An Alternative to ‘A’ Week: Use Your Face

I know, I know, A Week has barely started, but Trevor Boeckmann (of the University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers and Inquirers — UNIFI) is not happy with it.

And he has a very good point.

No one outside of our movement knows what the “A” means. Yes, some people will look up what’s going on. Most won’t.

Want to actually help help with the movement? Grab a sheet of paper, write that you’re an atheist, and make that your profile picture… A symbol is nice. A face is better.

Some people are getting on board with that idea and Trevor is collecting their pictures:

It’s a great idea to attach a face with the idea — there’s something so positive about it… you’re proud of your atheism, dammit!

If you decide to participate, feel free to post links to your own pictures in the comments!

  • Robert L.

    Someone with a lot of followers should spread this to Tumblr. It’ll probably catch on very fast.

  • allpapajohn

    I used the picture Good without god. Seems to get the point across very well.

  • http://www.houseoftherisingcake.ca Sally

    ALL my contacts know I’m an atheist. I’m not very quiet about it. :)

  • Cheryl

    Around here, people associate the red/scarlet “A” with the University of Alabama. They’d be more upset that Atheists were stealing the symbol of their precious football team than it being “anti-christian”.

  • Jon Peterson
  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    I find myself least likely to talk to the guy who says he’s an atheist and a Republican because he is a Republican. If he weren’t wearing it on his sleeve, maybe I would talk to him.

    The danger with wearing your atheism on your sleeve is that there are probably many people who wouldn’t talk to you because you are an atheist. As far as I can see it’s a huge risk for no benefit.

    I’m also not convinced that putting a human face on atheists ever really accomplished anything. If a guy walked around the grocery store wearing a shirt that had ‘Pedophile’ on it, would people suddenly think pedophiles aren’t so bad after all, or would they they just keep their distance from that guy (or give him dirty looks, or be curt or rude to him)?

    I know that there’s a world of difference between a pedophile and an atheist, so don’t jump all over me about that – that’s not my point. My point is that people who would not have kept their distance from you might well do so if you walk around wearing an ‘Atheist’ shirt.

    It might not make me a team player to say so, but I say what I think regardless.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Non-Litigious Atheist

    The danger with wearing your atheism on your sleeve is that there are probably many people who wouldn’t talk to you because you are an atheist. As far as I can see it’s a huge risk for no benefit.

    Bonus. I don’t want to talk to people who would judge me just on a label that I choose to use. If I can eliminate wasted conversations with them then so much the better.

  • Daniel

    Conversely, I would find myself more inclined to talk to the Republican Atheist guy because I would be curious about how the reconciles the strong religious elements within the Republican party with his Atheism.

    (said religious elements being one of the primary reasons I am not a Republican)

  • Douglas Kirk

    I like the putting a face on it thing, it’s a very good way to make atheism acceptable as a world view in the public sector. Of course, simply coming out as an atheist works too. And I like the A week icon because that lets a lot of people who aren’t or can’t be quite as open about it still “come out” in their own way.

    I for one would talk to the republican, just like I would talk to a christian, both because I think they’re misinformed about the thing they believe in and because I know republicans; most of whom aren’t awful people, just a little (or a lot) naive and mistaken about the way the world works.

    For the record, it’s been shown time and time and time again that the number one factor in tolerance of whatever belief/race/sexual preference is knowing somebody of that belief/race/whatever. I can’t believe people still dispute this…..

  • Demonhype

    *sigh* I’ve given up talking to Republicans. I have yet to meet one who is even remotely reasonable. Maybe at some point I also believed they were good but naive and mistaken, but there comes a point where “naive and mistaken” turns into “sociopathic”, and I believe that point has come and made itself cozy some time ago. Kind of like how some religious believer might be a perfectly nice, if naive and mistaken, person, but at some point I can’t keep excusing that person’s religiously-motivated child abuse/neglect. If your beliefs are more important than reality, even more important than the well-being of your own children, then I can no longer pretend like your sweet social demeanor somehow excuses your sociopathic views. And if your devotion to Regressive plutocratic ideological fairy tale is more important than the reality of millions of people suffering and dying and a police state being erected as a result of your favored policies, I can no longer be charitable just because you seem well-meaning on the surface. Hell, I think that may be how we got into this mess in the first place–by giving crazy and evil ideas a polite pass and thus allowing them the illusion of credibility and respectability. Now the crazy and evil is firmly ensconced in our political system, the explicitly non-crazy and non-evil has been pushed out of the political spectrum, and it is unlikely we can do anything about that. We only have two hopes, IMO: First, to galvanize the non-crazy and non-evil element against the Regressives and push them back (seeing as how so many non-crazy people still sit at home demoralized, thinking that their voice and vote won’t matter so why try?), and failing that, we might have to burn them out. I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that. I’d much prefer the bloodless method, but if things get any more right-wing religious-fundie plutocratic in this country, it’s going to erupt and that’s going to be pretty damned ugly.

    Of course, if some people are more even-tempered than I (without caving accomodationist-style to the Regressive individual and giving them the illusion of “winning”), then by all means go ahead. There may be some sparks of sanity and empathy left in the Rethug contingent, and more power to you if you can convince them to choose empathy and freedom over corporate/religious fascism. I, on the other hand, have zero patience for fascist ideologues anymore, and would probably bite off his head and spit it up his ass, making his physical reality match his intellectual reality.

    Seriously, I would take a Christian like Fred Clark over any Republican any day. I can overlook a bit of gooey religious treacle drizzled over genuine good intentions than I can overlook jackbooted political thuggery pretending to be stalwart rebels for freedom.

  • Nordog

    For the record, it’s been shown time and time and time again that the number one factor in tolerance of whatever belief/race/sexual preference is knowing somebody of that belief/race/whatever. I can’t believe people still dispute this…..

    If you knew more people who still disupte this, would you find yourself more tolerant of them? ;-)

  • Nordog

    Demonhype = bigot, potentially violent bigot at that.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/andrea.m.semler The Nerd

    I actually started this album of As and Faces for last year’s A Week. People are proud to proclaim their identity with flair!

    Click here for A Week Photos

  • TRex

    @ Demonhype

    I’ve seen some far Left wing, liberal Democrats that are just as annoying and dangerous as many Republicans. Way to use blanket statements and generalizations to summarize an entire group.
    If I were to use some of the stereotypes for your ilk then all Demotards are naive, liberal, tree hugging, granola eating, socialist. or communist, pansie asses.
    But out of respect for those that don’t fit that description, I’ll refrain from using those stereotypes.
    Jerk.

  • Lisa C.
  • Rich Wilson

    That’s why you don’t just put an ‘A’ on your profile. It’s like the bra color thing. If you don’t know ‘the secret’ then it makes no sense. If you do, then you don’t need to see it. My status for today on FB:

    ?”one in five adults does not identify with a religion of any kind” -Pew

    Many of those are spiritual, but not religious.
    If 20% of us (US of Americans) don’t identify with a particular religion, then does “Under God” really fit with “One Nation” and “Undivided”? A large part of what makes us “One Nation” is our differences. Pretending that we are homologously “Under God”, we are Dividing, not Uniting.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    If I were to use some of the stereotypes for your ilk then all Demotards are naive, liberal, tree hugging, granola eating, socialist. or communist, pansie asses.

    @TRex: I have to say something about this stereotype. Why are the rugged individualist Republicans who think anyone who disagrees with them needs to man up such hypocrites?

    In one breath they tell you to man up and then in another bitch that they can’t light up their houses like a Christmas tree to conserve energy. Who’s being soft and cushy now? God forbid you don’t have your climate controlled gas guzzlers to keep everything just so, real men.

  • Lai

    “One in five adults does not identify with a religion of any kind”

    Very tempted to put this as my FB status as a subtle way to join in, given as a majority of my family and friends don’t know about my disbelief. Taking part in A week is a difficult one for me as I want to come out, but plausibly won’t be able to until I leave home. It’d be nice if there was a quiet way for those of us in the closet to join in.

  • NotYou007

    I don’t need to stick my picture up. People know I’m an atheist and they know this is A week because I told them it was.

  • Adam Shannon

    To everyone who is complaining about the person whose sign says he’s a republican, that picture was old. He’s not a republican anymore (I personally know him).

  • Nordog

    It is interesting that, generally speaking, religious fundies seem to skew toward conservatism, while convinced atheists seem to skew toward liberalism.

    I wonder if that’s true.

    If so, I wonder why?

  • http://www.shitireallyhate.com Mandy

    It doesn’t matter if he is or isn’t a republican anyway. I think that was the point.

  • Danielle

    That second person is a moron, how dare she hate on the truth that is the Flying Spaghetti Monster? I can only pray for her to see the light.

  • JR

    May she be touched by his noodely appendage :P

    I think a lot of the problem with politics (especially in the US and UK) is the lack of actuall choice. Having only 2 choices to sum up 70million people? Probs not the best plan :P

  • http://www.unifreethought.com Trevor Boeckmann

    Hey everyone! Thanks so much for spreading the word about the idea. For everyone who has/is going to put up a picture, do you mind if I use if on our blog? I’d also love to get a first name and location, if you’re willing to share those.

  • Steve

    Yeah, like Daniel, I’d like to know how an atheist can be a Republican. I’m English, by the way.

  • http://people.tamu.edu/~kbean1988 Keri

    At Texas A&M today, tomorrow, and Thursday we have a booth in our Commons area (freshman dorms + food area) and we were passing out fliers from SSA and other various things. We got some good discussions going!

  • http://www.mindonfire.com xJane

    I actually had this marked in my calendar as “A Week”. And I read it yesterday and thought, “a week? What kind of a week? What is this??” Until I saw that I’d put the red A, thankfully. So even atheists can forget what A Week is.

  • Alien

    I am an atheist that has been active in the Republican party for the past 3 or 4 years. Outside of family and a few friends most don’t know that I am an atheist. Half or more of the Republican party platform disgusts me. But where I live in East Texas, Republicans win by a LOT. Elected Dems have switched parties nearby just to get re-elected.

    As such, the only way to make significant political choices is to work within the majority party, helping to select candidates in the primary that have more moderate views, for example. Local precinct and county caucuses also allow for more individual input, and polite and well explained positions WILL gather some people to the other side of a position just by allowing them to see it from that side. Unfortunately, by the time you get to the state level of the party, the major players are the extremists and that IS frustrating. Even there, though, moderates make a difference. Just last year, a major candidate for Texas Republican Party chair who is also a fundamentalist Christian touted her trips to Israel, her understanding of Abrahamaic law, and the importance of Americans supporting Israel and “God’s chosen people” in foreign policy decisions as reasons why she should be elected. She lost by a narrow margin, and I am glad I was there to vote against her.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I wonder if I need a pic of me with a sign. I would hope it’s pretty obvious without one.

  • Rieux

    That’s a persuasive argument, Alien—especially the last part. Kudos.

    One concern about your strategy, though, is that given it, there will never be an opportunity for the Democratic Party (or any party that’s saner than the G.O.P.) to break through in your area. If all of the sane people decide to work within Republican politics because that’s the only way to get things done, the Repubs win by general inertia. In other words, I hope you vote for Democratic or liberal third-party candidates and are prepared to jump ship from the G.O.P. when another party has a shot to be a serious competitor with them.

  • Rich Wilson

    My maternal grandparents were both atheist (well, grandpa may have been agnostic) and both were staunch republicans.

    I always question the logical conclusion of this kind of ‘us and them’ politics. If we were ALL Democrats, wouldn’t that be a little like the USSR? They had elections… it’s just that all candidates came from the same party.

    To me the danger isn’t that we have Republicans, but that we ONLY have Democrats and Republicans (for all practical purposes).

  • http://www.BookTalk.org Chris O’Connor

    Atheists need to stop running from the word “atheism.” We’ve nothing to be ashamed of. Look at the rich history of intellectual atheists and tell me why we’re using “Bright, freethinker, secular humanist, naturalist, etc…”

    In the next year or two I’ll be launching an international tolerance and awareness campaign designed to educate the masses about what atheism is and what it is not. There will be forums, chat rooms, press releases and dozens of billboards. The main goal will be to get atheists to come out of the closet, profess their lack of belief, and demonstrate to the world that, despite not believing, we live moral and good lives. Atheists are all around, yet we are forced to live in hiding.

    If you’re interested in being a part of it join http://www.BookTalk.org and talk to me there. BookTalk.org isn’t an atheist web site but we have hundreds of atheist members. We’ve interviewed just about all of the leading atheists and will continue to do so. I’ll be inviting BookTalk.org atheist members to help Beta test the forums, chat room and overall concept.

    The URL will be NakedAtheism.com, NakedAtheist.com and AtheistsAnonymous.com.

  • AxeGrrl

    Nordog wrote:

    It is interesting that, generally speaking, religious fundies seem to skew toward conservatism, while convinced atheists seem to skew toward liberalism.

    I wonder if that’s true.

    If so, I wonder why?

    The podcast Reasonable Doubts did a fascinating episode called ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ that examines ‘death anxiety’ and how this correlates with one’s political outlooks. Here’s the episode description:

    ‘Terror Management Theory (TMI) attempts to explain how religion, and ones worldview more generally, can allay fears of death by offering either literal or symbolic forms of immortality. But easing this death anxiety can come at great cost: simplicity in thinking, deference to authority, hostility towards outsiders. For this episode, the doubtcasters discuss TMI research and perhaps its most controversial finding: fear of death is closely tied with not just religious conservatism, but political conservatism as well.’

    I highly recommend the episode ~ really interesting stuff. You can listen to it by clicking on ‘Dont Fear The Reaper’ above.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    I’ve already heard from some Facebook Atheists that the blue A symbol and really all A symbols are helpful, because they’re not “in your face.” The very fact that so many people don’t know what that lone letter means to us, apparently means that a lot of Atheists will prefer to use that symbol, instead of the word “Atheist.” It’s their way of being safe about it. Some of them anyway.

    So which is it? Should we be polite and careful, or in their faces? I think it’s great that we can all decide for ourselves, but we are constantly hearing about both sides of that argument being right.

    I think it’s best to just say that we’re all kinds of people, with all kinds of needs in relation to our public image, and that one method isn’t always the best method for everyone.

  • http://stojadinovic.net Predrag Stojadinovic

    I have “anti-theist” over my photo all the time… so it makes more sense for me to use the A-Week logo, the one with the explanation below the big A…

    On that note, you gotta love this pic: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1861120964378&set=o.48767957782 – atheists making fun of themselves :)

  • John Paraiso

    Here’s what we did for the A-Week.We went out to the national park, set up a booth and tell everyone we’re atheists!

    It was even in the local news.

    See photos: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?id=1324433619&aid=2115960

  • Nordog

    AxeGrrl,

    Thanks for the link, unfortunately, I have only time for this response and will have to check it out later.

    If the point is that fear of death tends to lead people to conservatism, does that mean most liberals don’t have a fear of death (and also, most conservatives do)? Does the link you provided address this question? Seems like an overgeneralized assertion at best.

  • JSug

    I changed my profile pic this morning. A little late, but this week has been crazy busy.
    https://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=229106&id=855819880&l=1d8041367e

    I didn’t think to check the count before I posted, but I’m fairly certain that at least 4 or 5 people already removed me from their friends list. Oh well. I scanned through my list, and I don’t think it was anyone I really care about.

  • http://existenceandessence.wordpress.com Michelle

    Just found a post over at the National Catholic Register (it’d be more entertaining if people didn’t actually believe this stuff) about the “danger” of A week.

    I think it deserves some comment love from rational people – I’m having trouble knowing where to begin with how wrong it is.

  • AxeGrrl

    Nordog wrote:

    If the point is that fear of death tends to lead people to conservatism, does that mean most liberals don’t have a fear of death (and also, most conservatives do)? Does the link you provided address this question? Seems like an overgeneralized assertion at best

    The discussion on ‘Reasonable Doubts’ does address that basic issue, but goes into much more detail about the studies and their findings ~ it’s not quite as generalized/simple as your description. Again, very interesting research.

  • http://on.fb.me/HonestAtheist Mark Panzarino

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=943725&l=3e118c33a7&id=181577091856548

    The Honest Atheist! Please see the Facebook Group.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    I like the putting a face on it thing, it’s a very good way to make atheism acceptable as a world view in the public sector.

    @Douglas Kirk: Is the converse of this that if you’re fugly, keep your atheism to yourself, cuz otherwise you’re gonna make atheism less acceptable in the public sector? I ask seriously – fugly people need to know what they should or shouldn’t do.

    Look at the rich history of intellectual atheists and tell me why we’re using “Bright, freethinker, secular humanist, naturalist, etc…”

    @Chris O’Connor: I agree that most of these are bullshit euphemisms for atheism, but some aren’t. Freethinker has long historical precedent since it first described deists (1600′s+) who had a transition view between Christianity and atheism, and so isn’t limited to atheists. It also includes agnostics.

    Naturalist is more accurate than atheist; a Buddhist can be an atheist but if he believes in miracles attributed to the Buddha he is not a naturalist. ‘Naturalist’ weeds out all sort of New Age mysticism that might replace God with something else. Spiritualists (who think they can talk to the dead) believe in a whole other universe of spirits but aren’t with one voice about whether there is a God. To me that’s just more of the same – you’ve just replaced one Big Spirit with a bunch of little ones. Same difference. Atheism doesn’t really capture that.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    @Douglas Kirk: Oooh, I just thought of an awesome conversation starter for a sign:

    I’m an atheist (and a hermaphrodite)

    What say you? :)

  • http://www.BookTalk.org Chris O’Connor

    @Non-Litigious Atheist

    I’m in agreement that not all of these terms are synonymous. My point is atheists need to stop searching for softer and less confrontational ways of saying they don’t believe in a God or gods. The word “atheism” does the trick nicely. There is nothing to be ashamed about being an atheist.

  • Teri

    I just put up a picture of the A as my profile picture, but I am wearing a red A to school this entire week, and have been making A’s for atheists at school to wear. :) Even some religious kids have asked me for As to wear because I explained that Atheist Awareness week is about acknowledging that people can be “good without god.” It really is getting people talking about atheism. And plus, the occasional “adulteress” comments are really amusing.

  • Douglas Kirk

    @Non-litigious Athiest

    Hey I have nothing against uggos! Some of my best friends are uggos! :-P

    Really though, if you’re wondering whether or not I would tell people who don’t represent atheism well or don’t represent what I think atheism should be to stay “closeted,” I can only say that’s incredibly small minded thinking. If someone says they’re an atheist, they’re an atheist; I’m not playing no true scotsman.

    In fact, the more people come out as atheist, the greater the likelihood we’ll have jerks and criminals and republicans and, yes, even libertarians in the public sphere. The nice thing about that though, is it shows that atheism is just another part of who people are. And if we can get atheism to that point (which it is certainly not yet), I feel like we’ll have won a small victory.

    Of course, once we get it to the point that religion is considered silly nonsense that only kooks believe in and a skeptical worldview is the norm I’ll be much happier.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    Really though, if you’re wondering whether or not I would tell people who don’t represent atheism well or don’t represent what I think atheism should be to stay “closeted,” I can only say that’s incredibly small minded thinking.

    @Douglas Kirk: I didn’t make my point clearly enough. The point of my examples is that the more you market atheism, the more you sacrifice truth. I always thought that atheism was supposed to be about rising above all the bullshit you encounter on a daily basis, not adding to it! (This is basic George Carlin, by the way.)

    The drive to make atheism a marketable product is becoming a part of the problem, adding another spin machine alongside all the others to belch out even more BS. Ugh. Don’t we get enough of that to sift through already?

    One of the basics of marketing is not to associate your product with widely perceived undesirable traits, so as not to discourage sales. So, if you want to market atheism by giving it a human face, make sure you use a beautiful or handsome person to make your sale. Or a tall person. Or a successful person. Definitely a happy, smiling, friendly, and sociable person. This is the deal with the devil that atheists make when they corrupt atheism by applying marketing/propaganda techniques to it. They sacrifice the real and replace it with the Pollyannish.

    And it leads to the exact sort of hypocrisy we disdain from religious folks. Is atheism just another religion now, working from the same principles? Marketable atheism (humanism?) certainly seems to be.

    Make sure that your atheist representative is not ugly, or short, or fat, or unsuccessful, or unhappy, or unsociable, because these are things that are widely considered undesirable. But then the hypocrisy hits you – atheism is widely considered undesirable! So why are we playing the marketing game that is BS to begin with?

    (Short guys really get screwed – most women would still date the tall guy even if the short guy made three times as much money. They’ve even said the tall guy would have to be a pedophile before they picked the short guy instead.)

    So what to do? Be hypocrites and distance ourselves from other undesirables (we’re not like those losers!), or accept our social status as outcasts and realize that the whole social system that divides people into desirables and undesirables is what is bullshit?

    Seriously, Jews have to be one of the most ostracized groups in human history, and yet I don’t see them marketing Judaism the way some atheists market atheism. What’s up with that?

  • Douglas Kirk

    When they corrupt atheism?

    What are you talking about man/woman? I’ve tried to parse through your point but all I’m getting is that consciousness raising is bad because some kinds of marketing are bad. Classic slippery slope-yness.

    Unless you mean to say that atheism should remain “pure” and not corrupted by pesky things like shared politics, histories of people who are atheists, differing outlooks or especially more people. Which I do not agree with at all.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    I’ve tried to parse through your point but all I’m getting is that consciousness raising is bad because some kinds of marketing are bad. Classic slippery slope-yness.

    @Douglas Kirk: OK, I’ll give it another go.

    All marketing is inherently manipulative. Marketing = bullshitting. It is about selling a product by whatever means necessary, even if that means selling lies like atheists are just as charitable as anyone else.

    Marketing atheism means assuming that making atheists look good is more important than telling the truth about them. That is something that I do not agree with at all. We should tell the truth about atheism – good and bad – and leave it at that. We should provide objective information about atheism to people and then let them decide for themselves. And that’s as far as it should go. We should not try to influence people beyond giving them the facts to make up their own minds. Otherwise atheism moves away from seeking truth and toward promoting ideology. Ugh!

    Sacrificing truth is the corruption. The reason you should be an atheist is because you have reasons to think it is true. Unless you’re a shallow atheist, you should value truth. But marketing requires you be comfortable with ‘stretching’ the truth when doing that promotes an agenda. But atheists who value truth should find themselves rather uncomfortable with stretching the truth just to make atheism look like smiles and hugs.

    Does that clarify?

  • Douglas Kirk

    It’s a pretty common trope among atheists that we shouldn’t do anything to persuade religious believers out of their belief. Your “marketing” (the definition of which is way too broad by the way, like I said slippery slope) is just another way to keep atheists from being vocal in public about it.

    I’m sorry to say it, but atheism isn’t about seeking truth, science is. More specifically, an applied scientific philosophy. Atheism isn’t an ideology in itself, it’s the lack of belief in gods; but the reason so many people are becoming atheists very much is an ideology. And it’s an ideology that I and many other atheists would like other people to espouse.

    Of course, that all skirts the issue of this “marketing” campain; which is to make a decision with major negative social consequences into a decision without them, or even *gasp* social advantages.

    It’s fine if you don’t want to be part of anything to do with “marketing” or “advertising” or “publicly making people aware of atheists.” But don’t tell people that are vocal about their atheism that they shouldn’t be so vocal. If you don’t want to be part of social change, that’s fine; but don’t stand in front of the ones who do.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    It’s a pretty common trope among atheists that we shouldn’t do anything to persuade religious believers out of their belief.

    Douglas Kirk: I’m all for persuading believers out of their belief. But you have to do it rationally, not irrationally. Appealing to friendly faces is not rational persuasion. Nor is appealing to tallness, or fitness, or beauty. If you want to sell atheism by any means necessary, why not sell it like beer and show a bunch of bikini-clad women hanging out with Richard Dawkins? All irrational persuasion is fair game once you throw out to requirement of rational reasons for doing or believing something. You might as well use a known logical fallacy like an ad populum argument – everyone’s coming out, why aren’t you? (Sound familiar?)

    Your “marketing” (the definition of which is way too broad by the way, like I said slippery slope) is just another way to keep atheists from being vocal in public about it.

    It’s not about atheists being vocal in public. Individual atheists can be vocal or not – to each his own. But if the point is to make atheism more acceptable, why entirely leave out the most important part of being an atheist – why you are an atheist? You might say why design arguments fail, why life is not irreducibly complex, why the Bible is not historically accurate, or any number of things. But to take a photo of smiling faces with the implied subtitle ‘Hey, we’re atheists, and we’re having loads of fun!’ – that’s completely shallow. I would never become a Methodist because I see a photo of smiling faces with the implied subtitle ‘Hey, we’re Methodists, and we’re having loads of fun!’ That marketing technique has nothing to do with whether Methodist religion is true.

    I’m sorry to say it, but atheism isn’t about seeking truth, science is.

    Come again?!! Are you serious? Truth is everything. If atheism were not true, would there be any point to atheist billboards, atheist get-togethers, atheist agendas? If God showed himself to everyone tomorrow, would those things have any point at all? If the answer is no, why do they have any point when there is no sign of God anywhere?

    If we’re going to have organized atheism at all we have to use a better model than the same old shallow showmanship we see everywhere else. Is there any substance to atheism, or is it for entertainment purposes only? Is it about educating people, or just manipulating them? The right model is the model used by biology education organizations – get the facts about evolution out there, and leave it at that. You don’t need signs with smiling evolutionists, or come out as an evolutionist campaigns. You just need to educate people about the facts. No one who can be rationally persuaded is going to accept that evolution is true by any other means. And those who can’t be rationally persuaded, like Tea Party people, aren’t worth trying to reach in the first place.

    but the reason so many people are becoming atheists very much is an ideology. And it’s an ideology that I and many other atheists would like other people to espouse.

    So if people became atheists for ideological reasons, you’d be all for that if atheism was shown false? Or if the people who became atheists were atheists only because their parents were atheists? This is what I mean about this kind of atheism being shallow. People like that might be atheists, but people who are not atheists for the right reasons might as well be our atheist brethren the Raelians.

    But don’t tell people that are vocal about their atheism that they shouldn’t be so vocal. If you don’t want to be part of social change, that’s fine; but don’t stand in front of the ones who do.

    I’m not standing in anyone’s way – I’m just expressing an opinion on a blog. If you want to make yourself one of ‘us’ and me one of ‘them’ so be it.

    When all is said and done, trying to persuade people that atheism is OK for reasons other than that it’s true is pointless. Because there would be no point in trying to persuade them of atheism if it were not true.

  • Douglas Kirk

    I never said atheism wasn’t true. I said it in itself wasn’t about seeking truth. Atheism is the result of seeking truth.

    I never said that the goal was to make atheism appealing. The goal of this campain is clearly to make atheism an acceptable decision. That doesn’t mean making it appealing, that just means making it better known. It’s not a coincidence that after the LGBT movement started asking it’s people to come out, acceptance of homosexuality greatly increased. the major factor in determining if someone is accepting of homosexuality is if they know homosexuals.

    It’s not a coincidence that, like I said in my very first comment, the major factor in determining if someone is tolerant of an atheist (I didn’t say is an atheist. I didn’t say is persuaded to be an atheist, just that they aren’t hostile to atheists) is how many atheists they think are out there.

    I do think we should be out rationally explaining why we’re atheists. And getting the science and the arguments right. I don’t see how that conflicts in any way at all with raising consciousness about atheism and asking atheists to open about it if they so choose. It doesn’t take away from the truth to say, we’re here and there are a lot of us. It just makes it harder for bigots.

  • Non-Litigious Atheist

    I never said that the goal was to make atheism appealing. The goal of this campain is clearly to make atheism an acceptable decision.

    Atheism has always been an acceptable decision. At least I’ve never felt guilty about not believing in something for which there is no evidence. I just accepted that, just like ancient Rome had its mythology believed by a large segment of the population, so does 21st century America. In time the mythology will change, but you can’t force it.

    It has to happen organically on its own. And that’s exactly what happened with the new atheists. They rode a wave on some 9/11 anti-religious sentiment that already existed; they did not create it. I’m sure it was much to the dismay of atheist organizations that they had absolutely nothing to do with it – that it happened in spite of their efforts, not because of them.

    By being ‘acceptable’ you must mean accepted by other people. But a self-actualized person does not need to have his opinions validated by other people. A self-actualized person can think for himself and not care whether others accept his conclusions or not. After all, they’re his conclusions, not others’ conclusions!

    Maybe this Op Ed will explain where I’m coming from:

    I still to this day squint my eyes when I hear some atheist say a bad experience was what changed them: does this mean the idea wasn’t important, only some human’s view of it? I heard Einstein was a prick to many people — somehow that never cast any doubt on e=mc² for me.

    The very good reason of why most atheists would never dream of joining an atheistic organization is because most atheistic organizations are not atheistic at all, they’re shills for ideological commitments other-than-atheism. And when I say other-than-atheism, I of course mean self-described leftist organizations. Humanism, vegetarianism, identity politics, and all sorts of patent nonsense go under the umbrella of atheism, as any jaunt around the net or an appearance at your local atheist organization will show you.


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