What Happens at an Atheist Church?

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BBC News reports on an atheist church in North London:

An “atheist church” in North London is proving a big hit with non-believers. Does it feel a bit like a new religion?

Not many sermons include the message that we are all going to die and there is no afterlife.

But the Sunday Assembly is no ordinary church service.

Launched last month, as a gathering for non-believers, it is, in the words of master of ceremonies Sanderson Jones, “part foot-stomping show, part atheist church, all celebration of life”.

A congregation of more than 300 crowded into the shell of a deconsecrated church to join the celebration on Sunday morning.

Instead of hymns, the non-faithful get to their feet to sing along to Stevie Wonder and Queen songs.

There is a reading from Alice in Wonderland and a power-point presentation from a particle physicist, Dr Harry Cliff, who explains the origins of dark matter theory.

It feels like a stand-up comedy show. Jones and co-founder Pippa Evans trade banter and whip the crowd up like the veterans of the stand-up circuit that they are.

But there are more serious moments.

The theme of the morning is “wonder” – a reaction, explains Jones, to criticism that atheists lack a sense of it.

So we bow our heads for two minutes of contemplation about the miracle of life and, in his closing sermon, Jones speaks about how the death of his mother influenced his own spiritual journey and determination to get the most out of every second, aware that life is all too brief and nothing comes after it.

Read the rest here.

8 Replies to “What Happens at an Atheist Church?

  1. 1
    nullasalus says:

    Because if there’s one thing that atheism needed, it was losing the ability to sleep in on a Sunday.

    The whole thing sounds entirely dull and pointless. But I suppose your not-stamp-collectors need to gather together.

  2. 2
    timothya says:

    On Sunday mornings, I (as an atheist relaxing in bed) wish that the happy-clappy theists next door would turn down their sound system. In return, I promise not to play a reading of David Hume at full volume.

    Information processing can be difficult in suburbia.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Dr. Dembski has a article up on ENV:

    Pummeled with Pom Poms: Thomas Nagel and His Critics – William A. Dembski – February 6, 2013
    Excerpt: Now what I find most interesting about these negative reviews, and this is the only real point I want to make here, is that none of them cites any evidence, provides any reason, or offers any insight that would cause Nagel to do a double take. It’s simply unimaginable that Nagel could read any of these reviews and say to himself,
    “Gee, I wish I had done some more thorough reading and knew more of the particulars of the underlying biology and philosophy of science. If I had, I wouldn’t have written my ridiculous book and embarrassed myself by giving Mind & Cosmos that crazy subtitle Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. I now see that neo-Darwinian materialism really is a viable theory.”
    Nagel is not going to say this to himself, and the reason he won’t is that the negative reviewers have offered nothing that Nagel hasn’t already seen.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Now this is a well done commercial:

    2013 Westminster Conference on Science and Faith – video

    How did the universe begin? How did life start? How did complex living things arise? Explore these big questions and more at the fourth annual Westminster Conference on Science and Faith on April 5-6, 2013 at Covenant Fellowship Church in the greater Philadelphia area. This year’s theme is “How Did It All Begin?” and features speakers such as renowned Oxford University mathematics professor John Lennox and leading intelligent design theorist Stephen C. Meyer.

  5. 5
    owendw says:

    “Now he worships at an altar of a stagnant pool
    And when he sees his reflection, he’s fulfilled
    Oh, man is opposed to fair play
    He wants it all and he wants it his way.”

    Read more:

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Eugene Wigner receives his Nobel Prize for Quantum Symmetries – video 1963

    The Renninger Negative Result Experiment – video

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    I wonder if they get baptized in bs.

  8. 8
    qwerty says:

    What do you call someone who doesn’t know if god exists, and doesn’t know if it can ever be found out if god exists?

    Because according to Huxley who coined the term “agnostic”; people who aren’t sure if god exists must then for no objective reason at all believe that god could never be met. Does anyone else have a problem with Huxley’s definition?

    What do you call it if I don’t know if god exists, but I also don’t know if god could ever be met?

    I think UD should have a contest to coin this new word, because there’s all kinds of people who call themselves atheists whereas after a couple minutes of prying they acknowledge that they have no idea and “believe in science” or whatever, has nothing to do with anything.

    But it’s just this confusion of terms that causes so many people to get all emotionally tied up with one side or the other and attend James Randi conventions.

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