Top 10 Atheist News Stories of 2009? December 23, 2009

Top 10 Atheist News Stories of 2009?

Robert Jago at A Dime a Dozen Blog offers his take on the top 10 atheist news stories of 2009.

He goes into more detail for each item, but here’s the list:

1. The worldwide atheist bus ads
2. Obama’s ’shout out’ to atheists in the Inaugural
3. The March 29th vote in the French colony of Mayotte to become France’s 101st Department
4. Darwin Day
5. The Irish Blasphemy law
6. Berlin’s religious education referendum fails.
7. Renewed popularity of Ayn Rand.
8. An atheistic civil society
9. Science shows religion to be hard-wired
10. The rise of debaptisms.

Some of those are surprises to me. If I made a list, #3, 6, and 7 wouldn’t have been on there. But I’m also partial to American stories more than international ones…

What else would you have included?

What do you think will be the big stories for us in 2010?

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  • TeddyKGB

    I cringe at the thought of being associated with Ayn Rand in any way.

  • Archaeologists in Jerusalem dig up the corpse of Jesus.

  • I wouldn’t have brought up Ayn Rand because in America, her free market ideas have been awkwardly married to Christian fundamentalism. Most atheists I know oppose the contemporary conservative movement and reject completely unregulated capitalism. Only one I can think of who is sympathetic to it is Michael Shermer.

    I would have added the wafer thing with that kid from Florida. I mean the attempt to kidnap Jesus.

  • TeddyKGB

    I wouldn’t have brought up Ayn Rand because in America, her free market ideas have been awkwardly married to Christian fundamentalism. Most atheists I know oppose the contemporary conservative movement and reject completely unregulated capitalism.

    Probably because free market fundamentalism requires the same blind faith as the Biblical variety. (Not to mention she demanded a cult-like following, much like her partner in lousy philosophical fiction, L. Ron Hubbard.)

  • Sally Kern’s ‘Oklahoma citizen’s proclamation for morality’ which plainly came out and blamed the recession on tolerance of homosexuality.

    Not to mention the founding of Good Reason News, Angie The Anti-Theist, and the Ex-Cult Network. 😉

  • Richard Wade

    I would have included the election of Cecil Bothwell to the City Council of Asheville, North Carolina and the subsequent NC State Constitution debacle over his being an atheist.

  • JPH78

    Wow, I would view any increase in the popularity of Ayn Rand as a terrible, terrible thing.

  • Tim Carroll

    This is probably americo-centrism at play here, but I don’t know what the French colony’s connection to atheism is.
    Other than that, I cannot really offer any other items that I would add to the list. That is, I can’t think of any at the moment.
    I would say that the end of Bush’s tenure as ex-governor-in-chief in the White House was of great interest to atheists.

  • Trace

    I found three quite interesting, even when it is not part of the Anglosphere.

  • The major success of the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne Australia, March 2010

  • Erp

    Mayotte is interesting though its relationship to atheism as opposed to secularism is a bit remote.

    Ayn Rand is an interesting bit. Stanford now has both an Objectivist group (which handed out free copies of Ayn Rand books at the student group fair earlier this year [sort of like handing out free Bibles]) and AHA! (Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics).

  • Pseudonym

    I would have included:

    – Cecil Bothwell.
    – Richard Dawkins’ summer camp in Somerset.
    – Launch of the “Atheism 3.0” movement.
    – Bill Maher getting the RDA.

  • Don’t worry, Ayn Rand would not want to be even faintly connected with anyone for whom the only thing they believe in is atheism.

  • Stephen P

    I’d certainly like to thank him for including 6 (Berlin referendum) which I hadn’t heard about at all, and 3 (Mayotte) – I’d seen this, but hadn’t seen the significance of it discussed. But Ayn Rand? Hardly worth a mention.

    And the “God gene” stuff is probably bogus. Unfortunately some of the genetics research funding does seem to spill over into pretty silly fringe stuff, and this seems to be another case of it.

  • Claudia

    OK I’ve done some basic googling and I still can’t figure out what the Mayotte colony has to do with us in any way shape or form. Can someone illuminate this for me?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    7. Renewed popularity of Ayn Rand.

    What the? Rand’s renewed popularity is related to her political/economic positions and mass insanity, it has nothing whatsoever to do with her lack of theism.

  • Luther

    Number 1 story of the billennium – Religion pops into minds, shortly after man evolves

    Number 1 story of the millennium – Christians waste years waiting for end of world and 2nd coming – divert significant energy from pedophilia and stoning

    Number ? story of the decade – Right declares War on Christmas, denounce word-boarding torture by atheists

    Number ? story of the year – Creation Museum fails to end history and science

  • Erp

    Mayotte by voting to become a department of France also voted to move forward on dropping Islamic laws such as polygamy, unequal inheritance rights for sons and daughters (and presumably unequal ability to divorce for men and women), etc.. Admittedly I hope that polygamy is phased out (e.g., that no new polygamous marriages are allowed but those already in can remain) so that no excess wives are discarded without support. The vote was apparently something like 90% in favor of the change.

    As I said more towards secularism than atheism.

  • False Prophet

    @Reginald Selkirk,

    Gotta agree with you. A friend of mine with Objectivist leanings constantly berates the free-marketeers who sing Rand’s praises while glossing over the “inconvenient truth” of her atheism.

    But if renewed interest in Rand included the atheism of Objectivism, then it would be a top atheist story of the year. This is a list of top atheist news stories, not skepticism news stories or secular humanist news stories. Unfortunately, as Ashley Paramore observed recently, atheism does not always walk hand in hand with skepticism or rationality.

  • Good: Bill Maher’s not on the list
    Bad: Ayn Rand is

    It’s embarrassing to be associated in any form with either of them.

  • I liked the #nogod day on twitter, if that counts as news.

  • Brian

    Wow, Ayn Rand’s name sure stirs up a hornet’s nest. Her renewed popularity has little to do with her religious views. However, whether you like it or not, she is probably the most prominent atheist of the last century. In the current political climate, the majority of atheists seem to be liberals and therefore recoil at her views on free-market economics. Please don’t forget though, that she was speaking the virtues of atheism before atheism was cool. The Fountainhead is very much about the virtue of humanism, a philosophical movement with a large intersection with atheism. She’s not all bad, even if you don’t buy her unregulated capitalist views.

  • I’ll be the umpteenth to express my disgust at the mention Ayn Rand and point out that the so-called renewed interest has nothing to do with atheism. And no, I don’t consider her in any way to be made ‘OK’ or somehow forgiven just because she included atheism in her poisonous stew of beliefs, even if it was before we were ‘cool’.

  • muggle

    I’ll join Eric in the comments on Ayn Rand and add this question: Humanism, Brian, where exactly? Her cult, the Objectivists, seem to be the cult of selfishness.

    Objectivists give us a bad name by continually bringing self-centered ass-holeness to a new level and, Christ, as soon as you say anything against their god Rand… Jesus, but they’re worse than the Christians.

  • Stipulated: Ayn Rand’s continued and future popularity, inspiration, sales and influence is NOT because she is atheistic.

    Many people here keep trying to establish that “atheism” is a belief system. It is not. It simply identifies that one’s belief system is without mention of God.

    Many here desire to magically ascribe a default belief system into “atheism” as if a nothing could be a something. Equally obviously, the whatever-it-is un-named philosophy hates Ayn Rand.

    No problem with the hate, but it is dishonest to insinuate some content for “atheism” that is supposedly universally accepted without naming it.

  • teammarty

    Actually, the most prominent Atheist of the last century was Madalyn Murray O’Hair. She did some good for us and the Country.

  • Wendy

    I would include the banning of minarets in Switzerland, and Sarkozy’s comments about burqas.
    Not that I’m particularly anti-Muslim or anything… Those are just the first stories that come to mind!

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