A New Atheist Ad Campaign: Choose Your Hell Realm

ABC News is reporting a $200,000 holiday season atheist ad campaign in the United States, sponsored by the American Humanist Association. One of the group’s ads sounds particularly interesting, for it specifically targets women:

One of the association’s television spots highlights passages from the Bible that indicate women should be subservient to men, while saying that humanists believe in gender equality.

Here’s the press conference that launched the ad campaign:

In watching this, I find it interesting that the lead speaker places emphasis on actually exposing people to outrageous Bible passages (on the assumption that if people actually read the Bible they’d be alarmed at what’s in it). But I wonder if such a media strategy hits its target. A lot of people are far more terrified of complete existential freedom in a godless universe than they are at the idea that God himself is tyrannous and crass toward nonbelievers. In other words, the hell realm of the believer’s psyche is not the hell realm of the nonbeliever’s psyche. An atheist ad campaign that doesn’t explain, clearly, why atheism isn’t a hell realm is probably not going to get all that far with believers. (Not that it would get all that far anyway.)

So while we’re here, why isn’t atheism a hell realm?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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3 Responses to A New Atheist Ad Campaign: Choose Your Hell Realm

  1. andrewclunn says:

    As I live, I find that existential fear in all its forms seems (to me) to be more about conditioning and narrative than anything else. Visceral immediate fear is instinctive but existential fear requires one to accept an argument about what the consequences of something will be. It seems to be based on culturally maintained narratives as much as anything else. I often wonder if individuals with William’s syndrome avoid existential fear as a consequence of lacking sufficient pattern recognition.

    • santitafarella says:

      I guess I was thinking of Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor boasting to Jesus that most people are sheep and find freedom intolerable: Jesus’s path of existential freedom (as understood by Dostoevsky) was too heroic a path for most, and really only accessible to a few. I suspect that is true. I don’t know what William’s Syndrome is. I’ll look into that.

      I wonder about fundamentalist women. One of the reasons, I suspect, they live as they do has to do with simplification (in terms of decision making, ambition pressures, etc) and the fact that the lives of secular urban women generally look like a bad deal to them.

      —Santi

  2. Paradigm says:

    I actually knew a woman who converted to Islam. Kind of ugly and crazy for attention. Also I read about muslim women who dislike convertites for getting the attention of the men. Even if they look ugly they are still considered a prize.

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