The Atheist Super Bowl Ad You Didn’t See

Oh man, I must have missed this atheist commercial last night! Or maybe, like the Scientology spot, it was just seen in certain markets

(via CultOfDusty)

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://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1763971872 Cuauhtemoc Sosa

    I wish, I thought this was the Scientology spot with a slight edit…? someone correct me here.

    • Cat’s Staff

      I think it’s the same except for the very end. I noticed how the original sounded like it was appealed to freethinkers (even using the word freethinkers). People should keep reporting this with the title “Atheist Super Bowl Ad” So when people search for Super Bowl Ad they might get this.

  • Blacksheep

    I could show this to a bunch of Christian kids and it would resonate perfectly as a Christian message (without the atheist ending that felt sort of clipped on).

    • C Peterson

      Well.. except for the part about logic. And the part about freethinking. And the part about thinking for yourself. These things are, and always have been, at complete odds with Christianity. (Of course, they’re at complete odds with Scientology, too, which is why the modified ending is the only one that can turn what is otherwise a farce into a powerful message.)

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        It’s cold reading. Everyone will think all of those things apply to themselves. That’s what makes it an effective ad. You can tack whatever word you want on the end, and it works.

        Whether we think those attributes actually apply doesn’t really mater. The viewer thinks they do.

        • Gus Snarp

          Apple. Yup, definitely works.

        • Blacksheep

          I agree.

        • C Peterson

          Of course, you’re correct. But that doesn’t mean that a rational person can’t consider a list of possible words at the end, and recognize ones that make logical sense (atheism, freethought, rationalism, logic, education, the name of a school, etc) and ones that don’t (the name of a religion).

          Our tendency to see ourselves in certain constructs does not obligate us to do so, and the more rational a person is, the more likely they can escape that trap.

  • lotsoftinyrobots

    Is anyone else concerned that the Scientology Ad makes a REALLY good atheism ad if you just change the last frame from scientology to atheism?

    • slaw

      It’s just religion masquerading as science (or indeed any form of rational thinking,) so not really. It’s a bit encouraging, to think that they feel the need to appeal to peoples sense of logic to gain followers. No point in mentioning that their religion is completely illogical in the add of course.

      • G. Michael Williams

        Slaw you’re an idiot that has no grasp of meaning of words….of course, few theists do, or they couldn’t be convinced by such utter nonsense.

        • slaw

          Ookaay…

          My point was that people like to think that they’re being logical, even when they’re being completely illogical. That’s what this scientology add is appealing to. In my mind, that’s a step up from “We don’t need science or reason, we’ve got faith!”

          How people can think that Scientology is the least bit scientific or rational after learning what they actually believe in, however, is completely beyond me.

          • M.L.

            The irony here is that in your own way you are as gullible as the Scientologists because you credit them with being a “step up” simply because the term looks vaguely “science” (hell, the first two syllables are practically “science” and it ends in “ology”!).

            You must be similarly impressed with “Christian Science” then, I guess.

            • slaw

              You seem to be misinterpreting my point. I’m not saying that Scientology is better because it uses science-y phrases and words. I’m saying the fact that they think they need to pretend to be science in order to attract followers seems to indicate that less and less people are willing to take “You just have to have faith” as an acceptable alternative to thinking. It’s complete dishonesty on the part of the Scientologists, peddling their pseudo-scientific religious trash as actual science (or indeed any form of freethought.) But it’s an tactic that seems to realize that most young people of this generation are less and less willing to take the “Mark Driscoll approach” to faith. Namely, “You Can Have a Brain; Just Don’t Use It.”

              The desired end result for both Driscoll and the Scientologists is the same – complete and unquestioning devotion to them and their god. But while Driscoll can get away with directly saying to his followers “don’t think,” the Scientologists have opted to take the route of deception, and are trying to convince people that you can be both a thinking, independent person and a Scientologist (because look! Science!) It’s nonsense of course, but I think the fact that they feel the need to appeal to people’s sense of logic and independence in order to gain followers is promising, as it means that less people are willing to take a straight up “don’t think, just follow” for an answer.

    • Gus Snarp

      Yeah, it’s clearly intentional. Scientology starts with “Scien…” for a reason. There’s another change in the end, where they take out the “the one thing that’s true, is what’s true for you”, which is of course utter bullshit. So change that to logic and you get the atheist ad. There’s another point in there that I felt was close to that that could use some editing too, but it’s definitely a good marketing job by Scientology, creepy lying bastards.

      • ruth

        Yeah, the end was pure post-modernism

    • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

      It’s a loss leader.

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      They are desperate for more income, sorry, members, and are trying to tap into the atheist market.

    • Houndentenor

      No, it didn’t. The ad implied that it’s okay to believe whatever is “true for you”. How is something true for one person and not for another. Okay, yes, I understand in terms of diversity like some of us are left-handed and there’s no point in trying to be right handed if you are left handed. But this approach to belief of “that makes sense to me so I decided it was true and how dare you question my illogic” is revolting to freethinkers and skeptics, most of whom are also atheists, whether they use the a-word or not.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I hadn’t seen the original, so I thought this was serious, but at “the things you feel. the things you know to be true” I knew[sic] it was going to fail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=27313926 Aaron Springer

    Frelling brilliant.

  • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

    Has anyone checked the Scientology ad for subliminal messages?

  • sarasson

    Dusty Smith, (of The Cult of Dusty fame), is responsible for this. He just changed the last part with his own.

  • Bob Carlson

    I mostly tuned out the commericals, but, for whatever reason, I didn’t fail to tune out the God Made a Farmer commercial for Dodge RAM, designed to appeal to the mindless. Coincidentally, Eric MacDonald has a post today titled <a href="http://choiceindying.com/2013/02/04/religion-advertising-and-want/"Religion, Advertising and Want.

    • Bob Carlson

      Oops. I somehow messed up the link for the Eric MacDonald post titled Religion, Advertising and Want.

    • monyNH

      Maybe I’m biased because I live in a farming community, and practice very small-scale farming myself, but I like this ad despite its blatant religiosity. I think “appeal to the mindless” may be a little beyond the pale (really, aren’t ALL ads designed to sway the swayable?); but if a stupid truck commercial can get just one person, who had not considered it much before, to begin to appreciate farmers–then I can overlook a little 1970′s hokey religiosity.

  • Maia Newton

    I have an honest question. I am not an Atheist. I am an independent thinker, a critical thinker, a logical person- kind of- I have my own “brand” of logic. I don’t want to lead people nor do I wish to be led. I do have a hope, faith, belief, that is NOT logical. It is in no way the Judaic/Christian God- there is no reward package for doing the right thing- life is what we make it- my idea of God isn’t as a parent or judge, nor a creator. AND HERE IS MY QUESTION- Why is that I can’t be a logical person, a critical independent thinker who also believes that there is more? I don’t know there is more- I just believe it. I am not judging this discussion, I am really curious.

    Thanks for your input,
    Maia Newton

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Because, quite simply, it is illogical to believe in anything for which you have insufficient evidence. You can believe that there’s “more” “out there”, but don’t call yourself logical and a critical thinker at the same time.

    • Gus Snarp

      It’s easier to say that none of the major world religions is logical, because their texts are demonstrably false and absurd. It’s a bit difficult to argue that you can’t be a logical, critical independent thinker and also believe there is more. There is always a gap into which we can fit a god, at least so far. But the question is, is it logical to believe in a poorly defined, nebulous, ever changing concept that does not appear to have any real world effects today just because there’s something in quantum mechanics or cosmology or the origin of life that we find counter intuitive? In other words, can you define more? If you can’t, that in itself is a sign that it’s not logical or consistent with critical thinking. But even assuming that belief in something undefined or undefinable was logical, it would be pretty impossible for someone else to conclude that it was logical when we don’t know what it is because you can’t define it. So, how do you define “more”?

    • Houndentenor

      Why do you believe there is “something more” and what do you mean by that?

      There’s obviously more to the universe than what we can see but we discover that through exploration. There’s a lot further out and at subatomic levels than anyone dreamed of 100 years ago. And each time we can look further out or further in, or for that matter often when we look at flora and fauna on an unexplored remote island, we find things we didn’t even know were possible. It’s what makes science very exciting. We don’t know everything, so in that sense there is a lot more to everything than what we currently know and people constantly looking for that more. I’m not sure that’s what you mean, but none of that makes me believe in anything supernatural. There are just things we still don’t know and that’s nothing to fear.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

      I think what’s important isn’t so much what we think, as how we react when confronted with evidence we might be wrong. I would posit that on the sliding scale from skeptic to believer on some given issue, there comes a point where it boils down to a philosophical disagreement about what the default position should be.

      But I hasten to add that most believers don’t seem to think about their faith in anything approaching this depth.

    • ruth

      Sure you can. You are a critical thinker about some things and not about others. You just compartmentalize. Many people do about many things. Even atheists. Humans have this tendency so it isn’t surprising.

  • http://twitter.com/TweetThatSheet Daniel Brown

    Meh.

    The voice at the end that says “The power of Logic” makes me want to punch babies. I hate his voice. It sounds like a douche bag. I hate the crap telephone effect. I hate the default Final Cut Pro font used for that text and the lame animation of it. I hate how the text at the end of “One God Further” looks pretty good, but then the word “Atheism” looks like crap again. Why did the font change?

    And the whole thing is too similar to Apple’s “Think Different” ads that use a similar formula of flashing different people on screen while a voice lists different kinds of people who all fall under the same umbrella set to emotional building music.

  • Rain

    Tom Cruise at :46 seconds? Same droopy shoulders.

    • Gus Snarp

      It’s either Tom Cruise or somebody younger who looks a lot like Tom Cruise. I’m leaning toward the latter. But it’s odd if that was an intentional choice…

      • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

        For sure not Tom Cruise.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    The new Star Trek Into Darkness trailer was my “atheist Super Bowl ad”. ;)

  • Jennifer Robinson

    Does anyone know which markets the atheist ad ran in? Just curious.

    • sarasson

      It didn’t run anywhere. This was originally an ad for Scientology, but Dusty Smith took it and reworked the ending to make it an atheism ad.

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

        I was being sarcastic in the post. I guess that didn’t come through clearly. Sorry!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    What struck me is how the music reminded me of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christina-Bochnik-Hermann/1376559474 Christina Bochnik Hermann

    What’s ironic about the commercial being for non-conformist, free thinkers and logic…none of those are welcome in the church of Scientology!

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.pezzullo John Pezzullo

      Amen (I love dong that~!)

  • Houndentenor

    Okay I have a question about Scientology. So I understand (enough to satisfy my morbid curiosity) what they believe but how did L Ron Hubbard claim he came by this “knowledge” of ancient aliens and body Thetans and all the rest? Most religions have some tale of divine revelation in which the tenets of the faith were revealed. I’ve never heard any explanation for how Hubbard came by all this except that he was a third rate scifi author. What do they tell Scientologists about how they came by this “information”?

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    I think we should take note of all the buzzwords used in the add and how much atheists use them as well.

  • Nigel Harrison

    You can not establish any basis for logic from any of the worldviews that support Atheism, without stepping outside said worldview, and “borrowing” from the theistic worldviews.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      The fact that you would think logic requires some aspect of theism only means you’re looking through theistic worldview glasses. I’d ask you to try taking them off, but you’re sure your eyes are open to the world and mine are closed.

      And I can’t take mine off either. The difference is, I know I’m wearing mine.

      • Nigel Harrison

        A witty reply no doubt, but did you answer the challenge, no. My proposition remains unchallenged. Present your worldview then show your basis for logic confined to that worldview only.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          “Shit happens?” Oh, I guess that’s not much of a basis for logic. Look, I enjoy philosophical discussions. I’m interested in how we can know what is or isn’t true.

          But I don’t have the time or energy to ‘present a worldview’, especially when I seriously doubt the questioner is really interested in anything other than scoring cheap points. Tell you what, you can have this one by default.

          • Nigel Harrison

            Fair enough, but I am interested. As I have tried to reconcile the non-deist worldviews to their logical conclusion and in my exploration there are only two ways to go, either “return” to at the very least a deistic basis, much like Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes or end up like Nietzsche or worse, utterly depressed and suicidal or arguably psychotic like Marquis De Sade, at the futility of everything. It is disappointing that so many truncate their thinking to where they feel comfortable, which is intellectually dishonest, instead of taking it to the “logical” conclusions and then dealing with those consequences.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              First of all, our wanting there to be an outside given purpose to life doesn’t mean there is one. And the converse is also true of course. And since people who think there is an outside dictated purpose can’t agree on it, I’d argue that most of us are either living our lives as if there wasn’t a purpose, or pursuing the ‘wrong’ purpose.

              That said, I enjoy life. I enjoy a lot of different things about life, and some more than others. And selfishly, one of the things I enjoy in life is helping increase the joy in other people’s lives. I don’t need anything to tell me that that’s my purpose in life. Maybe that is ‘the purpose’ in life, but if it isn’t, I don’t really care. It’s a good enough reason for me to not be a nihilist.

              And to be honest I’d be a little disappointed if someone else thought that was being intellectually dishonest or illogical, but not that much.

              I don’t think your desire for there to be an outside dictated purpose makes my decision as to how I face life any more or less logical.

              • Nigel Harrison

                Fair enough – I wasn’t really pursuing purpose, however, as you say, you don’t really care if you have the right purpose or not…which in itself is illustrative of the conundrum you find yourself in, i.e. if truth is relative (what works for you) then there is no truth and hence no basis for logic. Whereas in my study to date, the Christian worldview provides a perfectly acceptable basis for knowledge and logic and is consistent with what we see and experience in the world.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  if truth is relative

                  sigh

                  Truth claims require reliable means to evaluate them.

                  I make a distinction between things I can possibly evaluate the truth of, and things I can’t. I can evaluate the truth of a great many things, and they matter.

                  I can’t evaluate the truth of anyone’s claims from divine revelation or faith. Theists like to make shit up and then argue over which shit is real, and which is false. But since all their shit is made up and invisible and mysterious, they can’t evaluate any of it, other than they all know theirs is correct.

                  So I stand slightly corrected. If any of you can come up with a way by which I can evaluate any of your truth claims, then I’ll care. In the mean time, I’m going to go on trying to know more today than I did yesterday, and lessening the suffering of others.

                  (Last to Neil deGrasse Tyson)

                • Nigel Harrison

                  Fair enough – so what is your “reliable means” to evaluate truth? What are the tests a truth must pass in your eyes?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Probably not all that different from you. I don’t walk around with a list of ways to evaluate every single thing I come across. And I don’t pretend that I’m perfect at figuring things out, but I try. And the more important something is, the more I’ll try. And the more reliable the source, the less I’ll try. And reliable can mean a lot of things, but you know my friend who keeps posted stuff that I immediately find on snopes is less reliable than my friend who posts stuff that doesn’t show up on snopes. You get the picture.

                  Probably the big difference between us, I’m assuming, is that I don’t consider divine revelation to be a reliable source. And I don’t consider how people want things to be a reliable source. That is, heaven isn’t real because people want it to be. Heaven is real or not independent of what anyone wants.

                  If you met me at say, our kids’ soccer game, or in a movie theater line, or one of us needed a jump start or directions, you’d never know I’m an atheist. Until you said “God Bless You” and I said “Well, I’m an atheist, but thanks anyway, have good day!”

                • Nigel Harrison

                  So reliability is a condition? I know you said you don’t have a list, but there must be others? As I can show you countless examples of how reliable the Bible is both from a document of antiquity concern, verification through archaeology and alignment to now secular understandings of the world.

                  Not to get too lost in the weeds here, but I agree with you there is a difference between want and is i.e. to you heaven example, however, that is part of the issue with an atheistic based worldview, i.e. “you want there to be rules of logic” but there is no way to establish rules of logic.

                  It seems that from our original exchange you are at the point of being ready to admit, if you haven’t already in your comments, that your worldview not only provides no basis for logic, but you live within it on the basis of faith and probably rely more on faith than the Theists you seem to abhor.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  The only thing I’ve gotten from my conversation is that try as I might, I might as well be talking to a brick wall. What I think you think I said is nothing like what I intended to say. I’m not sure where the breakdown is, but it’s like we’re translating from Russian to Hindi via google, and then to Spanish, and then to Arabic, and then back to English.

                  Look, just think whatever you want about my worldview. I really don’t care. My view is that your assertion that my worldview has no basis for logic is just plain bonkers. I’m not sure how else to put it. We are so completely far apart on this that we’re just wasting our time, as I presumed at the beginning.

                  If nothing else, please don’t say I abhor theists. I don’t. I don’t even seem to.

                • Nigel Harrison

                  To be expected, but you have never presented a basis for logic so my assertion is far from bonkers, you stated quite clearly that in your opinion “Theists make up shit,…debate shit…and it is all made up”, so drawing that you abhor Theists from those statements alone is not a long bow at all.

                  It is you, who is putting up the brick wall, refusing to even make the simplest coherent case for your position..yet you say “…And selfishly, one of the things I enjoy in life is helping increase the joy in other people’s lives”,now assuming you think, cause of all the “shit” as you put it, that Theists are missing out on “joy” it is sad you don’t even try to be consistent with your own stated ideal even when handed the opportunity on the proverbial platter.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Prove to me that 1+1=2 without using orange.

                • Nigel Harrison

                  That’s the best you have…wow…I hope you take the time to truly search and understand the vapidness and absurdity of your position. Peace out.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Likewise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.bonds Chris Bonds

    If you have questions about Scientology (as some did in the comments) I recommend the new book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright. It goes into detail about Hubbard and how he developed his belief system.

  • samantha

    Ugh. They basically ripped off an ad for Apple and welded on a clumsy ending.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjgtLSHhTPg

    Good without God? Seems like you guys can’t even be ethical.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Well, if we’re not Good without God, at least we (well, most of use anyway) can RTFA without God.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.pierce.75 Joshua Pierce

    Much better than the original!

  • http://twitter.com/evolynena evolyn

    This ad wasn’t on the Super Bowl?


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