‘Millions of Americans Are Living Happily Without Religion,’ Declares New Atheist Ad Campaign

As we know all too well, billboards that even suggest that people don’t believe in God can be offensive to some. Billboards suggesting that people who don’t believe in God are happy might even be worse.

But that juxtaposition of godless and joyful is what the Center for Inquiry is offering in its latest major ad campaign:

The ads ask viewers to visit the Living without Religion website (http://LivingWithoutReligion.org), which offers inspiring insight from real Americans who do not believe in God and who find hope and purpose through the values of secular humanism. “We are part of the natural world,” states the campaign website’s introduction. “We marvel at the vastness of the cosmos, and we relish our place within it.”

“We hope that this campaign speaks to those who doubt the claims of religion, but have not yet left religion behind, perhaps concerned about what they might be giving up,” said Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. “We want them to know that there are millions of people just like them, leading lives full of love and wonder, with a deep feeling of connection to the world around them.”

The ads will appear on billboards, buses, and bus shelters starting today in Indianapolis, Grand Rapids/Detroit, New York City/Harlem, and Washington, D.C. — all cities with active CFI branches. The cost of the total campaign is roughly $50,000.

The website for the campaign also includes some helpful infographics that are bound to give pastors nightmares:

CFI is asking that supporters use the hashtag #WithoutReligion on Twitter and Facebook (i.e. “I feel like an integral and unique part of the universe #WithoutReligion”).

Remember, above all things, this is a campaign to extol the virtues of Humanism, the positive side of atheism. It’s really not anti-God or anti-Religion, even though you know local media outlets will make it sound that way.

It’s worth noting that, just over two years ago, CFI ran the same sort of campaign, all about how atheists everywhere were living happily without religion:

“You don’t need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live.”

Somehow, people flipped out over that, calling it “anti-God” and “anti-Religion.”

Will the reaction be the same this time around? We’ll find out soon enough.

CFI definitely deserves praise for its excellent ad design (yep, even I’m saying that) as well as for using a diverse group of people for the ads.

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.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Rut row… I think I see a happy gay couple of the 4th billboard. That there be the work of the devil and atheist are trying to destroy America.

  • Art_Vandelay

    The first lady looks a little apathetic, actually.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      She doesn’t look happy, I just didn’t want to be the first to make comment about it.

      • badgerchild

        She looks like she’s suddenly been made aware that millions of perfect strangers have suddenly been made to be concerned about whether she’s happy without God, and isn’t quite sure what to think about the well-meaning interruption to her totally OK godless life.

    • flyb

      Just looks like she heard a really tasteless joke and is not sure if she should laugh. “Ehhh….”

    • Tainda

      Maybe they stole that picture from a popular Christian sitcom…

      • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

        Popular Christian sitcom, you say? I imagine it’d be about your typical modern family.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      She looks happy enough to me. She’s been having a very pleasant day, and some pest has just interrupted her enjoying it by asking “Have you found Jesus?” That expression says she’s thinking, “Okay I could utterly destroy this pest in a five minute rancorous exchange, but not today. It’s not worth it today. My mood’s just too good to spoil, and besides, he’s just a pest.” So she’s about to say, “Excuse me, I gotta go. Have a nice day.”

  • Savoy47

    Wow, we are closing in on the Catholics. At this rate we will outnumber them in a few years. I never dreamed that I would see this kind of change on so many different fronts in my lifetime.

    • islandbrewer

      Their church will still have 10^9 times the money we have.

      • Pofarmer

        Shit, the Catholics could stop collecting money now, and just momentum would take them a hundred years, I bet.

  • islandbrewer

    The pointed juxtaposition of Atheism with Being Happy will probably be the most offensive thing yet.

    It goes right at the heart of the religionists’ narrative the we need to “fill the Jesus shaped hole in our hearts” or “only Allah can bring peace” or the clever but annoying (and wrong) “no Jesus, no peace, know Jesus, know peace” (or whatever iteration thereof).

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      The hole in my heart closed when I was around nine.

    • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

      A ‘Jesus shaped hole’ in someone’s heart sounds like they’d need a Thoracic Surgeon more than they’d need religion.

      • b s

        “A ‘Jesus shaped hole’…”

        Whose job is it to post the picture of Jesus on the dog’s ass?

        • Tainda

          Bitter Lizard slacking on the job!

        • Kevin_Of_Bangor

          ….

          • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

            And there it is!

    • Todd Heath

      I like this one…..”know Jesus, no peace, no Jesus, know peace.

  • the moother

    Remember, above all things, this is a campaign to extol the virtues of Humanism, the positive side of atheism. It’s really not anti-God or anti-Religion, even though you know local media outlets will make it sound that way.

    I find it difficult being a humanist without being anti god and anti religion. Oops, my mistake, I find it impossible.

    Why should I be ambivalent to systems that systematically poison the minds of children, disenfranchise women and, in general, are the leading cause of suffering on the planet? Oh, that’s right, I don’t need to be ambivalent. I can be strident and militant about the fact that I support a better and more just planet.

    • El Bastardo

      Hate to be a stickler but…

      hu·man·ist [hyoo-muh-nist or, often, yoo-]

      noun

      1. a person having a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values, and dignity.
      2. a person devoted to or versed in the humanities.
      3. a student of human nature or affairs.
      4. a classical scholar.
      5. ( sometimes initial capital letter ) any one of the scholars of the Renaissance who pursued and disseminated the study and understanding of the cultures of ancient Rome and Greece, and emphasized secular, individualistic, and critical thought.

      Pretty much squit diddley to do with religion. Religion may poison everything, the religious don’t.

      • the moother

        I do have a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values, and dignity according to definition 1. When I identify systems that reduce human welfare, values and dignity then I tend to stand up and count myself as a humanist.

        Religion and god-bothering are PRIME suspect here. Just like slavery, torture, racism, debtors prisons, the death penalty etc. etc. hardly need a mention for their abolition to be identified as humanist aspirations.

        You are not a stickler, you have simply failed to apply logic.

      • C Peterson

        There would be no religion but for the religious.

        I’m with moother here: it is very difficult to be supportive of religion and truly be humanistic at the same time.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    [insert fundamentalist voice]

    Why are these atheist so-in-your-face and vocal about it. No one wants to hear the satanic lies. And they would know that if they just shut up for a second and listen to me talk about Jesus.

    [end fundamentalist voice]

  • rhodent

    Oh my god! There’s a little girl in one of them! It’s bad enough if you want to go to hell, but taking little kids with you? PLEASE WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!eleven!!!!

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I give you Helen Lovejoy

  • M. Elaine

    I realize this will sound snarky, but actually I am living happily in spite of religion.

  • SJH

    Happiness with regard to atheists vs. Christians is an interesting topic because happiness is subjective and not measurable. Certainly you can be happy as an atheist and also as a Christian but there are also unhappy atheists and Christians. I think this is pretty much obvious to most people so I am not sure what the ad campaign is trying to push.

    The question to me that we each need to ask ourselves is, would I be happier and more content as a religious person or an atheist. That question however would be impossible to answer because we can never live either one of those perfectly. I can never be a perfect Christian nor can I be a perfect atheist. I can never live a life perfectly in tuned with God and I can never live a life where I perfectly follow so-called secular values. Given that fact, even if I lived as a Christian and then as an atheist, I would never know if I lived them to their fullest and I would never be able to compile, compare or measure any data for either. Nor would I be able to determine the external contributing factors for my happiness. So the fact is, I will never know what would make me happier. It is odd that a people that base their beliefs on purely measurable data, would argue that they are happier as atheists than as Christians. (Unless the arguement is that you would be happy enough without religion but not necessarily happier but that would seem like very poor marketing)

    Given all of that, all we can do is do our best with the information we have. All we can do is look at trends and philosophy and determine what we think is going to lead to a greater sense of transcendent happiness; a happiness that will go beyond our current state in life. Am I following/believing in a philosophy in which happiness can be found even in the most dire of circumstances?

    Personally, I don’t see how that is possible in an atheist world view. If everything is material then there is nothing to keep a person happy other then sheer will. However, it would seem that this will power is hard to achieve. And many would fall short. As I write this though I can invision a scenario where a community is built and offers the support which could help achieve such a will power to some extent. Though what would help sustain the will of the community? A larger community? What about that larger community, what sustains that? I guess one might say that nothing sustains it and we just simply to the best with what we have as I said earlier.

    • Pattrsn

      Well sorry to break this to you SJ but as an atheist I can assure you that we don’t depend on sheer will to be happy but, like everyone else on the planet, simply rely on the enjoyment of life.

      And to answer your question a theist who becomes an atheist can certainly decide which makes them happier.

      • SJH

        What if you don’t have any of those joys of life? Can you still be happy? I would guess that you would say yes but your response might imply that you cannot.

        You can decide if you are happier then you were when you were a Christian but you cannot say whether or not you would be happier had you found the proper religion or if you lived your religion to its fullest. If you claim that such a thing then I would ask you to prove such a claim.

        • Pattrsn

          If you’re not enjoying life then I guess you’re not happy. Doesn’t seem very complicated to me.

          As far as happiness depending on which religion you follow, since there are thousands of different religions then your life ends up a constant search for the religion that makes you the happiest. Doesn’t sound much fun being a theist then, the constant fear that you might be happier with another religion.

          Luckily for me and others who aren’t religious as the campaign says, you don’t need religion in order to be happy.

          • SJH

            What if you can’t enjoy life? What if you are a slave? What if you are so impoverished that you are starving and have no money or resources to enjoy anything? Are they doomed to the hell of life because they live in such a state or is it possible for them to experience joy. I would say yes but it would be extremely difficult (though not impossible) if they are not religious. But that is just an opinion.

            The journey is part of the joy. Especially when you see that your next step is a good one.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              But if conditions are truly that terrible, shouldn’t we and they be working to change them? Not using religion as a false happiness inserted into a terrible situation to make it more bearable? The ideal is no one in a terrible situation at all- if religion stops us from fixing bad situations, and in your example it does, then religion needs to go away so we can get the work done to fix it.

              • RowanVT

                This, this. A thousand times, this!

              • SJH

                We, as in atheists and theists, are trying to change them but that does not mean that they are resolved and that those conditions don’t exist. According to your philosophy, those people cannot be happy. According to my philosophy, they can. Which happiness would be preferred? That in which you are only happy given the right material circumstances or that which you are happy regardless of your material circumstances.

                • RowanVT

                  They don’t need, or deserve, the sort of happiness that tells them that their life is shitty because a deity has a plan for them. People will always try to find some form of happiness. For some people, there is none and that is a travesty.

                  Especially when the RCC is rolling in cash and could be reducing a vast amount of suffering in a tangibly helpful way.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Of course people in terrible conditions can be happy. What philosophy do you think I hold that says people in bad places can’t be happy? But overall, they probably won’t be, no. Even people in the worst conditions usually find some things to be happy about some of the time, but overall it’s not a happy life. That’s because they live in horrible conditions. Why should the false promise of a deity who can’t logically exist be proffered, instead of real help? The happiness of truth is always going to be preferred over the happiness of a lie- that’s why cocaine highs aren’t generally considered good things, even though it makes people very happy for a while.

                • SJH

                  There are many people who I have read about that are happy despite there conditions. I am saying that a happiness that exists despite external conditions is preferred then one that is dependent on external conditions. Putting God aside for a second, would you disagree with this? Is a dependent happiness better then an independent happiness? Which would you prefer?

                • RowanVT

                  So, you think that an imaginary friend is better than trying to find ways to make yourself happier in life.

                • SJH

                  IF the friend (ie God) was imaginary and IF it caused a person to be “truly happy” (however that is defined) then I would agree with you. The problem is:
                  1. We are defining happiness differently.
                  2. We disagree on the existence of God.
                  So your question is not relevant.

                  IF God does exist and if happiness is defined as being transcendent then I would disagree. It would be better to strive to such a happiness that is in sync with God.

                • RowanVT

                  The God described in the bible is evil and abusive, full stop. To be in sync with such a deity is to embrace evil and abuse.

                  How can that be happiness unless one finds joy in the abominable?

                • SJH

                  I think the Bible as a literary work is more complicated then both of us understand. It would be best to refrain from making absolute statements before we understand it more completely.

                • RowanVT

                  That is the biggest bloody copout I have ever witnessed in a comment thread.

                  The bible is not that complicated. ‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss is a far more complicated literary work. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is also far more complicated, as well as having a more coherent and plausible mythos.

                  In the bible… God hardens Pharoah’s heart, removing ‘free will’. He then visits plagues on tens of thousands of people and animals because of the actions of a single individual, culminating in the murder of thousands of children.
                  God kills a man’s children on a bet with the devil, and then gives him new children as if that would fix it.
                  God has no problem with a man offering up his daughters for gang rape, but turns a woman to salt for looking at her city.
                  God drowns the entire world, because somehow omnipotent and omniscient him didn’t realise that he made some major bloody flaws when he was doing that whole ‘creation’ thing. And if he did know, and didn’t choose to correct those errors…… Also, God drowns kittens and puppies and baby birds.
                  God creates beings without knowledge of good and evil, tells them not to do something, and when they do it (being incapable of understanding good and evil) punishes them for it. But he puts the tree right in the middle of the garden in easy reach, and allows a verbose serpent to occupy the tree.
                  The bible says bats are birds.

                • baal

                  I often advocate for holding judgment until there is more analysis. On the bible, I find there has been more than enough analysis (understatement).

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I think you can’t separate material things from happiness. Oh, sure, being able to be happy without material goods is a good thing, but so is being happy about having enough food and water and not worrying about one’s child(ren) dying of diarrhea or malaria. So is happiness stemming from not being in pain. Sure, people who are always in pain can be happy too, but it’s a lot easier without the pain, and they’d really rather it went away given the choice. I’m also not understanding where you’re trying to go with this … is happiness dependent on material goods? No, it’s not. Is it tied somewhat to material goods? Yes, it is. Is happiness from a lie better than unhappiness from the truth? No, it isn’t. What did I say about drug highs and false happiness just one comment ago?

            • Pattrsn

              I suppose Camus addressed that question in the myth of sysiphus. A more interesting question is could the slave owner or the slave driver be happy without religion to assuage their guilt and justify their evil.

            • Tainda

              I was in a very abusive relationship and we were dirt poor and I found joy in things. Oddly enough, my abuser believed in god…hmmmm MAYBE being happy or sad, nice or mean has nothing to do with if you believe or not. MAYBE you are just a happy or sad, nice or mean person.

    • trj

      Apparently, according to you, everything must be categorized and put into numbers before we’re able to have a qualified opinion on anything.

      Real life doesn’t work like that. Atheists don’t “base their beliefs on purely measurable data” or base their happiness on being able to quantify the world. Don’t be so ridiculously naïve.

      • SJH

        I agree, so then you won’t mind if I don’t prove God exists before you believe in him? You might be happier if you did believe in him.

        • RowanVT

          When I believed in God, I was miserable. I spent every day being terrified that I would do something that would cause him to send me to hell. I cried myself to sleep while praying every night for forgiveness for anything I might have done.

          So no. I would NOT be happier if I believed in God again.

          • Anna

            I have never believed in a god, but I would not be happy following SJH’s brand of fundamentalist Catholicism. It goes against pretty much every moral belief I have.

            • SJH

              You frequently refer to me as a fundamentalist Catholic and I am not sure I agree with that label. at any rate, I am not asking you to become Catholic. You need to determine that for yourself. I am simply saying that there is no way one can know if they are as happy as they can possibly be. And that they shouldn’t assume, without evidence (which is impossible to obtain), that they would be happier one way or the other.

              • RowanVT

                Do you believe in a literal Hell?
                Do you believe that if you do ‘bad things’ you will end up there?
                Do you believe that if you do not repent of these ‘bad things’ the right way, that you will still end up there?

                If the answer to any of those is Yes, my response is this:

                I could never be happy knowing that there are people being tortured horrifically for all eternity because they made mistakes. I would not send *anyone* to Hell. Ever. No matter what they did, because nothing is as horrible as Hell. That God would allow that place to exist, and to allow people to exist there in torment, tells me that God is evil.

                Fortunately, God and Hell do not exist.

                • SJH

                  We are not talking about my belief in heaven or hell. Com-boxes are not the place to discuss these things in depth. If you are interested, I can point you in a direction where you can look into this stuff more effectively.

                • Anna

                  But if you agree with the doctrine, then you do believe in a literal hell. That’s one of the beliefs that I (and obviously Rowan) find morally repugnant.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Count me as one of the people who finds that doctrine repugnant as well.

                • Anna

                  What I always find interesting is that fundamentalist Catholics believe the doctrine is wonderful. Someone (maybe SJH, can’t remember) said he found the teachings beautiful. Beautiful! They don’t seem to understand how we can look at certain things (like their views on gender and sexuality) and see them as the opposite of beautiful: as ugly and harmful.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Well, it’s beautiful to be told that you’re safe and better than everyone else and your ingrained sexual characteristics make you awesomer than other people. It’s just a lot less beautiful if you’re outside that select group of people.

                • Anna

                  I have a hard time seeing the appeal. Even for straight people, the teachings are terrible. They’re certainly not attractive to me in any way. I don’t understand how anyone could describe them as beautiful. Why would anyone want to follow those teachings? I get that they believe they’re true, but they’re so unpleasant and controlling.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Fair. They’re told the teachings are beautiful from a very young age, though, and beauty is subjective …

                • Anna

                  I guess childhood indoctrination counts for a lot. What I don’t understand are adult converts, people who were raised in “normal” society and then decided to embrace extreme fundamentalism.

                  Although not all converts are actually converts! When I talked with Andre Villenueve, he claimed to be a convert who was previously agnostic. After a little questioning, he said he was raised as a “nominal” Catholic, but a few more questions revealed that he was raised just as Catholic as any other Catholic I know.

                • SJH

                  What I and the Church believe is irrelevant. As I said, I am not trying to convert you guys here I am simply making statements and asking questions regarding happiness. We don’t have the time or space to discuss hell and happiness so lets stick to the subject. Next time Hemant writes about hell I will try to participate in that conversation.

                • Anna

                  But it is related to happiness. I could not be happy in a religion that promotes things I find morally repugnant.

                • RowanVT

                  Oh… but we’re talking about happiness and I explained succinctly why I could never be happy as a follower of God.

                  You simply have no way to save face in my line of argument, so you are attempting to divert attention.

                • Anna

                  I think a big part of the problem is that they’re not willing to accept that what we say is true. I had a long conversation with Andre Villenueve in which he simply could not fathom that I had a happy childhood because his church tells him otherwise. No amount of explanation could convince him that I had not been harmed or deprived in some way, not even my personal testimony. It doesn’t matter how happy I say I was. I think fundamentalist Catholics are convinced that we’re deluded or hiding something, that we just haven’t “seen the light” yet.

                • RowanVT

                  They literally canNOT fathom it, because then what they were taught would be wrong, and if that one thing was wrong, what else was wrong…

                  Their whole faith is built upon pure air of the ‘truth’ of what they have been taught. Show one tiny thing to be incorrect, and the whole structure collapses. Happy atheists are *terrifying* to these people. Our mere existence is a trebuchet aimed at the bulwarks of their belief.

                • Anna

                  Yup, and that’s why they insist that people who weren’t happy in their religion were simply “doing it wrong.” It’s impossible for them that following the religion would make someone unhappy because they’ve been taught the belief system is perfect and divine.

              • Anna

                I use “fundamentalist Catholic” for anyone who believes the Catholic church is inerrant, just like I use “fundamentalist Protestant” for those who believe the Bible is inerrant. You’re not the only fundamentalist Catholic here. There’s Emmet, and Andre Villenueve, and Nordog, although I think Nordog might not qualify because while he is extremely conservative, he did once say he supported the death penalty, and that’s against Catholic doctrine.

                As for my potential happiness, I think it is only reasonable to conclude that I would not be happy in a religion that promotes things I find to be morally repugnant.

                • SJH

                  Inerrant? I don’t think the Church even believes such a thing. Of course they are not. That would be foolish. The Church makes all kinds of mistakes.

                • RowanVT

                  Have a link to an official RCC page listing their admitted errors and apologies thereof?

                  I mean… they only *pardoned* gallileo… they didn’t apologise.

                • Anna

                  I was always under the impression that they are willing to apologize for past actions, but they believe the “core” doctrine is inerrant and that there have never been any significant changes made to it.

                • RowanVT

                  That is very true.

                  But the church doesn’t like to admit wrongdoing or apologise really for anything.

                • JT Rager

                  I could be wrong but I think now they pretty much believe the core doctrine, but not even the Pope is inerrant, until he speaks “Ex Cathedra”. And the Popes have been very careful to not speak “Ex Cathedra”, I have noticed. Methinks they don’t want to say something stupid and make a silly statement that happens to be “inerrant” :p

                • SJH

                  That is definitely getting off subject. I can assure you though that the Church has made mistakes.

                • islandbrewer

                  It was his own damn fault for being so obstinate!

                • Anna

                  So the doctrine is not inerrant? When I had my conversation with Andre Villenueve, he told me being a “true” Catholic means that you don’t think the Catholic church is wrong about doctrine.

                • SJH

                  Doctrine is doctrine. If a religion didn’t hold fast to its doctrine then it is not a religion at all. The Church is not inerrant though. It obviously makes mistakes.

                • Anna

                  So the doctrine is inerrant? Well, that’s exactly what I thought. If you believe the doctrine is inerrant, and that nothing it says can ever be wrong, that’s why I use the term I use.

                • SJH

                  I do believe that God protects the Church from teaching doctrine that is not in sync with His will. It would only make sense that if God constructs a Church then he would protect its teachings. If your religion does not teach that then i would question the validity of your religion.

                  How did this become a discussion about the Church as opposed to the happiness of atheists?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I do believe that God protects the Church from teaching doctrine that is not in sync with His will.

                  So God’s will meant he liked burning people at the stake, murdering them in pogroms, and torturing them to death? God was absolutely fine with the erroneous idea that the universe revolved around the Earth, and approved of the methods the RCC used on Copernicus and Galileo to keep their discoveries under wraps? God’s will accorded with the blood libel of the Jews? If the RCC only teaches doctrine that is in line with God, then your God is a bloody, sadistic tyrant jerkface.

                  How did this become a discussion about the Church as opposed to the happiness of atheists?

                  You said religion is necessary to be truly happy. Anna said she would never be happy in your religion because she finds many of its teachings morally repugnant. On to talking about the Church.

                • SJH

                  Those would be the mistakes I was talking about. The Church is not inerrant and those are evidence of that. I stated that God protects it from teaching inerrant doctrine not from committing sin.
                  Also, I did not say that I believed religion was necessary to be truly happy. She claimed that Christians believe that. I stated that we have to define what “truly happy” is before we can have the conversation.
                  Go back up a few more comments and i think the conversation will make more sense.

                • Anna

                  Some Christians do believe that. I never claimed all Christians do.

                • SJH

                  Correct, sorry, you did say some not all. And your statement would be correct as well. Some Christians do in fact believe that atheists cannot be happy but, once again, we must define happiness to make sure we are talking about the same thing. I don’t think the billboards are talking about the same thing that Christians are talking about.

                • Anna

                  I think the billboards are targeting the Christians I mentioned, not those who believe the things you do. Or maybe they’re targeting both groups. But I don’t think you could convince someone who believes the only “true” happiness is supernatural otherwise. All we can do is point out that their claim is not true from our perspective.

                • SJH

                  Perhaps you are correct. I don’t think that a billboard is a place to have a conversation. Hopefully, the billboards will strike up more conversations like this one.

                • Anna

                  Well, we agree on that. If the billboards get people to think and have a dialogue, they’ve served their purpose.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Uh, those were doctrinal mistakes. Which God apparently doesn’t let the Church have. So God’s fine with them, and fine when they change. Because, you know, inerrancy doesn’t mean unchanging, or something.

                  And yes, I have read the whole conversation. You’ve stated that people need some sort of supernatural, transcendental experience to be truly happy. You’ve also stated that religion can function as a drug to the oppressed masses and make them happier with their lot. It’s pretty clear that you think religion is necessary for happiness, even if you won’t come out and say so.

                • SJH

                  Sorry, those are not doctrinal. Those were actions of a few who used their unfortunate political authority for one reason or the other. The Church has never had a doctrinal teaching that people should be burned at the stake or etc…

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live is pretty doctrinal.

                  The Inquisition was based entirely on doctrine.

                  Blood libel was taken out of doctrine by Pope John Paul II. I remember that. I’m less than 30 years old.

                • SJH

                  Please provide a citation for that quote. Was that in the Catechism?
                  The Inquisition was more complicated then you think. i would read up on that one a little more.

                • RowanVT

                  Because learning the details of how they would murder people would make us see it as okay?

                • islandbrewer

                  There’s nuance, you see. Can’t help you if you refuse to read up on all the sophistimacated theology.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh, I have. I understand why the Inquisition happened fairly well, what happened in it, who got killed and who didn’t, etc. It impinged on Jews, so when i was super into Jewish history the Inquisition came up as an interesting side-note that I also read about.

                  Is the catechism the only thing you consider doctrine, then? Just to pin you down on what is and isn’t doctrine. And do you consider all of the catechism, and all the changes to it over time to be inerrant, or just the current version?

                • RowanVT

                  Oh? The bible does not say then that “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”? And the church doesn’t use the fact that the bible says women should not teach as a reason why they deny women the priesthood?

                • Anna

                  Well, you questioned my use of “fundamentalist,” so I explained why I think someone who says the doctrine is inerrant (has never been wrong and can never be wrong) is fundamentalist.

                  Other religions make changes to their doctrines. I guess you can question their validity, but you do that anyway, since you think your religion is right and all the rest are wrong. I think all religions are wrong regardless of how frequently (or if) they adjust their doctrine, so that doesn’t matter to me either way.

                • SJH

                  Why would you change it if you have not been wrong? Prove it wrong and I bet it will change.

                • RowanVT

                  If the bible contains errors, how can the religion that springs from it not also contain errors?

                  Do you find homosexuals to be abominations? Do you think women should be silent, and in no position of authority in the church? Do you think children should be bludgeoned to death with rocks?

                • Anna

                  How would one go about proving a supernatural assertion wrong? Most religions deal in supernatural claims. They claim all sorts of things are true. In many cases, they’re not willing to entertain the idea that they might be mistaken about them.

                • RowanVT

                  I am actually an incarnated goddess. I killed God due to all His Evil a thousand years ago. I have since mostly left the planet alone, because this world is better off without deities screwing up the lives on the people that exist upon it. I merely incarnate every 100 years, because it is easy to forget suffering when one does not experience it firsthand.

                  Can’t prove me wrong. Therefore, you must now worship me instead. I promise to not light you on fire even if you persist in your silly delusions about God.

                • islandbrewer

                  Could you start this grill for me? The charcoal’s a little damp. I’ll sacrifice something to you if you do, promise!

                • RowanVT

                  I promise that if you go to the store and get lighter fluid, and apply it to the charcoal, that the fire will light!

              • baal

                ” without evidence (which is impossible to obtain)”
                If it’s impossible to obtain evidence of happiness, why the hell would i take up religion let alone go back to being a catholic?

                I have been testing myself to see what makes me happier and over time i’ve learned that avoiding organizations that havev “obey” as part of their mission makes me happier (subjectively, which is pretty easy to tell if I’m happier or not).

          • SJH

            See my response above to your other comment. However, based on your comment here I can most definitely say that you were involved in a religion that is not at all in sync with God’s will and I can see why you would have been miserable.

            • RowanVT

              I was raised non-denomination christian. I went to a catholic highschool. At 13 I read the bible for the first time, and saw that the God depicted therein is a monster.

              Only a monster would create something like Hell anyways.

              • SJH

                I won’t judge your experience. But all I can say is how do you know you searched enough? Maybe there is more out there that you just don’t know? My other questions still stand.

                • RowanVT

                  Your desperation to find some way to have it be that I am not happier as an atheist is noted, as is the fear that drives it.

                  I researched many of the non-abrahamaic religions, for a while settling with Wicca, and then just a sort of general pagan. This gently slid into agnositicism and finally atheism.

                • SJH

                  Fear? What causes you to make such a judgement about me? Did I say something that implied fear?

                • RowanVT

                  I love that you have tacitly admitted that you are indeed desperate to find a way for me to be less happy as an atheist than I would be as a theist.

                  But why so desperate? Is it because you are secretly worried that maybe you are wrong and we are right? Is it because you are avoiding the idea that maybe, just maybe, we atheists might be happier than *you*?

                • SJH

                  I don’t understand your assertion regarding my statement. Why am i desperate? Please clarify.

                • RowanVT

                  Because you keep digging and poking and prodding and trying to find some small, infinitesimal way, in which I might be less happy now than as a believer.

                  It is desperation, when faced with people who say “I’m happier now” to ask “well, how about if X?” And they respond “Nope, still happier now” and you then quip, “but, what about if Y?” And when the answer is once again “Nope. Happier.” you come up with yet another way…

                • SJH

                  Digging and prodding? Just because I continue the conversation? I am just having a conversation. Your beliefs are your own. I am simply having a conversation. Hopefully through our conversation we will both be enlightened a little.

                  Their are more then two letters in the alphabet so my next question would, in fact, be what about Z, then I would start again at A, B then C and so on until all options have been exhausted. That is the nature of the journey. You try all options until you find the best one. You don’t stop at one because the previous two didn’t seem to answer all your questions. Of course, I haven’t studied all religions thoroughly but I try to look into them when I have time and I try and be skeptical and ask questions where I see them and search for answers before I give up the fight. That is all anyone can ask of us.

                • RowanVT

                  A conversation would not involve “I am happier now” coming from me, and “Oh, but you haven’t considered X” coming from you… over and over and over again. A conversation is NOT trying to find a way to show someone they are less happy as an atheist.

                  If that IS your idea of a conversation, you are a craptacular conversationalist and should consider reading actual conversations for a while.

                • allein

                  “You don’t stop at one because the previous two didn’t seem to answer all your questions.”

                  Most people stop at a point that feels right to stop at. To continue my boyfriend analogy from above, if/when I find myself in a relationship that feels right for me, I’m not going to keep looking to see if there’s someone better.

                  Atheism feels right to me and I feel no need to explore every religion out there in depth just in case I’m wrong.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Besides, some of them involve some nasty stuff! Tlaloc worship, ugh! I am just not up for a round of torturing children to death to make it rain to prove to myself that I don’t actually like the ancient Aztec gods very much.

                • allein

                  Ooh, yeah, that wouldn’t make me happy at all.

                • baal

                  Repeating the same question over and over is not having a conversation.

                  Also, “just” is more of a 4letter word than “fuck” to me since it’s asking us to not read your words for their meaning. For example, i’m just stabbing you in the foot, it’s not like I’m killing you. That’s a special request to not consider the foot stabbing as a bad thing and a ‘compare down’ saying you should be ok with the foot stabbing since other worse things are imaginable.

                • katiehippie

                  You sound like my ex. He would never plan anything with me because if he found something more fun to do he would be missing out on all the extra happiness. He was always looking for more fun instead of enjoying the things he did have.

                • RowanVT

                  Makes perfect sense when you consider the christian doctrine. After all, ‘perfect happiness’ awaits in heaven, after you die. So why bother doing anything now, when it will pale in comparison?

                • katiehippie

                  But !oh noes! what if you don’t make it to heaven. Then you’ve been miserable for nothing. I would say if you think you have to search for happiness constantly, why only look at religion? You have to believe already that happiness only comes with religion. That’s just sad.

                • Cake

                  “But all I can say is how do you know you searched enough?”

                  Yes, because god hides from us. He hides in the places we don’t yet know about. That makes perfect sense.

                • Anna

                  They just think we haven’t looked hard enough, haven’t searched with the “right” spirit. The last Catholic I talked to told me to say a sincere prayer asking their deity to reveal himself to me. I was gobsmacked because I really thought by that point in the conversation, he would have understood atheism a little better.

            • Carmelita Spats

              ” ‘N Sync” was a gawdawful 90′s boy band…”God’s will” makes about as much sense as “ssfhasrahsdfye’s will”. You are entering Jabberwocky, “The jaws that bite, the claws that catch/Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun/The frumious Bandersnatch.” Transcendental happiness???? Do you know what the cult told me? I was made to read the story of Esau and Jacob over and over and over again because of “transcendental happiness”. If you recall, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils. The cult stated that if I walked away, if I continued to floss with razor wire, drink a quart of Tabasco sauce a day and spit fire, if I sought happiness outside the cult, I was going down Esau’s path which meant bartering “transcendental happiness” for a bowl of lentils. After much anguish, it finally dawned on me that idea of “transcendental happiness” was nothing more than manipulative, creepy-ass, cult-speak. In sync with God’s will? ROFLMAO! I was raised in the Mexican Opus Dei from the time I was knee-high to a disturbing dogma but I had enough tongue for ten rows of teeth. The Opus Dei is about as violently Catholic as you can get without being issued a restraining order or locked in a psychiatric hospital. The RCC is a grotesque, violent, sadistic, institution and it can’t implode fast enough. Here’s happiness: I prefer my motorcycle (bowl of lentils) ANY DAY to the Eucharist (“transcendental” happiness)…Nothin’ but the open road and a dead armadillo in the middle.

        • allein

          I don’t particularly care if you prove God exists or not, but I won’t believe in him just because you say I’ll be happier that way. Maybe some people would be happier, but belief just doesn’t work that way. To quote Ricky Gervais, “You can’t believe something you don’t.”

        • Guest

          I’m sorry dude, but we have all chosen the red pill here. The blue one might have made us happier, who knows, but at least we’re here to stick up for the last remaining free people!

          • Tainda

            So ignorance really is bliss? lol

        • SeanS

          You won’t mind if I don’t prove Odin is the father of all the gods and supreme before you believe in him, for that matter I won’t even bother with evidence, just a baseless claim and you can throw out that silly belief in yehova.

          Does that work for you? If not, why do you think it would work for anybody else about your god?

    • EdmondWherever

      The campaign is pushing the fact that atheists can be happy people, without believing in any gods. The REASON such a campaign is needed, is because this country has MANY Christians who insist this is not possible, and that we are actually UNHAPPY and simply not admitting it. Those Christians spread such falsehoods about us to others, so a campaign to combat that is completely appropriate. In fact, YOU demonstrate the need for this campaign above, by suggesting that happiness isn’t possible in an atheist world view. We, and these billboards, assure it absolutely IS possible.

      .

      Whether someone can be a PERFECT Christian or atheist or not (whatever “perfect” means), doesn’t mean they won’t be able to know if they’re happier as one or the other. Perfect or imperfect, many people have spent much time in both positions, and they know full well how happy each one made them. Atheists will often say that they are happier knowing they aren’t recklessly throwing their brains at unprovable concepts without evidence. They’ll say they’re MUCH happier without fearing the illogical and cruel concept of Hell. There are PLENTY of ways to know which situation makes you happier, especially if you’ve spent time in both.

      .

      I need neither a god, nor “sheer will”, to be made happy by the latest Kepler findings, or a good episode of Futurama, or the feeling of my partner’s hand in mine. Do you think that atheists must FORCE themselves to feel happiness, and that it cannot come unbidden?

      .

      Christians aren’t the only ones who feel happiness from their religion, you know. Buddhists, Shintos, Sikhs, Muslims, Scientologists… everyone is capable of extracting joy from their belief system. Does this mean that the Christian God is masquerading under these other religions, passing out happiness to non-Christians who worship other gods? Isn’t more likely that humans are capable of finding happiness on their OWN, wherever they look?

      .

      And happiness can absolutely be measured. Look up Happiness on Wikipedia, and see the sub-heading Measures Of Happiness. Also see their article on Gross National Happiness.

    • Anna

      I think this is pretty much obvious to most people so I am not sure what the ad campaign is trying to push.

      It’s not obvious to some people. There are those who claim that you can’t be truly happy and fulfilled without (their brand of) religion. This campaign is challenging that assertion.

      • SJH

        I don’t believe they are saying what you think they are. There is a transcendent joy that one experiences when they are religious. It is their belief that an atheists sense of happiness will be limited to a material happiness. If atheism is correct then the happiness one feels is a product of chemistry and not transcendent at all. I believe the argument for an atheist would be not that atheists are more or less happy but that the transcendent happiness that the religious person feels is an illusion. If it is not an illusion then I would say that the religious happiness is better.

        • RowanVT

          You would be wrong with that line of thinking. I have been asked, to my face, why I don’t just kill myself because clearly there is no chance I could ever be happy.

          Transcendent joy… is also a chemical reaction. We feel it, so it is a product of our brain. And you don’t need religion to have that feeling. When I walk in the redwood forest, when I am planting my garden, when I am watching my snake eggs hatch… all of those fill me with a quiet but incredibly strong sense of joy, well-being, and ‘rightness’ with the world.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            You have snakes!? That is so cool.

            • RowanVT

              I do! I have corn snakes. :D

              This is my happy place! http://imageshack.us/a/img833/4772/vantor2012extrememasque.jpg

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Squee!

                • allein

                  Why on earth would someone downvote this?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Their name is Indiana Jones?

                • allein

                  lol..maybe :b

                • RowanVT

                  What I find amusing is that they didn’t downvote *me*, and I’m the one who has the snakes! O_o

                • allein

                  Hmm..maybe they just disapprove of squeeing. I’m more into furry pets (someday I will have another Chihuahua) but just about any baby animal is cute. Someone in my college dorm years ago had some kind of small pink snake that was pretty cute, too.

                • RowanVT

                  Please, as a vet tech, socialise your future chihuahua and teach it to be comfortable with being touched and restrained by strangers so it doesn’t try to eat my face! D:

                  Small pink snake… probably a snow corn snake!

                • allein

                  Lol, my last one actually belonged to my ex. That was one of the few things he did right with that dog (proper housetraining, not so much). Passed him around to anyone and everyone when he was a puppy; he was 3 when I met him and the sweetest dog ever.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh yeah, all baby animals are cute. I like snakes quite a bit, but I don’t want one for a pet because they aren’t actually super cuddly and I know they take a fair amount of attention to keep alive. I want a kitty instead.

                • RowanVT

                  >_> Corn snakes actually take far less attention to keep alive than a cat! And while not ‘cuddly’, per se, My favorite corn snake went to the reptile show with me and was passed around to strangers for 2 days straight and she was a perfect angel even with the toddlers. :3 I was so proud of her and how tolerant she is.

                  Her thought process would probably go “Gosh, the mouse-providing-tree is really weird, but it is the mouse-providing-tree so I won’t complain.”

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Lol! Fair enough. I still want a cat, though :)

                • RowanVT

                  I understand. I have 4 cats and a dog, along with the snakes. :P

                • islandbrewer

                  Big giant anacondas and burmese pythons are super cuddly! This anaconda I have wrapped around me loves to hug so much, it’s kinda hard to

        • Anna

          That’s your subjective opinion, but it’s not really what the campaign is addressing. There are people who assert you can’t have happiness without religion. They make a false claim, that we cannot experience happiness, and we’re pointing out that people without religion do indeed live happy lives. IMO, my happiness is no less real or important than your happiness. Isn’t it arrogant to claim that yours is so much better? I could just as easily claim it’s worse because of the effect it has on you and on society.

          • SJH

            I think you would have to define “true” happiness. If “true” happiness is that transcendent happiness I wrote about earlier then they are correct. An atheist could not experience such a thing because they do not believe it exists.

            Also, I am not claiming that my happiness is any better then yours. I am not claiming that I have experienced such a happiness. i am only saying that a transcendent happiness sounds much better to me than a material happiness.

            You could claim that it is worse for society but I do not think you could prove such a claim with any certainty. Your claim and proof would be very unscientific.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Oh? The ‘transcendent’ happiness I used to get in shul is the exact same feeling I get now when walking in the woods, or watching a sunset while camping after a tasty meal of charcoal potatoes and sauteed onions in beer over a campstove. I know full well that this feeling exists- it’s just not tied to anything supernatural. If you think transcendent happiness is necessary for happiness, well, lay your fears on our behalf to rest. We’ve still got it.

            • Anna

              The problem is that it’s all subjective. They’re defining “true” happiness the way they want to define it. If the only true happiness is supernatural happiness, then they’ve eliminated other people being happy from the get-go.

              Other people should feel free to challenge that claim. Not only is there no evidence their happiness is supernatural, there’s also no evidence it’s the only “real” kind of happiness.

              You think your happiness is better, and that’s fine. I think
              mine is better. I think your happiness leads to bad things for society, but you would disagree with that. I believe mainstream society has shifted more in my direction than yours, though.

            • Tainda

              I get so sick of answering the same fraking questions every day from you people. Can’t you come up with something new?

              Material things do not make me happy. My daughter and granddaughter make me happy. Autumn and the crisp air makes me happy. Music makes me happy.

              Not having to explain myself to ignorant people like you? That would make me fucking ECSTATIC!

              • Anna

                I think they think those things are somehow inferior because we don’t think they’re eternal or have a supernatural origin.

                • RowanVT

                  Instead, I feel that makes them all the more wonderful, because they are fleeting. I have to enjoy them *more*, because they won’t always be there.

                • Tainda

                  Rowan, I liked your comment 10 times in my head lol

                • Anna

                  I agree, and I tend to find the religious perspective very selfish. Something isn’t going to last forever? If they don’t get to have it just the way they want it, they claim it’s meaningless. It seems greedy and self-centered to me.

                • Tainda

                  I think you’re right! Everything is material except for gawd

            • Todd Heath

              Your argument falls flat. I’m atheist and the things I value most are not the material. You are making a blanket assumption that non-theist are only happy with the material. That assumption ignores one of the traits that makes us all human. Transcendent happiness is something all people share and are capable of regardless of their belief system.

              As a atheist I find that kind of happiness in things like time spent with friends, a sunny morning, a beautiful sunset, a walk down a nature trail or time on the beach, etc, etc. I wasn’t always a atheist. I can tell you with certainty that those feelings of joy do not disappear because one rejects mythology and superstition.

    • RowanVT

      You’re right. Happiness is subjective. So I can, with authority, say that MY EXPERIENCE is that I am far far far happier as an atheist than I ever was as a christian.

      • SJH

        How do you know you experienced your ex-religion to its fullest or that you participated in a religion that would allow you to experience that? How do you know that you are as happy as you can possibly be? Maybe if you found the religion that was most in sync with God’s will you would be even happier then you are now.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          No True Christian (TM) alert! Red lights! Warning sirens!

        • RowanVT

          Actually, I was happiest during my religion phase when I was pagan!

          God never gave me anything but abject terror.

        • trj

          I find God’s existence entirely unconvincing. Trying to adopt a belief in God, or any god, would therefore mean I would be untrue to myself, living a lie.

          So no, I can say with pretty high confidence that religion would not make me happier. I can’t just choose to believe in something that makes no sense to me, and attempting to do so is pretty much guaranteed to make me unhappy.

        • baal

          Maybe if you lived the life of a desert nomad, engaged in self flaggelation and gave up all your worldly possessions you’d be happier? Some things you can make a decent guess about ahead of time and following your god is not on my to do list.

          also, fuck you for your assumption that folks who read this board didn’t experience their religions to the fullest.

        • Pattrsn

          SJ do you wake up at night wondering if your religion is the one most in sync with god’s will? Have you experienced Islam to its fullest, because if not you could easily be worshiping god in the wrong way.

          • baal

            Also, Cthulhuism. Maybe the terror of hell just isn’t enough to make you happy. Maybe you really need to feel the full horror of the ancient gods of the cthulhu pantheon to experience actual happiness. You never know until you try.

        • RowanVT

          What if it was God’s will for me to *be* an atheist?

        • Norm Bleac

          OK SJH, now you’re just dragging the cow through the village after you’ve beaten it to death twice. We’ve explained to you all that you wanted to know about our happiness, yet you keep asking the same thing. We have answered you. Now go back to your clan and tell them you have failed to make us see that we’re unhappy. But by all means come back with a really different line of questioning.

    • anniewhoo

      The ad campaign is not a contest as to who is happiest, but rather just a way to bring awareness that atheists can be, and quite a few many of us are indeed, happy.

    • guest

      Happiness actually is measurable. First of all it can be measured through self-report questionnaires, secondly it can be inferred by behavior, thirdly it can be correlated with certain states in the brain and fourthly it can be measured in the level of certain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Look into the work of Richard Wiseman or the UN life satisfaction index.

    • allein

      I don’t see why “perfect” is necessary to make a determination of which of two options makes you happier. I didn’t need to experience the perfect relationship to determine that I am much happier without my ex than with him.

    • baal

      “happiness is subjective and not measurable.”
      There are scientific papers on happiness. They use a variety of measures but don’t confuse ‘hard to measure accurately” with “measurable”. It’s also pretty common to measure ‘pain’ even though not everyone feels the same degree of damage the same way.

      Also, I am a hedonism but an empircal one. As such, this whole god business is a downer and had lots of negative (sinful even) inputs to my headspace. So I find worring about an invisible watchman who is everywhere and judging all the time to be conterproductive to happyness. (cf, dear, i’ve put camera’s all over the house and will punnish you if you break my rules but that just shows how much i love you, it makes me sad when you break the rules and bring punishment on yourself).

    • getz

      “I think this is pretty much obvious to most people so I am not sure what the ad campaign is trying to push.”

      That people are happy without religion. Because there are a lot of religious arguments based on questioning the happiness of the non-religious. You used one of them, and perhaps you’re one of the campaigns targets.

      Personally, when I was a kid I tried to figure out what I needed to do to be happy, and then it occurred to me that if I was happy, it wouldn’t matter what I was doing. So I decided to be able to handle anything. This isn’t as difficult as it seems(at least, given the current scope of my experiences), but it probably helps to start as a kid. One thing I did realize over time is to appreciate not being happy. We have a bunch of emotional states and most of them have their place.If something terrible happens, sadness seems awfully more appropriate than happiness; frustration is an important signal that you’re undertaking a challenge. I don’t make much use of anger, but in other people I’ve seen it as a catalyst for achieving things they otherwise couldn’t. In a world where so many people show restraint, the ability to throw an appropriate fit is necessary at times. It would require a decent amount of control, so for now I’ll stick with trying to do what’s necessary without getting angry, but there are a lot of people on this planet: I’m sure some can people can do angry right.

      Anyways, if you’re thinking about transcendent happiness, it might be a good idea to look into transcending happiness. No magic necessary, of course, but it’s really easy to pretend like it is. Just say that your god allows you to experience states of non-happiness that just don’t seem possible in an atheist world view.

      good luck!

    • TiltedHorizon

      “The question to me that we each need to ask ourselves is, would I be
      happier and more content as a religious person or an atheist. That
      question however would be impossible to answer because we can never live either one of those perfectly. I can never be a perfect Christian nor can I be a perfect atheist.”

      Last time I checked, to measure one’s happiness one just needs realistic benchmarks. I don’t need to catch “the big one” every time I go fishing. I am happy just for the opportunity. I don’t need the sun to be shining. I love the stars at night and the feeling of rain on my bald head.

      I don’t need perfection. My happiness is not predicated on achieving an impossible and unsustainable state. Nor is it measured by proximity to any state of ‘perfection’ literal or figurative.

      When I was a catholic, I was never this happy. It was reward and punishment on a supernatural cosmic scale. Not catching “the big one” would have been perceived as payback, a small adjustment of the scales to balance out some inherited sin or some offense I unknowing yet ‘egregiously’ committed against god. Par for the course when ‘everything’ has meaning and nothing is random.

      This is not to say that I was never happy as a Christian but the quality of my happiness has improved tremendously and remained constant in the absence of faith.

    • badgerchild

      I don’t particularly care if I might theoretically be happier believing in God. Since there is no God, and specifically no God matching your preferred and self-contradictory description, the point is singularly moot. You’re asking us to believe in a lie (=counterfactual statement) on the sole and supposedly sufficient grounds that it will make us feel good.

      I have lots of New Age friends. They believe that I shouldn’t tell the one with lumps in her breasts to go see an oncologist because “thoughts make reality” and I am apparently “manifesting” cancer on her. She prefers not to believe in cancer. She feels good about that and says I should change my thinking to believe that she is free of cancer. My mother tried treating her breast cancer with prayer instead of medical treatment and died in suffocating agony when her lungs became involved, so, no, I’m not a huge proponent of the “believe the happy lie” school.

      So go peddle your nonsense elsewhere… on second thought, don’t. Peddle it right here where we can contain and manage your damage.

  • Gail

    Nice campaign from CFI (as usual). But gotta say…that 1st woman doesn’t look so joyful. Looks more like she just got done working a 12-hr shift and ran into a bunch of Bible preachers on the street.

  • https://kusmeeks.info/ kusmeek

    I couldn’t be happier about this!

  • Layla13

    Living without religion is awesome.

  • anniewhoo

    The “younger generations” graph is beautiful! With each generation, Americans are letting go of the make believe and shedding the antiquated dogma that has, in my opinion, limited humans from collectively reaching their full potential as a species.

  • Mitch

    Even though those unaffiliated who aren’t atheist/agnostic could still qualify as being “spiritual,” I still think it’s better than seeing them in the pews every Saturday night/Sunday morning. It’s stepping in the right direction.

  • guest

    Are those people from stock photographs? I think they are; some of them look familiar. It might be better if there were real atheists on the billboards. More authentic. Of course they’d have to be the most good-looking ones, because good-looking people sell things (on posters) better than ugly ones and that’s just a fact.

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

      It’s a mixture. The black woman, for example, is Leighann Lord, an atheist comedian.

      • islandbrewer

        Wow! They have stock photographs of black women atheist comedians? The wonders of the internet!

        • b s

          “They have stock photographs of black women atheist comedians?”

          Sounds like a rather limited category. Reminds me of that scene from Airplane! where the stewardess gives the passenger a leaflet on famous jewish sports legends.

          • islandbrewer

            *sigh* And this is why I’m not a professional comedian.

  • Atwatersedge

    I saw the first one in Grand Rapids today and thought, “Whatevs,” and drove on. Personal happiness is not a great basis for a functioning society. Plenty of psychopaths are perfectly happy killing people or setting pets alight. Lots of people say they are happy and are deceiving themselves because facing the truth is too painful. Happiness is ephemeral anyway. We can strive to be good, we can work towards contentment and gratitude. But happiness is often dependent on circumstances, hormones, genetics – plenty of things we have limited control over.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      And yet happiness is important enough that many theists feel the need to tell us we simply can’t be happy without an invisible sky wizard watching over us. Not that I disagree with what you’re saying, because I really don’t, but it’s still important to point out that you can be happy without belief in the supernatural.

      • Atwatersedge

        Yeah, and I am a theist who’s had a couple of pretty unhappy years this last stretch. I’m familiar with the kinds of people you are talking about. People are controlling; they want everyone to be the same, for safety, for comfort. I try to think of it as a sluice for the violent tendencies inherent in tribalism. If I convince you to be like me, a part of my tribe, I don’t have to burn your hut down, kill you and take your goats. We can live in peace.

        I do not think I would be happier as an atheist, which is what this billboard is subtly nudging me toward. But I appreciate your not wanting to take my goats, etc.

        • islandbrewer

          I do not think I would be happier as an atheist, which is what this billboard is subtly nudging me toward.

          While I actually really do like goat (had some the other night), the billboards aren’t really for you theists (nothing personal). The billboards are for new atheists (as opposed to the “New Atheists”) who just kind of find themselves no longer believing in a god.

          They’re there to reassure them (not you, so much) that they are perfectly normal and okay (or at least as much as they are when they’re theists), and just as capable of being happy as theists (you know, within their normal personal parameters of mental health, etc.). The message isn’t “Be happy, be an atheist” but “Do you think you stopped believing in god? Don’t panic, it’s ok! Not everything you’ve heard about atheists is necessarily true.”

          Except that’s a little long for a billboard slogan.

          It’s important for both theists and atheists to keep in mind that neither you nor I actually choose to believe or not believe in god, we just do (or don’t). As an atheist, as much as I’d like to say my unbelief is the result of the cold laser-like sciency critical thinking of the rational, the truth is, I just don’t believe. I can’t just choose to believe, in the same way you can’t just choose to not believe.

          And as long as I’m not made to be a second class citizen, or have my hut burned and my goats taken, I’m fine with that.

  • Nancy Shrew

    The first woman just might have chronic bitch face. I, too, have chronic bitch face, even though I feel perfectly content much of the time.

  • http://www.kidswithoutreligion.wordpress.com/ D Mitchell

    I like this ad campaign; it’s a great message. Thanks for posting. It would be nice to see some of these billboards around TX, especially in the rural areas where there is still a lot of stigma in being atheist.

  • Verna

    Nightmares? No. More like sadness and pity.

    • RowanVT

      Sadness and pity that so many people have seen through the silliness that is religion?


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