A Symbol To Make
My Own Voice Heard?

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Chris"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: July 18, 2001 5:18 AM

Good luck: last time I checked, it was over 87 megabytes.

The pansy has long symbolized freethought, so if I ever need to wear a flower in my lapel, I'll try to get a purple pansy. Other than that, I know of nothing that even comes close.

I don't go for the idea of trying to symbolize atheism, probably because in spite of the fact that I am a full-time atheistic activist, atheism is not a very big part of my identity. If I were to get a tattoo, I might put Screamin' Jay Hawkins or Cheech Wizard on there, but I couldn't think of putting on a tattoo that had something to do with my atheism. This could change in the future, but that's where I am right now.

It is easy for me to see how individual Christians could make their Christianity a very big part of their personal identities, because Christ, even as a concept, is an object upon which one may focus. Were I a Christian, I could say I am a Christian and the cross or the fish or the pigeon would symbolize something that I am -- something that I have added to my humanity. But my atheism is nothing like their Christianity, because atheism, to me, is the default human condition. My atheism does not add to my humanity like the theists' belief adds to theirs. As part of my identity, my atheism simply distinguishes me from those who are something that I am not. It distinguishes me from the majority, to be sure, but it does not speak to what I am; rather, to what I am not. Even homosexuality admits to being different from the default human condition.

I can see symbolizing a concept, but I have trouble picturing how we would even go about symbolizing an absence. This is the main reason I have trouble even fathoming a symbol for atheism.

Here is a discussion we once had where I ran down the various symbols that have stuck. Since then I've received many suggestions, some unsolicited, but none were any that I'd support were this something you'd put to a vote -- even if I believed we needed a symbol. In fact, none of the suggestions I've received impressed me enough to even post.

The ones I use -- ever -- are the Darwin Amphibian and the logo for the punk-rock group Bad Religion -- but both are specific to evolution and Christianity respectively. Meanwhile, the pansy is lost even on the Freethought community; to popularize it your work is cut out for you.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
    people with no reason to believe

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