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But religion’s explanation of the world has long been superceded by science.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.