I wanted to do one more quick post.
While I may vehemently disagree with Richard Dawkins’ worldview, two of the things I respect greatly about him are his passion for his beliefs and the savvy he displays in getting them across. Frankly, I think he is quite an evangelist for his cause — however you would word that cause: atheistic fundamentalism, Darwinism über alles, what have you.
In these areas, I think that his book The God Delusion was more a misstep than anything else, which is fine by me considering that it is a siren song luring the gullible to shipwreck on rocks of horrendous a priori assumptions, poor historical analysis, et al.
[On this point, I highly recommend the book The Dawkins Delusion? by Pope Richard’s fellow Oxfordians Alister and Joanna McGrath. Fantastic. Clearly reasoned and balanced — everything that The God Delusion is not. The book caught my eye with the quote at the top of the front cover from atheist and Darwinist Michael Ruse, who wrote, “The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why.” Would I agree with everything the McGraths write? Certainly not. Is it a well-written book with a well-argued message? Absolutely. Does it point out the many flaws in Dawkins’ reasoning (as well as his “who needs evidence” leaps of faith)? Wonderfully so.]
Still, misstep or no, he is otherwise a deft evangelist and popularizer of atheism. One of his means of popularizing atheism can be seen in his “Out Campaign,” in which he encourages atheists to “come out” or to “stand out” and be counted. One of the symbols of that campaign — again, very savvy move — has been a scarlet “A”:
The “A” obviously stands for “atheist” and the scarlet color conjures up images of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, forced to live amongst her fellow Puritans, branded with an embroidered scarlet “A” on her chest as a sign to all of her adultery. That the sin for which she is being publicly punished is connected with religious hypocrisy in the story doesn’t hurt the symbolism either. She is clearly the hero of the novel, who shows a dignity above that of those surrounding her. And I will happily admit that the choice of such a symbol for Dawkins’ Out Campaign for evangelizing atheists and encouraging them to “come out” is ingenious. It embodies a spirit of romance, a sense of the burden of martyrdom, a struggle against hypocrisy (in particular, the religious sort), and does all of that while providing a “cool” means of self-identificaion with the group and with its common cause.
It is this “A” that brought my attention to the campaign (thus, it worked!), when I began seeing it on websites here and there. Credit where credit is due: this is good marketing. Offering the graphic up copyright free meant it could spread easily, and it does, indeed, seem to have spread. The only name I have seen attached to the creation of the scarlet “A” is “Josh” but I’m sure that more info is out there on the Out Campaign’s website somewhere (outcampaign.org).
But just because an idea is well-marketed doesn’t mean it’s the truth.
Which brought me to a spare 10 minutes I had last week, in which I was in need of a diversion. That diversion resulted in this:
Not the best quality, I know, but considering it was my first time poking around with the free online photo editing features of picnik.com, I was happy.
In this case, I tried to express a bit of my mathematical side. In writing mathematics, the upside down capital “A” (or “∀”) is used as a symbol for the qualifier “for all” or “for each”. For example, if you wanted to write the phrase “For all x where x is a real number, there exists a real number y such that x + y = 0″ in symbols, you would use an upside down “A” for the words “for all”. In fact, it might look like this (assuming I can get the LaTeX syntax right):
(I have to say “might” look like that, because conventions differ. For instance, I was taught a symbol for “such that” by my topology professor that I have always liked, but it isn’t popular, and the symbol is not available in LaTeX as far as I can tell. Some conventions would have dropped the parentheses, some would have used a colon, et al. I suppose even in symbolic texts, one can exhibit an accent…)
So, by inverting the scarlett “A” and adding the word truth at the top, the picture intends to say, “Truth for all.”
Geeky, I know. I’m not one for what is often called “witness wear” and I sure don’t plan on putting it on a shirt. I hope to live my life in such a way that my example speaks more loudly and clearly than a slogan on a T-shirt and, frankly, I think such merchandise often has the opposite effect of that planned by its wearers. But once the image of turning the “A” upside down and using it to say “Truth for all” popped into my geeky brain, it refused to leave. Perhaps this will finally rid me of it. 🙂
Whether the 10 minutes I spent was well spent or not, I can only say that I did return to my script work a bit invigorated. After all, that was the theme of one of the scripts: the second resurrection and a time when truth will be available to all.
“And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.”
Among the threads composing that veil of deception (Rev. 12:9) will be atheistic fundamentalism. And it, too, will find its rightful place in the dustbin of history when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
[By the way, our free booklet on the second resurrection and God’s amazing plan to extend salvation to all who have ever lived but never understood is available here: “Is This the Only Day of Salvation?”]