In recognition of atheists and, in particular, publishers
One spectre stirs in Poland, while another rapes Ukraine next door, and in the meantime, we in the West do everything possible to ensure Islam does the same to us all.
The critique of religion is the prerequisite for all critique.
In an age rapidly descending into mediaevalism: tolerance of mass murder; gang rape; beheading; child marriage; paedophilia; polygamy; stoning to death; mutilation; mass invasions and so much besides, it is worth reminding ourselves that a great deal more than our freedom is at stake. By imposing on ourselves a prohibition on critique of religion, especially critique of one particular religion, for in that case we imply all other religions to not be religions, we set in place the mechanism for completely shutting down our minds, so much so that we will lose the awareness of being unfree, and consequently the ability to desire freedom, let alone fight to restore it. Dark ages, generally, last a very long time.
Last weekend, 30 March - 1 April 2023, the Fundacja im. Kazimierza Łyszczyńskiego hosted their annual Days of Atheism conference in Warsaw, where I had the honour of speaking. I am happy to report that critique of religion is very much alive, and that attendance, in no less fitting a venue than the Copernicus Science Centre, was substantial, with a significant international presence. Thanks and praise are due the tireless Nina Sankari and her tiny team for this remarkable accomplishment.
In fitting appreciation of publishers unafraid, who bring to light writers unafraid, the Days of Atheism conference recognised Stanisław Pisarek, owner and editor-in-chief of Stapis Publishing House, as Atheist of the Year 2023. Pisarek earned this recognition for his publication of the series Bez bogów (Without Gods), of which my book, Islam. Wiara a człowieczeństwo, is part. Professor Richard Dawkins, whose relentless work against obscurantism, not least through his 13 million samizdat-copied The God Delusion, does more to free Muslims from Islam than any other intervention I can think of. For his astonishing life’s work, Professor Dawkins was recognised with the special award of Atheist of All Time.
It was not lost on me that the event took place in Europe’s great interminable city, Warsaw, that rises again and again each time it is destroyed by the forces of darkness, be it Catholicism, Nazism, or Communism. As if on cue, on a stroll through the city the morning after the conference, what would we run into, but a huge procession in honour of Pope John Paul II. One spectre stirs in Poland, while another rapes Ukraine next door, and in the meantime, we in the West do everything possible to ensure Islam does the same to us all. For now, we have bold publishers, life-sustaining conferences and critique of religion. Let us celebrate that.