New Idaho Billboard Declares ‘Humanism Works!’

Back in July, the Humanists in the Palouse (in Moscow, ID) put up a billboard reading: “Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanism Works!”

Today, they put up a new billboard in the series. This one reads: “Working to benefit society maximized individual happiness. Humanism Works!”

“By working with Humanists of the Palouse, we can more effectively educate residents in the area about humanism,” said American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt. “This continuing campaign will allow people unfamiliar with humanism and being ‘good without a god’ realize that we’re just as interested in the welfare of our families, friends and neighbors as anyone else.”

In addition to the billboard, inserts with the image with the document Humanism and Its Aspirations (PDF) will be included in local newspapers today and Saturday.

While I agree with the sentiment on the billboard, I think it’s probably too wordy/philosophical for a casual observer. Hell, the first time I saw it, I had to think for a little bit about what it meant and, after writing this post, I’m still not sure I could repeat it back to you. It’s just not memorable. “Humanism Works!” is a nice catchphrase… but only if you know what Humanism means.

Let’s hope a lot of professors are driving down Highway 95.

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.

  • A secret red slider

    Thank you, I love positive signs and hope for more of these this year.

  • MargueriteF

    Yeah, I agree. A little too philosophical, a little lacking in zing. I don’t think these billboards are likely to be particularly memorable for most people who see them, unfortunately.

  • Michael Harrison

    I’m wondering about all the Objectivists who will condemn the second billboard for its promotion of collectivism.

  • Annie

    I do prefer the second to the first, only because it is a bit more memorable and easy to comprehend on the first go-around.  I like how this group chose not to dumb down their message for the masses.  It is a good insurance policy against the Christians getting outraged by it.  

  • Sailor

    I think the first one is an excellent antidote for those who claim morality can only come from god

  • chicago dyke, Blonde

    yup, way too wordy and too many big words, in both cases. sure, i love to see this sort of stuff and i know it helps our cause… but only a tiny bit. 

    i spent a lot of time today on the phone with my marketing guru. she cleaned up a copy that i’d written and chastised me for being too wordy, using too many big words, and failing to recognize the nature of the modern american market. which is to say: less is more. i often fail to do this on blog posts, but fuck it, i blog b/c i want to, not because i expect to change any of your minds :-) but when it comes to the business of trying to change people’s minds, she’s absolutely right. billboards like this will only reach people who already agree or who are sympathetic to our position. 

    “Jesus is Myth”

    “Enjoy Life! There is no Hell”

    “Nothing Fails like Prayer”

    “One Life is All There Is”

    “God Hates Prayers from Amputees”

    “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”

    “Worship of a Rock is Silly”

    “Worship of an Elephant Head is Silly”

    “Worship of a Talking Dolphin Buddha is Silly”

    “It’s OK to Marry the Person You Love”


  • Piet Puk

    Somehow this reminds me of the Terry Pratchett novel “Intersting Times”.

  • ZenDruid


    “A wise and happy child frightens God.”

    “Praying is like talking to your primitive under-brain.”

    “Life is challenging enough without God’s ‘mysterious ways’.”

  • Ben Porter

    people probably won’t remember them yet they will probably still whine about them

  • Foster

    The problem is that when you go any deeper than these broad platitudinous sayings, you get huge divergences in philosophy.  Consider that a capitalistic atheist, a socialistic atheist and a communist atheist would all agree to these platitudes, but have very different ideas as to how to flesh them out.  Besides, they don’t hold true.  If I’m a soldier who’s been drafted to go to war and been placed on the front line, I’m sorry, but working to benefit society does not maximize my individual happiness.  It’s just not true.  Nor is it true of a thousand other scenarios where great sacrifice is asked of a citizen for the greater good of society.  Unaided humanism does not work.  Post-Christian humanism works because atheists like Dawkins are too steeped in Christian assumptions about the world to embrace the self-absorbed hedonism of more honest atheists like Michel Onfray who realize the nihilistic consequences of their worldview.

  • Mark Lingard

    I’m new to humanism and I think it sounds great. I’ve called my view universal religion which is based on science, theoretical and proven and I think the humanist way will prove to be a close ally.