Does It Matter That the Atheist Bench in Florida Looks Kinda Ugly?

This is the atheist bench that was recently installed in front of Florida’s Bradford County Courthouse, in response to a Ten Commandments monument on the city-owned property:

(via Gamma Atheist)

(via Gamma Atheist)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: It’s not all that pleasing to the eye. It’s asymmetrical. It looks like someone just slapped a bunch of random quotations on any available space. Your head has to be damn near the ground to read some of the words on it.

As far as design goes, it could be a lot, lot better.

In fact, Gordon Haber at Religion Dispatches calls it “proof of unintelligent design”:

this particular bench is an eyesore. About five feet long, the monument looks like, well, a marble bench, but with a four-foot-high pillar at one side.

All in all, the monument does not look like in inviting place to sit and contemplate the separation of church and state — especially as the sitter would have to crane his or her neck to actually read the quotations. And the conspicuous placement of the name of the sponsoring organization makes the edifice seem less a monument to atheism than to American Atheists.

I don’t disagree with the assessment, but I’m going to say what I’ve said before: The design really doesn’t matter here.

The question you have to ask yourself is: What’s the main reason American Atheists wanted to put up this monument?

Was it so people could sit on a beautiful bench? No. That’s much lower on the list of priorities. I don’t have any inside information on this, so Dave Silverman may say something different, but here’s the way I see it:

Priority #1 was simply to put up somethinganything — to counteract the Ten Commandments monument already on the property. AA wanted to make a point about how the government must treat all beliefs equally. They could have put up a giant LEGO installation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster made by a five-year-old and it would have achieved the same purpose. If the awkward design makes the front of the courthouse look like an eyesore, that’s not really a problem. It’s all the more incentive for city officials to remove all religious and non-religious displays from the property.

Priority #2 was to get media attention for American Atheists. And it worked beautifully. There was coverage of the bench in local and national media, in both newspapers and television. My Google Alerts were coming in like crazy. The design of the bench would not have changed the way the media covered the story. So why bother? Not to mention the vast majority of coverage that I saw spent very little time describing the bench itself. Most of the stories were all about why the bench was there in the first place and all the hoopla surrounding the unveiling of it.

Priority #3 was for AA to get across its message of atheism and church/state separation. Obviously, no one’s going to change his or her religious views by looking at a quotation from Madalyn Murray O’Hair, so AA just needed to get some quotations on the bench. They chose some famous ones from the Founding Fathers and AA’s Founding Mother and slapped them on there. There was space on the side of the bench facing the walkway, so they put their logo on it (something that also helped them achieve name recognition courtesy of Priority #2).

Priority #4 was to create a bench people could sit on and “reflect” about the truth (or lack thereof) of the Ten Commandments and why the monuments were on the property at all. This is the stated purpose of the bench, but it’s not really the point. If it was, AA could have found more professional designers to make the bench more like a work of art. But it didn’t matter because this wasn’t their ultimate goal.

I know commenters are going to say this is me railing against design again, and I’ll try to blunt that right now. I’m not against it. I would love it if the bench were more aesthetically pleasing, just as I appreciate a well-designed billboard.

All I’m saying is that when you look at this bench as a publicity stunt for the organization, and not as a marketing tool designed to increase their membership, the need for better design falls by the wayside.

You could argue, of course, that a better-looking bench might make more people want to join the group, and you would have a good point there, but I’d just go back to Priority #1. The main purpose of the bench was to counter the 10 Commandments monument, not to bring in members. That would just be a nifty bonus. AA achieved their primary goal regardless of how the bench looked.

Keep in mind, too, that the money for the bench was donated. It wasn’t AA’s money to begin with. If it was, you could make a stronger argument that part of the budget should have included a professional designer, but when someone hands you just enough money to pay for a monument, you roll with it.

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.

  • pierre

    I think without a doubt, it could have been executed better.

    On the other hand, you know how things can go wrong, a la too many cooks in the kitchen. They would debate about the shape, the quotes, the font, etc etc etc…and we might not even have a monument by now.

    I think we should consider it a prototype; prototypes should never be considered completed works, but they give a lot of insight on how to improve the design for later revisions.

  • Martinrc

    Honestly, you’re not gonna get much for how little AA spent on this bench (for good reason because there are better things to spend the higher money on, lets just get this thing up for as little money as possible to get the heads rolling, I mean ball rolling…)

  • Frank Key

    We have yet to see the bench in its final form. It won’t be long before some midnight raider with a sledge hammer applies one mighty blow upon the seat section and it will look like this: Iv

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      I hope that doesn’t happen.

      But if it does there will be a fresh round of publicity for atheism, American Atheists, and church-state-separation.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      “This isn’t even my final form!”

      Dragonball Z is beyond terrible, but that still made me laugh.

      Someone is unlikely to smash the bench because of the noise. Spraypaint seems the likely first instrument of vandalism. That said, I wouldn’t cry if someone hit it with a hammer. A bit of wabi-sabi added by its enemies would give it far more power.

    • Robyman4

      Some might take that as proof of Thor’s existence…

  • pierre

    I say the next monument should be the red Atheist A, but one of those sculptures that only looks 3D from a certain vantage point.

    With the vantage point being standing with their back to the ten commandments monument.

    • scroogleu

      That would have done so much more for drawing attention to our cause! The problems that I have with this monument isn’t it’s failure in grand, flawless art, but that it’s nothing to draw notice at all. It’s too small, and so are the crowded text inscriptions. It’s just a plain bench, which is better at serving the interests of any preacher in need of a soap box to stand on than at promoting the position of atheism! What were they thinking?

  • Lisa

    I know plenty of atheist graphic designers who could have done a better job with that typography as well.

    • Tobias2772

      Lisa,
      Please give them a call and put them to work. We will all look forward to seeing their ideas. Thanks.

  • Brian

    Yes yes, we know that the bench achieved its desired goals, and it shouldnt really matter what it looks like. However, thats still no reason why it COULDNT have been better designed, a piece of art as well as a political message. Im sure the AA knows plenty of atheists who majored in design and couldve come up with something more aesthetically pleasing that also accomplishes those same “priorities”

    • John Small Berries

      Overall I agree, though to “it shouldn’t really matter what it looks like”, I might append “as long as it’s not so ugly that it distracts from the message it’s trying to convey”.

      • Bad_homonym

        I find if its too pretty the message is lost to the beauty. That being said I love the asymmetry. It draws me in. It’s bad ass. It’s Millenium Falcon!!!

        • Kodie

          I have a wholly different opinion that I’d like to express on its own, but I have to say, there is nothing wrong with something so beautiful that the message will be lost. I don’t think such a thing is possible. The more intriguing and attractive it is to someone from a distance, the more likely they would be compelled to come over to see what it is and what it’s about. It seems like you are drawn to the asymmetry, whereas most people don’t seem to think it’s the most attractive design. I think there is no design that everyone would agree on which would still be successful, since beauty is subjective. For example, in Washington, you have two monuments near one another – the Marine Corp (Iwo Jima) Statue is moving and compelling, as is the Vietnam War Memorial, which is completely different in style. Even though it looks nothing like a gravestone, I find our Atheist monument to resemble it, it anchors itself in my mind to that category. “Modern” things do not appeal to most people until they’re established and gotten familiar with seeing them; however, benches appeal to everyone because you can sit down. It could have been way more beautiful, but I also think it would have taken longer to design, not to mention way more expensive to execute in a timely manner. It seems to be one of those things that could have taken many months to agree upon an ideal design, and people would still think it’s ugly. They went with efficient.

          • Bad_homonym

            Fair comment. I was simply raising a counterpoint to the argument that too ugly can cause one to not focus on the message. This is why they make chevs and fords!

            Cheers!

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          “For that much we could build our own monument!”

          “Yeah, but who’s going to engrave it, kid, you?”

          • Bad_homonym

            You bet I could! I’m not such a bad engraver myself!

            You rock Honeycutt!

  • Tired and grumpy

    Yes it matters, because it’s an advertisment for the atheist organisation. People aren’t purely rational, they’re swayed by aesthetic judgements, and a fugly bench won’t win many new converts to the atheist way of thinking.

    A lot of the ads put out by atheist groups are hideous and lacking in design too. Are there no atheist designers who would knock up an advertising poster pro bono? I’m sure churches get all kinds of discounts from their members, why can’t atheist humanism inspire the same passion? Is it because arty people tend to be more spiritual?

    For publicity stunts we need to win hearts as well as minds. Otherwise people will look at ugly, clunky atheist designs and decide this is a group to avoid, not to join.

    Now you might say we don’t need converts, we need existing atheists to join our organisations. But existing atheists (and those non-believers who are scared even to use the ‘a’ word) are also swayed by design. They’ll want to join an organisation that looks cool, something they can take pride in.

  • Rain

    But it didn’t matter because this wasn’t their ultimate goal.

    You can define something as not mattering all you want, but it still matters! I define something as not mattering, therefore it doesn’t matter. I don’t think so…

  • Michael

    I think that the problem is not that these things are badly designed, but that they are consistently badly designed. Let’s have a run of pretty things sometime.

  • A3Kr0n

    I think the bench by itself would be cool. Low key, and with an atom!
    BTW: I made an atom if you want to print one on a 3D printer.
    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:22601

  • JMM

    It is a bit plane jane isn’t it? We are here to stay is what is says top me, maybe the next one will have a better design.

  • Vic Marquis

    For the reasons mentioned above…it’s a beautiful piece.

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

    I didn’t know this was supposed to be a Picasso. I simply thought it was a bench, to sit on, which it does the job well.

  • atheisticallyyours

    The fact that it can be UTILIZED (and not just give some educational knowledge in the process!), overrides whatever “poor aesthetics” this “monument” may be accused of having!

  • Heavy G

    My first reaction upon seeing that was “Oh my God, that is so ugly”.

    You’re right in that aesthetics was not the primary goal here.

    However, I think there are enough talented people in our community that we could have some sort of design competition/collaboration and come up with a prototype for something that has more aesthetic appeal.

    Regardless of how it looks having it installed was a good thing – let’s plant more!!

  • Rain

    I think what we have here is a prime example of “apologetics”.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    It’s a monument. It should look monumental. It’s a piece of public art. OF COURSE it matters that it look good. Theists should look upon it with envy and marvel at how much artistic talent can come from a non-believer.
    Presentation counts. Production value counts. If we are trying to spread counter-propaganda, look at what we’re trying to counter. Let’s take Christian themed movies for example. There’s an obvious difference in quality between, say “The Passion of The Christ” and “Left Behind”. Let’s be passion, let’s not be left behind.

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

      Why spend more money making it a beautiful monument when the ideal scenario is that the Christians take their ten commandments monument down and the atheist monument is taken down as well? Love the name btw

      • 3lemenope

        Because the ideal scenario is a ship that has already sailed.

  • SeekerLancer

    It should be even uglier since it seems like the point is having trouble getting across even though we’ve spelled it out for them.

  • Tobias2772

    Jesus, everybody’s a critic. Ever notice how the people who complain about what other people have done, never do anything themselves. It’s a park bench. Just how aesthetically pleasing do you want it to be. If you want to do better, I am sure there is someplace in your hometown where you could put your atheist bench.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    No, the fact that the very first one isn’t a gorgeous, award-winning design doesn’t matter. What matters is that it exists!

    The first steam locomotives weren’t pretty. The first automobiles weren’t pretty. The first cell phones weren’t sleek, sexy little products that fit into our pockets and our hands so comfortably. These first things were clunky. No problem. Perfecting aesthetics comes later.

    What I like about the monument is that it is a bench. It suggests contemplation, to sit for a while and think carefully. That’s a wonderful atheist and humanist value.

    What I’d like to have seen on the top of the block is a sundial. It would have a practical function, something that secular people value, it would have a reference to astronomy, a science, something we value, and it would have a reference to connecting to the natural world, including the solar system.

    The gnomon, or triangular blade of a simple sundial is supposed to have the same angle as the latitude where it sits, and it must point due north. That means its top edge points directly to Polaris, the north star, day and night. That sundial is made and oriented for that particular place. The sun’s shadow tells us the approximate time, reminding us that nature is not simple, neat and clean, and also that time is precious. All these things refer to naturalism, another thing we value.

    • Kodie

      The first steam locomotives weren’t pretty. The first automobiles
      weren’t pretty. The first cell phones weren’t sleek, sexy little
      products that fit into our pockets and our hands so comfortably. These
      first things were clunky. No problem. Perfecting aesthetics comes later.

      That would make sense if this was the first bench. You’d expect it to be a slab on a base.

      • Sweetredtele

        I think the first bench was called a rock.

  • Ceirech

    It’s not only the poor design (thin, short, uninspired, fragile looking) but the style of the design. We are people breaking away and who have broken away from traditional mainstream thinking, sending a message on a traditional design??? Doesn’t make a lot of sense. Plus, making it a bench and flat on the top just gave people a couple of places to preach from. It’s actually kind of embarrassing and I’m disappointed in the lack of artistry, creativity and forethought. I realize that there wasn’t a lot of money to put toward this, if that was the case there should have been a bigger fundraising campaign and it shouldn’t have been built until there was enough money to produce something better and eye catching. This monument doesn’t represent much of anything positive about atheists, just that we wanted so badly to add our two cents too that we gave “two cents”.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    I LIKE the look of the bench. I like the clean, straight lines. And it would be fun to work my parkour on!

  • Jesus Smith

    Why are people such barbarians? Don’t they recognize the amazing Barbiturate Brutalist art form when they see it?

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    How about a simple message with a splash of color?

  • DG

    I don’t know if it’s ugly or not. That’s a matter of opinion I suppose. But I find the choice of quotes interesting. Not what I would have expected.

  • rg57

    Unfortunately, these misplaced priorities are creating a solid image of atheism in people’s minds that atheists have no concept of beauty, and that we are indeed missing something transcendent about the universe. Not a good plan.

    • Trickster Goddess

      “Atheist design” is gaining a similar reputation as “Christian rap”.

    • Kodie

      We’re grounded and, uh, not concerned with petty affectations. We’re confident in the message, and leave the god of artful expression to the viewer. I like the quotes on it, and that the impression of the quotes is austere. My aesthetic is more ornate, cluttered, and detailed, but just stopping to read what’s on this imposing square column, and it’s an impressive dare in its own right, and that might be all the art we have to give. Honestly, I like to think we’re not too superficial like the Catholics.

  • Pseudonym

    To be honest, I didn’t notice in this case. It’s just as well-designed as any other public monument in its class.

  • Jono H

    Priority #5 Make something that is hard to remove.

    Vandalism in situ just makes it more powerful. This thing is going to take some effort to make it disappear overnight.

  • Kodie

    I usually care a lot more about aesthetic appeal. If you’re going to
    make something permanent, which represents a lot of people, I usually
    think that care should be taken that it is popular, appealing, and hits
    all the right notes in all the right ways. I have no doubt that a team
    of designers, given the time to work it out, could have come up with
    something that didn’t look like they picked an available template at the
    headstone engravers. I mean, to me, that’s what it looks like – they
    picked a shape out of a catalog and then told the engraver what to write
    on it, like a grave, or a cake at the bakery (if you like).

    But
    for some reason, I don’t care if it’s ugly, modern.. I guess I do care a
    little that it looks generic. I am not a graphic designer by trade, but
    mostly self-taught and do a lot of research, and have been the creator
    of 2 “in-house” logos – possibly the kind graphic designers complain
    about their client says the secretary can just whip something up, but I
    deliberate over details nobody but me will notice for months. If I were a
    pro, it might take a week or so. My critique of this monument is that
    it looks like people just wanted to decide and didn’t have the time to
    deliberate. I have had the experience of being rushed too. People who
    want a graphic design say “it’s fine, just go with that, I like it” and I
    am seeing a million hours of experimenting with a lot of other ideas.
    They don’t want the best design, they want it now. That’s what this
    monument is like, and in some ways, that’s what is best about it. It got
    done, it didn’t get bogged down in some painfully lengthy pitch
    meetings and bids for the best design. They went to home depot and asked
    to get such and such inscribed on a base they didn’t have to special
    order.

    In some ways, I would like atheists to be
    represented with something exuding perfection, something that could be bold, distinct, and that nobody could complain about, but I hear a lot of people complaining, while I don’t see the graphic designers volunteering to spearhead a new direction in the campaign, either. What I really don’t like on this one is the square column looks unbalanced as part of a bench. It’s like a normal bench with this huge wide thing on it. I get the sensation as if I were sitting on the bench that the tower part would be crowding my elbow. Is it a bench with a big, customizable block attached to it, or a big plain square block with a bench attached to it? But I just don’t find it that easy to outright hate. It’s dull. I don’t like it because it’s dull. It would be great if it were awesome and an eye-catching piece of art, but it’s just there, and I like that it is there now and not still hung up in sketches.

    • Camorris

      This discussion reminds me of the controversy swirling around the selection of the design of the current Canadian flag. The need for a replacement was not generally in doubt, but everyone had an opinion about what it should be. The flag as it is now is not what I favoured in that I thought the side bars should have been blue to represent the bounding oceans and to show our connection to the British flag colours. But the powers that be didn’t listen to me or even to the Prime Minister at that time – they went with red and white alone for technical reasons.

      I think most Canadians at the time were not happy with the colours selected, but did appreciate the design and its simplicity. And now that we have accepted it, I consider it to be one of the most recognizable national flags in existence and am proud of it and of the country which it represents.

      This monument is simple in design and its shape is easy to sketch – just as the stone tablets shape is. When this controversy subsides, I think this design selection may prove to be most useful to the movement.

    • Tobias2772

      Maybe you could design one that would be better for the second atheist bench in America. We all look forward to seeing your sketches.

      • Kodie

        You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to make me ashamed of myself for having an opinion on the fucking bench, sir. I 100% don’t really care what it looks like; to answer the question, no it doesn’t matter if the atheist bench in Florida looks kind of ugly. Beside the point, it’s still ugly.

        • Tobias2772

          Wow, Kodie, relax. All I’m asking is to provide us with something better going forward. You had some ideas about the bench. They left me wondering what an acceptable bench would look like to you. And I doubt that I have any desire or ability to make you feel shame.

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        Maybe you could actually read Kodie’s whole comment before spouting off. You might have saved yourself from looking like a total dick.

        • Tobias2772

          GC,
          I did read the whole comment, a significant part of which critiqued the original bench. Kodie also mentioned that they had an avocational interest in design, so, in the spirit of progress I invited them to submit their own design. Finally, it is difficult to consider your opinion thoughtfully when you resort to name calling in your first breath. I can see where you got your name from though.

  • sk3ptik0n

    I am a designer, but the scope of this bench is so christians thinking of placing one of their monuments someplace on public property think twice about it.
    In fact, this bench is not ugly, it’s mediocre. I would have gone for ugly. We should have used the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster and make this the statue of a pirate that went “HARRRG” every time someone walked by. That would have made an impression

  • Terry Firma

    Good design and the need to do things within budget need not be mutually exclusive.

    Better design communicates better, plus it increases respect for the business or organization that commissioned it. Those are not small things. far from it.

    I bet you could find a proper designer and / or typographer who’s an agnostic or an atheist and who’d be willing to donate his or her time to a project such as this. All you’d probably need to do is publish one post on this blog asking for just that.

    FWIW, I’ve offered to help pay for a designer/typographer next time, if need be.

    The bench is an eyesore, unfortunately, especially as the text is presented in a way that violates multiple basic design rules. Choice of typefaces, line spacing, kerning, setting margins, etc., are all way below par.

    I’m pretty disheartened by every atheist flyer, billboard, and (now) monument looking like somebody’s grampa’s been futzing around with his 1986 Mac Plus again. I hope we can collectively change that.

    • http://vinimarques.com/ Vini Marques

      Beautifully said. As a designer, I’m right there with you. Why has it been so hard to get your first and second paragraphs across in our community?

  • jferris

    Well, I think the it is ugly enough to provide an excellent argument that Intelligent Design isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be

  • rhodent

    I think it’s a good thing that it’s ugly. American Atheists have said they don’t really want to put these up; they’d rather Christian monuments not get put up in the first place and they’re doing this so that Christians will think twice about putting their own monuments up. I think it works just a tiny bit better if the thing is not only offensive to their beliefs, but an eyesore to boot.

    • scroogleu

      HelLO! How do you expect this to make Christians think twice about putting up monuments when our answer to that is one which isn’t just ugly, but too plain and too small to serve as a noticeable detractor where they are doing this? Even dumber was to make it a bench, so that preachers gain a new platform from which everyone gets to hear their rambles!

  • http://www.dougberger.net Doug B.

    *Sigh* Really? I grow tired of this 100% perfection hang up. If the bench was perfect then all the theists in the world would give up their irrational belief…. only if….. I wouldn’t care if it was a wooden bench made from old shipping pallets – the message is the important part.

    It was my belief that the turn around time was short maybe the other planned monuments will win some award and a chorus will sing….

  • Valorie

    I know expense is an issue, but the AA monument looks pretty small compared to the other one, I think we should have one of equal size (or larger) for the next one. I know we don’t have more money that god, but I am willing to throw some coins in for that.

  • Robster

    The bench is a beaut and serves a purpose, unlike religious belief and its nasty baggage.

  • Drew M.

    As an engineer, I find it beautiful. Nothing says “advanced civilization” like structural concrete.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Concrete? It looks like polished granite from here.

      • Drew M.

        Hrm. Now that you mention it, it does. So much for that…

        • GubbaBumpkin

          Hey, did you see the recent article about Roman concrete?

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    I understand it’s ugly and that it could be miles better for probably no extra cost. But its purpose isn’t to please us; it’s to annoy others (shorthand for the point it makes). If it were pretty, it would be easier to ignore its message, because then Christian talking heads small and large would complain about the alleged “huge amounts it must have cost to design instead of feeding children like Christians do”, or claim that it’s “trying too hard”, or that “they must be trying to distract us from how weak their message is”, or that “That thing is so gay, LOL atheists are queers.”

    Point being, its simple, almost grating design leaves them with fewer red herrings with which to chop at atheist trees.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

    Actually I rather like it…

  • WoodyTanaka

    I think it wasn’t ugly enough. Furhter, they should have insisted it be placed exactly opposite the religious one. I would have had the statute be a giant middle finger, with something like, “Stop being stupid, there is no god” on it.

    The goal should never be to join in with the religious in sprinkling messages on public lands, it should be to do everything possible to remove the religious messages from public land. They should have used the 6 grand and hired a demolition company to destroy the Christian monument.

  • The Other Weirdo

    I don’t see what, exactly, you are comparing it to? Christian design? That’s not much to go on, since it’s all basically a vagina substitute topped with a torture/execution device. Not exactly the height of pretty.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Ugly? Actually, it bears a passing resemblance to this architectural gem:

    Johnson Museum of Art
    (informally, “the sewing machine building.”)

    • Kodie

      The trick to doing straight line modern unadorned style is proportion. In regards to proportion, they look nothing alike.

  • lovesalot

    I rather prefer the Bill of Rights monument that was installed in Arizona. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/us/chris-bliss-builds-monument-to-bill-of-rights.html
    Mostly I prefer it because it makes the point that the religionists are in opposition to the US Constitution, rather than to atheists. It doesn’t hurt that the BofR monument is designed to look like the 10 commandments monument, which motivated the creation of the Bill of Rights monument.

    • JET

      This. The whole point of opposing the 10 commandments is that this is a secular nation and that they are irrelevant. What’s relevant is the U.S. Constitution which is beautifully symbolized by the Bill of Rights. That they happen to match 10 for 10 is poetic. I would love to see many installations like this, perhaps with secular organizations each sponsoring an amendment slab. (With a very SMALL logo somewhere acknowledging their sponsorship.) Very strong, non-confrontational statement made.

  • baal

    “I would love it if the bench were more aesthetically pleasing,”
    I don’t agree, it’s a fine bench. Really, design is a lot harder than people give credit and taking shots is much easier.

  • Tobias2772

    First of all, it seems to me that as atheists, we probably don’t want to create a monument, per se, but rather some object that will serve a functional purpose while getting our point across. So other than a bench, what could we offer that would be structurally sound (read, withstand vandalism) and still serve some functional purpose in a park or public setting such as this. (I like the idea of a bench, myself).
    Secondly, everyone seems to be complaining about the aesthetics of this bench. Either show us a design for a better one or send us a picture of a more pleasing bench. It’s easy to piss and moan about what other people have done. You got a better idea ?? Show us how we could do it better.
    Some of my chriistian friends complain that atheists are all negative. I say it ain’t so. Let’s be positive about this and display some better ways to go on this front.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    It could be worse.

    Summum

    Attempting to get monuments listing their “seven aphorisms” in various venues. Not only is it ugly, but their aphorisms are batshit insane.

  • Atheistiana

    I like it… could it be better designed? Sure… but I actually like it just like it is, flaws and all.

  • Alkyl Nitrile

    How could anyone think the ‘Atheist Bench’ is ugly??
    Asymmetrical is much better than symmetrical.
    You sit on the bench to relax, not read the quotes, which by the way are well picked out, the quotes you can read while admiring it standing. The bench is quite functional…

  • JaneRenee

    What bugs me most is the atheist symbol isn’t centered between the words “American” and “Atheists.”

  • http://vinimarques.com/ Vini Marques

    We get it, Hemant. Design & aesthetics are waaay down on your priority list for anything ever (please refer to your posts on atheist billboards design). Some of us, however, realize that beauty is not a commodity: it’s an essential aspect of any endeavor — especially art, which is what a monument most definitely is — and an equally important pathway into people’s hearts and minds. Want people to start paying attention to our cause? Create something beautiful instead of just “content-accurate.”

  • John Kieffer

    You go to war with the bench you have—not the bench you might want or wish to have. (redo of a Donald Rumsfeld quote)

  • Gus Snarp

    This again? Design always matters. Try thinking of it this way. If the bench were completed with no difference in cost or time (I think that’s doable). Would any other priority be in any way lessened if the bench were beautiful? Would there be further benefits if the bench were beautiful? Like making atheism look good (which, whether you list it or not, should always be a priority). I think the clear answers are No, other priorities would not suffer and Yes, unlisted benefits would accrue. So design certainly matters. To argue otherwise is rather silly. It’s just a question of what’s possible and what priorities matter more.


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