Thank you, American Atheists, for your billboard!!

A couple of days ago, American Atheists put up a billboard at the Lincoln tunnel. Here’s the billboard:

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And here’s the accompanying article:

“You KNOW it’s a Myth!”

This is a huge step toward large-scale public awareness of atheists and atheism. This is awesome because one of the biggest problems we face is ignorance of us and what we’re about. Similar to what gays faced decades ago (and are still struggling with), it’s easier to vilify or ignore a group if you don’t know who they are and what they’re about. As the gay community has discovered, awareness of them hasn’t ended prejudice against them, but it is the first step.

The controversy has been that many people don’t like the billboard, have found its message rude and in-your-face, or some similar sentiment. I agree that it’s a bit on the nose-thumbing side. I’d honestly prefer removing the “You KNOW it’s a Myth!” part. Or maybe have it be a general “Season’s Greetings” with the bit about reason in there. At the same time, we are all bombarded with messages of god in general znd Jesus in particular and no one bats an eyelash, not even the ones who don’t believe in any of that. So, if some people are upset by a little nose-thumbing, that’s okay by me.

One comment on the news stuck out to me. The man interviewed said something about the billboard being offensive and against family, joy, or some shit like that. If he found the sign offensive due to its “myth” message, I cdan kind of understand that, but I don’t get the supposed anti-family message. We atheists have families (duh) and we even (gasp!) care about them. I honestly think his comment was an ignorant reaction. He’s probably heard his whole life that atheists have no values or their values aren’t good or normal or whatever, so his assumption is that we don’t care about family etc. thus my above joy at the billboard being present.

I partially take back my thumb-nosing criticism. There’s a concurrent campaign going on in Europe and elsewhere with the bus signs (which I fully intend to post on at some point). The bus signs say something to the effect of “There’s probably no god, so stop worrying and get on with your life.” The problem I have with that message is the “probably.” No one would ever say that about fairies or leprechauns. People generally assume that those creatures don’t exist. Not that they MIGHT not exist. That they DON’T. With as much evidence supporting a god as fairies and leprechauns, I wish the bus signs had taken that step and I’m glad that American Atheists has. So maybe the thumb-nosing I feel is necessary, but also a little in-your-face. I dunno. I guess even I can’t be satisfied.

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