Sunday, July 31, 2011

I have doubts Backyard Skeptics


I’m not one to self-edit simply because what I will say may offend people. I know that this post will piss off a few people. So be it.

I’m a big fan of effective communications. Atheists bus ads, billboards, and even some of the online campaigns, they are all good; until they are not. The ad shown above is ineffective and misleading. It’s a design issue. The ad is white on black. With this color combination, the protective glass acts like a mirror, which obscures the image. You cannot see the add unless you are standing in front of it, and drivers have no hope because it faces the wrong way. With this design and placement, the target audience is small. I would guess that it is limited to bus riders and pedestrians.

havedoubtsMy wife asked me why there was yellow pudding on the book. She was in our truck 40 feet away and could not see that the ad depicted a bible, nor could she tell that the yellow pudding was flowers. When I mentioned that it was flowers, she asked why anyone would put flowers on the bible. She wanted to know what it meant. I had to agree. Were the designers looking for a splash of color?

It turns out I was wrong about the flowers. It’s a cross with evanfinalsome kind of lacy thing. Standing 15 feet away from the poster, it looks like flowers. Oh well…

The ad looks like it was designed by an amateur. If the intent of the ad was to have people see it and think about the message, then the ad fails miserably. It’s visual crap and pretty much useless. But it gest worse, the other add is horrible.  A orange gradient? What were they thinking?

The add was provided by Backyard Skeptics, which is a local Orange County Atheist organization run out of the home of Bruce Gleason. His organization claims 400 members, which is impressive. Yet every time I’ve met the man I’ve come away feeling like I’ve met an evangelical pastor. He’s a true believer. I find that troubling because true believers are the people in this world who really scare me.

They often hold positions that are inconsistent.Take the message, “Have doubts? So do we.” I think it’s reasonable to let others know that there are options. The ad will offend people, but that’s ok if the intent is consistent with the message. The offense is slight, and the message may actually reach the target audience. Where it falls off the rails is when Bruce Gleason talks about his motivation. He think religion is evil and his unstated mission it to convert believers.

"If we put one up that said something about Muslims or Mormons, they would be offended, too," Gleason said. "We are against any supernatural belief that harms the world. And that's what we believe religion does."

Source: Atheist bus-shelter ads in O.C. question God. By Eric Carpenter

I realize that some atheist hold this position. I don’t. I think it’s harmful (and hateful). Plus, it’s inconsistent with a message based on love. What Gleason is saying is that we don’t have doubts all. He believes that what theists believe is harmful and he wants them to come to his vision of reality. He’s using bus ads to proselytize for atheism. Is that desirable? I don’t think so.

Lets discuss Evan. His message is confusing, “I read the Bible. Now I’m a proud atheist.” Bruce Gleason claims the bus ads are focused on showing Christians that we can be good without God. How does this message accomplish that?

Bruce Gleason, director of Backyard Skeptics and a Villa Park resident, said the campaign is meant to "let other nonbelievers know there is a community of non-theists who share the idea that we can be good without God."

Source: Atheist bus-shelter ads in O.C. question God. By Eric Carpenter

Let’s test his statement. He says, …”let other nonbelievers”. Yet the ads are focused on believers. How does that work? He goes on to say… “there is a community of non-theists who share the idea that we can be good without God." The ads don’t talk about being good without God. They don’t mention being good at all. Instead, they are focused on poking the bear and getting a reaction. It’s dishonest and unethical.

The last straw is the link to Backyard Skeptics. If the stated intent was to show that atheists are good without God, then their website should be consistent with the message in the ads. Yet we find a website that is self-aggrandizing and focused on telling others that what they believe is bunk. It’s an obvious bate and switch scam. The focus of the ads is actually to swell the ranks of Backyard Skeptics and to poke the bear of Christianity. How does this help the cause?

I added more photos to the Atheist Blogroll Flickr pool.

Technorati Tags: ,