Atheism Symbol

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!

i-f6edc606e875a3f308dec10fb1bf1298-A51.PNG

(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.

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Think you could forward this to the VA so that atheist veterans don't have to use the American Atheists symbol on their graves?

So atheists are actually star fleet officers....

You fool!

We aren't the "Atheist Alliance" we're the "The Alliance of Atheists"! THAT is the most logical!

(if you don't get this-- you need to catch up on your south park. :P)

Looks vaguely Star Trek-y. Not wholly unattractive (unlike the symbol Oz refers to above, which is just plain awful).

I don't plan on using it, though; I'm one of the people who feels that atheism needs no symbols.

By John Bode (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I like it. However,
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."
is just so much woo.

We should commandeer the @ sign and persuade the loons that using e-mail is proof that they are atheists.

By freelunch (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

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

Does anyone else find this sort of mysticism amusing in an atheist symbol? Can't we just draw a pretty picture without assigning arbitrary meanings to design features?

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I like it more than the other one. More interesting and stylish, less generic.
Could see myself with a tatoo like this. I'm more of an agnostic, but it doesn't matter, also starts with A.
But still prefer the colour red.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

It does look kind of like an "at" sign. What I do like about it is that it could be made from a single piece of metal without soldering, which would make lapel pins hella cool.

The Star Wars geek in me says... eww.. Star Trek.

Schism!

And designers always have to assign meanings to their visual choices, there's no mysticism about it.

Why do symbols always need to have some deeper meaning? How about, "We came up with this symbol because "A" stands for "atheist", and it looks cool".

that's quite funny...starfleet officers.

Would I wear it from a necklace? meh...tattoo it...meh...maybe I'll just construct a big steel structure and erect it on my front lawn

To quote the great MPatHG,

"Well, I didn't vote for you!"

This isn't the atheist symbol, it's the symbol voted on by the attendees of the Atheist Alliance convention.

At best it's the symbol for the Atheist Alliance, but I certainly don't plan on adopting it. My red "A" from the Out Campaign is something that I wear happily, and it wasn't touted as the "atheist's symbol" - I choose to wear it as I like the message it sends.

I don't think that the Atheist Alliance convention attendees have any right to decide on a symbol for anyone but themselves.

By Epinephrine (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

And designers always have to assign meanings to their visual choices, there's no mysticism about it.

Really??? Who says so?

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

There ain't no more mysticism in saying "the circle represents the natural universe" than there is in saying "the fifty stars represent the fifty states". It's not an attempt to control the natural universe at large, only a choice made by the graphic designer intended to provoke a certain kind of contemplation in the viewer.

I'd have to agree with John Bode (#4)...though I'd go a bit further in saying that it doesn't look 'vaguely' Star Trek-y...rather, it looks very Star Trek-y.

Now I'm a bit of a sci-fi geek, so that doesn't bother me at all...and perhaps those who aren't geekified won't see the similarity so it won't matter.

By molecanthro (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Greg #7 wrote:

Can't we just draw a pretty picture without assigning arbitrary meanings to design features?

At first glance, I think I agree with you. On the other hand, if you're going to have a symbol in the first place, it should mean something. And one of the most annoying (and utterly false) accusations I read is that "atheists don't believe in anything".

Even though it's a bit over the top, I like the notion that reason and science are somehow embedded in it.

If I was an atheist, I probably wouldn't display the symbol very much; symbols generally over simplify complex issues. And if there was ever a group too diverse to be called "a group", I think it would be atheists.

By the same token, I wouldn't display the cross if I were a Christian either.

By Whateverman (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

People, please! You're getting this all backwards. This is where the Star Trek symbol comes from, because in the future, the Federation will be founded by atheists!

@Greg Esres and Co

Symbolism =! Mysticism

Frankly I don't see how you could mistake the two, so maybe I'm missing something.

By Dutch Delight (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

It looks like the bastard child of an unholy threesome of the 'Star Trek', 'Nike' and '@' symbols!

Wait, do us Agnostics have a symbol?

IMO it looks too much like the anarchy symbol.

The agnostic symbol could be a fence with someone bending over backwards on it.

@Chris

Yes, it's the same thing just in a dotted line.

The clients want to know why you made choices.

Very few designers can get away with "Because I like it and it looks good."

Haven't people realized that trying to get all Atheists to stand under one unified umbrella is like herding cats?

Our diversity is both a metaphorical blessing and a curse. We are indescribable, the folks whose hobby is "not collecting stamps" (in the words of Penn Gilette) and who cannot be easily pigeonholed into one epithet aside from the one thing that unites us (disbelief in God).

At the same time, this diversity hurts us because we lack the overwhelming coordination and structured cohesion that the God Squad has. We're an amorphous blob of people -- more like a "swarm" than a "machine".

I could care less if this is the "official" logo of whomever -- I'll probably still tout the scarlet letter simply because I think the symbolism behind it is more fitting.

Now I know what a capital at-sign looks like. :-)

It also makes me think, "Cool, the sharp point of reason is about the burst the bubble from within."

Wait, do us Agnostics have a symbol?

A waffle would be appropriate. ;)

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Dutch Delighted us with:
@Greg Esres and Co

Symbolism =! Mysticism

Frankly I don't see how you could mistake the two, so maybe I'm missing something.

I never said it was "mysticism", though I rather like that word for it. The statement about the symbol in the original post is rather devoid of content, for the mere reason that one could just as validly say, "The A's crossbar represents the natural universe, the encompassing circle is the inquiring mind, and the two ends of the continuous line making the symbol represent religion and secular humanism, with humanity moving from one end to the other. The journey may be jagged."

How's that for some competing woo?

Plus, it sort of looks like a sperm going into an eye. We all know those things are sacred and designed.

I agree with the couple people that say "why do we need a symbol?"

I don't have a symbol that signifies that I don't believe in the tooth fairy, why do I need one that signifies I don't believe in some omnipotent being?

Tux, the mascot for Linux, was entered into contests when Linux was looking for a logo in the 90s. There were three contests, and he didn't win *any* of them.

Unless there's top-down leadership, symbols arise organically, not by fiat. I doubt that atheism symbol will catch on. Maybe another will. Who knows?

HA! So now we know that the sorts of people who attend atheism conventions probably overlap considerably with the sorts of people who go to Star Trek conventions.

a symbol in the first place, it should mean something.

For the most part, I agree with that, but if you have to tell people what that meaning is, you're pretty much failed, IMO. Personally, I'd prefer a symbol for rationality, rather than atheism.

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I like it. It is:

- Not easily mistaken for some other group's symbol.
- Recognizable in both black and in color.
- Simple.
- Easily and quickly drawn, painted, carved, embossed, or even signed in the air.
- Graceful and refined.
- Has a connection with the "A" of atheism, i.e. the Greek prefix for "not."

It doesn't have to be associated with elves and fairies, the higher mind, or the cosmic woo to be a beautiful, appropriate, and useful symbol.

By speedwell (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Gah... I can't even proof my own stupid one-line posts. I hate myself. Make that:

"Cool - the sharp point of reason is about to burst the bubble from within."

What's wrong with Dawkins' red "A" used by the "out" campaign, which appears on PZ's blog and several others? Why do we need two "A" symbols?

I rather like the symbol and don't think a bit of deeper meaning is inappropriate as long as it's not over-woo'd.

I find it odd to create a symbol to express a non-belief (other than the circle with the "no" diagonal surrounding/passing through a representation of the idea that is being negated). In other words, I'd prefer to use a symbol representing science and reason than a symbol representing atheism. But that's just me.

Still, I think the symbol is flowing, graceful and pleasant to view.

Very few designers can get away with "Because I like it and it looks good.

I find that very acceptable. :-)

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

By the same token, I wouldn't display the cross if I were a Christian either.

I don't think that's exactly "by the same token". While atheists have no common beliefs or positions by which to group them, Christians certainly do. (And the cross rather nicely recapitulates the core of those beliefs.)

If someone banged off a nice bumper-version of that Star Trek Atheist logo I might stick it alongside the Darwinfish and FSM on the back of my truck.

By Alexandra (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I think the "A" symbol is too language specific. A symbol for nonbelief should be pictorial, perhaps a heraldic device which reference to symbols of naturalism.

Does anyone knows where can I get a hi-res version of thi symbol?

Ir would make a terrible neckalace, none of the lines connect so either you get one piece of bent wire that's even open (so you have to solder something on it (and then wonder when it's going to get whacked out of shape by a passing sneeze) and ruin the lines) or that inscribed on a probably a flat piece of metal and I'm sick and bloody tired of flat jewellery.

Works wonderfully in print not so hot in 3D, or rather in 3D it simply continues to be 2D but now with sturcutal instability.

I know, so not the complaints you were looking for. That being said I love the cuves at the bottom of the A and the way it all tapes that's lovely design.

Think you could forward this to the VA so that atheist veterans don't have to use the American Atheists symbol on their graves?

Real atheists are not buried in graves. When they drop dead their bodies are thrown on the wood pile in the back yard, and set on fire. At least that's the way it should be. There's no difference between a dead person and road kill. I never saw anyone bury a dead squirrel. Why bother to bury a dead human ape?

What's wrong with the red "A" I see on many websites? I appreciate seeing that "A". Then I know I'm not wasting my time at a website that has sky fairy woo-woo.

In a perfect world the word atheist would be unnecessary because there would be no theists. Theist is just another word for "batshit crazy".

Does anyone else find this sort of mysticism amusing in an atheist symbol?

Saying 'The circle represents the natural universe ...' is no different from assigning a definition to a newly invented term.
It's not 'mysticism'. It's communication. It's an arbitrary symbol whose meaning is initially dictated by those who propose it, but whose effective meaning will be a result of its use. It's as 'mystical' as a dictionary entry.

the folks whose hobby is "not collecting stamps" (in the words of Penn Gilette)

He may have repeated it, but I don't believe he's the source of that one.

By Alexandra (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I never thought about a symbol for the absence of something, but if anybody really wants one there's already that well-known circle with a diagonal line through it. You've seen it for "no smoking" and "no parking" signs. Just the circle-and-diagonal alone would do the job. Rather generic. Simple. Readily understood.

I like it. It looks like an abbreviated at-symbol, so one can possibly simulate it as @-ism (@heism) in ordinary text.

But why is everyone so adamant to have atheism "technically defined ... by a negative"? That is a philosophical definition, and as all such specifically cloned from theological apologetics (in this area) or generally parsed out to be minimally connected with nature in order to be as rigid (and so dogmatic) as possible.

Parsimony is an important empirical principle and positive to boot, specially when chucking superfluous supernatural superstitions.

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."

Um, hello, α? Signifying science and being first (everyone are born atheist; later some can be taken in by the ease and emotion of the Dark side) while still making the connection. A circumscribed α is easier to produce too. Ah, well.

included Richard Dawkins

Somehow I don't think that is an argument as his OUT campaign prefers the scarlet A.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Echoing #47, where can we download nice copies of this? I'd like to start using the symbol myself, but the version displayed here is a touch small.

The circle obviously represents a hole, and it's marked with a big A.

I kinda like it.

By Paul W., Big A-hole (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Trekkie anarchy is a fairly apt metaphor for this place.

What do I do with my atheist stickers and buttons with the Dawkins A (think it's Dawkins' thing), also seen on the upper left of this page.

Sorry, but I'm with Harris on this one. Designing symbols for fan clubs might be fun, but ultimately putting rational, educated people into a group called "atheists" enables that group to be marginalised much easier. As Sam says : "it seems to me that we are consenting to be viewed as a cranky sub-culture..."

Just another 'belief' system swimming in a pool of relativism. I think it's counter-productive.
Just my two penn'orth.

Chris@ 22:
"Wait, do us Agnostics have a symbol?"

It's impossible to know for sure if they do.

By Jason Failes (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I agree it might be a good idea if atheist have their own symbol but, as many have pointed out, this looks WAY too much like the Starfleet insigna.*

I object because this might give the impression that atheist are all Star Trek nerds that....oh, I see.

*Couldn't figure out how to post this picture in the comments.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

What's with the saw-tooth lines on the "A"?:) OK, I know they're an artifact, but they really show up here.

Call it "that" if you wish, but I don't see it. A merely privative "a" seems like not much of a symbol. Something for empiricism (or "rationalism", which often subsumes pro-empiricism), or a negation of ghosts and other woo, would make me happier.

But then I don't like the term "atheist", and I don't call myself one (here I often go along with it, since I don't want to go over all of that again and again). It is negative, and it grants too much to the notion of "God" in the first place. It's a lot like being against Santa, pointless or pathetic. Or didactic. There's always something a bit school-marmish about "atheism", seems to me.

And I'm not against either God or Santa. I just don't act as if either one exists.

But you want the symbol? Well, you have it, and I'm just saying why it won't be much of a factor in my life.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

While I agree that atheists and non-believers are a diverse group which don't all agree on everything, the same could be said for the Christians. There are over 38,000 separate sects in their group, but they ALL use a single, easily identifiable symbol -- the cross. Same with many other higher-level groups that have a lot of diversity at the lower ranks.

Having a symbol doesn't negate your individuality, it simply acknowledges a particular group identity of which you are a part.

I think this is a creative, symbolic and elegant emblem of non-belief. It's ambiguous enough to generate questions ("What is THAT?"), simple enough to be used in just about any medium (chalk scribbles on a sidewalk, pins on a lapel, emblazoned on a t-shirt), and definitive enough to identify.

How about just having any stylized, capital "A" as a symbol for atheism? Then everyone can still have their own, preferred design (important for the whole "herding cats" thing) while still having a unified symbol to represent the group.

In fact, I think a collection of similar symbols describes the group as having similar-thinking members, but with no central authority, which is pretty much what us group of atheists are.

I see someone beat me too it, but I too thought that the StarFleet insignia might be adopted for this purpose - Gene Roddenberry would approve, and it saves having to mass produce another emblem that looks just like it!

Wait, do us Agnostics have a symbol?

I don't mind using the same as Atheists. Same for all non religious folks. A stands for without a particular God that you worship. Which is my case. I'm quite happy to wear a symbol for that, by opposition to all those who have a symbol for their religion cross or crescent or whatever.
As long as it's pretty and recognizable, why not ?

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Hey! I've been signing letters with something that looks very much like that for years. Though that said I somehow doubt that people will confuse this symbol as an advert for me.

hot damn, that's an ugly symbol.

It does look kind of like an "at" sign. What I do like about it is that it could be made from a single piece of metal without soldering, which would make lapel pins hella cool.

nneerrrgh..... almost.

I'm thinking sterling silver out of habit here, if you made it heavy enough not to warp and still keep the break in the circle it would be too chunky for most people to think of it as a lapel pin (2"+) and then your clothes would obscure part of the pattern if you were using the long arm as the pin back. The other option I suppose is to continue the short arm in the middle of the A backwards at 90 degrees to a butterfly clutch. But it would still catch on your clothes as it turns in that one direction if you keep it 100% as shown.

however if you connected the circle (keeping the taper I like that part) and maybe just touched the top of the A to the circle you'd have soemthing structually far more stable and a castable shape, casting would be so much easier to keep the nice tapers and subtler design elements. And doable in pretty much any size.

I suppose this begs the question of if I make some would you lot actually buy any?

In other words, I'd prefer to use a symbol representing science and reason than a symbol representing atheism.

Ah, but then you'd have a symbol representing science, not atheism. Remember that not all atheists are interested in science, nor are all atheists necessarily rational or interested in rational discourse.

It's also important to draw the distinction between atheism as a non-religious worldview, and atheism as a political struggle. It's good to have a symbol for atheism as a political struggle, or as a specific organisation promoting the idea that atheists don't necessarily eat babies (but some might, but it's not inherent in the proposition that there are no gods -- or at least that there's not sufficient evidence for the proposition that there are gods to be given any further due consideration).

This looks like a great symbol for the Atheist Alliance organisation; but a terrible one for atheists in general.

J. P. @ # 47: Does anyone knows where can I get a hi-res version of thi symbol?

When I dragged the above graphic (about 1" on my screen) into an email msg, it showed up almost 12 times larger. That hi-res enough for ya? (I'm using Firefox, which also tells me the original is at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/A51.PNG - just about any browser should be able to take ya there...)

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

@-ist Bob C, # 49:

Why bother to bury a dead human ape?

Ask the apes - reportedly both elephants and apes may try to arrange or hide dead herd members at times. I'm too lazy to google it, but I seem to remember elephants seen to be making 'ceremonies' around such places even after their mourning period.

Social animals have evolved to mourn and have social customs. Why would we want to change that, or confuse it with religious rites or dogmas?

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

We need a symbol for the "Reality-Based Community".

You know, reality, that place where we meet with agnostics, apathetics, unitarians, secular humanists, and liberal believers from all religions?

By Jason Failes (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

When I first saw the symbol, I thought it was Chriss Angel's. Turns out his has the left diagonal simply terminate, and the circle is made from the crossbar bisecting the left diagonal and then going clockwise around the "A." I know Criss is anti-woo, but does he want to be "mistaken" for an atheist? And do atheists want to keep explaining that no, the symbol they're wearing/displaying is not about Criss Angel...

Well, at least it would be a good opening to discuss (non-)religion. "Speaking of angels..."

By Richard Smith (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

sigmund @ #21

It looks like the bastard child of an unholy threesome of the 'Star Trek', 'Nike' and '@' symbols!

Ah, the "Nerds Trying to be Athletes" Trinity!

As to the logo, it looks nice enough, but doesn't it need to be in scarlet?

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Seems kinda silly to have a symbol to denote the fact that you don't really believe in fairy stories.

Following Dawkins, does this mean a-teapotists and a-spaghettimonsterists need to get their own symbols too?

Can't we just quit acting like the mediaevalist nutters that we're supposed to be disagreeing with? Or is humanity really that childish?

YOU DON'T NEED A SYMBOL; YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING!

YOU'RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!

Sastra,

Did any of the voters consider wÒÓ†'s boobies? I think that would be a great logo on so many different levels.

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

...Star Trek sucks!

There! I said it!

Real atheists are not buried in graves. When they drop dead their bodies are thrown on the wood pile in the back yard, and set on fire. At least that's the way it should be. There's no difference between a dead person and road kill. I never saw anyone bury a dead squirrel. Why bother to bury a dead human ape?

I should think the correct way to dispose of a dead atheist would be to donate it for research or organ harvest.

That's my wish. I left my body to medical research with one proviso: they have to promise not to laugh.

Chris @22...

Wait, do us Agnostics have a symbol?

Undecided, as of yet...

I am reminded of that yellow, wood bead lapel pin that Mensa wanted you to wear. The only time I ever saw it was at get-togethers, and meetings; I never saw it on the street. I guess the idea was that people would ask you about the pin, and you could tell them all about that fabu organization. I used mine on my cork board.

I do like the OUT campaign "A". There is a certain elegance that I like.

By BobbyEarle (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

The symbol for atheism should be a blank square.

Our symbol is everywhere! Haynes and Fruit-of-the-loom print it on every tee-shirt they sell! It's incorporated into every business letter! It's emblazoned in the sky! (well, as long as it's not cloudy...)

By Randomfactor (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

YOU DON'T NEED A SYMBOL; YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING!

YOU'RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!

Erm... I'm not.

We need a symbol for the "Reality-Based Community".

You know, reality, that place where we meet with agnostics, apathetics, unitarians, secular humanists, and liberal believers from all religions?

Not a bad idea. There are probably more miscellaneous agnotics, apathetics, free thinkers, anti-Death Cultists and so one than atheists by several fold.

How about a cow pie in a circle with a diagonal slash through it? No BS.

YOU DON'T NEED A SYMBOL; YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING!

YOU'RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!

Useful for all the stuff we have in common.

Having stuff in common with others hardly makes me less of an individual, next you'll be saying labels are bad. I happen to be fond of nouns.

How 'bout a big fancy "I" for "infidel" (meaning approximately "without faith"), and also representing the "|" now used for "on" &/or "1" and of course the non-trivial egos of just about all non-believers?

Rollin', rollin', rollin' - meeowww!

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Hmm, I agree that this should represent the Atheist Alliance and not be touted as a symbol for atheism. We all know how the religious tend to missunderstand things, this might just exacerbate it. I can just imagine the "Just another belief argument" coming up.

Also, I hope you do all realise that in many places being an atheist is socialy accepted. Not every country is going through such a ridiculous debate.

Here in Québec, Canada, due to our thorough secularisation, it's not even an issue. In fact, in a recent social debate over what we call "Reasonable Accomodations" (such as wearing religious symbols in public functions, etc.) a Catholic Priest's comments were met with widespread reprobation. Most found he had no right commenting on social integration. Obviously the debate continues, but damn am I glad I don't live in the states.

Real atheists are not buried in graves. When they drop dead their bodies are thrown on the wood pile in the back yard, and set on fire. At least that's the way it should be. There's no difference between a dead person and road kill. I never saw anyone bury a dead squirrel. Why bother to bury a dead human ape?

Funerals are for the living, not the dead, and I would guess that squirrels mourn their dead in their own way. While I am donating my remains to whoever wants them, I have instructed my wife to do dispose of what's left in whatever way she wants that causes her the least pain. It's silly to pretend that people should (or even could) coldly sever their attachments to the remains of their beloved dead.

The only trouble with the "Out A" (or, as we call it in Canada, the "Oot, Eh?") is that, unless it's red and the correct typeface, it could just be any old "A". This symbol can be scribbled by anybody, eh?

>Posted by: freelunch | August 11, 2008 10:35 AM

>We should commandeer the @ sign and persuade the loons >that using e-mail is proof that they are atheists.

That's full of WIN!
(and I'm not even an atheist)

I hate it when people get all offended when someone suggests a symbol for atheism. I personally like the symbol myself. The reason we're getting stomped by the religious nuts is because we refuse to get a little more organized. Individuality is great... until someone has a special club that offers the false promise of eternal life. Suddenly, it' REAL hard to hold down the front in the war against illogical ideas.
Jebus, guys, let's start working together for a change! :)

"Does anyone else find this sort of mysticism amusing in an atheist symbol?"

I think you're confusing the meanings of the words "mysticism" and "symbolism", Greg.

By Jack Rawlinosn (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

raven @90:
"How about a cow pie in a circle with a diagonal slash through it? No BS."

Highly funny...

...but, like atheism, that symbol would speak more to what we are against than what we are for.

How about a Venn diagram: A large circle that says "Reality", with a slightly smaller one on the inside that says "Reality-based community".

If we need to show what we are against, we can also include a few of the "death-cults" outside of reality, not quite touching, like satellite galaxies.

But I have few "designy-senses". Is there a graphic designer in the house?

By Jason Failes (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

But we, in general, use rational thought.

Maybe an Atheism symbol should focus on that.

YOU DON'T NEED A SYMBOL; YOU DON'T NEED ANYTHING!

YOU'RE ALL INDIVIDUALS!

Erm... I'm not.

Shhh!

1. It looks like Star Trek
2. It looks like Chris Angel
3. We don't need a symbol, and the desperation in "we're just going to get a symbol some day anyway, we might as well pick one" just has no logic behind it.

I like the idea of a symbol, but I'm afraid my first thought upon seeing this was that it looks like an effeminate anarchy logo...

Also - and I know this is going to be an unpopular sentiment - I think that "athiest" is a dicey term from a PR perspective. I'd prefer something along the lines of "rationalist."

As the pro-life/pro-choice folks demonstrate, if you're going to label yourself, pick something of which you're in favor.

By John Robie (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Hell, why be namby-pamby about it?

Having the phrase "I am an Atheist" tattooed on our foreheads might be a plan.

By BobbyEarle (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

It reminds me of a fish hook. You know, to reel in those who prefer fish logos...

By Fergus Gallagher (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Looks vaguely Star Trek-y.

That's a feature, not a bug.

I'm with Michelle. Time for the Trekkies to grow up...

By Badjuggler (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Sure, it looks like the Star Trek logo, but the last one looked just like the Atlanta Braves logo, so on behalf of Georgia atheists everywhere, thanks for changing it.

By Son of a Nonymous (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

The ONLY problem I have with this - and many other proposed - emblems is they are devilishly difficult to put on a long stick, thrust them 100 feet in the air and light them so they can be seen for DOZENS OF MILES - like at least two twice-FSM-damned crosses in my area.

I need something that can survive treatment like that!

JC

Looks too much like a car manufacturer's logo.

Chris P

I give it a week before some fundie claims it is a modified pentagram and proof that we worship the devil....

I see two advantages to having a symbol:

1) It provides some social support to those who may feel they're surrounded by hostile forces, and
2) It's a conversation starter with those who may be looking for answers.

I generally feel a sense of kinship when I see a darwin fish on someone's car.

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

We don't need a symbol for not believing in god, any more than we need a symbol for not believing in leprechauns.

At post #3... surely you mean Life Of Brian.... Judean People's Front, People's Front Of Judea, Judean Popular People's Front etc...

Use a crossed-out cross as a symbol. No, that's the problem, we're trying to "say no" to a whole lot of meaningless nonsense (and not just the Western version). Crossing out a blank, for instance, wouldn't quite get the message through.

One of the problems with the "A", though, is the etymology, which indeed will be used by theists. "Atheist" is a very mousy word, etymologically, merely saying that one is without theism, god, all that woo. Maybe you're just ignorant of religion/theism (most of the "atheists" who turn to religion seem to have been like that), so you're not a theist. Big deal.

True, "atheism" often means something other than the etymology. But what does it mean? To many theists, it seems only to mean that "god has been rejected" by this person. So that connotation isn't helpful. Many do recognize that intelligent atheists are saying that god doesn't exist, of course, yet the merely privative "a" allows the theist to use etymology to claim that atheism is a defect of will/knowledge, or an acknowledgement that god is a legitimate issue intellectually.

The only people likely to use an atheist symbol much are the "New Atheists", who might do better to adopt the term "anti-theist", as a few of them do. So really, why not? One could use "Anti" as a symbol or slogan, and sound a bit more forceful, radical.

Besides, "A" is too close to the anarchy symbol, and it has the street credit. Looking like a knock-off isn't going to bring out the fervor of anybody. Being the "antis" to a whole lot of stuffy nonsense might sound better.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

It looks a little "Trek"-ish to me. Might further press the stereotype of atheists being scifi-loving nerds (which in my case, is actually true, though I don't care for star trek too much).

I really love the symbol that American Atheists use, as it resembles an atom AND an "A". I also like Dawkins' Scarlet Letter "A" as well.

This is well done, PZ. I'll see if I can figure out a symbol as well.

The Star Trek references are funny..

I remember being in an argument with someone about whether or not it's possible to do something "in the name of Atheism". I used the analogy of Atheism being like people who AREN'T fans of Star Trek. (Or people that DON'T play baseball... or DON'T like Guitar Hero...etc.) How do you do something in the name of *not* being a trekkie?

Greg at 116:
I generally feel a sense of kinship when I see a darwin fish on someone's car.

i'm having to assume you're in america, because over in britain, there's almost no need for this sort of thing. it's like having a symbol to say you're not voting BNP. people who walk around wearing Atheism t-shirts generally look about as faux-rebellious as the ubiquitous city goth kids.

Shygetz #95:

Funerals are for the living, not the dead

Mostly funerals are for the funeral directors who make big money on what is nothing more than a worthless piece of garbage (a corpse).

I'm a very frugal person and I can't stand the idea of spending money on dead people.

I suggest people should mourn their dead relatives if they want to, but they can do that without making somebody else rich.

It's a religious idea to respect a dead body and spend big money on it. Money is for the living, not the dead.

How about a big "K"?

Just sayin'.

Was it possible for atheism and Star Trek to get any more nerdier? Yup! Just fuse the two together.

Totally agree with JC that it needs to be easily mounted on a stick. How about just a circle? O - symbolizing the earth - opposite of the heavens. Also a cross turned sideways looks like an X, and O is the opposite of that. An "O" is also the symbol for oxygen. A really thick "O" that could be thrust in the air on a pike; the O in the Whole Foods logo is pretty cool. Maybe they would donate it.

The only upside I can see to co-opting one of the symbols for anarchism is that I agree with both philosophies.

Of course, I always preferred the black flag.

"It's a religious idea to respect a dead body and spend big money on it. Money is for the living, not the dead."

Not necessarily. A jerk like yourself might only be able to see it as a "dead body", but many view it as a loved one who has passed on.

i'm having to assume you're in america, because over in britain, there's almost no need for this sort of thing.

Yes. Those accepting evolution are in the minority in the states, particularly in the bible belt, where I live.

By Greg Esres (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

The circle represents the natural universe

I really don't like that woo.

We don't worship the universe, so why would we represent it? We don't even have to like the universe, or what's in it. Nor does the universe substitute for god or religion. The universe is just observation (a synthesis of observations, more correctly), and indeed, one is free to be skeptical of the existence of a universe, as the ancient skeptics were (a strict Kantian would be agnostic regarding "the universe" as it is generally portrayed, though he'd accept that there are "really-existing things").

I truly would not accept a symbol which smacks of nature worship. While one could always rightly say that such a meaning is not intended, it plays into the hands of theists who claim that everybody worships something. I don't.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

"Totally agree with JC that it needs to be easily mounted on a stick. How about just a circle? O - symbolizing the earth - opposite of the heavens. Also a cross turned sideways looks like an X, and O is the opposite of that. An "O" is also the symbol for oxygen. A really thick "O" that could be thrust in the air on a pike; the O in the Whole Foods logo is pretty cool. Maybe they would donate it."

Why add the cross? Do you have to advance your 'beliefs' by mocking others? I guess we know what your answer would be. So let me just state it: no, you don't have to mock others to advance your beliefs.

e
If the scarlet or atomic 'A' are not good enough for y'all, how about the most popular letter "e"? It stands for empiricism, the base of the natural logarithms, and "everything".

David Brin just posted an interesting comment about the power of the Enlightenment being built on pragmatism and empiricism, rather than being based on Pure Reason. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2008/08/completely-non-political-potpourr…

Chuck Lunney @ 64:

While I agree that atheists and non-believers are a diverse group which don't all agree on everything, the same could be said for the Christians. There are over 38,000 separate sects in their group, but they ALL use a single, easily identifiable symbol -- the cross....

And there are many, many symbolic variations on the theme, but they don't use the same, identifiable symbol. The Latin Cross vs. the Jerusalem Cross vs. the Tau Cross vs. ..........................

I personally think it's cool for atheists to take over variations of A (or even Affinity!!)! After all, it's about the oldest character in AlphabetLand, and it fundamentally stands for BULL! :-)

By minusRusty (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Humans apparently need some amount of Woo. It is one of the reasons I have heard to explain the persistence of religion.

Perhaps a little new age atheist woo is just what we need to spice up the mix. I am hoping for tambourines and bongos next!

Let's bring a little spectacle to the atheist movement. Give it a little panache. We could outsource out public relations to the same folks who did the San Francisco Folson Street Fair publicity if we really wanted to gin up some buzz.

Enjoy.

By Tim Fuller (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Uck. I came up with my own some time ago, and no one needs to see it or know what it stands for but me.

"I personally think it's cool for atheists to take over variations of A (or even Affinity!!)! After all, it's about the oldest character in AlphabetLand, and it fundamentally stands for BULL! :-)"

Wow....
dorks a-poppin.

But will it ward off vampires?

"Totally agree with JC that it needs to be easily mounted on a stick. How about just a circle? O - symbolizing the earth - opposite of the heavens. Also a cross turned sideways looks like an X, and O is the opposite of that. An "O" is also the symbol for oxygen. A really thick "O" that could be thrust in the air on a pike; the O in the Whole Foods logo is pretty cool. Maybe they would donate it."Why add the cross? Do you have to advance your 'beliefs' by mocking others? I guess we know what your answer would be. So let me just state it: no, you don't have to mock others to advance your beliefs.

Read it again, this time for comprehension. He is not adding the cross to the symbol, and is not mocking anyone; he is just noting that "O" is the opposite of "X" (as in tic-tac-toe).

JimQ (#128), do what you want. I prefer to not imitate the superstitions of Christian wackos.

"Read it again, this time for comprehension. He is not adding the cross to the symbol, and is not mocking anyone; he is just noting that "O" is the opposite of "X" (as in tic-tac-toe)."

Certainly, not mocking anyone. You guys wouldn't stoop to that level.

There are over 38,000 separate sects in their group, but they ALL use a single, easily identifiable symbol -- the cross

Fail.

Obviously you weren't raised as an anti-Catholic fundamentalist. There are any number of Protestant sects that dislike the cross symbol, as standing for the hated Roman Catholic Church. That has diminished in more recent years (Vatican II being a big reason for that), yet many US Xians would certainly not use the cross symbol for themselves at this time.

Many crosses were smashed or otherwise destroyed during the Reformation.

Symbols do divide Xians, too.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

There were a lot of good ideas here, and a lot of subtle points that bear voice. Dave X, for example suggests 'e'.

However, I actually like that symbol, if only to capture the rights to the "@" sign. (as was noted above)

My last name begins with an "A" so I get a twofer out of this one.
I might even start signing my name with it. It would end up in all sorts of legal documents including taxes and credit cards. I wonder if any fundies will fantasize it as a bigoted attack on their "beliefs" and refuse to accept it?

By mayhempix (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

"JimQ (#128), do what you want. I prefer to not imitate the superstitions of Christian wackos."

Nah, you'd just rather start up your own wacko superstitions... why borrow from other more successful traditions?

[in Edna "E" Mode voice] No cross. No cross!

Really, now. Making an atheist symbol in any way Christian-specific is a big, big mistake. Why single out one religion and invite accusations of bigotry? It's not antichristianism that's being symbolized, it's atheism. Why exclude the abaalists, azeusists and ashivaists?

More laughs-per-minute in these comments than I've seen in a long time. What a sharp, amusing crew this is.

#55 the "A" inside a hole is something to think about.

For me, I prouldy post the scarlet A, ala Dawkins, but would post another as well. This one seems fine, though I'd prefer a thicker line to it, I think.

Certainly, not mocking anyone. You guys wouldn't stoop to that level.

Who is mocking whom?

How is a circle as a symbol mocking anyone?

"Symbols do divide Xians, too."

"There are any number of Protestant sects that dislike the cross symbol, as standing for the hated Roman Catholic Church."

knucklebeak, you state it yourself.
It's not because they disagreed with respects to Christ; you even stated "as standing for the hated RCC".
It's how they believe the symbol to have been coopted.
Fail? Nice nerd-lingo.
You didn't do too great of a job yourself, homeboy.

Or maybe co-opt the anti-philatelist logo: a crossed-out stamp.

Just a few quick comments before I'm off ...

The Atheist Alliance International (which is really many groups put together) already has a logo, and was simply trying to be a catalyst for a generic process. The point was that it not be associated with any specific organization. It's not an official symbol. It's a suggested symbol, to be used with other symbols, or not. If enough people like it, and use it, that's where it will really get its credentials.

And I like the idea that there are other symbols, as well. And people who don't use any symbol.

Yes, it looks vaguely similar to the Star Trek logo. But if you look at the link someone above supplied, it's not all that close. There is NO symbol that doesn't look like some other symbol. Can't be done.

I like Dawkins' Atheist A a lot -- I've got the shirt -- but, as Blondin #96 pointed out, it has to be done in red, and with just the right stylized angle, or it's only an "A." People will think your name is "Anne," or "Andrew."

As for the "meaning" behind the symbol -- the world, reason, etc. - it's optional. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if that's what the designer intended. It's what I vaguely recall it meaning. I could be putting that interpretation in myself. You can put in a different interpretation. Or none.

I think it's simple and classy. As I wrote, unless you hate the idea of ANY symbol, it's unlikely you'll hate this one. Dislike it intensely, perhaps -- but not hate it the way you might hate a big fat Zero, or something misleading or offensive.

Yeah....

It's a cool symbol...

Can I get one in the form of a button with a built in communicator? You can then all refer to me as Jean-Luc and I will respond by calling you (whom ever you may be) as, "Number 1." Next we can adopt phrases like, "engage!"

Will this mean that we can sneak into trekkie conventions for free or at least unnoticed? I move that No Klingons be allowed.

(Just in case some IDiot takes this seriously, please catch the sarcasm as I jest in good fun)

By IceFarmer (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I can't decide if it looks like a fishing hook that got away, a fanged Pac Man, or Old Harry's barbed tail mutated by "evilution". Oh my.

By antaresrichard (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

:/ I'm a designer by day and I have to say, that symbol has some issues as a logo. It's too close to the @ sign and the lines are a bit on the fragile side. Not something I'd associate with 90% of the atheists I know. Most atheists are a bit more on the "definitive" side when it comes to personality. This is probably about all there is in common. Something so wispy seems out of place. I could see some bold, minimal version of this, something definitive and unmistakable at a glance.

WHY does it have to be an "A"??? Why not some blocky twist of DNA or something representative of light? As in enlightened? Why does there have to be a symbol at all? That A, while being the only recognized symbol of atheism, bears far too much resemblance to the silly "scarlet letter" and the "anarchy" symbol, both of which I doubt really represent atheism.

The christians have the cross, which is about as unmistakable and immediately recognizable as symbols get. Muslims have that crescent, again, a bold unmistakable symbol.

That swirly wispy A in a circle... lacks something. I'd send it back to her and tell her to send out about 25 more iterations and get some critiques from other designers, then present some suggestions. A good start though.

Nah, you'd just rather start up your own wacko superstitions... why borrow from other more successful traditions?

You mean the successful tradition called the Christian funeral? No thanks. That's been very successful for the undertakers. I would rather dispose of the worthless pile of garbage (the corpse) as cheaply as possible and be done with it. That doesn't mean I won't miss the dead person. I think about my dead parents every day. However I sure could use the thousands of dollars that were wasted on their Christian funerals, coffins, graves, flowers, and all the other successful traditions which have made the undertaker business a very lucrative racket.

Where's J or Pete or whoever the troll was a few weeks ago that kept trying to convince us Atheism was a cosmological argument? We could always propose a "C" to keep him happy but then that might get confused with Christianity so that won't work.
But the need for a symbol at all starts to work its way to the fingertips...If the cross is a universal Christian symbol then wouldn't a cross with a red circle around it and a line through it only denote not Christian and we are after something that symbolizes more than just not Christian. Now there's the argument of being anti-something and that isn't a good message, generally. "A"s make good symbols for Atheist. Now, what type of "A"? What type of Atheist? American Atheist Front? United Atheist Front? American Atheist Alliance? United Atheist Alliance? People for the Atheist Way? Citizens Against Non-Atheists?
How about, "No thank you"?
As in, "Want some cake?" "No thank you." There's no need to sport a non-cake symbol. Works the same for religion:
"Want god?" "No thank you."
"Want salvation?" "No thank you."
"Want poorly thought out myths?" "No thank you."

I live in a town with more than one professional sports team and a handful of college teams. I'm not a follower of any of them. I honestly don't feel the need for a non-team jersey.

100+ posts regarding what symbol you guys will use to represent and indentify yourselves?
Seems kind of silly. I think all you need to do is look for anyone with a maniacal bent against religious belief.
Easy to find too. Try this: you're at a restaurant and you want to know if there are other atheists in the room. You say something along the lines of, "well the Lord certainly blessed us with such a nice day outside". Then listen carefully for the insulting comments or the grinding of teeth.

Problem solved. Now you won't need to put your corny symbol up on a stick.

"ATHEIST" in block letters and encrusted in jewels, hanging from a thick gold chain sounds good to me.

I'm sure others have observed the Star Trek relationship already, so I shan't belabor the point. However, I will say that it would work nicely as the "flame" for an Atheist Unitarian Universalist's chalice.

By SisterCoyote (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I didn't get through all of the posts, but I did see some complaints that all of the symbols are either too "full of woo" or are too language dependent with a few interspersed comments about symbolizing a group that has as much in common with each other as people that don't collect stamps. So how about this for a symbol... either the boolean not symbol from computer science, the bang or '!'. Or we could go with the prepositional logical not, '~'. Both have no unnecessary symbology for conveying non-belief, both are language independent and both are simply symbols of the negative (just as atheism is just a symbol of the negative.

Just a thought.

I don't like the Darwin Fish. For one, I thought for a long time that it means "I'm a Christian who believes in evolution." Even if it is an erstwhile symbol for atheism, the easy confusion over the meaning makes it useless to me.

Like others, any symbol that's anglo-centric (i.e. based on the roman 'A') is not acceptable as an international symbol. Period. The Japanese word for atheism starts with "MU" (when romanized) for example, which is a common prefix over there meaning "without." This could be a good one for Western cultures, perhaps some European countries... but not internationally.

The search for a symbol will always be confounded by the nature of atheism, that's a statement of absence rather than presence. Sometimes I try to examine what I believe, and lately I've been coming back to:

"I believe in an objective reality."

But I'm sure there are atheists who would debate that. It's a hopeless cause. Evolution seems to be our most profound scientific theory to date, so let's just use the double helix and be done with it.

knucklebeak, you state it yourself.

Dickhead, I told you why they don't accept it as a symbol of Xianity. Being a smarmy asshole gets you nowhere.

It's not because they disagreed with respects to Christ; you even stated "as standing for the hated RCC".

If you weren't an ignorant smirking fuckwit, you'd know what I didn't tell you, the fact that they also oppose it because they think it's idolatrous (especially since "the crucifix" proper has a body attached, though the cross sans body is also said to go against the 2nd commandment).

It's how they believe the symbol to have been coopted.

Yes, which is why they don't accept it, tard. Why are you on our side, when you're an addled jackass?

Fail? Nice nerd-lingo.

Quick and accurate, lackwit.

You didn't do too great of a job yourself, homeboy.

And you say "fail" is nerd lingo? "Homeboy" is the quintessential nerd-speak, outside of some very well-known groups which own the term.

Other than non-sequiturs, irrational jabs, and mindless name-calling, you didn't even say anything. I was relatively polite to a complete moron. My mistake, idiots only respond with more lies, stupidity.

And no, I'm not likely to either read or respond to any more of your ignorant attacks, dumbass. You're not worth it, and the conversation has little left to it by now anyway.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

The image is actually much bigger, and much less jagged, than it appears in the article. If you're using Firefox, right click on the symbol, and choose "View Image" to see it full size. That way, you get the full effect.

For me, the full effect just elicits a shrug. Symbols tend to gain more meaning over time, as people adopt them. My guess is that some atheists will adopt this one, and others won't. Thankfully, our beliefs make that possible.

I like the use of the @ symbol that is used in E-mail addresses. It has the added advantage of once it gains traction as being the symbol for atheism, every time a religious person sends an E-mail they are reminded of our presence in the world. That would have to stick in their craw for them to have to use our symbol in their day to day electronic correspondence. ;-)

By Gene Goldring (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I'll tell you why we shouldn't use that: That's Criss Angel's symbol, you can see it at least once in every episode of Mindfreak.

Ok, not quite. But it's too close.

The symbol looks almost exactly like the anarchy symbol.

The symbol is spray paint friendly for graffiti purposes

Does anyone else find this sort of mysticism amusing in an atheist symbol? Can't we just draw a pretty picture without assigning arbitrary meanings to design features?

So, you're objecting to a symbol employing symbolism?

It looks an awful lot like the logo for the telecom company Alcatel-Lucent.

Oh, why not go for all these deep mathematical concepts at once:

e-iπ+1=0

What more do you need? God?

What's wrong with the Scarlet A that's been all across the internet for months now? I don't see why we need to hold a contest to choose a logo when we've already got one (a strongly symbolic one, at that) that arose organically.

Also, yeesh, it really does look like the Enterprise mission patch for the next Star Trek series.

Anyone remember that episode of "The Simpsons" when Homer was committed? They stamped all the patients with the word "INSANE" so they could spot them.

That's how I feel about group identity symbols like the crucifix, corpus, crescent and swatstika - they're the "INSANE" stamp.

Why are atheists bothering to think up a similar stamp for themselves?

Poor JimQ.

Why are wingnut trolls so intellectually challenged?
(My guess is that he doesn't even understand that is a rhetorical question.)

By mayhempix (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

As the pro-life/pro-choice folks demonstrate, if you're going to label yourself, pick something of which you're in favor.

Err, the anti-choice folks didn't do that.

nice work atheists! that you came up with an "A"-(in a)hole is truly inspired genius.

and as others have noted, it does look strikingly similar to the badge of the geeks. seriously, if you don't get sued by the roddenberry estate or suffer a vicious beatdown at the hands of a gang of wannabe Spocks, consider yourselves lucky. but really, keep up the great work... starting my morning off with a good chuckle, thanks.

Does anyone else find this sort of mysticism amusing in an atheist symbol?

Symbolism != mysticism.

By Quiet Desperation (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I find the Out Campaign "A" more elegant and attractive than this one. Though I'm not much for wearing symbols of my beliefs or lack thereof, I'd be much more likely to don the former.

I'm not entirely sure why people get up in arms about the whole thing because "atheism doesn't need a symbol". Sure, it doesn't, I agree. But there are a few good reasons why atheists might want one. For example, we might want one because we are a disparate community and sharing a symbol might make us seem -- to ourselves and to others -- more organized. We might want one because, especially in the States, there is a climate of intolerance toward atheism and it's important to make it clear that we're here, we're rational... Get used to it. We might also want one that we can wear as a pin, slap on the bumper of our cars, etc. because, just maybe, someone who's not sure that atheism's a real or viable position might ask about the symbol and be reassured in our explanations that there are other, better options.

Fascinating discussion. For what it's worth (probably not very much), I agree that whilst atheism is about being independant and free thinking, I think the idea of an atheist symbol, something to match the Cross, Star of David, Muslim crescent etc etc, is a good idea.

By our nature, atheists are not a co-ordinated group, which is partly why we are so under-represented on a national and global scale. If we're to free ourselves from the shackles of religious dogmas that still hold way over much of our daily lives (And, coming from the UK, I get off lightly on that), we need to start working together - not following mindlessly, but uniteing when the occasion requires. A symbol for that is a good idea.....

Rog

I'm one of the don't-see-the-pointers, but I always figured if we have to have one we should just use the null symbol: Ø

SeahH: I was just going to suggest the null as well. The two things I don't like about your reasons for the A are that it is western-biased and it links science and atheism. While many scientists are atheists, there are plenty of people who simply don't believe in god (and plenty of scientists who do). I get nervous about claiming such a strong link between science and atheism.

It's a nice design but I'd want to see the other designs since I personally think we could do better. I take it we're no using the Hydrogen atom anymore?

An A in a circle really is understood as the anarchy symbol, folks. You're kinda late to the show.

The more common representation of the anarchy symbol has the strokes of the "A" extending outside the circle. But still, you're inviting confusion.

If you think atheists get a lot of hassles, just try using this symbol in the Twin Cities during the upcoming (unspeakable) Repuglican convention. At least it'll guarantee plenty of attention.

By Voting Present (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Symbols I'll leave to the symbol minded.

As a pantheist I'll just wave a skillet around. Word for the wise, a symbol that can double as a weapon can be quite handy for when the rally gets exciting.

By Sarcastro (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Can I make it into a badge, pin it to my chest, tap on it, and have Scotty beam me up?

By defectiverobot (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

At #57, Torbjörn Larsson, OM provides an interesting alternative, "Parsimony is an important empirical principle and positive to boot, specially when chucking superfluous supernatural superstitions."

Any thoughts as to a symbol for parsimony? While I wouldn't wear a symbol for atheism, I don't see the point, I would wear one for the ideal of parsimony. It also may lead to more interesting discussions than simply a badge for atheism.

We'll all be dead in a 100 years anyway so what difference does it make?

By Arthur Davidso… (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Atheist as I may be, I will never follow an atheist flag. Why bother with a symbol for atheism, which needs no flag or slogan.

By kim boone (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

JimQ-Troll should know it's easier to identify an atheist by the key scratches and other signs of vandalism on any of their cars with the Darwin/evolve fish on them, courtesy of the good Christians.

I didn't read all the comments but I prefer the Dawkins' "Scarlet A". Also, my first thought was not Star Trek but rather that someone had started to draw a Pentagram (ala the Manson family) but was interrupted (by a bolt of lightning perhaps?) before they had finished the drawing.

By Arthur Dent (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I have to admit, I too first thought "Star Trek." But hey, what are the chances of getting a non-nerdy atheist symbol?

I agree with #198 by the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy character. The 'Scarlet A' looks better to me.

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

So atheists are actually star fleet officers....

This was my very first thought upon reading this post.

Nothing beats the "reality bites" fish (for me). Nothing. *pats car*

Hitek:

I still prefer the letter A with the infinity symbol making the bridge in the middle.

That would be Godfrey Temple's Affinity, Hitek.

One in red is here, or you can google "godfrey temple affinity site:scienceblogs.com" (without quotes) for other postings that have images, and he's also set up something on Cafe Press for t-shirts and stuff (godless pirates).

By minusRusty (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I think that the A symbols are based too much in etymology;

The DNA is scientific, while many atheists aren't particularly science-oriented.

The null Ø is not too shabby, I'd probably opt for an empty set, {}

It is easy to write, one can put it in any font/style, and it really represents atheism - that the set of supernatural entities is empty.

By Epinephrine (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

This is retarded.

Do people who don't believe in astrology have a logo?

By info_dump (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Since there's so much interest here in representation non-believers express themselves by, perhaps it wouldn't be too out of place to mention the survey being carried out at Tyson K's TruthIsAWoman blog, which takes about two minutes (unless you wanna write an essay in the "other" boxes) to describe your preferences in verbal rubrics (not just for unbelievers, btw).

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Star Trek

The null Ø is not too shabby, I'd probably opt for an empty set, {}

If we're going with sets, I'd prefer the Reals, the positive implication being that we're the reality-based community. (Inclusive of weak atheists / "agnostics", and reflecting both rationality and empiricism.) The negative implication would be that we don't go for the imaginary stuff.

Like the R in this jpg:

http://www.mathsisfun.com/sets/images/number-sets.gif

By itself, it'd just be an R and look like a monogram. In a circle, it'd be the "registered trademark" symbol. It'd need something else.

I like it. But then, I'm a nerd. And a former Star Trek nut. (no time for any of that in my world now!)

I like the idea of a symbol of some sort (actually going to get the 'Scarlet Letter' ala Dawkins tattooed on my person) simply to differentiate myself from the sheeple around me at a glance. I want to be sure they KNOW that I am not of their tribe, that I don't agree with them, and that I look down on them.

Because I'm not, and I don't and I do.

An "A" inside a hole or "A-HOLE". THe perfect symbol for some of you guys!

Re: 58

I agree with you. It probably took a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears for most people to come around to the idea of secular humanism. I'd assume that when they see Sam Harris "denouncing" their newfound intellectual freedom, they had a knee-jerk reaction and immediately retaliated. This type of response is exactly the kind of reaction that Harris doesn't want to be associated with. To Harris and others (including myself) Atheism is a result of someone gaining the ability to replace old ideas with new, and to do so without coming to blows. There are both logical and illogical reasons for becoming an "Atheist", and I don't think Harris wants to be associated with the latter.

By Mike Spear (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I like it! Quick! To the tatoo parlor!

This is probably the most trivial of objections so far, but here goes. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that despite it being designed to look like a single pen stroke, it is actually pretty awkward to draw, it just doesn't "flow" right.

Close that @ thing and you'd have a nice key chain.

Looks nice. Like we're members of the Federation. Awesome.
But nah, I'm one of those who disagree with the idea of a symbol. Shouldn't think it will catch on, no matter how lovely it looks, but you never know. My question is, who thinks this symbol is better than the symbol for the Brights?
Question for "Baba" - what the fuck is an A-HOLE? Is that like an arsehole? As in, a browneye idiot who marches into a discussion by a group the idiot doesn't agree with and proceeds to insult people? Yeah. Describes us well.

I don't like it because it is a letter. The other symbols that are running through my head aren't symbols.

The scepter and snake thingy for doctors.
The scales for law
the pharmacy symbol... kind of a letter but not one you could confuse.
Several political parties.
Various civic groups, masons, shriners, etc.

Of course all the religious symbols that I am aware of.

Not to mention a fair number of words begin with the letter A. Someone that didn't know what it was could easily misconstrue it to mean something else.

I think it should be an image that brings to mind rational thinking...

I am not saying I know what it should be, just that I don't like this one.

By Cardinal Shrew (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

...what the fuck is an A-HOLE?. Is that like an arsehole?

Yes.

"Posted by: Baba | August 11, 2008 4:09 PM

An "A" inside a hole or "A-HOLE". THe perfect symbol for some of you guys!"

Wow, you're really bringing the blog to it's knees with that razor-sharp wit.

By Toddahhhh (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Wow, you're really bringing the blog to it's knees with that razor-sharp wit.

Blogs have knees?

Hooray for you if you have gotten this far. I like the Dawkins A and the @ sort of A and even the Atomic A. But, none of these work in every language. Someone (sorry, I just can't scroll up again), suggested a blocky DNA twist. Now THAT has possibilities. I think the double helix is recognizable throughout the world now, and while it is not specifically atheist, it does indeed denote "Nature." I don't think you can get more positive than that.

By Lee Picton (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

it should be one that offends and bothers the LEAST number of atheists possible.

Umm, to be nitpicky, what voting method did you use? If you used simple plurality voting, you won't necessarily have identified the least offensive one. You'd need to use a Borda count, or perhaps approval voting to identify that particular standard. (Since I've never thought about "least offensive" as the yardstick, and haven't had enough sleep, I'm not sure at the moment which is more applicable--perhaps someone else can correct me if I'm wrong or imprecise.)

Not that I really care which symbol is chosen (I'll stick with the anarchist A, which doesn't necessarily connote atheism, myself), I just wanted to be nitpicky on the technical matters. Voting methods as a subject of close mathematical study is a well-developed field, dating back to 18th century France.

#9 sez:

What I do like about it is that it could be made from a single piece of metal without soldering...

My first thought was that it looked like a paperclip. I would love to use clips shaped like this, rather than my boring old paper clips. I know I've seen circular clips that are closer to the @ than this one, but couldn't find a good pic:
http://www.figmentsdesign.com/images/store/cavallini_clips.jpg

For "R", as in "the set of real numbers", there is this HTML entity:

(ℜ)

Personally, I generally don't care for identifying symbols. If I did, I would look for something to emphasize skepticism/freethought/secular humanism rather than atheism per se.

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I like it.

But gorshalmighty aren't you people a bunch of crabby nitpickers!

(I mean that in the nicest way; I love crabby nitpickers.)

Anyway startrekity, @ness and bentwirehood all seem to me to be features, not bugs.

It sure beats the "Nuclear Waste" symbol. Oh, and Agnostics don't get a symbol simply because they haven't decided for sure what's going on around them.

I like this symbol. But the real test is whether it catches on or not, sort of like the pasta test. Throw it at the wall and see if it sticks. So let's give it a whirl and see what happens.

Star Trek? Is that program still on? I haven't seen that since I stopped smoking dope in 1972.

By Charles Minus (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Gotta agree with the folks who think it's too Star Trek-ish. Besides, I'm still in the apostasy closet.

By dwarf zebu (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Ignore the Baba troll.

It's a fucktard.

I will stick with the American Atheist symbol in red which I better since it is tattooed on my shoulder.

Spinoza #159

"ATHEIST" in block letters and encrusted in jewels, hanging from a thick gold chain sounds good to me.

Hommie don't wear no bling.

Pretentious and tacky. It'll fit perfectly with the new commercialized, country-club atheism so frequently instantiated on this blog.

"I will stick with the American Atheist symbol... since it is tattooed on my shoulder."

Tool.

Good try, still kind of bland. I think we should drop the A and do something more metaphorical, like a bursting soap bubble, or some other essense of negative space. Meanwhile, ROFL:

Posted by: D | August 11, 2008 10:32 AM
So atheists are actually star fleet officers....

^ ROFL

commercialized, country-club atheism

As opposed to what? The elitist, faculty-club atheism of Bertrand Russel?

You sound like a pouty kid whose favorite indie band signed with a major, so, naturally, they all of a sudden suck. Life's hard.

Thanks for keepin' it real.

Religious symbols are so much more cutting edge.

I think this symbol by the band Disturbed looks way cooler. It has the symbols for Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Wicca(?) all tied together with horns making implicit in the symbol the evil of religion. That and it's just cool as shit imho, lol.

By Dreadneck (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Atheism, in my opinion, is a set of non-beliefs where the conclusion of the thought process is the lack or infinitesimally small probability that a god or gods exist. Having a belief in something, even a belief that god doesn't exist puts you in groups of other individuals who also believe. This can be defined as religion.

Because of the problems that have arisen over the thousands of years religion and beliefs, I don't think atheism should become a religion nor have symbols associated with it. Eventually it then becomes a belief structure, and "belief" is where all the closed-mindedness comes from.

Thank you, but I will not be participating in the atheism religion.

That and it's just cool as shit imho, lol.

Dude!! Props!! Shit is way cool bro!!

I like the general idea but have a few qualms.

One: the thing is not easy to draw. Try drawing a peace symbol and an anarchy symbol and then try the atheism symbol. I think what you'll find is that the atheism symbol looks unspecific in comparison. Being unspecific makes it feel wishy-washy.

Two: The varying stroke weights and the 'hand-drawn' flourishes make it feel unprofessional.

Three: Take a look at the identities section here: http://www.cgstudionyc.com/ and then compare to the new symbol. Do you feel a certain lack of boldness in atheism symbol?

By Monostereo (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Since I am American and the first Atheist symbol to come out in America was the American Atheist symbol that should be the main symbol for Atheists in America. Besides it doesn't look science fiction or gaudy like this one does.

@#213 - aww come on now... i beat you with the "A-hole" reference by like 30+ posts! nice try though... still good laughs.

@#213 - aww come on now... i beat you with the "A-hole" reference by like 30+ posts! nice try though... still good laughs.

Ooops! Missed that one!

My vote for an atheist symbol? The slashed zero that denotes the empty set in set theory. :)

/mathematical, appropriate meaning, and easily mounted on a tall stick.

-- Pheathers

By horse-pheathers (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

My vote for an atheist symbol? The slashed zero that denotes the empty set in set theory.

Geek. LOL! :)

By Dreadneck (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I don't care for it. As other people have mentioned upwards of 30 times, it's too similar to the star trek insignia. I'm not worried that people might think I'm a trekkie and conclude I'm a geek, I'm more worried that people might think I'm a trekkie and not realise that I'm an atheist, which was the whole point of the symbol.

By Bartlettman (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Jason #241,
"Having a belief in something, even a belief that god doesn't exist puts you in groups of other individuals who also believe. This can be defined as religion."

"Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color." - Don Hirschberg

jp #245
"@#213 - aww come on now... i beat you with the "A-hole" reference by like 30+ posts! nice try though... still good laughs"

And Paul W. beat you to it by more than 100+ posts (specifically comment #55).

By Feynmaniac (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

My vote for an atheist symbol? The slashed zero that denotes the empty set in set theory.

I vote for a Stalin moustache over a hammer and sickle!

Since I am American and the first Atheist symbol to come out in America was the American Atheist symbol that should be the main symbol for Atheists in America. Besides it doesn't look science fiction or gaudy like this one does.

I don't think the new symbol was intended to be just for Americans... though I could be wrong.

By JonathanL (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Atheism, in my opinion, is a set of non-beliefs where the conclusion of the thought process..."

Incoherent. Try again.

Put me down for the empty set symbol.

{Maths} ∩ {Atheism} = Matheism

By Bartlettman (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Thanks, . :)

-- Pheathers

/what, "Geek" isn't a compliment? o_O

By horse-pheathers (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

"You sound like a pouty kid whose favorite indie band signed with a major, so, naturally, they all of a sudden suck. Life's hard."

Your symbol is lame. So that means I must be a "pouty kid" with "favorite indie bands". Or something.

Uh huh. Makes perfect sense.

Thanks, Dreadneck, I meant. Gah!

-- Pheathers

By horse-pheathers (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I think the double helix is recognizable throughout the world now, and while it is not specifically atheist, it does indeed denote "Nature."

What about geology, huh? Damned anti-rock bigots.

Your symbol is lame.

It's certainly not my symbol. And it is pretty lame, to tell the truth. I simply found it humorous that someone would decry "commercialized, country-club atheism," as if the apparent upswing in the popularity of an idea, or the "out-ness" of its adherents, would be a bad thing.

NO A'S! I already have a couple different types of A's in various places around my house, etc. that are supposed to designate support for the Arts. Who the hell can keep up with which font type and color every "A" they see is supposed to represent?
I have to admit that even though I'm a designer, I don't have a good suggestion for what to use at this point, but the letter "A" in just about any form is weak.

Maybe I'll sit down over a coffee or cocktail (depending on the time of day)soon, and try to come up with something, but no matter what, all you who find this to be a decent logo need to expect more from your symbols.

The scepter and snake thingy for doctors.

I can never remember how to spell 'caduceus' either.

Entity: ?( ☤ )

or 'staff of Aesculapius':

Entity: ? ( ⚕ )

The scales for law

Entity:? ( ⚖ )

the pharmacy symbol.

Entity: ? ( ℞ )

By Owlmirror (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Dear CJO,

Please stop whining.

Sincerely,
Chuck

I get the idea behind making a symbol to "out" your atheist self. I just can't get *that* beyond the idea that I don't think a symbol is needed, however. Both this circular A and the red A used by PZ and Dawkins and others are pretty unoriginal and boring. Plus, you know the next argument against us atheists will be that they indeed do have a religion because they create icons to signify things or communicate concepts. I also predict that there will be a rash of public burnings/defacings/effigies of the atheist symbol by the religious. They'll probably even find audiobook versions of Dawkins' book and steamroll them in the streets.

Not that anything has ever stopped the religious from acting like baffoons before when enraged by something, but I just don't get the symbol thing for athesism, I guess.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

To: chuck
From: CJO
cc: Pharyngula
Re: Your recent communication

It has come to my attention that you are a dickhead.

Thank you for your interest in demonstrating this fact beyond any reasonable doubt. However, due to the great volume of dickheadedness on blogs and on the web in general, I am afraid that I will be able to spare no further attention for your antics.

I wish you success in all your future displays of misplaced hostility and self-righteous indignation.

I prefer to trivialize theism rather than exaggerate its importance. A symbol for "atheism" just helps prop up the myth that whether or not a person beleives in a god is a supremely important, deeply consequential thing to know about her/him. No thanks.

I have no "commitment" to athiesm; my commitment is to reality. Atheism is just one of many consequences of the this commitment, and not more or less important than any other. Give me a symbol for Reality instead.

I agree w/ #8...works for agnostics too (and some Star Fleet officers ARE agnostics...tho it's don't ask, don't tell)

I'll just continue to use the flying spaghetti monster, thanks.

Kirk: 'It looks like the anti-aliasing ray didn't work, Scotty.'

Scotty: 'Ya nae kin just blow up a low rez image and expect it not expect to be all pixelly, Cap'n. If ye'd giv'n me more than 10 minutes to do the job, I could've made it all pretty for ya. You're just lucky it didn't get stuck in the warp manifold and blow us all up.'

Spock: 'It's quite primitive, but fascinating. I think it will be serviceable.'

I can't decide if it looks like a fishing hook that got away, a fanged Pac Man, or Old Harry's barbed tail mutated by "evilution". Oh my.

I thought of a fishhook, too; appropriate as we are often accused of baiting Christians.

We'll all be Atlanta Braves fans!!! Yay!!!

I liked the IPU symbol better, because it was funny. Only the funny symbols worth it (too bad pastafarians aren't atheists... ;) )

Otherwise, I'd rather have no symbol. Atheism is all about individuality. We're not a group, we really are a temporary (that may be long in fact) reactionary alliance to religious bigotry.

Thank you for posting this! I was trying to create some shirt/sticker/button designs and had discovered the American Atheist symbol was protected. This is just what I needed!

No, we shouldn't need a symbol, but we do.

How about ¬ for our symbol? The logical not is a perfect description.

By erik Remkus (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Greg Esres @ #37:

Personally, I'd prefer a symbol for rationality, rather than atheism.

How about a magnifying glass? Simple, obvious symbolism, easy to depict with varying degrees of detail from circle-and-line to photo versions.

Posted by: Kseniya (No: 37)

".... I hate myself...."

Kseniya! Don't hate yourself!! That's the fundy christians' job.

By Katkinkate (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I have the American Atheist logo on my arm. I knew it wasn't "THE" logo for atheists...at the time it was still up in the air. Oh well...I like it anyways and that's all that counts.

But, ya know...so I'm following the masses blindly I might as well go get the "OFFICIAL" logo tattooed somewhere now...lol

By Goldfishflakes (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Oh! And the #37 comment reminded me...

I do have the Japanese symbol for Reason & Logic on my forearm. I was going through the transition from fundie to atheist and wanted a daily reminder to stay strong and rational. I get a lot of comments on it. It intrigues many I suppose...

By Goldfishflakes (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Looks rather trickier to draw with a saber than Zorro's logo.

-jcr

By John C. Randolph (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I cast my vote for commandeering the @ sign.

Any similarity to Trek symbols is a big plus for me.

Perhaps the agnostic symbol could be much the same except for a short vertical from the bottom so that the 'A' is surrounded by a question mark?

By Ian H Spedding FCD (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Blue Independent #264 wrote:

I also predict that there will be a rash of public burnings/defacings/effigies of the atheist symbol by the religious.

That would be AWESOME! I think you just clinched the pro-symbol argument, BI.

Seriously, I not only expect, but welcome, controversy. I think a diversity of strategies from atheists is a good idea in plenty of areas, including this one.

It has been a bit funny, though, to read through all the posts and find out that the symbol looks "just like" about 4 or 5 different things. And virtually everything that was suggested here as an alternative was brought up and debated, in several groups. It wasn't just AAI involved.

Of course it can be tweaked a bit -- and probably will be. The goal was to have something recognizable people could copy and make for themselves. If you think it looks too much like the Star Trek logo, then don't put it on a button and stick it on your left chest.

Isn't that symbol already copyrighted by the Aleprechaunist of America? I can see why people who don't believe in leprechauns would need such a symbol. I'm not sure why atheists do.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I agree that atheism doesn't need a symbol; I know people have said there isn't a symbol for the disbelief of astrology or pixies, but I think the better comparison is that there isn't a symbol for arapism or amurderism, which is something no-one feels necessary to advertise because it's the way it should be.

To be perfectly honest I hope the term atheist dies out and we get to see this scene play out all over the world:

Kid: (looking up from history book) Grandad, what's an...atheist?
Grandad: I haven't heard anyone use that word for years. It's someone who doesn't believe in a god or gods.
Kid: (blinks) what's a...god?
Grandad: I don't think you'd believe me if I told you...

Yeah, it's probably a pipe-dream. But you gotta have hope.

Anyway, I don't have a problem with there being atheist groups - especially for furthering political causes like secularism - and if they want a symbol that's fine with me. But, as the dissenting posts illustrate, it's foolish to expect the unherdable cats to be rounded up and branded with it...

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Kinda looks like a nose.

Looks like the Schnoz Society could adopt this symbol as well.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

Looks too much like the anarchy symbol. Besides, I don't need a symbol to tell people who I am.

Eh, I kind of like it. Yes, I understand the arguements for not having any symbol and they make good sense -- But if atheists want any kind of recognition, a symbol could serve as a rallying point. Besides, it kind of looks like the Star Trek symbol and as a closet trekkie that makes me smile a little.

Given the A-for-adultery thing that Dawkins plays off, I suppose it could be an adulterated communion wafer.

But as an empirical scientist, all I can say for sure is that there's a dark ring around your A-ness.

I agree with Sastra that it really is just a meme war and that's fine by me. While I have no need for this symbol (I actually sport the 'scarlet A' on my blog) I have no qualms with those who like it and I have no qualms with those who want no symbol at all. While I agree with the political argument for a symbol, it isn't life and death (or dogma) to have one, but it is helpful for those who wish to identify with others of like mind.

As for the symbolism of the symbol, I think that those who wish for something that identifies someone as rational/empirical/whathaveyou, don't need to be so literal about the choice of symbol itself. An 'A' could do just as well as an 'e' or any other letter or symbol. As symbol choosers it is also up to us to decide what the symbol means beyond it's literal meaning. Many, many, a symbol has no connection to it's literal root, but is more tied to the ideological stance of those who adopted it. A cross itself only represents crucifixion, but we all know that it holds more symbolic meaning than that. In our own case, the scarlet A, for those who have adopted it, has come to identify more than simple negation of the idea of god, but additionally the movement started by Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens and Harris and everything they (and dare I say we?) have in common: Reason, science, and empiricism, to name a few, as well as the simple atheism inherent in the 'A'.

Also, for those who have made one particular argument, having an identifying symbol is not a religious rip off or a mimicking of that which we wish to oppose. Religion did not invent the idea of identifying symbols. Nor would engaging in community efforts and activities be a rip off of church functions. it is perfectly reasonable for some people to want one, and also perfectly acceptable for others to not. But adopting one is not to mimic the religious. It is to simply identify.

I guess that's what we should remember. The conversation of "what symbol should we have" is really only for those who want to be identified by one. Because for those who don't personally want one, they already get their way.

By Michael X (not verified) on 11 Aug 2008 #permalink

I have to say that you nail it here:

Yes, the "group" is diverse and technically defined only by a negative

In other words, atheism is the complement of theism, not a competing ideology. (Ooops, there goes the the "fundamental atheist" bs out the window!) However, I think it is accurate to say that the designation is most frequently understood by theists as having more positive meaning than atheists typically give it. In fact, I believe that this struggle for a common "atheist" identity is entirely the product of the attempts by theists to use atheism as a foil to theism, which it most certainly isn't.

While I have no problem in identifying myself with people who are hostile to the idea of poorly justified irrational beliefs, I don't think atheism is the proper umbrella. Atheism is to me simple absence of acceptance of theism. I'm extremely hostile to the idea that we ought to accept the confines of the boxes theists draw for ourselves.

However, I'm not namby pamby about the whole thing. I just think we ought to allow room under the atheist umbrella for those who lack belief but aren't hostile to the irrational beliefs of others. For example, for those of us (and here at Pharyngula, we are legion) who believe in rejecting (not just failing to accept) religion, I think it is more logical to identify ourselves as something like rationalists or evidentialists, or something like that.

Many of my atheist friends really don't give a shit about what other people believe as long as it isn't enshrined in law, and they hesitate to even point out the flaws of religious thinking, even though they see them as clearly as we do. Yet they still very much consider themselves atheists. In light of this acknowledged diversity among atheists, shouldn't we instead look for a more homogeneous subset to find positive identifiers for? Why should a group of people who only share an absence of religion be identified with an essentially positive marketing strategy that seeks to bind them together in the same way religious nuts try to do?

we don't have an identity and we don't need a symbol

use it as the symbol for the atheist alliance, i don't want to be associated with a bunch of dorks wearing starfleet comms

If there was a single word to describe my views about god(s) it would probably be 'apatheist'. So I guess that, using the 'not collecting stamps as a hobby' analogy, I won't be joining any 'not collecting stamps club'.

No matter how well intended initially, it seems to me that clubs get taken over by people driven by their own personal agendas. Charity bosses pay themselves huge salaries, priests dress themselves in silk, politicians become corrupt, and all support the ongoing existence of their 'club' rather than the original purpose of the club.

So I'm quite happy for people to adopt the Scarlet A or the Secular Star Trek symbol. I'll know who to avoid, even though they may hold similar views to mine.

By DiscoveredJoys (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

I think we most assuredly do need a symbol. I think we need to arrange meetings in as many towns as we can. I think that the days of "cat herding" must end or the days of secular liberty definately will. I would love to see the day when a tall steeple pierces the skyline of my town with the letter A where the letter T once sat. A community where atheists could go to become excited about life, about human potential, without the gods of legends. A community that could fight back against the rising tide of ignorant religiosity and demand equality. A community that can help answer; if there are no gods, what is there? Perhaps many of you think there is no such need. Many of you perhaps dismiss the symbol as petty. I even read how one person was irritated that someone else had chosen the symbol he/she was asked to support, as if such a choosing was different than the choosing of the flags they honor, the money they spend, or the language they use. To these people I ask this: What then shall we do to defend our rights to be atheists? How do we stop the beheadings of our secular brothers and sisters and keep the beheadings from our shores? As a million individual battles of 1 vs 10^100? I would like to borrow a quote from one of the greatest (yet failing) secular movements. United we stand, divided we fall.

Atheism is only one side of me. Do I need a symbol for my gender? For the job I perform? For my musical and literary tastes?

All of these things say something about me, and all of them are more or less important to my identity, but I have never felt a need to reduce any of them to a symbol that I need to identify with or display. That's just me.

... and actually I don't think it's a bad idea to have anti-ideology symbols. I'm totally against communism for which the symbol should be a ghostbusters version of Che. So now I need a version for Christianity, Islam and all the other wacky ideologies out there. Does it define who I am, no. I would not be showing them to define what group I belonged to. I would be using them to define what ideologies I didn't believe in.

The main problem I have with an atheist symbol is that there are vast numbers of you who I vehemently disagree with on some very important issues. If you are a pro-marxist atheist you might as well be a Nazi as far as I'm concerned. Your ideology has certainly resulted in more mass murder.

So no I don't want to associate myself with other atheists merely on the fact we don't believe in something, unless that something is identified. Sure a communist and I both don't believe in promoting say not using land mines, so then if there is a symbol that represents a movement against that then I'm all for it. Then I don't mind standing side by side with them in such a cause.

By Brian Macker (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

Something I've always been curious about:

How the hell did the ANARCHISTS come up with a symbol?

Sastra asked:

How the hell did the ANARCHISTS come up with a symbol?

Ack! Too early in the morning for this! Here's a quick history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchist_symbolism

The problem seems to be that people's understanding of anarchism is still shaped by the punks or something. Anarchism is a political philosophy and family of social movements that reject imposed authority and promote local self-organization and participatory democratic decision-making in all spheres of life, including the economic. While anarchism is founded upon individual freedom, it does not reject cooperation, and in fact anarchist social organization is impossible without it.

Historically, the black flag has been the main (anti-)symbol of anarchists (also the black/red flag, which hundreds of thousands of Spanish anarchosyndicalists fought under during the Spanish Civil War and Revolution). Anarchists haven't lacked creativity or the capacity for collaboration, and many anarchist unions and other organizations have had their own symbolism, not to mention musical and other artistic representations. (By the way, we already use the @ sign. :)) However, we have long been - like many people here - wary of the "branding," simplifying, homogenizing, and more coercive aspects of symbols. I'm not big on them (though I do have an 'A' necklace that I wear from time to time), and this seems to be the case with most anarchists, although I've not done any formal study of the matter.

If anyone's interested in an overview of anarchism, a good place to start is here:

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/britanniaanarch…

Daniel Guérin's Anarchism is also decent:

http://www.zabalaza.net/pdfs/varpams/anarchism_dg.pdf

Feynmaniac #250:

It's not atheism that is the religion. It's the group of people with the same beliefs that make the religion. Then the next thing you know, only the "true" atheists can use this symbol and others are shunned.

My thought is that atheism is about the reason of individuals.

Plus "bald" isn't a hair color, it's a hair style. ;)

ACK! It does look a lot like Criss Angel's logo...

By Goldfishflakes (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

Jason,
You will admit of course that not every group of people with like-minded beliefs constitutes a religion, yes? Baseball teams (and their fans), political parties, scientists in the same field, etc., all share common beliefs about certain subjects while none would truly be considered a 'religion' without abusing the word.

While I understand your fear of creating in-group, out-group tensions among a group of people already in the minority, I don't see how anyone can dictate who is or who isn't a "true atheist" seeing as atheists respect no central authority. That's the beauty of the whole thing. Take it if you like it, leave it if you don't.

By Michael X (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

While I can understand some of the arguments against a symbol, I don't accept that because you have one symbol, you must have a symbol for everything that you believe. So no, you might not have a symbol for aleprechaunism, but even if you did, that would hardly be seen as a summation of everything you are.

Symbols surround us every day, and always have. Because a pilot wears a button with wings, or a doctor wears a caduceus pin, or a Cowboys fan wears a big silver and blue star does not mean that there is nothing else to that person. In fact, the same person might be wearing all of those.

Symbols serve as a shorthand to express a belief, an idea, a position. The anarchist's A, the democratic donkey/republican elephant, the Ford Motors cross, the Starbucks mermaid, and so on ad infinitum. Each of these things may carry different meanings to different people, but they are all laden with emotion, history, thoughts and ideas. Whether the BMW logo represents success, style, advances and affluence or pretentiousness, expense, waste and asshattery will depend on your background, history, your ideals and so on, but it will nevertheless convey a great deal of meaning to you in seconds.

Personally, I think that the days of ignoring religion are over. I don't think that we (meaning non-believers in general) can afford to continue to sit idly by, looking down our noses at believers and scoffing while they destroy the world around us. I think that the time has come for us to not just disbelieve, but to actively promote disbelief--to move from simply "not believing" to "outright rejecting". And for that, we most certainly do need a symbol of some sort.

I also think that people are somehow thinking that if someone says they like this (or any symbol) as a symbol of atheism then they, as atheists, are required to wear it. This is ridiculous on its face; even Xtians aren't required to wear a cross or fish.

And while such a thing may not be necessary in Canada and Europe (because, based on comments in this thread, there are apparently no outspoken religions or fundamentalist believers anywhere outside of America) it is very necessary here. The whole question of whether or not ID should be taught still hasn't been settled--and as long as non-believers and atheists continue to not believe rather than actively reject religion, it won't be.

That is what a symbol is for--to let the believers know (to borrow a line from another movement) that "We Are Everywhere"

By Mr.Pendent (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

The Dawkins scarlet A is the one I wear. So far not one person in Oregon has recognized it...*sigh*

It looks too much like the anarchists' A:

http://www.google.com/search?q=anarchist+symbol

And yeah, this bit is so much 'woo':

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.

I predict this idea never gets any momentum.

Aaron wrote:

You fool!
We aren't the "Atheist Alliance" we're the "The Alliance of Atheists"! THAT is the most logical!

(if you don't get this-- you need to catch up on your south park. :P)

Actually, that joke is originally from Monty Python's The Life of Brian.

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?
Reg: Fuck off! We're the People's Front of Judea

Michael X #309

Actually I'd argue that the way people blindly follow politics, and the sometimes tendency for bad science to originate from blind ambitions would constitute a religion.

Not to become the dictionary troll but I would say it fits along the lines of "A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion".

I have colleagues with personal experience of showing a scientist that the phenomenon that they have been measuring is an artifact only to quickly be disregarded because of their beliefs. Then just as quickly leaving that lab.

"Take it if you like it, leave it if you don't."

Exactly. :) I just won't be joining Atheists Anonymous meeting anytime soon.

When I saw the symbol before reading the article the first thing I said is "oh something about star trek"...

This is basically the classic star trek insignia in a circle, you can call it the "atheist symbol" all you want. I'll pass. I alreay have a star trek pin. I don't need another one. FAIL.

Count me in the "no need for a symbol crowd". Symbols aren't important--as an atheist I am interested in reality, in seeing the world as it is. I suppose there are some symbols one could come up with to represent that but why bother?

Here ya go.
You can have yer DNA (actually, in this case, RNA) and yer "A" in one.
Put a circle around it and a phaser in its, uh, hydroxyl group and I think we're done here.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 12 Aug 2008 #permalink

The very word 'atheist' is a symbol. It's negative form is a result of the word being applied in a pejorative way when it was first used: Greek for the modern "godless" insult. I know, many of us deny any insult and revel in the name "godless heathen." I also know many people do not identify with the atheist label, despite fitting its definition. This symbol is not for you. This symbol is for people who wish to identify as an atheist proudly.

I think this symbol will miss the mark, though not for many of the reasons given here. I think if there is going to be a strong movement of uniting atheists to push religion out of world politics and science, then any symbol rising from that will be more of an accident. The reason is that there is already a symbol gaining favor that is designed to carry atheists from the closet.

The Scarlett Letter is currently being used to get people to come out. It is a way one atheist can walk down any street and let other atheists know they are not alone. I think this symbol will gain favor as it will serve as a reminder of the days when atheists had to fight against intolerance and fear and risk losing friends and family, when they could just hide their thoughts and pretend.

But I would like to re-emphasize: Nobody is asking YOU to wear this symbol, or to identify with other atheists in any way (though one would wonder why you would be on this board). What is being asked is do those atheists wanting to identify as a group and claim some political power want to wear this symbol? To that, my answer is yes, if this will be agreed upon to a large enough extent.

Why do you need a symbol ? This defeats the very reason for being an athiest, not belonging to any philosophy, religion association or a group.

As an athiest i don't want to belong anywhere.

Has any one pointed out that this looks exactly like Chris Angels symbol?

minusRusty:

Thanks!

say, chums, anyone else noticed the similarity to the Star Trek insignia lol? Or, I'm sure it's just me, but doesn't Chriss or Criss or Kris Angel or Angell have a logo just like this? Really? Nobody else has noticed this?

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 15 Aug 2008 #permalink

>So atheists are actually star fleet officers....

No, since Star Fleet is in the future, I suggest they borrowed the symbol from atheists, who came up with it centuries earlier. (Or they're really into Chriss Angel in the future.)

AWESOME!!!!! I love having my fellow atheists fighting against injustice from Christians. I actually get harassment from classmates about how 'god is godly'. Geez, give me a break! You know, they actually saw me looking at this and said that it looks like an @ (at) symbol only capitol letter. Whatever. I like it!