Is This Atheist Flyer Clever or Offensive?

The Secular Student Alliance at Valencia Community College in Florida saw this flyer floating around their campus recently:

Ok, fine… no need to vandalize it or anything, but it does seem silly to trivialize your current life because you think eternity is where all the action is at. At least, that’s what I read into the image. That dot is all that matters.

Anyway, it turns out church/state separation hero Ellery Schempp is speaking at Valencia on October 20th, and the SSA group wanted to advertise his event.

They knew exactly where to look for inspiration:

I think it’s a great ad — it parodies the original ad without being overly dickish. What do you think?

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    meh. i grok the point of the atheist flyer, but it’s not terribly clever to me. the bible is actually a longer document than the Constitution, so the metaphor doesn’t really work.

    now, the fundie flyer makes me feel sorry for believers. how little and empty they must feel! life is rich and vibrant and most people can hardly take it all in, even when they try. to think of oneself as an insignificant dot is just… sad. i’m not saying that individuals should worship themselves, but really. to think of the self as completely insignificant seems to be missing the point of being alive, esp if that life is “granted by gawd.” or maybe i just don’t understand theology’s purpose in explaining the correct way to value life.

  • Guy G

    now, the fundie flyer makes me feel sorry for believers. how little and empty they must feel! life is rich and vibrant and most people can hardly take it all in, even when they try. to think of oneself as an insignificant dot is just… sad.

    That’s one way of looking at it, certainly. However, I saw it as being very much true fact. Yes, our lives are just a meaningless dot when compared to bigger things. On a cosmic level we are almost nothing, temporally, physically and in terms of significance. The tiniest grain of sand on a near infinite beach. But fuck me, what a lot of stuff there is in that tiny dot.

  • http://toomanytribbles.blogspt.com toomanytribbles

    i find the play on the original kind of forced.

    it has little to do with the pascal’s wagerishness of the christian flyer, and it’s not very clear on what they mean by the length or separateness of bible, leaving quite a lot of questions.

    to refute the christian version, i’d like to see imagery similar to this:
    http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/1733/lifeeternity.jpg

  • MIDVALCRE

    I would have put the constitution line above the bible, as it is a much better document for justice.

  • OurSally

    Now I had a great deal of Christian education, before I saw the light, so I know there was never a mention of having a soul before one was conceived. So what’s with that line? If you want to believe in eternal life, surely it starts when you do, and goes on from there. If it works backwards, then you’ve already won, without all the prayer and stuff, because minus infinity is just as big as plus. Just a bit of pedantry in my lunch hour…

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    I like the graphic of the Christian flyer, it reminds me of quote usually attributed to Mark Twain (though I have never seen it specifically referenced) “I do not fear death, in view of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” In this, the graphic is completely right.
    However, I think it creates a counter argument to the one intended. If your life is just this blip in time, and it is, how can you think the actions in that little blip can set the tone for all eternity? Can god be so petty as to hold a grudge for billions and billions of years? Is any being worthy of worship or the name god capable of holding a grudge that long? Does even Hitler, Stalin, Moa or George W deserve to be tortured without end? It puts it into perspective.

    I think the parody graphic is a bit idiotic. I appreciate the thought but the graphic is trying too hard.
    I think a long line indicating humanism and a little blip of biblical tradition would better explain the foundation of the constitution.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I agree with toomanytribbles that it’s a very forced attempt at a joke. It’s also not very clear what it’s trying to say. If you pushed the parallel with the original Campus Crusade poster, it would seem to be saying that the Constitution is longer than the Bible (much as eternity is longer than life), which obviously makes no sense. As a metaphor attempting to say that the Constitution is better than the Bible, it’s horribly unclear, especially for someone unfamiliar with the original poster. Even if someone does get it, it can come off as an apples-and-oranges comparison.

    Sorry, but it just seems kind of lame.

  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    I thought the Christian one was an atheist one at first; I misread it and thought it said, “The dot is your life. Live for the dot!” As in, don’t worry about eternity, just do what you can while you’re alive.

    Truthfully, I was kinda disappointed when I realized it was CCC…

  • Secular Stu

    I think responses like that are a bad idea, but I’ll throw this out there – a closer parody would be something like:

    This dot is your free time on Sunday.

    This line is your free time without church.

    Go out for brunch and have Sangria!

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    The tiniest grain of sand on a near infinite beach. But fuck me, what a lot of stuff there is in that tiny dot.

    that is, in fact, my point. life is a wonder, all by itself. even the “life” of a grain of sand, if you look at it from the perspective of science, is full of amazing realities that can entertain the mind almost endlessly. i know i am a spec in the universe, and yet: i am! that’s plenty to celebrate right there, and then there’s the joy of knowing there are billions like me, but also each unique and complex.

    that’s more than enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. i don’t have time for superstition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 muggle

    I too at first thought the Christian one was the Atheist one you were referencing. It was disappointing that the opposite of what I got was intended.

    However, I seem to be the only one (so far) of the commenters that had the intended reaction to the second — that compared to the Constitution, the buybull is insignificant and without meaning so I appreciated.

    But, I still think they would have countered it much better by ignoring it. Seriously, why didn’t they? By making a parody of it in this situation, they gave it more weight than it deserved. Kind of like the churches who put up counter billboards to ours, thereby drawing attention to ours.

  • Robert

    The Christian flyer makes its point very well. As Christians we are to think beyond this life, not only for our own salvation but in helping others. We are taught not to love for instant gratification and pleasure but to live for a purpose that is greater then ourselves.

    Of course that doesn’t that mean we don’t enjoy this life. Of course we do, but it is with a bigger perspective.

  • Cindy

    The atheist one is also making the point that the dot of the bible is not on the line of the constitution….hence they’re not related and the constitution is not based on the bible.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    I’ll be honest and tell you I think the parody design is absolutely terrible. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a longer text, it’s not older. It may be more important, but that’s purely an opinion with nothing to suggest that view is correct beyond saying so. I hope this is not the final design. If I saw it, the first thing I’d think—wrongly, I suppose—is that the people putting on the event weren’t very clever.

  • Silent Service

    It’s a bit weak. They should have done something that would stand on it’s own.

  • Luther

    I too thought that the Christian one was sending good message. At first, I took it as a Humanist message to keep our eye on the big picture. All we have is now, yet we can use that for good works and keep ourselves in context.

    Having said that, my observation is that those who proselytize speak a useful insight that does not require a mythical god – in an apparent attempt to have listeners think the other things the proselytizer says about their myth are true.

  • Jeiel Aranal

    Another way to see the SSA flyer is that the constitution is a wall that separates the bible from the rest of the country. Which makes a lot more sense seeing as how the speaker is a church/state separation expert.

  • BeamStalk

    So how are we supposed to live for the eternity in the past? That doesn’t make sense to me, unless we can time travel in the afterlife! Is that what CCC is saying now, we can time travel in the afterlife?

    Edit: It seems to me that the CCC poster is undermining itself with the arrow extending into the past. Do any of you remember anything before you were born? So why should we expect to remember anything after we are dead.

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com Arkonbey

    I’ll stand with the chorus. The flyer is not good and the joke is forced to the point of being nonsensical.

    to put it internetly: FAIL

  • http://www.godtalkradio.com Jason

    I’m a Christian, who lives for the line, and I see no problem (as in incendiary) with the SSA’s advertisement what-so-ever. It’s actually quite clever.

    Jason

  • Guy G

    The tiniest grain of sand on a near infinite beach. But fuck me, what a lot of stuff there is in that tiny dot.

    that is, in fact, my point. life is a wonder, all by itself. even the “life” of a grain of sand, if you look at it from the perspective of science, is full of amazing realities that can entertain the mind almost endlessly. i know i am a spec in the universe, and yet: i am! that’s plenty to celebrate right there, and then there’s the joy of knowing there are billions like me, but also each unique and complex.

    that’s more than enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. i don’t have time for superstition.

    Indeed, I think we’re pretty much in agreement here. I was mostly responding to where you said:

    to think of oneself as an insignificant dot is just… sad.

    I definitely consider myself an insignificant dot in many ways, but when I contemplate my insignificance, it doesn’t make me sad, it invigorates me. Just a couple of minutes of such contemplation will literally make me feel dizzy.

    Considering oneself as a speck compared to the eternity of God’s love (or whatever) I don’t think is sad. I’d imagine that it would fill one with an overwhelming sense of wonder at the greatness of God’s love, rather than dismay at the tininess one’s own significance. That’s certainly the feeling I get when considering the vastness of everything, even if I don’t subscribe to the whole God idea.

  • April

    Yeah, it fails. I understood the point of the Christian flyer immediately.

    The SSA flyer is confusing. I had to look at several times, and I’m still not sure if I understand the point, which takes away from the intended gag. The bible’s not on the same plane as the constitution? The importance of the bible is infinitesimal in contrast to the importance of the constitution? There is little bible in the constitution? I just don’t know.

  • Jagyr

    Am I the only one who liked the SSA poster? In the context of a campus that must have already seen many of the CCC posters, I thought it was a clever bit of snark.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com/ Mad Hominem

    There’s something I just love about advertisements and propaganda that subverts other advertisements and propaganda. I think it’s pretty effective by way of the humorous contrast, as long as students realize the difference before tossing away another “CCC dot-and-line pamphlet.”

    That being said, I do like the perspective the first one gives you — just not their “solution” to realizing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenton.forshee Kenton Forshee

    It’s not dickish enough.

  • Steve

    I get the point they are trying to make. The Constitution has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible (they removed the dot from the line), and it’s far more important for the country.

    However, that graphic really isn’t the best way to say that. You already have to think along those lines to get it. Otherwise you can’t make the connection.

    The Christian poster says to me that your life is entirely unimportant and that only heaven counts. So if it’s so great to go to heaven for all eternity, why not just die to get there immediately?

  • Carlie

    Going off of what Tim D. wrote, I’d have made it a general advertisement for the group, with only a dot (no line), an arrow that says “this dot is your life”, and then the same arrows underneath with “this line is imaginary, live for the dot”

  • keystothekid

    I don’t think the line/dot refer to physical length of each document as much as they do social importance and relevance in America. At least, where more of that importance should be-obviously with the Constitution. I wouldn’t call it overly clever but it did get a good “heh!” out of me. I approve! :D

  • http://theobligatescientist.blogspot.com/ ObSciGuy (Paul)

    Might some christian mathematician take offense at having the bible reduced to a set of measure zero? ;)

  • Claudia

    Offensive? Only if I wish to have the incredibly thin skin often associated to the religious. Quite frankly it’s true; our lives are a miniscule, entirely insignificant proportion of the time that has passed and has yet to pass.

    Yes, once I saw that it was Campus Crusade for Christ, I understood where they were going with “eternity” is a very different place from where I’m going. Still, the only way I could find it offensive is if it were a threat of hell, and I think that’s rather reaching.

    I also think that the atheist response isn’t particularly clever. They would have done better making an original appeal of their own, but hey, whatever lifts your luggage.

  • Rieux

    I don’t think either flyer is clever or offensive. The CCC flyer is dumb, but only as dumb as the (very old) idea being portrayed. The SSA parody is a little amusing, but I’m sure they’ve done better, and will do so in the future as well.

    I say “meh” to both flyers.

  • Edwords

    The parody is OK.

    The dot and line can be comparing relevance

    or credibility.

  • Edwords

    Carlie, great idea,

    “—this line is imaginary,

    live for the dot!”

  • Nordog

    I’m surprised that either flyer has garnered any interest at all, let alone all this. They’re both lame imo.

  • Unbeliever

    Would it be vandalization to correct a minor typo on the original flyer?

    Just white out the “n” in the last word of the “Live for…” sentence…

  • J Myers

    it does seem silly to trivialize your current life because you think eternity is where all the action is at.

    No–if that’s what you actually thought, it would be silly to do otherwise. In fact, “trivialize” doesn’t even make sense here; your life would be utterly trivial, regardless of your treatment of it.

    The problem is that there isn’t any reason to think this in the first place.

  • alclegal

    i like the old egg frying in the skillet from the anti-drug war:
    Announcer: this is your brain (show egg). This is religion (show hot grease sizzling, smoking, burning in skillet, drop skillet in trash, hold egg high)
    Announcer: this is your brain without religion. Any questions?

  • Revyloution

    The Campus Crusade for Christ missed a great tagline opportunity.

    They should have ended the flyer:

    “Come to the Campus Crusade for Christ, and we’ll do a few lines!”

  • CatBallou

    I thought the parody, given that the viewers would be familiar with the original poster, was amusing. Not brilliant, but funny.

  • http://oddboyout.blogspot.com/ oddboyout

    That is awesome :D

  • K

    Is the Christian message that one’s life – being a dot – is insignificant in the eternal scale of things?

  • gwen

    I like the christian illustration. Yes, my life is a dot. I spend my life trying to make the world a better place for those who will come after me, and remember the lessons of those who came before me. My life in the scheme of the world is pretty insignificant to any other than those who know and love me. I shall make the most of it!
    (The message under the line/dot however is bullshit!)

  • William

    parody is always a good thing, especially when the thing being parodied is simply moronic.

  • http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ Dromedary Hump

    The atheist ad is insufficiently “dickish.” It’s weak, and off point.

    I’d have rather seen the life dot and eternity line, with a caption that said: “If you enjoyed the empty non-existence before you’re life, you’ll like the eternity after your life exactly the same.”

  • Egads!!!

    If you make a point, that’s one dimensional. If you make a line, that’s two dimensional. Three dimensions and we are talking “Solid”.

    Take the time to think about that, and we are talking fourth dimension.

    Now as far as the Fifth Dimension, and I must expressly say here, that this concept more than likely does not include Kenny Rogers (Perhaps it includes the Byrds, however, that is a moot point).

    Egads!!! Back to one dimension are we. Point being the original poster is very limited…Therefore, unless there is some stroke of genius, the resulting parody will be limited as well. As it is…hope the reader enjoyed the point given, line drawn & the solid experience over this time.

  • Egads!!!!

    They both are lame. Pretty much like the removal of my last post which was perhaps more creative than the sum of both flyers…

    Making points gets you one dimension. Place it on a line, and you have two. Woohoo!

    Now if perchance, my other comment is still “being moderated” and shows back up, then let the readers decide.

    Goodness Gracious….Perhaps I shouldn’t have poked fun at Kenny Rogers and the Fifth Dimension.

  • brent

    oh. I read that first ad and I thought “Well I’d better not waste my life then.” and then I found out it was an ad for wasting your life.


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