Fellow minion Sastra checking in…
You know, whenever things get dull among atheists, there are a few surefire topics to spark some conversation. You can always do the atheism vs. agnosticism debate, of course. That’s usually good for hours. Free Will perks at least some people up. But bring up a symbol for atheism …
And here it is!
(Forgive me if the image is not quite clean, I’m still figuring this blogging thing out.)
Some of you may remember that last year I was thrown out of several print shops and refused service for ordering a poster which had to do with voting for an atheist symbol. They were “Christians” (ie true Christians), and therefore couldn’t deal with atheism or atheists. Ah, well. The prerogative of a free society and private business. The poster was eventually made, however, and at the Atheist Alliance International convention in Washington DC, the attendees (which included Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett) cast their votes between 6 candidates.
I am only showing the ‘winner.’ Because I know what many of you are doing. You’re going to tell the rest of us about this other symbol. A different one. Which you like better.
Unless, of course, you are preparing to explain why atheists should not have a symbol at all.
Frankly, I’ve probably already seen the symbol (or something very like it), or heard the reasoned rationale for none at all. The committee looked at hundreds, from sources all over the internet, as well as submissions.
We also considered the arguments against a symbol. Though I’m somewhat sympathetic, I think the problem is moot. Bottom line, a designated symbol of some sort is eventually going to come up from grass roots and become popular, because there is need to identify a group which no longer wishes to remain ignored or marginalized. Yes, the “group” is diverse and technically defined only by a negative – but, contra Sam Harris, the word ‘atheist’ is pragmatically useful, and used, and words themselves are symbols for things.
And if there is going to be a symbol anyway, all things considered, it should be one that offends and bothers the LEAST number of atheists possible. That’s a very tough standard indeed.
This particular symbol was designed and released to public domain by Michigan graphic artist and retired schoolteacher Diane Reed. It’s simple, positive, unique, and attractive. The circle represents the natural universe, the point is the inquiring mind, and the resemblance to the Latin “A” is both a nod to the language of science, and to the necessity of having some easily graspable connection to “atheism.” It doesn’t imply that atheists believe in nothing; it doesn’t confuse the issue with evolution; and it doesn’t stick a gratuitous finger in any religion’s eye. You could tattoo it on your arm, dangle it from a necklace, and draw it in the sand with a stick. It’s identifiable in any color, and identified with no specific person. And it gets along nicely with whatever other symbol you prefer, because you either like it, or you don’t.
And that’s that.