‘Humanism Works’ Billboard Goes Up in Idaho

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Treasure Valley Coalition of Reason in Idaho put up a pair of atheist billboards, and now the Humanists of the Palouse (in Moscow, Idaho) is following suit with one of its own:

It reads: “Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanism Works!”

… The six-week campaign is the first in a planned series of advertisements aimed at educating the public about humanism—the idea that you can be good without belief in a god…

“Our billboard campaign aims to introduce the idea that ethics don’t have to come from an ancient text like the Bible or Koran,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “Upon discovering humanism, we find many who say, ‘That’s what I’ve believed all along.’”

The Palouse Coalition of Reason put up a billboard back in February, too.

Countdown to complaints in 5… 4… 3…

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.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Countdown to complaints in 5… 4… 3…

    That was my first thought, sadly.

  • Lurker111

    Here’s a complaint:

    This was the clearest, most-easy-to-read font they could come up with?

    Also, there’s plenty of room to bump up the font size a few notches.  And you’d especially want the URL to be larger.  Really.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I agree. But it looks like that hasn’t stopped the reporters from talking about it here. I’m hoping other media mentions focus on the message and not the design.

    • Hypersapien

      The message itself could have stood to go through a few more drafts as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brady-Bever/40305560 Brady Bever

    Idaho?!?!?!?  My Idaho?!?!?!  Hell yeah!!!!!

  • Alan Christensen

    I’m proud they put the billboard up, but as an advertising guy, I think the message is too long to take in while driving past. Also, the phrasing of the sentence is a little too, oh, professorial. I think a lot of brains will come off the rails at “derived.” Something simpler like “Ethics = human needs x experience” might work better. Editing is one of the keys to successful advertising. It should be thought of as poetry, not an essay. But, like I said, kudos to the Palouse Coalition of Reason for getting another board up.

  • Randall Morrison90

     Humanism works…sometimes.

    But no Officially Atheistic Government has ever worked…unless you like mass murdereing dictatorships!

    • Rob C

      Assuming you are using commonly accepted standards f0r works, then the same can be said for any theistic government. Maybe the common denominator  is something different… back to the hypothesis…

    • Edmond

      That’s why governments should be secular, without any “official” position on religions.  It’s not the government’s job to tell you what to believe.

    • Luce

      Governments shouldn’t have an official position on religious belief, or lack of, as mandating what people must believe is an insidious form of control, hence why it’s generally authoritarian regimes that employ it. Edmond is right, the government should be secular and leave religious beliefs up to the individual.

    • Glasofruix

      Remind me, why do we call the dark age “dark”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Warner/620045191 Nick Warner

    This is awesome! a positive message that talks about “us” rather than responds to “them”. All to often we’re defined by what we don’t believe in instead of what we do.

  • Joe Zamecki

    Excellent billboard! 

  • soccer_player_1095

    In other words ethics are relative, which means there is no actual good and evil. The holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda were both morally neutral, in other words. Well, at least atheists are being honest! Or are they? http://www.calltoawareness.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-failure-of-atheism-how-new-atheists.html – Eric M.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=609238798 Peter Eakin

      Not interested in the false arguments on that blog. All of it has been refuted by ‘Old’ (?) atheists.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

       Wow. You a scarecrow or something? That’s a hell of a straw man.

      …Now, if you only had a brain, as the song goes.

    • Adam.B

      Yep completely relative, one day we can all just wake up and decide that setting people on fire is a human need and thus going around setting people on fire is moral because you know that’s how ethics work.

      seriously without invoking God you really have nothing to say about the holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda?

      in addition that is such a dumb blog post,

      1. You defined God as good, what the hell is good in this case (just whatever God’s nature is?) and why should we aspire to it?

      2. Why does God being eternal make his morality or following his morals any more objective (or good) then saying “I follow the teachings of Bob.”

      By the by the “atheistic worldview” has an basis of objective ethics and morality and imperativeness to follow it, it’s our existence.
      We exist.
      We have needs.
      We exist together with others who have needs.
      Only a few actions in any given event will allow us to continue to exist and meet our joint needs.
      That is ethics in a nutshell.

      • AxeGrrl

        Yep completely relative, one day we can all just wake up and decide that setting people on fire is a human need and thus going around setting people on fire is moral because you know that’s how ethics work.

        seriously without invoking God you really have nothing to say about the holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda?

        Exactly.

        I’m soooo tired of this ‘without God, you can’t say anything is right or wrong’ crap.  If you need to believe in some supernatural deity in order to see genocide as being wrong, then (imo) there’s something wrong with you.

        Morality/ethics being inherently subjective doesn’t mean we can’t determine that certain things are bad or good ~ do you know how we do it?  by presenting substantive, cogent arguments to support our positions.

        Perhaps that’s what confuses/stumps some believers ~ the demand for a compelling, substantive argument to support a position.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          We’re talking very scary people here, who believe that without some god telling them what to do (through human intermediaries, of course) there is nothing stopping them from becoming genocidal monsters.

          Not the sort of folks I want to be around!

      • soccer_player_1095

        Adam in your 1st point you confuse moral “ontology” with moral “semantics”. I agree that we have a well-defined definition of what good is wholly apart from God. My issue is with moral “ontology” or the foundation in reality of moral values.

        In answer to your second point: Because God, by definition, is the greatest conceivable being and therefore the greatest good, the Christian theist has an eternal and objective standard for moral values.

        When “Bob” dies his moral code dies with him, besides the fact that Bob is not innately good (unless “Bob” is God).

        You may have YOUR view of ethics, but the Nazi’s have their view, so who’s right? What is your authority to claim that YOUR view is better than anyone else’s view.

        Also, why is it okay for you to make up your own definition for ethics and act as though it actually exists, but you chide believers for making up a “god” and acting as though it exists. What’s with the double standard?

        What makes your view of ethics right and eugenics wrong?

        Eric M.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          There is no logical connection between something being the “greatest conceivable being” and it therefore being the “greatest good”. You might as well say it represents the greatest evil.

          It is society’s viewpoint that determines good and bad ethics. Nothing else. Everybody defines their own ethics. They always have, and always will.

  • Jonathan

    Interestingly the renaissance humanists such as Erasmus and Ficino were unconventional thinkers but while unorthodox, were spiritually inclined. How so? By making a place for ‘the transcendent’ in their thinking. Otherwise, what do you base ‘human values’ on? How do you differentiate philosophy from science? If there is no ultimate good, how to orient your efforts?

    There may be answers to those questions but I’m not seeing them in the current crop of ‘humanist philosophers’. Most of them seem to think that ‘the fact that we evolved’ explains all there is to know about human nature. And I don’t know how ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ really provides the basis for a real philosophy.

    • AxeGrrl

      By making a place for ‘the transcendent’ in their thinking. Otherwise, what do you base ‘human values’ on? How do you differentiate philosophy from science? If there is no ultimate good, how to orient your efforts?

      Do you not see how the idea of an “ultimate good” can be arrived at without theism?

      I guess the answer to that depends on what you mean by “transcendent”.

      If we’re talking about something ‘greater than oneself’, then the collective human community fits that description nicely.

    • AxeGrrl

      I don’t know how ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ really provides the basis for a real philosophy.

      You do realize that cooperation and empathy are just as “natural” as this “tooth and claw” stuff, yes?

      I hope so, because I’m a little tired of people stressing the ‘survival of the fittest’ as being ‘natural’ and altruism/empathy as being ‘outside’ of nature somehow……because it’s not.

  • Brentjudeaucoin

    So is the sign saying there is no real right and wrong – just what we make up, and change periodically based on time and experience?
     

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      It’s saying that there’s no absolute right or wrong. Right and wrong are still real things; that humans define them, rather than gods, doesn’t change that. Certainly, that’s the only objective view of ethics that exists, and is the view of most humanists.

  • Re

    Love it!


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