Several people have griped about the in-your-face and not-useful nature of the American Atheists billboard in Times Square (see below). I agree that it’s not well done, though I think it’s better to have some public display of atheism than none. But that one could have been much better.
So, I suggest that you submit your atheist slogan for a billboard below (you can also suggest layouts, illustrations, etc.). Maybe the FFRF could use some help with their billboards! If there’s a really good one, I’ll send the commenter an autographed copy of WEIT.
I liked one reader’s suggestion that the best billboards will awaken the somnolent doubts of believers, and maybe put them over the tipping point of doubt. So here’s my suggestion:
What’s yours? (Keep posting; I’ll look at them in a week.) If you’re a former believer, what would have started your mind working?
223 thoughts on “Make your own atheist billboard”
How about a cartoon of Noah’s Ark featuring dinosaurs and kangaroos that says “How Do YOU Know? Were YOU There?”
And how did the bloody kangaroos get from Turkey to Australia anyway? And besides, there were at least five (I think) other civilizations at the time of the alleged flood who apparently didn’t notice it was happening!
Re: the Flood. It is of course fiction and therefore you can not talk about what civilizations existed when it happened.
It was written by the P (priestly) source in the OT, probably in the late 6th century BCE. The same guy responsible for the promise to Noah, Abraham’s covenant with God, the Tabernacle rules, ideas on the priesthood, Levitical laws of holiness and diet and the bringing of the Israelites under God’s domination.
There are 2 OT Flood stories, like there are 2 creation stories: they were probably worked into Genesis some time just before BCE 400 by a later editor.
In BCE 1700 Babylonia, we have the name of a scribe, not an author, who recounts a Flood story. 1200 years separate the two tales, the years between us and the writing of Beowulf. Is one Flood story an echo of the other? Who knows?
Btw. abeastwood, if you want to know about proper academic history and chronology of the ancient Judah/Judea, here is a mini-bibliography.
The Unauthorized Version – Robin Lane Fox – atheist, who rather interestingly describes himself as ‘conservative’ about dating e.g. he has early dates for the 4 Gospels. A long, gentle, very Oxbridge skewer.
The Historical Figure of Jesus – E.P. Sanders – pretty Ehrmanish, not so well-known, probably liberal Christian, but sufficiently honest and rigorous to be worthy of rational opposition.
The Bible Unearthed – Israel Finkelstein & Neil Silverman – and you can tell where they’re from – utterly brilliant forensic contrast of Syro-Palestinian archaeology with the OT text.
I’ve been meaning to get around to making a series of images where koalas are hiking and kayaking home from the flood. Wearing little L.L. Bean backpacks, probably.
For me, it was the problem of evil that first got me doubting.
Especially pain and suffering from geological disasters (volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.) with the realization that these phenomena exist all through the universe, not just on earth “damaged by sin”.
Yes! I think this is the demographic we can win over easily – the ones that see the illogic in thinking their god influences worldly affairs and therefore have developed a cognitive dissonance about it as there seem to be a hefty number of these people, according to the stats Jerry posted earlier.
Since I’m all about going after those that you can influence and doing so by using statistics, If you showed images of several recent disasters then overlaid the statistics of people who believe god views the events on earth but does nothing about it or that god does not view events on earth. Then, end it with, maybe there really is not god!
No god. D’oh and please excuse my other stupid mistakes – I have a cold because Jesus is punishing me near Xmas 😀 or some stupid jerk spread a pathogen.
My money’s on the second explaination!
I agree; tsunamis killing hundreds of thousands of people does not square with a loving god. Bart Ehrman of tarnished reputation wrote “Gods Problem” and explains that this is what turned him into an atheist (he doesn’t use that word). I think the continued flourishing of evil people is just as perplexing under their paradigm. How can someone like Rupert Murdoch or countless bankers and financiers wax wealthier and more powerful by the minute while they perpetrate misery upon those so much less well off than themselves.
I have no idea how to capture this in a sign, but a key element in my own ceasing to believe was becoming palpably aware of the huge honesty gap between religious authority figures, for whom it is apparently not a lie if it is for Jesus, and the typical non-believer and especially scientists.
Not exactly what you describe, and maybe too wordy for a billboard, but above pictures of a priest and a scientist, the words, “Finds something he/she can’t explain.” Then, under the former, “Reaffirms his faith.” But under the latter, “Makes breakthrough discovery.”
Why doesn’t Jesus ever call 9-1-1?
And why doesn’t faith healing work on amputees?
In that vein, “If prayer cures the sick…why do popes die?”
Humanity did not begin in an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard.
Only in faery tales do talking plants (on fire!) give magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero.
Meme-style with this painting: Don’t be a Thomas. Use your braaaaaaains.
Numbers 22:28: God talks out of his ass. Why are you listening?
At least some of those could definitely be improved upon….
Numbers 22:28: God talks out of his ass. Why are you listening?
From God’s ass to your ears?
Not suitable for a billboard, but great for a full-page newspaper ad, would be to simply reproduce, in whole or in part (depending on available space), chapters 21 and 22 of Justin Martyr’s First Apology. Selected words and phrases would be highlighted. No need for any other text. Art, if any, would be classic examples of the scenes Martyr mentions.
You got my vote. That’d be a great sign! The fact that it would probably take a minute for people to soak in what it is saying would make the message stick even better when it did.
An inferior variation would be a sign showing some 911 situation, a car accident, fire, heart attack, and that asks the question, “Which is more useful in this situation?”, and a picture of Jesus on the left and a child with a cell phone on the right. It’s not as tidy and beautiful as the simple question, though.
Why doesn’t Jesus ever call 9-1-1?
Yep: I could go for that one too. It’s sharp, it’s funny, it can be taken in at a glance, and, as you say, it makes the reader do a bit of thinking. Lotsa advertising studies have shown the powerful psychological advantage of that latter factor.
I like Hitchens’:
“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof”
Thanks for a great blog (and the book that just finished with the same name)!
Fra: Why Evolution Is True [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sendt: 22. desember 2013 20:34
Emne: [New post] Make your own atheist billboard
whyevolutionistrue posted: “Several people have griped about the in-your-face and not-useful nature of the American Atheists billboard in Times Square (see below). I agree that it’s not well done, though I think it’s better to have some public display of atheism than none. But tha”
Damn, now I have to think of another one. I think Hitchens wrapped it up very nicely with that one. However, I believe the quote is more accurately: “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence”
Humor conquers all. Especially if there’s an edge to it.
What will make the best billboards are any of the atheism memes that are out there. Just take your pick from any one of them.
I agree. Humour (or humor) is the way forward. Rational argument against irrationality is a waste of time.
“There are over 40,000 different Christian denominations.
At least 39,999 are definitely wrong.
Which one did you pick?”
Or the Homer Simpson variant:
There are over 40,000 different Christian denominations. At least 39,999 are definitely wrong. What if every Sunday you’re just making God madder and madder?
From the great philosopher Homer Simpson:
Marge: I can’t believe you’re giving up church, Homer.
Homer: Hey, what’s the big deal about going to some building every Sunday? I mean, isn’t God everywhere? And don’t you think that the Almighty has better things to worry about than where one little guy spends one measly hour of his week? And what if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we’re just making God madder and madder.
This reminds me of a Mennonite poster that I once saw – something like “A Modest Proposal – Let the Christians of the world agree that they will not kill each other.”
Hey, why discourage them?
Just stop ’em killing other people, that’d be good for starters…
How do you know that God’s telling the truth?
Is it good because God commands it? Does God command it because it’s good? – Euthyphro in Plato
Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. – Bierce
Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. – Bierce again
I’ll give it some thought.
I think “You are not alone if you are an atheist” messaging is good, too. Encouraging escaping from closets is good.
I’d also recommend emphasizing former preachers in messages.
Blastomycosis, Toxoplasmosis, and Coccidioidomycosis: Let God show you all that he’s incapable of.
I’m pretty sure there’s not a single person on earth who would lose his/her faith after reading that.
Give it time.
Do you REALLY believe the Nicene Creed?
How about a series of billboards that all start with: READ YOUR BIBLE and then have one of the many quotes such as the following:
“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.” Exodus 21:20-21
I thought of a similar concept. Quote some of the stranger passages of the Bible, then end with a common punch line, “Read it. Believe it?”
It would be hard to protest, because the ads would encourage reading the Bible.
Some versus might include: Jesus cursing the fig tree; Jesus rejecting his Mother; God promising meat and sending poisoned quail instead; God making bets with the Devil; Samson praying he can die and kill hundreds of his enemies at the same time. (terrorist!) Longer passages could have key words highlighted to get the point across quickly.
Or cite some statistics: “80% of Americans believe in the bible, 20% have read it end-to-end. Read it. Believe it?” (I guessed the numbers)
Or maybe the tag line: “The Bible: Read it all. Believe it all?”
Jesus said: “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14.33).
My go to verse for christians who pretend to believe the whole bible.
A simple and powerful idea, Janet. No extra explanation or comment on the billboards needed.
OK; how shall we make it reality it?
Great idea, with a huge number of variations.
There’s a Tumblr for that: WTF Bible Verse Wallpaper! (Including the verse you quote, Janet.)
• “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” – Psalm 137:9 (NIV)
• “If two Israelite men get into a fight and the wife of one tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, you must cut off her hand. Show her no pity.” – Deuteronomy 25:11-12 (NLT)
• “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” – 1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV)
And so on …
Yes, let the religiosos come forth if they dare to defend justify and advocate for those verses.
The Timothy verse will not faze many because that is official church doctrine in a large number of churches even now, including the one I grew up in. My relatives would look at a sign with the Timothy verse and think it was put up by their own church.
Well, I worded it slightly wrong. I meant to say “many would not be fazed” instead of “would not faze many”. A large chunk would be bothered by this verse. A large chunk would not.
Many religious people also make excuses for those verses. I have a friend that says she doesn’t like the Catholic Church but she believes in god and she hasn’t left the church. She sent her kids to Catholic school and she listens to the Catholic Channel on her satellite radio in the car. So even though she doesn’t like the corruption of the Church, she remains Catholic mostly I suspect because her family is Catholic and she believes in god so she just puts up with the church.
The flip side of Janet’s idea is to take Jesus’ sayings attractive to certain Christians and to point out that he didn’t actually say them.
Jesus didn’t say:
John 8:1-11 ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ – a late interpolation.
John 3:3 ‘I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ – an incoherent play on words.
Great minds think alike. I wrote the same idea below not realizing that you already expressed it.
I don’t know that a rationalist approach is ever likely to succeed, except amongst those who’re already swithering.
To take an analogy, a few years back everyone was going nuts about The Secret, a book/movie/meme/heap of bullshit based on the old idea that, if you really think hard at the universe about something you want, the universe will obligingly make it happen . . . unless, of course, you’ve done your hard thinking wrong, because the universe has difficulty distinguishing between “I want A” and “I don’t want A” requests.
This is absolutely manifestly up-front in-your-face garbage, as is evident after about one picosecond’s thought, maybe two. It’s the kind of hogwash that no one should need to refute because it contains its own refutation.
Yet the book and DVD sold literally millions of copies to people who, with a seeming near-unanimity, believed that the reason Julie Delpy or Johnny Depp (or perhaps both?) hadn’t been waiting there for them at bedtime was that they’d done their hard thinking wrong.
In order to believe in the “secret” of The Secret, then, you’ve got to engage in something of an uphill struggle; it’s not as if it’s something you’ve been indoctrinated since infancy to accept as fact. If people are prepared to invest that much energy in making themselves believe in something despite all the very obvious logical holes in the proposition, how can a logical argument puncture the belief they’ve held all their lives?
Decades ago I read an interview with Tom Paxton in which he said that fellow political songwriter Phil Ochs had taught him that often the best way to start bringing down something evil was not to protest it directly but to get people to laugh at it — something Ochs was really quite adept at doing. So I’d suggest that, rather than billboards setting out a rational argument, we should try just to make people laugh and in that way, hopefully, lead them to the realization that their cherished beliefs are ludicrous.
My own first thought, and I realize it’s not very good, was “If Christ wants to be in Christmas, why doesn’t he pay the drinks bill?”
Footnote: The effectiveness of such an approach is, by the way, evidenced by the violence of the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons. Many of the mullahs seem to have taken the cartoons in stride (Allah is great enough that he can somehow man up to being laughed at), but others realized that the threat lay in the possibility that some of their flock might be tempted to laugh along with the cartoons.
I totally concur w/ your analysis and suggestion. Stewart’s and Colbert’s shticks are excellent examples of this approach. Almost everyone can instantly “get it.”
Laughter and ridicule is a very effective approach to exposing and resisting stupidity.
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” (Thomas Jefferson)
‘Elinor did not consider that he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.’ – Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility. Snap.
I disagree. The belief that our thoughts have real power seems to be a sort of natural default, an intuitive tendency to separate the physical from the mental and then ascribe all sorts of magic to the spooky, nomaterial mental. In the play “Peter Pan” the children in the audience are urged to save Tinkerbell’s life by believing in fairies very, very hard — and they seem to get that. A strong enough thought or feeling will act like a force. We learn as we mature. And there will be some who think no –we were wiser back then.
The Secret also did something all religious and spiritual systems do: it played around with deepities, inserting interpretations which make no sense into those which do so that everyone gets good and confused.
It’s very sly. Sometimes the “wishes get you what you want” idea was illustrated by someone making up their mind and focusing on actions. They really wanted something like a bicycle and because they wanted it so much they went out and got a job delivering papers and let it be known they were looking for a cheap bicycle and lo and behold, their hard work and determination paid off and they got their “wish.” Okay. Fair enough.
And then all of a sudden there’s a story where someone wishes hard, concentrates, and lo and behold a bicycle shows up on their front doorstep. Because that’s just like the first story, isn’t it? Same thing. I mean, it’s all connected.
Don’t underestimate the human ability to let sloppy thinking make the implausible, plausible. It’s not an uphill struggle: it’s a relaxed and easy slide downhill while you think “gee, I’m going so fast I must be overtaking everyone else.”
I think you’re quite comprehensively missing my point. Yes, irrational people believe irrational things. The Secret is, I’d suggest, a good example of something that it takes an effort to be irrational enough to believe. If people can be that irrational about a wacko hypothesis to which they’ve only just recently been exposed, how much do you think they’ll be susceptible to rationalist arguments about deeply ingrained beliefs to which they’ve been subjected since infancy?
My point was that The Secret wasn’t saying anything really new or unique, and that people found it plausible without much of a struggle because it felt familiar. In fact, if you think about it the whole mind-over-matter thing is simply another variation of traditional religion, with God spread out into some sort of consciousness force-field which we can tap in to if we only have the right mindset (just as properly pious wishes go directly to God, the higher consciousness.) In other words, The Secret was same shit, different shovel.
But I do agree with the rest of what you wrote — particularly the part about the value of humor. It reminded me of HL Mencken:
“…with God spread out into some sort of consciousness force-field which we can tap in to if we only have the right mindset…”
Oh we have a billboard right there – that line about saving Tinker Bell by thinking really really hard and show kids thinking really really hard. Then a line about how thinking really really hard doesn’t make god true either.
that line about saving Tinker Bell by thinking really really hard and show kids thinking really really hard. Then a line about how thinking really really hard doesn’t make god true either
And the strapline reads: “Clap your hands if you believe in Jesus.”
You got it.
Or the final line says, “It was fun when you were a kid but as an adult you know god isn’t real”.
Or, “When I was a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man…”
Yes, that with tinkerbell would be a good one. The tangible example of the Peter Pan complex and the faeries. Perfect.
“Swithering”, a new word! Yay! Thanks.
I think mockery is good too. Being laughed at is never pleasant and the knowledge that one’s cherished beliefs are silly enough to be laughed at is bound to cause cognitive dissonance to increase.
Swithering”, a new word! Yay! Thanks.
. . . but, y’know, like, humbly.
Having worked with children that are developmentally disabled, I’ve often thought them to be pretty strong evidence of a universe governed by physical laws, not supernatural ones.
I can only imagine the explanation a xtian would offer, “its gd’s plan.” Really? 🙁
The idea that an all powerful being would create children to suffer, and so disabled as to be unable to comprehend right from wrong, life or death, or the very existence of the stupornatural being that they are supposed to worship, is just plain stupid.
Children are born disabled because biologic processes are not flawless. It makes absolute sense that there will be defects, and zero sense that some perfect being is behind it.
I would offer something along these lines;
Image of disabled child in a wheelchair, with a caption that says, “You can’t explain this with god, but you can with science.”
Or, with images of alleviatable suffering:
“You can’t explain it with religion, but you can fix it with science.”
Happy Holidays from American Atheists
Join us in keeping Christ in Christmas, Wodan in Wednesday (Thor in Thursday, etc. for other years), and Janus in January.
Along with a group picture of Jesus, Wodan, Janus, and Santa.
Don’t forget Mars in March – Mars can look bad ass too if you draw him right.
& sound pretty bad-assed (in the best sort of sense, of course)
Web Link: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmk5frp6-3Q&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJmk5frp6-3Q
I’ll just copy the stuff I had on an old T-shirt:
Jesus is dead,
Get over it!
I’ve seen a bumper sticker:
“There is no God; get over yourselves.”
“If there was no God, what would you do differently?”
“You get one life. Make it count.”
“Atheists. Making our own lives meaningful.”
“There’s a God? What is he waiting for?” Accompanied by a picture like Jerry showed.
If you were God, what would you do differently?
If you saw a child playing with a gun, you’d probably try to stop them before something terrible happened. In 2013, God had that chance 194 times and failed to act. It’s like He isn’t there at all.
How would you know if your religious beliefs were wrong?
“There are thousands of different gods humanity has proposed in its history. I just don’t believe in one more than you.” –Attribution
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.” –not John of Patmos
Morality comes from God? His top ten rules don’t include commands against slavery, rape, or racism. How moral can he be?
If all this is “perfectly designed for life”, why is more than 99.9999999999999% of the universe lethal to life as we know it?
Why would God create a world which looks billions of years old a mere 10,000 years ago? Doesn’t He want us to know the truth?
Just a few thoughts.
Prayer doesn’t work. Prove us wrong – pray really hard and make this sign disappear!
Of course you would have to keep it up forever or people would think that their prayers worked.
It would need a picture of a mountain, and a reference to Matthew 17:20.
On the other hand. It’s just inviting someone to try burning it down. It’s not unprecedented.
Very nice. That would work.
Maybe also include a picture of a blue eyed Jesus with flowing hair pointing accusingly at the faithful while they read the s
And here it is.
“When man made himself (one or more o’ the ~2,780 or so) god(s), he made woman less than human.”
[ from — the “Prophetess” Dr Rosalind Miles in Chapter Five entitled “The Sins of the Mothers” of her “scripture,” The Women’s History of the World, “verse” ( page ) 102
Dr Miles continues, ” ‘A woman is never truly her own master,’ argued Luther. ‘God formed her body to belong to a man, to have and to rear children.’ In the grand design of the monotheistic male, woman was no more than a machine to make babies for him, with neither the need nor the right to be anything else: ‘Let them bear children till they die of it.’ Luther advised. ‘That is what they are for.’ ” ]
I would strongly advise against Jerry’s example. The theodicy argument is a strong one but showing suffering children to the public, some of whom are parents or siblings of such children, to make a point will only convey tastelessness. Stick with humor and logic, not shock.
Why did God wait 4,599,996,000 years to show up on Earth?
How many insects made it onto the Ark?
Who did Neanderthals worship before going extinct?
I tried to find a tsunami picture but couldn’t find the right one.
A montage of images, maybe? Across three frames (or animated), with only two words on each frame.
Some “nice” images…
Some awful ones…
Some horrendous ones…
How about this one?
I Googled “Tsunami children”. Really they are so awful I don’t know that you could put them on a billboard.
I was thinking one like this. It is biblical looking too and I think would appeal to those on the fence – the ones that think that god observes but does nothing or doesn’t observe.
It was indeed a disaster of biblical proportions. Caption, “Where was Moses when they needed him?” or “First the Egyptians, now the Japanese”.
Do you have a recommended way for inviting the public’s attention to the misfortune of children? Or is it totally mum’s the word so as to avoid tastelessness? Several years ago I saw a newspaper article about a year-old child having to have his cancerous eyeballs removed in order to save his life. It featured a photo of the parents after the operation, the father holding the child, both parents with looks of profound anguish on their faces. Ought that article and photo not been published for the sake of the public’s delicate sensibilities? Who wouldn’t remedy the situation if it were in her/his power?
Religious anti-abortionists have no such qualms, of course …
Perhaps. I’m sure someone on Fox News will try to turn it into that kind of liability. There is no doubt about that. But whether it would actually be a liability or merely free publicity for the message from Roger Ailes is hard to know. The Onion pulled off this message pretty well in this classic piece:
I read that humor article when it was first published and I’ve remembered it very clearly all these years since.
will -> would
I agree with Jimbo that theodicy is a subject that would be suitable, but am not sure how to depict bad things without showing bad things. A billboard series could ask the question, “If God so loved the world, why this?” followed by examples of bad things that happen to good people.
As some others have suggested, I also like the idea of quoting outrageous scripture followed simply by “Really?” or “Seriously?”
Did Noah bring two bacteria and viruses of each kind onto his ark?
Don’t forget all those nasty multicellular parasites that could only have survived while chewing their way through Noah’s family.
Even if they were taken on board as eggs in jars or something, the humans would have had to swallow them down or whatever at some point before the end of the voyage.
YHWH: Swallow this.
Noah: What is it?
YHWH: Two eggs each from roundworms, flatworms, pinworms, tapeworms and more. Not thinking of disobeying Me, are you?
God also gave us all the VD’s. Hmmm, I think he should also get checked out.
And did he bring termites?
For God’s sake, Noah, not the beavers!
The Good Book says….
snakes are talking
virgins are spawning
dead dudes are walking
How strong is your faith ?
(the Bible is such a rich source of weird & nasty shit these billboards could be updated every month for years, and as we don’t discriminate the Koran and Tanakh cop it too)
Simple text and graphics with a question:
“Genesis 1” … icons for the order of creation
“Genesis 2” … icons for the order of creation
“Which one do you think is correct?”
Aim to give a strong visual of
plants -> animals -> human
man -> plants -> animals -> woman
I disagree that the Times Square billboard was badly done. After all, people are talking about it, aren’t they? On that basis alone it can be judged a success.
I thought the crossing out “Christ” was clever since it was popular to say that spelling “Christmas” as “Xmas” crossed out Christ. I remember seeing church signs that said to put “Christ” back into “Xmas”. It all resulted in my big Greek lesson rant whenever I saw it.
It all resulted in my big Greek lesson rant whenever I saw it.
Been there, done that. It’s amazing how stupefyingly ignorant many Xtians are about their own stuff, isn’t it?
Incidentally, it was a Church of England priest who explained to me the validity of the “Xtian” usage. Unlike many of the CoE priests I’ve known, he did actually believe the whole deal. On the other hand, he had absolutely no problem sharing an office for a couple of years with atheist me and another friend, who while Xtian had happily reconciled his faith with his own bisexuality.
Indeed I constantly write, “Xmas” instead of “Christmas” to invite the comment so I can go on my big chi tirade :). No one ever takes the bait; I suspect they’ve been warned.
I doubt that they have been warned, but rather just ignorant of the fact that the Greek spelling for Christ is Χριστος [ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ]and that the Greek letters “X” (Chi) and “p” (Rho) superimposed together was once a very common symbol signifying Christ.
Yes, I was being facetious.
I hadn’t thought about the X/Christ juxtaposition. The crossing out of Christ is the only thing I didn’t like about the ad – the statement is strong enough on its own and the X implies a disruptive action by someone. Now that you point out the pun, however, I might have to rethink it.
“I disagree that the Times Square billboard was badly done. After all, people are talking about it, aren’t they? ”
The kid who farts in class and then giggles when everyone gets angry is thrilled to be the center of attention.
I personally loved the second half of the billboard: “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas!” surrounded by about a dozen positive words like “family” and “charity” and “fun.” And then a “Happy Holidays from American Atheists.”
That was well done. Frankly, I haven’t heard any of the people who criticized the “Who needs Christ…” section complain about that part.
It’s a new tactic and a wise one. Argue that Christmas is secular. And that it’s BETTER this way.
Yes, I agree. I think many haven’t seen the whole animated billboard and AA have been pushing the inclusiveness of Xmas.
What doesn’t Jesus come down and cure cancer……….instead of just showing up on a stain in your underwear??
Picture of four crucified Jesuses in a line. Under each one, his ‘last words’ from the inerrant Bible:
Mark: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” and dies
Matthew: “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” and dies.
Luke: “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” and dies.
John: “It is done.” and dies.
Now. Tell us again. What were the REAL last words?
I like this! The last words at the top above each cross. Across the bottom “Famous Last Words”
It’s too wordy for a billboard ad, though — maybe it’d work on a website or in a newspaper/mag. But for a billboard you need something people can take in at a glance.
Four billboards one after the other along the road? In sequence. 🙂
I would suggest an extended series of non-confrontational ads that played up the very glaring fact that god is a perpetual no show. So a billboard for the current season:
A happy animated family eating a lavish holiday meal. There is an empty chair and plate with JESUS on the name tag.
Christ could be in our Christmas if he would just bother to show up.
A setup for the Harold Camping types.
A setup for the Harold Camping types.
Did you hear that he died the other day? Unexpectedly. I feel real cheap reporting the latter fact.
Yeah, that’s why he came to mind.
Yeah, Camping types sure. But I’ve heard so many generic Evangelical preachers try to pitch the line that you have to get saved this minute because the Rapture just might be the next minute.
“Jesus has something important to tell me? Then why doesn’t he invite me out for a beer? All my real friends care enough to do that.”
Your average over worked and under paid social worker does a hella lot better job of helping people with their problems than this Jesus dude ever has.
Here’s my idea for an atheist ad campaign. Posters should feature different, but prominent people with a godless quote on the side. So, imagine a nice photo of Einstein at his desk and on the black background next to him would be his quote in white letters (not too big), “I have never believed in a personal God and I have expressed it clearly. – Albert Einstein”. And that’s it, nothing else on the poster (well, maybe a website address on the bottom). Repeat this with other prominent and already respected people. I love many of our atheist gurus, but the people featured should be well known for something other than atheism and should be already well respected by the general public. So have Benjamin Franklin’s quote about “lighthouses being more useful than churches.” Have Thomas Edison and Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain and Hemingway and Helen Keller and Frida Kahlo and Bruce Lee and Lincoln and Arthur Miller and other famous scientists and artists. Later, we can incorporate more recent people like Hitchens (a contemplative photo of him on one side and on the other his quote, “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”) The idea is to show that many of the smartest people have had critical things to say about faith or religion, so the people featured don’t even all have to be 100% atheist. The idea is to have many, many people featured and to make antireligious thinking seem common, smart, and cool. Posters should make people think, and NOT demand that people change their views, merely consider others who have. The posters should never scream “Atheism” and they MUST be tastefully designed by professionals.
Really good concept!
Thank you, Janet.
FFRF has a good start on that sort of thing:
…and click to related links there. Whatever prominent people you want could be added…
(Note that though most of these are ‘virtual,’ some of them are made into actual billboards, as funds and demand allow.
& you can make your own!
It would be fun to have a WEIT-ian subsection…(not that I’d make one).
Thanks, Diane. Granted combining a person’s picture and a quote is not original, but my idea differs slightly in concept and greatly in design from the FFRF billboards, which look cheesy and amateurish to me. Everything is off: the font, the colors, the use of space, the flowery backgrounds are weird, the wrong people are featured, the quotes are badly chosen and are often either too long or made to look like paragraphs. What I envision is a poster size, black and white image, with the photo occupying roughly half the space on either the right or the left. The photo should be classy and respectable, so none of this Einstein sticking his tongue out stuff. In the center of the black space to the side you’d put in a short quote in white letters in a conservative font along with the name of the person. There should be a lot of empty space above and below the quote. Like a good advertising campaign that tries to generate public interest by being a bit mysterious, it should not be immediately obvious what this poster is for. Of course, I realize that my idea is probably lifted from something I saw before.
I like it! It’s simple and confident.
Several examples here, cited by Hemant Mehta a couple of years ago.
One of the comments on the Facebook page: “These scream BILLBOARDS!!! We need to put these up instead of the condescending, immature ones put up by American Atheists.”
An alternative set.
I really like this one.
Not crazy about these. It screams photoshop and the design is amateurish. The other ones you gave a link to above are much better. Also, the Pratchett quote is OK, but maybe not for a billboard. I don’t think most people would know who he is, though you could have a set of posters just for the folks at sci-fi and literary fests.
TP is the seventh most-read non-US author in the US — hardly obscure!
Then I stand corrected, though I doubt most Americans could name even the first six of the most read foreign authors in the US.
Most would at least get Shakespeare, JK Rowling, and Agatha Christie, I’m guessing….
I was making a joke about our unfortunately not very well educated country. Yes, I’m sure most people would know Shakespeare and JK Rowling. Still, I doubt if Pratchett is a big enough name for most people in the US, but I might be wrong. You’d know more about that.
I love the Colbert one.
Scrolling through all the quotes on that site, I really like this one: http://www.atheistmemebase.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/007-God-Bless-America.jpg
But maybe we shouldn’t publicise it lest Mount Rushmore go the way of the Buddhas of Bamiyan…
That was of course in response to the site referred to by Ant Allan (darn WordPress nesting…)
And I did love the wry humour of the Pratchett quote.
I enjoyed these! As a member of the proverbial choir, I find these appealing. Laid out the way they are, I can imagine them more as a coffee table book than as a set of billboards. But you could have three or four laid out on a billboard as part of a series that would roll out over some period of time.
It would have to be a continuing series. The effect I have in mind is that of a steady march, with the new messages reinforcing the others before it. People will get used to the idea that there are indeed people who don’t believe in god and aren’t struck down from the heavens, and that these people aren’t devoid of morality.
You’re right. These are pretty good. Maybe there a little too much text, but what do I know. And people like Sinatra and Christopher Reeve would great to use because they’re so recognizable and well loved. Of course, family estates and other legal hurdles may limit us to the dead poet society.
Well, that’s certainly funny…but Jobs’ bad grammar always bugged me, so maybe we’d have to make it “Believe Differently”?
I’ve noticed in the NY Times in the last few months an Apple ad saying, “Designed in California.”
Yes, “designed,” but not manufactured (anywhere in the U.S.).
I’ve heard they’re assembling the new Mac Pro in the U.S., though I’d guess the components are manufactured elsewhere.
They have been using “Designed in California” for many years.
I’m sure Apple has bloviated for years that its products are “designed” in California, and not manufactured and/or assembled in the U.S.
….but unlike the Apple campaign (in which, tourettes-like, I always blurt out “differently”), the grammar would be correct. Because good atheists use correct grammar. 🙂
This too was my initial impression but I now think the ad is not meant to mean “think differently” but a directive as in “think ‘different’.”
Jimbo, gosh, you are probably right! I’ll see it a new way now, thanks.
Truly a masterful job of resolving cognitive dissonance. Hats off. You changed my life.
Maybe Tom Waits was right when he said,
Don’t you know there ain’t no devil?
There’s just God when he’s drunk
This is a great idea! Lots of good thoughts so far.
“Since God never answers your prayers why not ask Santa Claus instead?”
“If your Christmas wish is for a world without hate then just wish for a world without religion”
Your second one is open to a strawman counter charge about religion being the root of all evil. But the first one would be good for one of those electronic billboards that rotates through various ads. You ad could change every time it came up:
Ask Santa Claus; ask Zeus, ask Thor; ask Superman; ask the kid down the street (who might really be able to help)….
I think we always have to try to figure out what the critics would say and avoid the obvious pitfalls. For example, a religious person would simply say that God DOES answer their prayers.
I agree. A lot of the suggestions here would appeal to rational folks like . . . well, the people here. That’s not too useful when trying to make converts.
The trick is to identify your target. IMHO it makes most sense to go after the converts you can get most easily. It should get easier in your next round if you manage to meet your target conversion.
If we take the stats – I’d say your target should be the fence sitters. That to me are the people who have already accepted that their deity isn’t interfering with the events on earth.
Now you build your message accordingly.
I may be wrong, but I don’t think there are any good stats, so this conversion business may be purely speculative. I rather doubt the effectiveness of and the need for atheist billboards (and some of them are so amateurish that they’re frankly embarrassing), but if they serve any purpose, it’s perhaps to let people know that we’re out there. It’s something analogous to “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.”
The problem with coming up with a pithy and challenging atheist billboard — one which will really make people think — is that our reasons for not believing in God are thoughtful, cautious, nuanced, and well reasoned. It’s hard to turn that into a slogan which will read at a glance.
I have a favorite coffee mug which might make a good billboard. I bought it off Seth Andrews, who hosts the blog and podcast “The Thinking Atheist.” I can’t find the exact image, but it’s this picture (the outline of a head with the atheist symbol inside) and words underneath “Start Thinking.”
Maybe this could be expanded to include banner and print ads, too.
Using photos of stunning natural Terran beauty for some, & Hubble telescope celestial awesomeness for others, etc:
“For appreciation & understanding, no god needed.”
“For appreciation & understanding, no imaginary superbuddies needed.”
note: “god” deliberately with lowercase ‘g’, &or any other words in reference to ‘ethereals’ initial-letter lowercase.*
(*Never understood why non-believers thereof would continue to ‘honor’ such imaginary entities in this way; it’s your language too!, make good use of it as you will!)
*Pictures of vast fields of galaxies*
“If the universe is perfect, why would it have a God too?”
“The universe expands itself. Why would it need a God to start itself?”
“More than 99.9999999999999% of the universe is deadly. Why does God hate life so much?”
“All these structures were seeded by quantum fluctuations. Where were God?”
*Pictures of people laughing*
“These people were just told that an invisible magical being made the world. They thought it was funny how the fairie king made everything too big.”
“These people were just told that the Bible was a true story, in parts. But that no one knows which parts.”
“These people were just told that humans are slaves as punishment for actions. But that it was the slave owner who decided which actions and that it was many generations ago.”
“These people were just told that God caused the universe because ‘everything needs a cause’ They were also told that ‘God needs no cause’.”
“There probably is a god and it doesn’t give a damn how you have sex.”
My first doubts looked something like this: the church and bible have been unambiguously and catastrophically wrong about so many things (e.g. heliocentrism, slavery) — how can I trust anything else they say?
This is not to say that I immediately rejected all religious claims. I merely started questioning them, and in all cases I eventually found myself unconvinced.
I’d have thought geocentrism rather than heliocentrism.
“The LORD Almighty commands thee to purchase Brooklyn Bridge for the eternal glory of His creation, lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and the LORD’s kibosh be put upon thee and thine kith and kin.
Who art thou to gainsay the LORD’s will, particularly with the economy in the state it’s in?
Pledge thine monies to 800.337.0375.”
May the baby Jesus fulfil your every need.
[Pic of Jesus in drag – he already has the hair!]
He’d be a real babe…
…if he’d only lose the beard!
Though I definitely support these atheist billboards, I do worry about them being somewhat heavy-handed. I remember seeing an anti-abortion event with giant images of aborted fetuses alongside Holocaust images and I was way more put off than inspired to think about the issue. I like the idea of using humor. One line that has always amused me and irritated my religious friends is:
Can God create a rock that he cannot lift?
It is pretty simple, mildly amusing when I picture it in my head, and it points out some of the contradictions in many definitions of God. A lot of the ideas people have mentioned here seem like they would be pretty powerful and effective.
I agree that a lot of these billboards seem heavy-handed, which can also come across as desperate, tacky, and amateurish.
I prefer my own variation on that theme, which is mine:
All but God can prove this sentence true.
That’s a poetic paraphrase of a popular proof of Godel’s Incompleteness theorem, for what it’s worth.
I always learn so much on this site. I was not familiar with that theorem before now, but I like your variation (now that I understand it). I was just trying to think of the first few ideas that made me doubt my religion. They tended to be little mind puzzles like this that made me stop and think, “Oh wait, that does not make sense.” The more aggressive lines of attack rarely had much effect on me. Thanks for the info!
A real god wouldn’t have to work in mysterious ways.
I really like this one. It challenges the contortions that are required in religious apologetics …. contortions that are obvious to both believer and non believer. Might capitalize the G though, why put off the religious reader with this so-called “offence” and just let the message itself do the challenge.
I like it!
I like this too!
Headline: How often does God answer your prayers?
Subtext: If it’s 50/50 on everyday stuff and almost never on the big things, that’s about what chance would produce.
Curiosity Kills the Dogma
“Peace on Earth, good will to men” is NOT a religious message”
I kind of like it because it’s also a sort of deepity
I also like “The Golden Rule does not require God.”
Questioning the authority of the Bible might have sparked some doxastic openess. What about a picture of several religious texts (Bible, Qur’an, book of mormon, etc.) and a science book (textbook or maybe on the origin of species) with text along the lines of “they can’t all be right” or “only one of these books holds the truth.” There are so many ways to get the point across. It certainly wouldn’t do anything for fundamentalists but it could initiate some questioning by the 2s and 3s on the Dawkins scale.
My favorite is the God watching TV and eating popcorn cartoon
“Don’t believe everything you read.
Especially if you haven’t read it.
OK, here’s another idea. Just have the most ridiculous and nasty quotes from the Bible that we can find and put one on each billboard. And that’s it. Nobody even needs to know the atheists put up the billboards.
A photo of the bulletproof Pope-mobile with the Pope inside, an arrow pointing to the glass box, and a caption: “A bulletproof evidence the Pope himself does not believe in the mercy of God”.
(I don’t think the new pope does that, but the ones before him did)
I made a slide using a vista of a river going through some Scandinavian mountains (It’s probably copyright) with text:
THIS IS YOUR ONLY LIFE.
Don’t waste it by dreaming about how you’re going to spend the next one. I’ll send you the image if you like.
That last sentence isn’t part of the slide!
How about a picture of the crucifixion with the ‘my God’ quote and the caption
The moment Jesus also realised. . .
I liked the Homer simpson approach xD
My choice of billboard would be the text “Every time you pray and go to church you are making Zeus madder and madder”
With a picture of a really cross Zeus about to fry some infidel with a bolt.
Ha ha! I like that one!
A picture of a kangaroo and a capybara leaving the Ark atop a mountain.
Caption: Can you direct me to Australia please? No idea mate, I’ve got to walk to Brazil.
One with an ecumenical note, that will also work for non-christians:
Two figures, a greeting Jesus and greeting Buddha / Ganesha / Man with a blank patch for a face on opposite sites of the board. In the middle:
“Got the right one? How can you be sure?”
My vote would be for the “Teach the Controversy” series. Humour is the best way to make people think, and these posters show ludicrous this slogan is.
“If you believe in god, keep it in your head. That is where it came from.”
Close-up photo of a neck, and necklace with a little gold-plated electric chair hanging off of it.
What today’s Catholic kids would be wearing around their necks if Jesus was executed today.
Ditch the first ‘today’.
“2.1 billion people believe in the Christian God – over 5 billion people do not”
How about a billboard with the old chestnut, “Why won’t God heal amputees?”
Because it takes two hands to pray with?
I made these two and put them on Tumblr:
Their text (both beautiful photos of children in nature):
Meaning, joy, purpose, afterlife…
…can all be found in leaving this world a better place.
…comes from caring about others and the planet.
I’m your atheist neighbor.
Not bad. They’re a little reminiscent of the kind of ads you get from the Church of Latter-day Saints, though maybe that’s not a bad thing.
I haven’t seen those, so any similarity is unintentional.
Or divinely inspired.
If God could speak…
“How dare you think I commanded such evil and wickedness like the genocides in the Bible! Who wrote that?!?”
“God’s plan does’t include wireless, so stop trying to make contact.”
a) – four versions:
“You worship a god that gives children cancer and then lets them die in agony?
1) Yeah, we think that is disgusting”
2) What did Jesus die for, again?”
3) And you pay for that ‘privilege’?”
4) And you want to lecture me about morality?”
-American Non Believers, the second largest religious denomination in the country
Famine. Kids dying of cancer. War. Natural disasters.
… When a REAL god shows up that does something about these things, we will be first in line to offer thanks.
-American Non Believers, etc
Well, I already have my own atheist billboard, #36 here http://ffrf.org/uploads/images/SacBB/index.html
It’s the result of trying to squeeze a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote onto a billboard. If given total freedom, I would have put up a picture of myself and my son and our telescope, and a Krauss inspired quote about how we feel awe and wonder looking through our telescope, but it’s better, because it’s real.
I think you have to consider the intent of each campaign. Silverman states that AA’s campaign it intended to get cultural Christians to give up faking the Christian part and just be secular. One of the other Sacramento 55 Billboard participants stated that at one point she thought it was just “the thing to do” to teach her child Christianity as if it was true, even though she didn’t believe it.
The FFRF campaign is closely modeled on the LGBT Out campaign. And I would even compare the LDS “And I’m a Mormon” campaign. It’s easy to demonize what you don’t know. But when you find out that the soccer mom and dad that your kids has been playing with for two years happen to be atheists, it’s harder to keep hating and fearing atheists. It also has the affect that it makes it easier for others in the closet to feel safer about coming out themselves.
I’m not trying to convince anyone that there are no gods. I’m just trying to get them to accept me as a fellow human being.
“Thor promised an end to all frost giants. Jesus promised an end to all sin.
I don’t see any frost giants around.”
MORALITY DOESNT COME FROM RELIGION
I think that for a lot of people our morality comes from religion. Wich is totally false of course but for them atheists = ok to steal, murder, lie, etc. This billboard might bring beleivers into asking where from if not from religion?
I like the comparative religion angle.. Im probably getting this from something Ive seen before at some point, but I would like a billboard with images of several of the more popular gods with the caption, “All gods are imaginary”.
One I liked that I have definitely seen before – I think it was Atheists of Florida who put it up – just had a photo of a blue sky with clouds and the words “Dont believe in god? Join the club”.
I just really love this. This is my vote for FAVORITE! I think it has a big impact but with a tiny bit of delay. The thinking delay time.
For some reason I didnt think to google for the image. Its been used by different groups..
“Faith means the purposeful suspension of critical thinking – it’s nothing to be admired” — Bill Maher
Picture of a 7 year old child looking very distressed as an adult says
“You are an accursed sinner and you are bound for hell. Your only hope is for a god to save you. For that you must admit to him that you are bad and you must worship him abjectly. From now, until you die, you must always be at war with yourself.”
The caption reads “Child Abuse”
Hell is only for those who believe in it.