University of Calgary Freethinkers’ Posters Get Online Attention

As that image made the rounds on r/atheism yesterday, I wanted to know the story behind it — When did the sign go up? What has the reaction been?

HJ Hornbeck, the leader of the University of Calgary Freethinkers, was kind enough to fill me in.

The idea sprang from a religious poster on campus reading, “Waiting for a sign?” Clearly, it demanded a response. So HJ (with the group’s approval) started creating signs like these:

The idea for the poster that ended up on Reddit came from a past president of the group, who found it on a page of atheist quotes. So the attribution isn’t quite clear. Still, the response has been very positive.

HJ writes:

We’ve pulled in a few members just due to those posters. I haven’t seen any graffiti covering them, and their lifespan has ranged from 1 hour to 8 months, depending on location. Yes, Alberta may have a rep as the Texas of the North, but we’re also the second-most secular province in the country, so a non-religious message on the campus of a large city doesn’t see much harassment.

There was one exception, though…

Back in January, every poster I stapled up in one location would reliably get torn down within two days, and sometimes within the hour! I automatically fired one back up in its place, and for nearly two months the mystery vandal and I settled into the same routine: tear down, put up, tear down, put up. Finally getting bored of the cycle, I decided to have some fun with them. I crafted a new poster, printed a single copy, cut it down so it was slightly smaller than our usual posters, then stapled it up extra-securely underneath one of our own.

Here’s that poster :)

It seemed to work! Until the mystery vandal began *covering* that poster with a different one, only to have RJ uncover it… and so it goes.

Despite the setback, it’s good to see a clever poster getting the attention it deserves.

If you’d like more information about the group, feel free to follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

(Thanks, HJ!)

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.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

    I’m confused on the poster about studying multiple religions. I’ve studied multiple and have come to the conclusion that Christianity is the only religion that makes sense (assuming one believes in a God in the first place). Why is a person “done in an hour”? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019365643 John J. Ronald

      Well, YMMV.  That’s not the conclusion most rational people reach when studying all religions objectively.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

        So help me out here, you’re still not answering my question. Why is someone “done in an hour?” I have a feeling that I know what this means, but I don’t want to make assumptions without a bit of clarification. 

        Also, I’m trying to decide if you just called me an outlier when it comes to my conclusion or if you’re calling me irrational. I would argue that the decision is quite rational, again this is based on the assumption that there is a God. The other religions do not make sense at all when you look at their bottom lines. Now, if you do not believe in a God, then of course no religion would make sense. I get that. 

        I think the problem is that a lot of skeptics of God look at different religions and decide that they do not think any of them are worth following. Of course not! Because you don’t believe in God. Christianity, especially doesn’t make sense without belief in a deity. The chronological process here would be 1) Do you believe in God? If you say no then you are done searching. Congrats! But if you say yes, then proceed to the next step 2) Study and search many world religions to see if they make sense. I’m not talking about simply going to a service and listening to a single speaker or talking to a friend or good grief, listening to Oprah. I’m saying get the scriptures of their holy book and read it. 

        From what I’ve read on this site, most people have answered “no” to #1 at some point in their life, and then they move on to #2 and  tell us how stupid we are for this or that or what is wrong with this religion or this sentence of text, etc. Of course you think it’s wrong, because you are looking through the lens of having answered #1 in the negative. As soon as you do that you are biased are you not?

        Sorry for the rant. Again, please simply help a person out and refer back to my original question. I’m not trying to “start anything.” I’m just trying to make sure that I understand the connotation behind the sign. Thanks!

        • EivindKjorstad

           You’re not an outlier. Most people who are religious, believe more or less exactly what most people surrounding them when they grew up believed. This is true even for those who claim to have done a comprehensive comparative study.

          Ain’t that making you a little suspicious ? It should !

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

            So you’re saying that I’m a blind follower. Wow. You seriously cannot accept that a person can look at the world objectively and come to a different conclusion than the one that you came up with can you? 

            • EivindKjorstad

              You misread me. The point is, nearly all people who grew up in (say) Iran, then conduct a comprehensive comparative study of the worlds religions, end up concluding that Islam is the only one that makes sense.

              Nearly everyone who grow up in in a christian family in, say, Texas, come to the same conclusion, except they claim Christianity is the only religion to make sense.

              This should tell you something. I’ll spell it out: Most of the people who claim to have done a honest, open, impartial comparative study, in reality where unable to let go of the cultural baggage imparted on them trough their upbringing.

              This isn’t surprising or anything. But the point is, if *reality* was that one religion makes substantially more sense than the others — then this would be disproportionally discovered by people such as you doing comparative studies. If people who did comparison universally tended to gravitate to a single religion, this would be some kind of argument, but that does not match what happens in the real world.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

                Sorry about that. I understand your previous comment though now. Thanks for redirecting me a bit. 

        • Drew

          Well, that’s the fundamental difference, then. We’d rather not assume that there is a god. Instead, we’d rather wait until evidence is presented. This is the same kind of thinking which I’m sure you practice in your everyday life. I’m sure you would never assume that your new friend was a murderer and then try to find the murder mystery novel that best fits the rest of the evidence.

          Of course, even given the assumption that god exists, or that your friend is a murderer, you wouldn’t need to accept as true whichever codified religion (or mystery novel) makes more sense than the others.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

            Agreed Drew. I don’t assume that there is a God either. But I’ve been presented evidence that led me to the conclusion that there is a God. 

            • Coyotenose

              Can this special evidence be shared?

            • Hj Hornbeck

               Oh yes, I’d love to hear your evidence!

            • SteveS

               I would like very much for you to present his evidence. I really want to see what your ace in the hole argument for the existence of a god is. But I’ll be frank, I think all you have is a personal anecdote which really cannot be counted as evidence. Even your Lord himself, Jesus Christ said that for something to be verified as true, two or three witnesses must give account for it. I’m doubtful you can give me that. But, I am curious, momma J.

              • Stev84

                The problem is that Christians have very lax standards about what can be considered credible evidence

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

                It doesn’t matter. Because whatever I say on this board, someone else will just quip back that Im lying, stupid, prove it, or all three. That’s the sucky part because the evidence could hit you in the face and if you’re not willing to accept it then it is wasted.  

                • SteveS

                  You never know. Just give us something verifiable, something testable, something that will work, even if we are skeptical. Don’t assume all of us are hard-headed like some Christian nutsos. For most of us here, the evidence is lacking. We try to get our message across to some of your brethren – you never know, your story might inspire a change in some atheist. But I think that we have every reason to approach these claims with skepticism. Just because we’re skeptical of something doesn’t mean we’ll reject your claims, but we have to go with the best explanation for that claim. You say God, some might be able to say differently.

                  Don’t shake the dust off your feet at us. Most of us are willing to listen and critically evaluate your claim. I don’t know if you believe in a literal hell, but if there is one, and there’s a chance your witness could save one of us sinners, then by goodness, why are you not witnessing, man?

                • hoverFrog

                  We wouldn’t have a choice.  
                  If the evidence stands up to criticism then we’d have to accept it.  We’d treat your hypothesis as we would treat any other hypothesis, by crash testing it, picking at the holes and trying to find fault with it.  That’s a good thing, that’s how you know that the hypothesis has merit.  If it stands up to the strongest criticism and the evidence supports it then we must accept it as provisionally true just as we accept evolution or gravity as provisionally true.So, please state your hypothesis in falsifiable terms and present your evidence to support it.  This is your opportunity.  You should note that we aren’t running from the possibility that you’ll actually produce something.

        • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

          You said “Christianity, especially doesn’t make sense without belief in a deity”, surely the purpose of the religion is to give a reason for that belief. So there is a circular argument. You believe in god because you are a christian.
          You should do your process in the reverse order. I looked at various religions (starting with Church of England, as that is what I was officially brought up in), taking in Buddhism, Hinduism, Baha’i and even Scientology before deciding that none of them made sense. So I gave up on organized religion. Then I gave the existence of gods serious thought and concluded that there is simply no evidence.
          The “done in an hour” may not be entirely serious, but consider that pretty much all religions make the claim that they are inerrant (Buddhism is an exception), so all you have to do is compare two “inerrant” books and it is clear that they cannot both be right. You have no basis to choose one over the other, so can only conclude that neither is supported by evidence. It doesn’t take long to do that.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

            So I guess the 2 step process that I laid out of how things should be studied was too difficult to understand? In no way do I believe in God because I am a Christian. My point was that I answered yes to #1. Then I proceeded to step 2: study religions to see what makes sense. The one I feel that does make sense is Christianity. 

            I admit that my statement about Christianity, especially not making sense without a deity was a bit off track. I should have said is that nobody who doesn’t have a strong belief in God could not be a very strong Christian or something to that effect. Meaning, Christianity calls for the person to be completely sold out to its belief. You cannot “kind of” be a Christian. I feel like Islam leads to people being nominal Muslims because you only have to do more good than you do bad in Allah’s site. I guess a 51/49 split is okay in Allah’s sight. That’s not what the Bible teaches at all. It requires you to be be sold out completely and to change one’s purpose and thinking. 

            Also, to “compare two inerrant books” would take a long time. When was the last time you saw someone read through the Bible in a day? A weekend? A week? Heck, even a month? It’s a pretty good sized book. Even then, you still have other holy books as well to go through and read. By the way, if one is to stay objective in their comparison, they would have to take some kind of notes and keep track of what is happening and then compare them. For that to happen in any short amount of time is not a quick task. 

            How long would it take you to read (and understand) what the entire Bible is saying. Not what you think it says, but what it is saying (checking and double checking to make sure that your biases are not influencing your interpretation or understanding?

            • Pureone

              What sort of evidence led you to a single god? How do you know that wasn’t evidence of 5 or 7 gods working in concert? If it’s many gods, then Xtianity doesn’t make sense (not that it does in any respect).

            • Coyotenose

               ”How long would it take you to read (and understand) what the entire
              Bible is saying. Not what you think it says, but what it is saying
              (checking and double checking to make sure that your biases are not
              influencing your interpretation or understanding?”

              Google “The Courtier’s Reply” to see why no one is impressed with this argument.

              And do NOT pretend to us that you have read the Bible through, “checking and double checking” on the meaning of everything and changing your opinions according to what you read. If you claim that and then also claim that the parts of it that are crystal clear are magically not because you don’t want to acknowledge them, then you are a liar, and will be treated as such.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

                I’ll check out “The Courtier’s Reply” I haven’t heard of it before. 

                I’m not sure exactly what you mean in the last paragraph. I think a typo slipped in or a word was left out :(

                This is what I think you were saying, so correct me if I miss your point. You are saying that if I read the Bible and try to ignore or explain away the “tough to swallow” parts then I am a liar.

                 I would agree with that statement as well. 

                • debbiedoesreality

                   I’ve read through this thread and must say, hopefully without offending you, that I wonder at this point how exactly you thoroughly researched the bible, Christianity, etc. when I keep seeing your comments contain phrases such as “I’m not sure what you mean”, etc., as well as your original question of not grasping the intent of the poster. Perhaps this same sort of confusion has led you to believe that you have evidence of “God” and/or believe the bible’s tales? Just an observation, no offense intended.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

                I searched for it and learned that the Courier’s Reply is used when I call you out for bashing something that you know nothing about.

                It’s a nice term for a junior high tactic. I think my brother used it a time or two as well-

                Him: You’re stupid!
                Me: Why do you say that? 
                Him: Because. Gosh!
                Me: That makes sense ?!?!

                It sounds like a lazy dodge rather than admitting that no, you have not studied any one religion in detail, and sure haven’t studied multiple religions with any depth at all. Why, because they are crap in your view. But I would rebute, how do you know it’s crap if you haven’t looked into it? And then you cry “Courtier’s Reply” as if that suddenly means that I have an intellectual cheese touch or the scarlet letter of intelligence. 

                I’m not sure how this works since I’m the one who has read and studied and you have not.  Call my argument a name if you want to, but  most, (not all obviously) atheists have not actually studied religions from their foundational scriptures. Glance at maybe. Heard a few sermons, possible. But studied…mmm no. 

                And again, the cry will be “well of course not. Because they are stupid and crap.” Well my students kind some school topics are  kind of crappy too when they are first introduced to it, but that does not mean someone’s opinion instantly invalidates the subject matter does it? It just means you’re lazy and don’t want to do the grunt work that is being required of you. 

                How can we have intelligent conversations on subjects that only one side has studied on and the other refuses to because they choose to remain ignorant on it?

                • SphericalBunny

                  momma J, you’re mistaken about the point of the courtier’s reply. The point is actually related to the story of the Emperor’s new clothes (I trust you’ve heard the tale). Whilst the other subjects are buying into the con of all his fine regalia, and discussing the cloth, cut and threads, one voice points out the obvious – that there are no clothes to discuss. The allegory is that it is all well and good to discuss comparative religions, specific texts and attributes claimed of god/s, but without evidence of god/s existing in the first place it is also a pointless exercise.

                  I note that you have claimed you had evidence of a god before you decided on Xtianity; it would be worth your knowing that on atheist sites that word is taken somewhat differently than you may have intended it – I suspect you meant that you have had a personal experience that convinced you. That’s fine, but not evidence, and certainly not likely to convince anyone else of what you believe.

                  How can we have intelligent conversations on subjects that only one side has studied on and the other refuses to because they choose to remain ignorant on it?

                  There are many odd beliefs that people hold, supernatural or otherwise, that do not require extensive study to have a reasonable position on – lack of evidence for a position and logical deduction are two things that spring to mind to justify this. For example, one doesn’t need to be an expert on traffic and public highways to figure out if it’s safe to cross the road.

                • Hj Hornbeck

                   No no, you misunderstand the Courtier’s Reply. Taking it back to the Emperor’s New Clothes, the child’s allegations of nudity are dismissed because the child knows nothing of fashion, and is therefore in no place to judge. It’s a combination of argument from authority (“Other people say you’re wrong”), ad hominem (“You haven’t earned my respect, therefore you can’t possibly be right”) and a non-sequitur (since the Courtier isn’t even addressing if the emperor had clothes or not, something they should be capable of doing if they’d read the books they recommended to the child).

                  Likewise, this entire debate about God would be resolved quickly if you’d just show us some evidence for God’s existence, evidence you claim to have. Instead, you asked us to read the Bible in detail, with full notes. If that’s all the evidence you’ve got, then most of us have already reviewed it and found it lacking. If not, then you’re invoking the Courtier’s Reply: you haven’t read X, and until you do so I can dismiss what you’ve said.

                • debbiedoesreality

                   Hmm, seriously? I am atheist *because* I have read and studied the bible and other “sacred texts”, as is the case with a lot of other atheists that I know.
                  So at this point not only would I like to see this evidence you claim to have for “God” but I’d like to see evidence for your claim that the atheist side of this argument chooses to remain ignorant on the subject. I’m here to tell you that I have evidence that it simply is not true.

            • Drew

              If it’s necessary to do that level of convoluted manipulation in order to resolve the contradictions and flawed morality of the Bible, then the omnipotent being who is the purported author is actually an incompetent hack incapable of even basic continuity.

              • debbiedoesreality

                 Exactly. I would also add sordid to the list of adjectives describing this not-so-omnipotent being, as his so-claimed one approved literary work has been the source of much ill will and horrible behaviors.

        • EivindKjorstad

           To answer your original question: The thing that becomes obvious fairly quickly if you honestly investigate several religions, is that all of them are supported by pretty much the same evidence (i.e. none at all), and thus that there’s no particular reason to believe in one of them over the others. Since they’re mutually exclusionary, it’s not an option to believe in all of them, thus you’re left with believing none of them, by being an atheist.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tr-Dev/100003542966660 Tr Dev

            The notion is that no two separate religions have the same views on how the world works.  If you study only one, you’re likely to believe it and keep that as your worldview.  Most people who study two religions or more, however, note the differences and typically question whether either of them is correct.  That’s the idea here.  They can’t all be right, so which one actually is?

            A lot of Christians these days are using a Bible that has been changed a lot.  Stuff about homosexuality, for example, has been vastly changed to make Christianity seem accepting of it.  The fact is that the original text of the Bible condemns homosexuality completely.  People keep changing the “unchanging word of God” to suit their particular belief system and pass it off as just another interpretation.  King James Version, New International Version, New American Bible, New Revised Standard Version, New Living Translation…the list goes on.  The Bible has changed as people’s beliefs have changed.  It doesn’t seem like people really believe in the Bible as it was written.  How can that be truth?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

            What stuff about homosexuality in the Bible has changed? Mine still sex homosexuality is wrong. The purpose of a new translation is to not change it’s meaning, but to help make the original meaning more clear to a particular audience. Which of those versions says that homosexuality is okay? 

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              You must have a very unusual Bible. I’ve not yet seen one that condemns homosexuality. Or that says it’s okay (except indirectly, by accepting the apparently homosexual nature of several heroes of the work).

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              The same one that says “if your female slave should have a child, the child shall go free upon his or her 15th birthday”

            • Edmond

              I wonder if making the original meaning more clear to a particular audience was the motivation behind the recent re-translations which changed Mary from a “virgin” to a “young woman”.  This seems like it would have a HUGE change on the meaning.

            • hoverFrog

              Actually I’ve heard apologetics put forward the biblical case that stable, gay relationships aren’t condemned.  They use such explanations as mistranslation, rape of boys (which anyone but a Catholic priest would condemn) and ritual gay temple slaves to pass off the judgements.  They use the positive things like “love they neighbour” and “be excellent to each other” that might be in the bible to say that gay relationships are fine as long as they are loving.

              Also the whole gay thing has only really been an important issue for churches in recent years.  Pretty much since secular law decided that there was no good reason to treat gay people any differently that straight people are treated.  Then religion got all outraged and furious about it because it makes them look like intolerant bigots rather than a group that claims to be on the forefront of moral thinking. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tr-Dev/100003542966660 Tr Dev

          One last thing:  What makes sense to you has a great deal to do with your geographical location.  If you were born in India, for example, it is highly likely that Hinduism would make much more sense than any other religion.  

        • Reginald Selkirk

           You’re not an outlier, more likely a troll.

          Anyway, get two religions to explain something and it will soon become clear that they offer different and incompatible explanations. The next question ought to be: which religion has the better evidence that their view is correct? Just about then it should become clear that the answer is “neither.”

        • Stacey S

          Momma J, I want to respond to your comment about reading the scriptures. I agree with you, if a person is trying to make sense of their own belief in god they should read and compare religions and their various holy books. Back when I still believed in god as a Christian, it was when I read the bible cover to cover that I found Christianity not making sense. Of course when we read about Zeus or Osiris as mythological stories it doesn’t make sense to believe them today any more than it would Hinduism or Islam, since we have a completely different cultural background. Had we been raised in ancient Greece or Egypt, those mythological stories would make sense to us and everything else would sound ridiculous. But try to imagine looking at the bible, the story of Jesus, and the religion of Christianity as an invention of Paul from an outsider’s perspective, and it really has no more credibility than Islam, Mormonism or any of the ancient religions we now call mythology. Yes, I am biased since I no longer believe in god, but I don’t think anyone is stupid for having their beliefs, I just think it’s all a matter of perspective.

        • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both


          Now, if you do not believe in a God, then of course no religion would make sense. I get that. ”
          Incorrect. Buddhism is a religion, and Buddhism has no gods (well, mo external ones anyway) . This is probably also why it makes the most sense to me (except for the supernatural stuff, eg reincarnation).

    • http://www.facebook.com/aeisiminger Aimee Eisiminger

      They cannot all be right

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

        Correct

        • Lucky_Lager

          Have you ever studied physics?

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

            Yes.

            • Collin

              You do realize that most of us here have indeed experience of what you call step no. 1, and by seeking to fortify it, resorted to step no. 2, which, interestingly enough, was what led to the collapse of no. 1.

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

                Really? Because that negates the previous argument of I’m only a Christian because I grew up around them. I was told earlier that I starte  at #2 because of the geographical area that I was born in. 

                I’ve asked numerous times what led to the disbelief of religion and usually is happened at a young age in middle school or even younger. How many 10 yr olds go to church on their own because they believe in a God (on their own) and are seeking out which religion they believe best describes or communicates His aspects?

                • Tom

                  When you were studying the various religions, given that you have also apparently studied physics, did you ever try and express the various assertions about reality in the former in terms of the proven laws and effects of the latter?

                  I am, of course, assuming that, having learned physics, you hold its laws
                  to be true, what with all the rigorous experimental evidence for them that you’ll have
                  seen during your studies.

                  You will, I am sure, have noticed how physics texts rigorously derive, and tell you how you yourself can prove, everything they say, or else cite other texts that do – didn’t it strike you as odd that no religion anywhere has ever seemed to incorporate anything similar to this wonderfully helpful, effective mechanism?

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

         But they can all be wrong!

    • hoverFrog

      The allusion is that those who study one religion are indoctrinated into it while those who look at religions come to understand that they are man made social constructs that share a common flawed assumption.  I think that the “done in an hour” might come from Ricki Gervais where he explained his own path to atheism where he did little more than question the religion of his parents after an insightful comment from his older brother.  The point is that having a knowledge of different religious traditions and practices is an aid to shedding belief.

      There are obviously going to be exceptions.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

        Thanks frog. Thank you for actually addressing my what I thought was simple question. I don’t know why it took so many responses for people to realize that I was asking a simple question and looking for a simple answer. Thanks again!

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I think the “done in an hour” isn’t intended to be taken literally, but is simply intended to force the reader to think a little.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      It isn’t necessary to study more than one. It doesn’t even take an hour of studying Christianity for a rational person to realize it is radically absurd, and reject it.

      The fact that you believe Christianity makes sense means you are not rational. That is not intended as an insult- I’m using the word in its most formal sense, to define a way of thinking that rejects faith and demands evidence. Not everybody is rational.

      The intent of these signs is to make people think; a rational person may simply not have had her thoughts directed this way before, and once directed, might quickly realize that her beliefs were programmed, not derived. And might change. Mission accomplished. An irrational person is not likely to be swayed… but the people posting the signs are hardly expecting to change every mind!

    • TiltedHorizon

       ” Why is a person “done in an hour”?”

      It is an attempt at expressing the idea that a comparative study of religion will show the markers of human influence hence conclude all religions as being equally wanting. 

      I’ve studied multiple denominations within Christianity, the same basic arguments that work against Mormonism apply to Catholicism, Baptists, Protestants, Presbyterians, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. So to say that “Christianity is the only religion that makes sense” when each of these groups believe themselves to be the only “True Christians” seems disingenuous.   

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      “Done in an hours” and “you” are a bit of hyperbole, kind of like most religious billboards.  Some people take less, some substantially more. And for some the comparison makes them feel even more right.

      To answer your direct question, seeing the conflicting claims (and similarities) of multiple religions gives one a wider perspective that lead many to see them all as bunk.  I think many retain a belief in God, but dismiss all the various human told versions.  Dare I say ‘myths’.
      BTW, does “In God We Trust” mean that every single American citizen trusts “God”?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

        Nope. And I wouldn’t fight it when we take it off of currency. It will make me sad, but I won’t fight it because I know it’s not true.

    • Rickray1949
  • mastaofdisasta

    Done in an hour?  That means anyone with a religious studies major should get their degree after one class!

    • Drew

      I don’t think the sign is using “done” to refer to academic thoroughness. The point is that religious people often study their own books, but ignore other scriptures. When one sees that many holy books have comparable evidentiary support, that they have many commonalities as well as contradictions, the grasp of one’s faith is often weakened. This has been the road to deconversion for many, and I think it is to this that the poster refers. Admittedly, it is rather hyperbolic when applied to many such experiences.

  • Satia

    Too bad there’s no option to follow on g+.  Especially since there’s that lovely g+1 button at the bottom of the post.  

  • EivindKjorstad

    Are there really that few openly atheist people over there ? “You probably know one of them” ? People would laugh at that over here since the obvious correction would be “You definitely know lots of them, including lots of people who told you so directly.”

    • Brian Pansky

       I myself had been in the university for 2 years and the only declared atheist I had ever met was someone I had not seen since high school.

    • Ibis3

      In my experience as a Canadian, only certain kinds of believers go around advertising their religion in a blatant manner. Most people, believers and non-believers alike, tend to see religion or lack thereof as a private thing–not a secret, mind you, just something considered somewhat impolite to ask strangers and acquaintances about or to be overly pushy about in public. In that context, the poster kind of makes sense.  

  • AxeGrrl

    These signs are FAB :)    simple, smart and clear……..I like them more than almost any other recent atheist sign/ad I’ve seen.

    Keep us updated on the reaction to them :)

  • Sharon Hypatia

    Well,  it took  me more than an hour – it took me years to go through all the apologetic arguments, discarding each one after serious consideration (but I am slow, I guess). The biggest boot in the pants was reading about Joseph Smith translating the gold plates using the Umin and Thurmin in a hat. I laughed out loud and asked how any grown adult could swallow such tripe.
    Within a year, I realized that the xtian story was no less ridiculous. I hadn’t questioned it the same way as I had been brainwashed from toddler-hood to believe its truth. When I subjected it to what John Loftus would call  “The Outsider Test for Faith” ,  xtianity failed the test.
    So I am a real fan of  Mormonism. It is a real life, in our time, example of how religions are made and how they spread. And it is so kooky.

  • Rieux

    The Calgary signs are indeed great, and the fight-the-ripper story is amusing.

    More broadly, I think we all owe Hemant thanks for continually posting stories about cool things that secular students in all kinds of different places are doing. Student groups–in Calgary and countless other places–are such a spectacular part of the movement right now, and my favorite thing to see on “Friendly Atheist” are the positive write-ups Hemant gives them.

    Go, secular students! And thanks, Hemant.

  • Hj Hornbeck

    No, thank you, Hemant! As the current prez of the club in question, I thought I’d share a little homework on the “study” quote.

    The quote in question almost certainly came from Chris Beach’s website of atheist quotes. It’s credited to “andyc,” and appears as: “you could spend a lifetime studying a religion, study two and you will be done within the hour.”

    I also tracked down a comment from “mrgrumpy” on canadiancontent.net, dated March 15th 2008: “One can study one religion for a whole lifetime; study two and it only takes an hour.”

    … and that’s it. Google only shows a whopping 23 results (this being the first!), and most seem to be false trails. I find it bizarre; in my experience studying multiple faiths is the quickest path to agnosticism/atheism, and yet few seem to have noticed this!

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    When you’re dealing with people who think your right to free expression ends at their “right” not to be offended, running these signs off a simple printer or copy machine makes a lot of sense! It makes it completely practical, and nearly free, to put up with months of vandalism and theft.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    “A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches isn’t quite so sure.”

    Some time ago, I came across this aphorism and was intrigued. It speaks to human perception and the ways we can assume that what we observe around us make us the center and the reference point for our universe.

    Now I can see that it is an analogy for this idea of comparing multiple religions and finding the contradictions.

    Almost all Christians say Jesus is God.
    Almost all Muslims say Jesus was only a man, although an important prophet.
    Almost all Sikhs believe Jesus is neither  God nor an important prophet.

    Two of these groups are wrong.

    There are very roughly two billion each for Christians and Muslims. For these statements though, I agree with the 25 million Sikhs.

    As for the existence of the monotheistic Sikh God, I agree with those billions of Christians and Muslims. Simple really.

  • Julian Curtis Lee

    Cocky rubbish.

    When I saw the first one the “done in an hour” one I thought:

    “Right, because when one truly studies one religion, instead of staying shallow in their study (like atheists are shallow in their study of religion) — it tends to engage him lifelong, with ever-new depths to be plumbed. The generalist never really gets to the depths of things.”

    I thought it was a wise message like that. Then I realized it was the usual dime-a-dozen study-less atheists getting their cocky-itch scratched.

    Generally an atheist does not study the subject of religion beyond one hour. At least it gives us that insight about them.

    • solarsister

       Actually, in the U.S. at least, I would guess that most atheists grew up in a Christian family and thus are more than familiar with at least one major religion. I know I did – I’m from a very religious, very conservative evangelical family. I went to a Christian college, where Bible and religion courses were required to graduate. I also, later on at a secular school, took a class  on the major religious scriptures of the world. Later, I became an atheist, but I’m still very aware and familiar with what’s going on in conservative Christianity because of my family and my background. I hardly think I’m unique among American atheists in this.

    • Rickray1949

      Haven’t you seen the stats?  Atheists know more about religion and the bible than any religious group?  Do your homework!  Why do you think we’re atheists? Looks like bullshit, smells like bullshit, tastes like bullshit, must be bullshit! 

  • Mentious

    The silly maxim only holds true for shallow, non-penetrating minds.


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