Friday, October 26, 2007

What's In a Symbol


We are a diverse group with many different beliefs and interests. We have more differences than commonalities. We see each one of us as a unique person. We have no meetings or mantras. We don’t believe in or worship anything. We don’t have a text that explains our single world view. We don’t have a symbol. But we do have many. We rally around one, many or none of them. Yet we are still, despite our unique individuality – an identifiable group.

We are atheists.

These three words may be the only thing we have in common. But it does set us apart in the eyes of much of the world. It's not a belief. It's a statement of non-belief. But because most "believers" have a hard time conceptualizing the notion of non-belief, they do put us into a single, unitary group. And they aren't completely wrong. At least on this one issue, we are united.

Like many of my fellow atheists, “I don’ need no stinkin’ badges”. But I’m OK with them and for those who post or wear them – as well as for those who don’t. Our main goal should be sharing the freedom of a world without gods through our words and actions. I talk about these issues all the time in person and on this blog (as do many of my free-thinker friends). If a little symbol up in the corner of my blog helps get the message out there, then I’m all for it.

To find out how this particular symbol came to be, read here. Of the many atheist symbols that are available, I particularly like this one – for two reasons. First, it really does make perfectly clear what I’m saying about myself. If someone really can’t figure it out, they probably aren’t ready for the message anyway. Secondly, it was created by someone I know and like. That makes it more special to me than the other symbols I could use.

Use this one if you like. Use the one originated by Richard Dawkins. Or use one of the many others that you can find. Or use none at all. If you are a free-thinker, it’s all good.

10 comments:

The Exterminator said...

Thanks for the complimentary words. I'm blushing a big red A.

You're someone I know and like, too -- even though we've never met each other in person. I think it's impressive that the Atheosphere, as small as it is compared to the huge Religiverse, still manages to be a pretty remarkable venue for making friends. I'm not saying that every atheist blogger automatically feels a kinship with every other atheist blogger. Far from it. But people who would probably enjoy each other's company if they happened to meet one another at a bar, do have their corners of the Atheosphere in which to share a few e-drinks, exchange ideas, pat each other on the metaphorical back, and even argue constructively when they disagree.

So here's mud in your goddamned eye.

PhillyChief said...

I don't care for the symbol thing, but it's nice to see people exploring their visual creativity instead of just their literary creativity. Let's hear it for right brains! Woo! Enough with this logical left brain stuff all the time. ;)

Spanish Inquisitor said...

OK. I'm in. I was getting tired of that Dawkins A, anyway. Besides, I'll use any excuse to change all or some of the blog site. I think I'm nesting now that the kids are getting older, and leaving.

John Evo-Mid said...

If nothing else, I do think this symbol is more eye-catching and thought provoking to a new visitor. The plain A can be easily overlooked, but it's a bit hard to do so with Jehovah's face.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

It's clear and bold, but to me it looks more anti-theistic than atheistic though.

Symbols are nice, but not necessary for me. Whether it's the scarlet A or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it doesn't take long to find out if a blogger is a atheist, based on what they write about.

John Evo-Mid said...

I think it's a bit of a fine distinction between atheist and anti-theist. An anti-theist, seems pretty much by definition to BE an atheist, but while an atheist does not necessarily NEED to be anti-theistic, it is difficult not to be so. You may CHOOSE not to show it to the world, but I would love to know how someone is an atheist, see what the believers have done with some of the negative aspects of their beliefs and NOT be anti-theist.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Agreed. However there is a spectrum of anti-theistic sentiment. Many would prefer to live and let live.

In my case, I'll usually let things slide unless the theists start straying into science, especially evolutionary biology. When that happens, my anti-theistic sentiment rises in proportion to their anti-scientific sentiment.

It's not rational I know. Alas, patience is a difficult virtue and I don't think I've really gotten any better at it...

The Ridger, FCD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ridger, FCD said...

The trouble with this one - though of course it may not be trouble at all - is that it's very specific. Looks like "No Jehovah" instead of "atheist". But some days that's exactly what is wanted, no?

John Evo-Mid said...

It IS Jehovah but he (like the symbol) IS a symbol. It means "No Gods". At least I believe the creator of it would say so. I know better than to speak for him.