I made a bet with myself that, when I finally tracked down all of the slogans for billboards picked by so-called ‘smiling atheists’ (H/T: @kevinholtsberry), that there were going to be a few where the smiles did not reach the eyes. Winnowing through… well, let’s see.
- Reasonable: “I see beauty in the universe without God.” / “Compassion is my religion.” / “We value reason and compassion.” Slightly defensive, but they’re feeling defensive, so that’s reasonable.
- Reasonable… enough, but notably more defensive: “I can be good without God.” If this had been the worst one of the bunch, well, I probably wouldn’t have written the post. However:
- Smile not reaching the eyes #1: “Reason over faith, always.” Translation: “People who rely on faith to help them accept their deaths are inferior to people who do not.” Got to watch that ‘always,’ Nick-me-lad.
- Smile not reaching the eyes #2: “I don’t believe in Zeus, either.” Translation: “I consider an entire suite of organic, developing, extant faiths that have existed and evolved for between one and three millenniums to be functionally, morally, and ethically equivalent to the bowdlerized storyline popularized by to so rigorously-researched authority known as Bullfinch’s Mythology.” Eddie, Eddie, Eddie: there’s a reason why Christianity went through European paganism like a hot knife through butter. May I suggest The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity? It’s been a while, but I recall it being quite good. Accessible, too, which may be a consideration in your case.
- Smile not reaching the eyes #3: “Personal gods just don’t compute.” Translation: “All you religious people are stupid! Also, I have no inherent sense of humor!” – OK, that last sentence may be me being unfair to Jeremy; after all, I’m married to an engineer, and she’s funny as all Hell. But… no, I won’t finish that sentence.
So. 3 out of 7 of this campaign’s slogans are going to – instead of making nice with religious believers – just tick them off, slightly. The scary part? This is kind of an improvement from the usual.
PS: I got nothing against atheists, but seriously: you can tell from the above which atheists might have actually ask some believers what bothered said believers about atheism in general, and which atheists never even thought to do that. I also don’t have anything against people who don’t want to believe in God, but trust me: atheist groups should probably not give a forum to people who do have something against people who do believe in God… at least, when said groups are trying to do a PR campaign, OK?