AOF Activities & Events
To Tuesday, April 21, 2020
National Ask an Atheist Day is a movible secular holiday that occurs twice each year -- first on the 3rd Thursday of April (which can be anywhere from April 15 to April 21), then on the 3rd Thursday of September (from Sept 15 to Sep 21). As if atheists don't have enough to do already.
"NAaA Day" is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to dispell stereotypes about atheism and to encourage constructive, courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers. And it is an opportunity for the general public—particularly people of faith—to approach non-theists and ask questions about secular life. Please don't be afraid to spark up a discussion with us, we won't bite. Most don't, anyway.
The first event was in February of 2011, when members of the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) at the University of Illinois set up a table with a sign that said "Ask an Atheist." The next month an article appeared in the Friendly Atheist website, written by a "Guest Contributor" (probably an SSA member), saying the event was a smashing success and the Illinois group hoped to take the day nationally. "The SSA is ready to help," it added. Since then NAaA Day has occured across the nation each April since, and soon in September as well.
For those interested, it helps to know a bit about atheism. Of course the point is to ask atheists questions, but here is some background. Generally, atheists have no belief in deities, which is not quite the same as a positive belief no deity exists. The prefix "a" just means "without." Atheism has no set ideology—atheists may be humanists, rationalists, unitarian universalists, postmodernists, secularists, among other things. Historically, Greek and Roman philosophers and writers such as Epicurus, Democritus, and Lucretius had an influence on what would become atheism. The term didn't appear until the sixteenth century, a time when freethought and skepticism began to flourish. Some that lived during the Age of Enlightenment were the first to identify themselves as atheists. The supremacy of human reason was an facit of the French Revolution, and it was at this time that atheism first became used politically. Science also began to lock horns with orthodox religion during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Today it is challenging to estimate how many atheists are in the world. A 2015 poll claimed about 11% of the world's population are atheists, and a 2012 poll claimed the number to be 13% (both WIN/Gallup International polls). A BBC poll from 2004 put the number at 8%. Europe and Asia seem to have the largest number of atheists. In 2015, 61% of Chinese citizens identified as atheists.
For more about the day and how to participate, take a look at the Ask An Atheist Day Activity Guide. But what if you aren't an atheist? Celebrate NAaA Day by asking an atheist about atheism! The day is meant to be filled with respectful dialogue, so make sure to participate in such a way, no matter if you are an atheist or the person asking questions.