The billboard, up just down the block
Has left us in a state of shock:
Its “shocking” message? Here’s the gist:
Atheists… exist.

Not much of a story here–the fun part is behind the scenes. An Austin TV station’s website has their story of one of the local atheist billboards. It’s a nice enough story–the representative atheist is well-spoken, the representative Christian is concerned…

But, for those of you who clicked through, did you notice the URL? The article title, now, is “Atheist Community Building Support with Billboards”… the URL, though, includes the phrase “atheist-community-building-support-shocking-billboards”. That’s right, “shocking”.

Yup, they bear the radical message “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”



  1. Lofty says

    Nothing like exposing a dearly held delusion to make these poor people upset. I mean, it’s like your money is backed by the guiding hand of God, it says so on every note. It would be unthinkable for this to be a lie!

  2. Brian Wibecan says

    The mini-article completely misses the sense of the billboard by quoting it as: “Don’t believe in God — You are not alone.” Note the punctuation. If they are reading it this way, as a command not to believe in God, rather than the intended solicitation for those who already don’t believe in God, then it isn’t surprising it was considered shocking. I chalk this one up to illiteracy, or perhaps deliberate misreading.

  3. timberwoof says

    Dammit! I was looking for a quote from Luna Lovegood, the one in which she says, “Well if I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it’s just you alone you’re not as much of a threat.”

    The first link I found was this one:

    That’s right; you can’t be Christian alone. You need a community that will support your delusions … and isolate the unbelievers.

  4. says

    Hey all, a couple of thoughts as the author of that Luna Lovegood blog:

    1. It wasn’t unfairly appropriated given that Harry Potter is shot through with Christian imagery (chosen one, dark lord, resurrection, etc.) and J.K. Rowling has explicitly admitted as much. If anything, atheist appropriation would be the illegitimate one.

    2. Everybody looks to communities to reinforce beliefs and practices. This is a sociological fact, not simply one that’s true about Christian ‘delusions.’ This blog and the community that it fosters is a tiny example of it. This is why even atheists are now creating unbelieving churches, gathered around shared values like free-thought, etc.

    3. The point of the blog wasn’t to encourage ‘isolating unbelievers.’ That’s rather a silly reading. The point actually assumes that believers will, at times, be in communities where they constitute a minority, say, as I was in my philosophy program at the university, or something on that order. Christians, according to the NT at least, have no interest in isolating unbelievers. They’re actually supposed to want to include them in as much as possible.

    Well, those are a few quick thoughts. Have a good one!

  5. says

    I always found it a bit odd that in this world, where we have absolutely no good evidence for the existence of souls or any sort of afterlife, religion is rife, yet in the Harry Potter universe, which is dualist to the core – people’s souls can literally be extracted from their bodies, and there are ghosts everywhere, there is no religion of any kind that we see being practised by the wizards. But maybe that’s what we should expect – people who have good evidence don’t need to pretend.

    But regarding communities … the atheist community has a lot more to do with formal organisation against the harmful excesses of religion than it does with reinforcing non-belief per se (athough there is a bit of that – in particular, training each other to recognise exactly where the logical flaws are in religious arguments that we initially sense are bogus but can’t quite pin down exactly where the bogosity creeps in). There’s a reason that people who don’t believe in gods do a lot more community-building than people who don’t believe in vampires or astrology, and that is that, although there is no less evidence in support of the existence of vampires or the validity of astrology than there is for the existence of any gods, there is almost no organised community of vampire-believers or astrology supporters systematically distorting public policy, oppressing the rights of women and sexual minorities, trying to prevent the teaching of science, trying to get their beliefs enshrined in legislation etc.

    I reckon that as soon as religion becomes as marginal a concern as vampires and astrology, the organised atheist movement will simply dissolve, having no further need to exist.

    Religious communities do need to engage in belief-reinforcement to a far higher degree than non-religious communities, for the obvious reason that their beliefs are far more implausible, and it takes a lot more mental effort to avoid them withering in the light of critical scrutiny.

  6. Randomfactor says

    Well, at least one of the news reports online I saw left off the question mark. Gotta scare the rubes SOMEHOW.

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