womens 10/12/14/16

Slogans (back)

Godless and happy!

If you were taught that elves caused the rain, every time it rained would be proof of elves

Good without God

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away

No Gods now. Ask us how!

Sunday 26 October 2008

Prayer in Parliament

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Malcom Turnball are united in supporting Christian prayer in Federal parliament.
Parliament prayers

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

World Youth Day

Catholic World Youth Day (CWYD) was held in Sydney between 15 and 20 July. It was a unique opportunity for Sydney’s Atheists to share our point of view with others.

  • The Pope should pay his own way

  • Good without God

You may have seen these messages on posters and flyers around Sydney leading up to and during CWYD. Download our pdf flyer with one message on each side and make sure you hand copies out to your friends, family and co-workers.

A couple of videos we took during CWYD

Just for fun, here’s a short video of two of our members, Ty and Tim, checking out some of the early World Youth Day activities in Sydney.

Some Members got up bright and early on Saturday, 19 July 2008 to “Welcome the Pilgrims” walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge. They then joined the NoToPope rally to show support for human rights such as the equality of sex and sexuality, access to conraception and the separation of religion and government.

And here are a couple of posters we came across on William Street. There seemed to be a few of these around Sydney in the lead up to CWYD.


NoToPope Coalition

SydneyAtheists were also part of the NoToPope Coaltion which peacefully protested CWYD. The Coalition addressed the World Catholic Youth and said "Gay is Great” and "Homophobia Is Unacceptable". Participants told Catholic Youth “The pope is wrong: gays are great and condoms save lives”.

The Coalition included Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH), the Metropolitan Community Church, the Socialist Alliance, Resistance, the Raelian Movement, PopeAliceXorporation (PAX), and the well-known androgynous rights activist Norrie May Welby.

For more information about the Coalition, visit the website.

HOPE ENDURES by Colette Livermore A new book is about to be released about a nun who worked with Mother Theresa, and was so disillusioned by the uncharitable nature of missionary charity that she became an atheist and did good works on her own. She became a doctor and built "a new life of humanitarian service". Looks worth a read, and the author will be doing promotional tours around Australian bookshops.

Originally Posted by Ian Woolf

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Top 10 Atheist Authors

Here's a list of what I believe are the top ten atheist authors, in alphabetical order.
  • Richard Dawkins
  • Daniel C Dennett
  • Sam Harris
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • David Hume
  • David Mills
  • Bertrand Russell
  • Carl Sagan
  • Michael Shermer
  • Victor Stenger
Originally posted by Alan Conradi

Atheist bus ad campaign began when comedy writer Ariane Sherine saw an advert on a London bus featuring the Bible quote, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on this Earth?” [sic]. A website URL ran underneath the quote, and when Sherine visited the site she learned that, as a non-believer, she would be “condemned to everlasting separation from God and then spend all eternity in torment in hell”.

Unsettled that religious groups were allowed to advertise websites which warned that the non-religious would face torture at the end of their lives, Sherine pitched and began to write a comment piece for The Guardian’s Cif (Comment is free) website, called Atheists - Gimme Five. As part of her research for the piece, she called the Advertising Standards Authority, but was told that the website advertised wasn’t part of their remit. At the end of her article, keen to suggest a solution, she proposed:

[if all atheists reading this] contribute £5, it’s possible that we can fund a much-needed atheist London bus ad with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and [enjoy] your life.”

To Sherine’s surprise and excitement, the majority of reader comments under the article were very positive and enthusiastic about the idea, with dozens of commenters offering to contribute to the campaign.

Political blogger Jon Worth read the piece, thought the proposal was a smart and sweet idea, and emailed Sherine asking if he could set up a Pledgebank page, where readers could pledge to donate to the campaign. The Pledgebank link was placed in the comments of the original article, and although the piece was archived after three days, dozens of blogs picked up on the idea and it spread across the internet.

877 people signed up to the Pledgebank page before it closed six weeks later, and Matthew Parris wrote positively about the idea in his column in The Times on the page’s very last day. However, the Daily Telegraph published an inaccurate report after the page closed, saying that atheists had failed to donate enough money to the campaign, not acknowledging that there had in fact been no donation phase and almost no publicity.

To set the record straight, Sherine wrote a second article for Cif called Dawkin ‘Bout A Revolution, explaining what had happened, and announced that the campaign would relaunch in the autumn “with a new website [] and a more proactive campaign”. 262 readers signed up to the campaign after the second Cif piece, and over 1,200 joined the newly set up Atheist Bus Campaign Facebook Group.

The Atheist Bus Campaign launches today, Tuesday October 21 2008. To donate, please visit [link].

Campaign: Atheist Bus

83 comments | 14.10.08 | Ariane | Email this post Email this post

** We reached the total at 10.06am - thank you so much to everyone who contributed! If you haven’t donated yet and would like to then please do - we can then get adverts inside the same buses to strengthen the campaign’s impact! **

The Atheist Bus Campaign launches today, Tuesday October 21. With your support, we hope to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across the capital for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Donate online now!

Professor Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion, is officially supporting the Atheist Bus Campaign, and has generously agreed to match all donations up to a maximum of £5,500, giving us a total of £11,000 if we reach the full amount – enough for a much bigger campaign. The British Humanist Association have kindly agreed to administer all donations.

With your help, we can brighten people’s days on the way to work, help raise awareness of atheism in the UK, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists. We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves.

As Richard Dawkins says: “This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion.”

 Originally posted by Nathan Dunn

Saturday 18 October 2008


Here are ten common questions and answers to get you started. If you have more questions, why not ask an atheist?

Q1: Who are the Sydney Atheists?

A1: Sydney Atheists is a group of atheists and likeminded people who consider religion, in the sense of belief in a supernatural deity, to be harmful and who believe that our understanding of the world and how we live within it should be based on reason and compassion, not dogma.

Q2: Why do you consider religion to be harmful?

A2: Religion privileges faith over reason. By doing so it prevents people from solving their differences constructively and, where this cannot happen, injustice and suffering tend to follow. Religion can also limit the ways in which we can express our sense of wonder and joy at the very fact of existence (what some people call “spirituality”).

Q3: What are you campaigning about in relation to Catholic World Youth Day?

A3: Two things (for starters). The first is that Morris Iemma should not have given $118 milion of New South Wales taxpayers’ funds to the Catholic Church, an organisation that clearly doesn’t need the money, for CWYD. The money should have gone to badly needed community services. The second is that people should know that it is entirely possible to be good without God.

Q4: Why shouldn’t Catholics get together and celebrate their faith in Sydney?

A4: You can if you like. But we see serious flaws in the Catholic religion (and other religions as well) and consider atheism to be a better, more constructive and fulfilling way to live.

Q5: What’s wrong with supporting a major religious even that will bring tourism dollars to NSW?

A5: Because its not the New South Wales Government’s job to fund religion. Religion and government need to remain separate. The absence of that separation threatens everybody’s freedom of thought and expression, not just atheists. The State must remain secular in order to represent the interests of all of its citizens. And if the object of the exercise is simply to make a profit for New South Wales, it stands to reason that a larger profit would have been made had the Catholic Church paid its own way.

Q6: You are impinging on my freedom to believe in God

A6: You are free to believe whatever you like so long as you do no harm to others. Again though, by privileging faith over reason, the actions you take may restrict other people who don’t share your views from living their lives as they choose. You may end up causing them harm. You may even harm yourself. To interact with others meaningfully, to solve the problems we face together, requires reason and compassion, not dogma.

Q7: You can’t be good without God because atheists have no morals/are evil

A7: Atheists have morals but we prefer to call them “ethics”. “Morals” has connotations of being handed down by a supernatural being. “Ethics” derive from an ethos, understood by atheists to mean the natural world. Our ethics originally developed a long time ago as tools to help us survive in a dangerous environment. Understanding others and the world around us helped us to guard against danger. Doing good to one another built trust, co-operation and strength in numbers. Respecting the experience of elders (particularly our parents) helped us to learn. Through history, we have gradually developed these basic guidelines for survival into universal values. We took this last, most important step because we recognised that every living creature shares something in common and, like us, deserves the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Those core values of respect and understanding, openness and goodwill are entirely natural and accessible to all of us through our ability to reason and have compassion for other living things. They are our common heritage, shared by atheists and religious people alike. It is actually religion’s explanation that is wrong. It seems entirely natural that our ancestors, unable to comprehend how our ethics are generated through existing in the world, invented gods to provide them for us. The problem with religion is that it also allows other “rules” that conflict with those universal values of respect, understanding, openness and goodwill to be justified simply by reference to a God without regard for how those other rules may harm others. Trying to apply other rules is not unique to religion. But resorting to religion to provide authority for doing so is a tool that has been used by those with selfish intent since the world began. The best way to prevent it happening is to understand that our core values are not handed down by a supernatural lawmaker. Rather, their fullest application depends on us living as conscious beings in the world, using reason and compassion.

Q8: But atheists don’t feel anything/miss out on the spiritual

A8: Atheists experience the wonder and majesty of life like others do. We feel the sublime and our connection with other living creatures. We know how fragile and precious life is. We want to celebrate those things. But we don’t need to believe in a supernatural being in order to do so. The emotions we all feel are an entirely natural response to our existence in the world, not a religious one. Atheists also understand the power of believing you have been given an answer to life’s mysteries, that you have been given a purpose and the promise of eternal life. Its a very powerful set of beliefs. But that doesn’t make them true. The feelings you feel, the elation, the joy, are very human feelings generated by nature. But we are not only our passions, we are our reason too. And to make use of one to the exclusion of the other is to live less than your full human potential.

Q9: Religious people do a lot of good work

A9: Almost everyone does good work. They just don’t all feel the need to call it religious. Again, our desire to do good doesn't get handed to us by a supernatural God but has arisen naturally from our existence in the world. As conscious beings, we understand the importance of kindness for its own sake. It doesn’t matter that our own good deed isn’t repaid. It helps someone else, someone who, as a fellow living creature, we recognise as inherently deserving of the same opportunities as us to live their life to the fullest. Religion doesn’t create that. Reason and compassion do.

Q10:You seem so certain. What if you are wrong?

A10:If we’re wrong, we’re wrong. But for thousands of years people have been looking for direct evidence of the existence of supernatural beings. Despite all those people looking, not a single piece of hard evidence has ever been found. Furthermore, all the things that religion tries to justify as flowing from the existence of God either have entirely natural explanations or no basis in fact or experience at all.