Church of Atheism
I first had an idea to establish an atheist church in about 1987. It was going to be called the 'Cop-On Religion'. Probably more of a satirical effort than anything. Twenty years and thousands of pints later, I am starting to have more serious ambitions for it.
Ironically, believers cannot believe that you don't believe what they believe! Many of their counter-arguments against atheism however can be reduced to a general feeling that church life is good to be a part of. And mostly it is. Meeting your friends once a week. Getting together to celebrate weddings, births and funerals. That sense of belonging, of being a cherished part of your community. That's what church life offers.
Unfortunately, the trade off is that you must profess faith in a load of fundamentally spurious hokum (to be kind about it). You must also kowtow to the God-ordained infallibility of its leaders. But since this exchange doesn't really affect your day to day church existence, most people are willing to go along to get along.
I read today in The Nonbelievers – The Boston Globe where a well-meaning atheist is coming under fire from his own kind for setting up just the kind of church I've always wanted. A place where individual humanist values are espoused, where atheists and even agnostics can gather to exchange views, find friends, and maybe someday help each other out in times of trouble.
Is this a pipe dream? Is there any community will to make this happen here? Is there a suitable location locally? What is the atheist population of Limerick?