An Alternative View of Popular Religious Symbols

Religious symbols have different meanings to different people and Crispian Jago doesn’t hold back in his word art:

There are two other images at his site.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Zeggman

    Dictorial? Helotry? Are these even words?

    I’m no fan of religion, but I don’t see the point of portraying them (even Islam, even Scientology) as purely negative. If anything fits the definition of “bigotry,” that would be it.

    Sorry, I can’t endorse this kind of bigoted demagoguery.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      It’s only bigotry if you can make a case that religion has positive aspects, or at least enough value to partly outweigh the negative.

      Personally, I think that’s a hard case to make.

      • Zeggman

         The positive acts of charity performed by most religious institutions are so obvious that only bigots would pretend they don’t exist.

        If you want to argue that these positives are outweighed by the negatives depicted in these word silhouettes, you might have a case. That case would still acknowledge that positives exist, which is something the bigots among us prefer to deny.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Rubbish. People perform acts of charity regardless of their religious faith. And people choose not to do so, also regardless of their religious faith. If somebody tells me that the only reason they provide charity is because their church demands it of them, I have to consider that person to be unethical by my standards.

          Good people help others. Bad people don’t. There’s no connection at all to religion. Indeed, it is in creating a mindset that religion is a requirement for charity that religion does some of its greatest harm.

          • Zeggman

             Yes, people do perform acts of charity regardless of their religious faith. My post specificially said “religious institutions,” not people.

            While people who are not religious perform religious acts for motives which are not religious, I don’t know any of the straw men who have told you that “the ONLY reason they provide charity is because their church demands it.” If I needed a hot meal, I don’t suppose it would matter much to me whether it came from someone deemed unethical by C Peterson’s standards.

            Since most religious institutions actively advocate charity, and people who are active in such institutions devote a substantial portion of that activity to engaging in charity, it’s irrational to say that “there’s no connection at all to religion.”

            Endorsing negative portrayals of something while dishonestly discounting the positive aspects of it makes one both unethical and bigoted by my standards.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              We all see things as positive or negative in the light of our own reasoning. Personally, I see nothing positive about religion at all. By and large, it is a force, perhaps the primary force, of evil on Earth. Attacking it, seeking to destroy it, pointing out its flaws is not bigotry when I do it, nor do I generally see it as bigotry when others, with similar thinking, do it.

              People who attack religion out of ignorance are guilty of a sort of bigotry. But I don’t think that’s very common. It is primarily the lack of religion that is attacked in a bigoted way.

            • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

              C Peterson said:

              By and large, it is a force, perhaps the primary force, of evil on
              Earth. Attacking it, seeking to destroy it, pointing out its flaws is
              not bigotry when I do it, nor do I generally see it as bigotry when
              others, with similar thinking, do it.

              **shakes head**

              Zeggman, one thing I have learned over time is that people who are steeped in prejudice rarely, if ever, admit that they are bigots. They will explain how “rational” their negative perceptions of their hated group are, and then deny, deny, deny that something is hateful about their viewpoint.

              C Peterson, words like yours only deepen my resolve to avoid this corrupt “movement”. Thank you for confirming my decision.

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                If you are unable to argue rationally against my opinion that religion is without value, and represents a force of evil, it is perhaps best that you do avoid this “movement”.

                • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

                  Forty or so recognized religions with thousands of sects and denominations, all dismissed as a sources of evil. Meanwhile, oppressive governments, economic systems, and centuries of colonialist/imperialist oppression are overlooked.

                  I could never argue with logic like that.

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  I see. That explains why you have made no attempt to argue against my position.

  • mck9

     “Helotry” is a word; “dictorial”, so far as I can tell, is not, and presumably should have been “dictatorial”.  There are about a half-dozen other misspellings marring the work.

    Bigoted demagogue or not, a word artist should at least know how to spell.

  • Anonymous

    This misspellings put me off as well, and what’s with the google searches when you click on a word? If there’s a clever connection between the word and the search it’s linked to (at least in the Christian one) I don’t get it. Not one of the better finds :P

  • Alexandra

    I love these, and was going to use them, but then I saw the spelling errors and was totally turned off.

  • Miko

    I love that all of them feature (after correcting the spelling) either “intolerant” or “intolerance.”  Since, after all, this is clearly the work of a really broad-minded person.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Several days ago, I had decided to stop calling myself an atheist. The ever-present bigotry, ignorance, and stereotyping of others had finally made me snap. This blog post confirms my decision.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Regardless of what you call yourself, do you believe in a supernatural being who created the Universe and possibly involves itself in the lives of men? If not, you’re an atheist.

      You probably don’t call yourself an aunicornist, nor an aleprechaunist, nor an afairyist. So there’s no need to call yourself an atheist, either.

      We are defined by what we believe, not by what we don’t.

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        I have always been agnostic when it comes to the more general claims of “spirit force”, “universal awareness”, or what have you. If you keep the definition of the phenomenon open and flexible, I am purely agnostic. On these matters, I have no sense of an answer. The more detail you add in, however, the less likely I think an idea reflects what ever the heck might be going on in the universe. In that respect, I have claimed a degree of atheism.

        It is the exacting, exclusivist approaches of many religious perspectives that I’ve taken exception to. The prejudicial ills that so often accompany certitude bother me. It is in reaction to these religious ills that I have made a firm claim to atheism. However, during these past few years, I’ve watched the tribalism, prejudice, and self-supremacy that so often accompany certitude unfold around new atheism as well. The intolerance I’ve seen develop around what currently calls itself atheism repels me. Consequently, I more deeply embrace the agnosticism that has always interlaced my perspectives. I have found new atheists and the strident religious to have provided equally influential negative role models.

        I understand that your goal is to try to lay claim to my ideas as “atheist whether you admit it or not.” You may interpret my self-labeling in what ever way makes you more comfortable. However, understand that a shift in the label one identifies with is often accompanied by a shift in action and behavior. Where I was once an ally, I am no longer. There are ways in which I support the religious and atheists. There are ways in which I oppose the actions of either group.

        You may perceive my choice of identity and my lack of alliances however you may. It no longer matters to me.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          The difference is, atheists are rationally able to defend their position with a high degree of certitude. There’s nothing wrong with certitude, unless it comes without reason (which is the very definition of religious dogma).

          My own view is that there’s really no such thing as an agnostic. You either believe or you don’t; label yourself however you want.

          You misunderstand my point if you take it as an effort to label you. My point was that the very term “atheist” is rather silly, given all the myriad other non-beliefs that we don’t find it necessary to label. There are rational people, and there are people who believe in gods. The latter are theists, and that’s really the only word we need. While I do call myself an atheist, I frequently avoid the word in discussions by saying I’m not a theist. I think that’s a better way of expressing it, and it makes whomever I’m talking to think about my words a little harder.


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