What Atheists Really Do

There’s a popular meme making the rounds called “What I Really Do“… here’s a perfect example:

But there isn’t one for atheists… so reader BenZ came up with this:

Think it’s accurate?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Andrew Morgan

    Meh.  My #1 complaint is that it feels the need to send a message in the final pane, when all of the other ones are willing to share in the joke and be a bit self-deprecating.

    I like this one better: http://i.imgur.com/zfQda.jpg

    • kdm

      Hmm… this one doesn’t do it for me either. I’ve seen like 15 different ones on Facebook, definitely an interesting fad. Maybe the typical atheist is hard to capture.

      • Anonymous

        It stands to reason. When the uniting factor is a lack of belief in something, there really isn’t much of a uniting factor.

        Then again, most groups probably can’t be generalized to that extent. I suspect the meme was never meant to be used as more than a joke.

    • Anonymous

      I think the last pane is self-deprecating, especially right on the heels of the “how we see ourselves” one :)

    • guest

      I agree, I like this one better as well. 

    • http://sucktackular.com sucktackular

      Needs a NSFW on that one, guy.

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Does man nipple offend you?

        • http://sucktackular.com sucktackular

          Nope, and neither do lady-nipples. But the first frame of the pic definitely has an exposed breast, smartass.

          • Kevin_Of_Bangor

            Boobies!!!! Run away… And you should be working, not reading blogs :-)

    • Anonymous

       Definitely better.

  • Anonymous

    This meme has been beaten to death.  In fact, there is already one of these that show six different cartoon images of a horse being beaten to death.

    • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

       Meh, I’ve only seen a lot of these in the last 24 hours. Not everyone rides at the tip of the wave on the meme sea.

  • Stephanie

    Pretty anticlimactic.

  • BlitheAcriony

    I get that being a nonbeliever in a majority-Christian nation is no cakewalk, but I heartily disapprove of the use of the Memphis Sanitation Workers photo. I have been at the receiving end of anti-atheist rants, and I have seen the hateful Tweets and comments aimed at people like Jessica Ahlquist, but I would never, ever suggest that what we live through on a daily basis is anything like what Civil Rights Activists had to live through. 
    Also, sidenote: I think the “How our families see us” is probably more accurate for atheists who came from religious households. At least, it hasn’t been my experience. 

    • erjs

      Yeah, I notice that right away. 
      While this six image thing does not need to be perfect or represented all atheists, I think we need to be sensitive to other civil right groups and know how we fit in all of this.  Co-opting other movements narratives for our own purposes is not right because it undermines history and the brave activists involved. 

      • Jon

        Brilliantly said.

  • memed out

    really tired of this concept already. this is the worst example I’ve seen so far. not funny, not particularly accurate. not even sure what message Token is supposed to convey.

    though, @BlitheAcriony, I think the image you decry is the one that works the best. You are absolutely right that atheists do not suffer anything near what blacks went through during the civil rights movement, but that is the point–it’s the one image that uses hyperbole and self deprecation to humorous effect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesse-Scotia/630842979 Jesse Scotia

    Eh, I don’t wholly agree. I’m an atheist but I’m always face-palming when I hear atheist acquaintances of mine doing stupid shit. I have a friend who joined an atheist forum. The shit she was posting on there was ignorant and terrifying. She won’t even use the word “faith” in the secular sense because it also has a religious definition. A buddy of mine would.not.stop posting shit on Facebook about how Christians are awful people ruining the world and his life. These are adults, mind you.

    I feel like rejecting religion is an outlet for expressing hatred or just plain rebelling far more often than many of us would like to accept.

    • Bonnie Taylor

       Jesse – That’s the point though: Atheists can be just as “stupid” or ignorant as anyone else. I think we need to be careful of thinking we should somehow be better than theists. I am 100% atheist. I’m also woefully ignorant about some things, I’m prejudiced and close-minded in some ways, and I’m downright mean-spirited sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up when your atheist friends do things you don’t think represent your brand of atheism. Instead, take the opportunity to remind yourself that you are not the pinnacle of atheist greatness. We are all flawed, and we can all learn from one another too.

  • BenZ

    I agree with everything that has been said so far. (except memed out was kind of mean) The last pane was a demonstration of how damn hard it was to fairly come up with a final pane. I think we, as atheists, sometimes stereotype ourselves too much as well. However, I do think it was a bit anti-climactic and serious for the meme.

    As for the “I am a man” picture, I would never claim that the atheist movement is on-par with the civil rights movement. I picked it because it is a well known protest sign and it brings up the issue of civil rights rather than an argument about belief and evidence. I think that atheists, especially me, like to think about our movement about primarily civil rights and improving our image, but I don’t think that this is reflected in the majority of our activities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the whole idea of this meme is to contrast misconceptions, including those we have about ourselves.

    …That being said, the rhetoric against atheists is very similar to, if not often worse that, the language of the civil rights movement. The only reason we don’t consider it as bad is because we don’t take these attacks as seriously, and for good reason. I made this pane because it brings up the human rights part of the atheist movement, not to compare intensities.

  • http://twitter.com/MelissaSBennett Melissa Bennett

    “What atheists really do: Argue about what atheists really do.” 

    • BenZ

      Now, that would have been a great final pane: An infinite miniature of the whole poster. Nice.

      • http://twitter.com/MelissaSBennett Melissa Bennett

        Revision? ;) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Salerno/1468204658 Sam Salerno

    Yes, but we are also special in that we used our brain to come to our conclusion. WE actually took the time to learn the facts. We are not submissive to anything anyone tells us. We doubt, we ask questions, we think.

    • Michael Appleman

      It is entirely possible for someone to become atheist for reasons having nothing to do with logic or reason. These people are still atheists. Being atheist only means you do not believe in god, there are no other attributes that a person must have in order to be an atheist.

      • Bonnie Taylor

         Exactly! And some us us didn’t become atheists, we’ve just been atheists since birth. I didn’t even know what a “god” was until 1st grade.

        • Anna

          Me, too. I think I was in second grade before I realized what a “god” was.

  • Wandadars

    Maybe have the final pane showing a person on the computer looking tired.  We seem to do a great deal of our time trying to correct the Internet when it comes to logical fallacies that apply to religious arguments.

  • Jensketch

    I think you can lose the family guy and south park references :/

  • Wendel

    The terrorist panel needs to be replaced by sexy vampires and the last, preachy panel needs to feature baby eating. That Einstein photo would also be better for “how we see ourselves”

  • chicago dyke, evolved outlaw

    well, i liked them both. they’re cute and funny and i’ll pass them on the friends. believing and not. 

  • http://twitter.com/happy_skeptic David

    I agree wholeheartedly with the Girl Flipping the Bird image. That is EXACTLY how my family views me.

  • http://twitter.com/Jourreve Reve

    I propose this for the last panel:
    http://xkcd.com/386

  • Jmmeredith

    There was already one for atheists…it’s circulating Facebook

  • Lauren

    All right, I’ll bite. Yeah, it’s been done to death, but it was fun to make anyway. I used a slightly different template, but whatever. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Byron-Motley/100001212902730 Byron Motley

    PREACHY at best, something I thought atheists were trying to avoid!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Byron-Motley/100001212902730 Byron Motley

    This blog is subtitled “Friendly Atheist,” so to be FRIENDLY, you gotta be ACCEPTING of people who are NEVER going to quit believing in God!

    • Anna

      I’m curious, what do you think the word “accepting” means? I accept that religious people exist. I also accept that they have the right to believe in gods. I don’t think you’ll find anyone here who would disagree with that.


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