The Irish Times, in a feature article last Friday on the Atheist Ireland AGM, asked whether we were seeking a softening of what it called a Dawkinsian attitude to religion in favour of a more inclusive approach.

Actually, the inclusive approach of Atheist Ireland to charitable and social justice and gender and disability issues, sits quite comfortably alongside our promotion of reason and science and our strong rejection of the silly and harmful impact of religion on society.

It is all part of the evolving ‘New Atheism’ project, as promoted by Richard Dawkins and many others with a variety of nuances in recent years, and not a deviation from it.

The myth outlined in the Irish Times article that we are “one-dimensional, rabidly anti-religious Dawkinsians” rests on the underlying myth of a one-dimensional, rabidly anti-religious Richard Dawkins.

In reality, Richard Dawkins is a sensitive, caring man who does more to promote science, reason, truth and atheism than anybody else I know. He uses ridicule and wit as well as reason to expose bad ideas, but he is the opposite of the uncaring dogmatist that his critics unfairly caricature him as.

We need to dispel both of these myths, and this Irish Times feature has helped to further that important conversation.