I recently wrote a blog where I pulled an article from the UK Telegraph saying that our movement is nothing more than the "least inspiring movement in recent years".
I am adamant that one of the main reasons for this and other types of negative press out there is because of the billboard campaign by American Atheists. The billboards are inflammatory. They are not thought provoking or lead to thoughtful debate or discussion. They are insulting and I am frustrated that this is how American Atheists think our movement should be perceived and represented. I have wrote to the Chairman of the Board of AA and asked him to reconsider this campaign. Although the idea of the billboard I'm all for, what they say needs to make people say or think "wow, that's great, and it's something I want to check out further". We need to do better!
What are your thoughts on this? Do we need to write to American Atheists via petition?
Negative Examples of the Campaign:
"You KNOW It's a Myth. Celebrate the Season with Reason" - This is the most common one.
"You Know There Is No God -- We Know You're Right!"
"Jesus Affirmed a Gay Couple"
"You know they are All Scams"
"Don't believe in God?" "You are not alone."
IMO, those examples you've given aren't negative at all. Not in a scathing way. They are just matter-of-fact, and, imo, all religions ARE scams. I see nothing wrong with saying these.
I think we also need to understand the medium here. Any billboard with more than 8 words is overkill. Typically, any more than that and they won't be / can't be read, though it is not uncommon to see some that have much more than that.
When people are driving down the road, the message must catch their attention and identitfy to them where they can learn more (or buy the product, or where to turn off to eat at Joe's Diner). They are not meant to be thought-provoking, and they can't be.
Also, a mixture of approaches will likely get more results, as different people respond to different things.
I just don't see a big issue here. No matter what atheists say, theists will likely have a problem with it on some level. That is unavoidable. There is no way to frame your message in a way that never offends anyone at any time.
Dallas I take issue especially in the last one "You know they are all Scams". It is an insult. But I get your perspective.
I've done a lot of work in conflict resolution and the way to get a point across is not to cause defensiveness through aggression which is what it does.
I hate to take O'Reilly's viewpoint, but taken out of context, if I call anything you care about "a scam" it is insulting. It would give me no reason to engage your further.
I understand what you're saying, but not long ago I ran across some research that showed that people cling to their beliefs all the stronger when you've systematically shown them that they are flawed. I can't quite remember the source at the moment, or I'd link to it, but it was something along those lines.
Trying to reason with someone IS NOT an effective tool for getting them to change their minds. Of course, I understand that calling them an idiot is ineffective, either. Ultimately, I think it has to be a realization in the individual himself. He has to take the step to acknowledge that his beliefs are without evidence. If he can't do that, then reason, ridicule, shame, or social shunning will not do it.
Then how about a message that is engaging rather than provoking?
Aspire to Reason
Perhaps it's a type of Dunning-Kruger effect, where religious people tend to overestimate the validity of religious arguments and its proponents, and underestimate the validity of scientific arguments and its proponents. In religion, the search for knowledge is assumed to be negative and persons with knowledge should be doubted.
Many religious people refuse to accept the authority of scientists upon the meaning and origin of life, and therefore ignore the arguments. Admittedly, I am not very good at listening to and concidering the arguments of religion, because I fnd it hard to understand why anyone would doubt the massive amount of evidence to the contrary.
The most worrying thing about religioin is not it's acceptance of a higher being, it's the rejection of evidence based science.