29 July 2007

Signs of the times

Ideas for logos or symbols for atheists have been floating around for a while. For a while I had been somewhat of a fan of the simple circle. But yesterday PZ linked to an old post of his wherein folks brainstormed symbol ideas, and I fell in love with a new symbol: a circle containing a five-pointed asterisk.

It's simple, elegant, and easy to render. And connections can be drawn to a number of things:

The Pansy
: from Wikipedia,
The pansy has long been the symbol of freethought, originally being used in the literature of the American Secular Union in the late 1800s. The reasoning behind the pansy being the symbol of freethought lies in both the flower's name and appearance. The pansy derives its name from the French word pensée, which means "thought"; it was so named because the flower resembles a human face, and in the month of August it nods forward as if deep in thought.
As PZ points out, the asterisk bears a bit of a connection to the five-petaled pansy.


The Sand Dollar: hooray for echinoderms! Not only are they just plain cool, but a number of metaphors could be drawn to the sea. Besides, if Christians can try to co-opt the sand dollar as a symbol, then why can't we? (And we'd do it without sounding like a third-rate greeting card.)

The Footnote: the great strength of the thinking tradition is our ability to cite our sources.

The Star: a recognition that we are but a pale blue dot in the universe.

The Vitruvian Man: a bit of a stretch perhaps, but to me the encircled asterisk is reminiscent of Leonardo's famous drawing and the cultural break from the stiflingly religious mindset of the Middle Ages.

The Neuron: even more of a stretch, but I see dendrites, or perhaps synaptic buds.

Any other ideas as to what the asterisk & circle might relate to?

PZ was right not to try to pick a "winner" on his thread. It's really about reaching critical mass in public opinion, not waiting for official decrees from authority figures. So I'm doing my part by throwing my chips in with my current symbol of choice.

To help display the symbol, I've been playing around with some preliminary flag designs. (I just think flags are neat, and fun to design.) The idea is to have an elegant means of displaying the symbol, something more than just slapping it on a bare background. Here's my current design (though by no means set in stone):

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