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Sign From Above? Non-Believers Put Faith in Billboard Overlooking Route 94

San Diego Coalition of Reason, other atheist groups launch monthlong effort tied to talk at UCSD.

Updated at 9:55 p.m. Jan. 31, 2013

Westbound motorists on state Route 94 see a Stella Rosa wine ad on a billboard west of Lemon Grove. Eastbound travelers savor a different message: “Atheism: A Personal Relationship with Reality.”

“It’s the first time we’ve used that slogan,” said Jim Eliason of the San Diego Coalition of Reason, an umbrella organization of 18 nonbeliever groups. 

“We’re hoping to create a lot of buzz. Every time we put up a billboard, we get a tremendous response.”

Four years ago, one was up in La Mesa.

The latest billboard was posted early Thursday morning. Costing $4,000—with $1,500 from American Atheists and the rest from community donors—it will stay up for a month, Eliason said.

Why state Route 94 in the College Area?

“It was time do a billboard again, and … American Atheist President David Silverman” will speak Feb. 24 at UC San Diego, Eliason said.

A 50-year-old North Park resident raised in a Christian household, Eliason was out with a young colleague taking pictures of the billboard about 9:15 a.m. Thursday.

 “There’s a big difference between respecting people and respecting their beliefs," Silverman told KPBS. "I respect every person, but I do not respect the belief in an invisible man in the sky, because that’s ridiculous.

Debbie Allen, coordinator of the Coalition of Reason, told U-T San Diego that the 2009 billboard along Interstate 8 said: “Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone.”

“In part because of the publicity, the coalition has grown from nine groups to 18,” the U-T reported. “It now boasts about 2,000 members.”

Depicting a stack of books holding up a curtain, the billboard was “very clever,” Allen told the U-T, adding:

Obviously, we want to get across the message that when you pull up the curtain on the universe or on reality, first of all you do so through education, science, etc., which is what the books symbolize. But on the other side, it’s just the natural world. There are no wizards or goblins or supernatural beings behind the curtain.

Eliason, speaking loudly (see video) to be heard above the din of passing traffic, said atheists meet Saturdays in Balboa Park as an “outreach to nonbelievers.”

“Most of the believers who come talk to us are very respectful,” he said.

For himself and like-minded people who come from religious backgrounds, “Somewhere along the way we realized we didn’t believe anymore.”

Eppur si muove February 07, 2013 at 07:45 PM
"You are funny Eppur , did you get any sleep?" Thank you and yes, 10 hours. What a strange question though. "Your insulting answers are as long winded as your theology." I find it amusing that you write insultingly, but when you lose the argument, you then criticize others for being insulting back to you. Now, what in the world is my "theology"? Please understand that I am terribly curious as to what you assume my theology is, especially considering the fact that I never gave one and have repeatedly admitted my atheism. "You haven't given a solid premises or foundation for your ideas." What claim have I made or position have I put forward that lacked any foundation? Just saying things like this, without any example, is NOT a "solid premise or foundation" to make an argument. How ironic. "You state that read books and are influenced by demonic friends." No I didn't and no I didn't, but I'm not even entirely sure what you are even saying here. Not that I don't, but I haven't said anything like either one of those things. Look Jake, I've said a lot. Why aren't you using anything that I have said? Why are you simply making up things that I have said or just assuming things so that you can argue those strawmen? Why not address any number of points that I have made in direct response to yours and/or any question that I have posed to you?
Eppur si muove February 07, 2013 at 08:05 PM
"How do you know what is right or wrong, dishonest or foul and where do you get your statistics?" I am not the supreme authority on right or wrong, but I already explained how I personally try and find the answers for myself, so I don't even understand your question. As far as statistics that I gave, you could try googling them on your internet, but if you need someone to do the work for you: http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html http://holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm & http://www.pewforum.org/government/religion-in-prisons.aspx "Who decides what is intellectually honest?" Facts. "Why do you put your trust in information that is always changing?" Like what? I never said that I "trust changing information." I said that I always strive to be open to new information. It's called learning and/or following the evidence (rather than "knowing" the "truth" and manipulating your answers to fit or simply reject any opposing evidence that happens to come in). "Is putting other down a part of your changing philosophy and way of thinking?" If you meant "putting others down", I don't think that is a philosophy or even a way of thinking. However, compliments are not funny, I like to laugh; and confident ignorance should always be given the respect it deserves. I still have a hard time understanding this question though from the same person that started with calling all non-believers "ignorant," "pathetic" and immoral.
Eppur si muove February 07, 2013 at 08:28 PM
"You say the Bible is a foul book because of slavery , murder, homosexuality etc, all things invoked by our sinful nature, but how do you know they are wrong?" Okay, I don't think I can have a conversation with someone that doesn't understand how owning other people as farm equipment or murder is a bad idea. Additionally, I never said that homosexuality is wrong. I said that murdering and/or discriminating against others based on how they were born is disgusting and dangerously moronic. Finally on this, these are not things "invoked by our sinful nature" as you say, they are prescribed and taught for a number of reasons and in a number of ways in the Bible (as I mentioned them in murdering for homosexuality, not enjoying it). Have you even read this book? "Hitler thought he was right for killing over 11 million people" Yes, so did the Catholic church. What's your point? "a modern day holocaust exists in the US everyday with over 54 million abortions since 1973." Yes and since 1973 there have been 44,139,340,000 miscarriages in the U.S.. So if you seriously have this problem with the unborn, I strongly suggest you start talking to this god you claim to "know" so well about it. Don't bother praying though, because you know most of those parents prayed for their baby to have been born and we also know that prayer doesn't work (here's one from a Christian organization): http://www.templeton.org/newsroom/press_releases/060407step.html
Eppur si muove February 07, 2013 at 08:37 PM
"Are these atrocities a mere exercise of a persons evolved morality?" I don't think you actually thought about this and I really suggest you think about things before you put them out there. If our morality has evolved, we would expect a couple of things. We would expect that it would not be perfect; not be uniform across all populations or even individuals within; we would expect it to be changing (i.e. slavery, equality for women, etc.); we would expect it to be adaptable to an individual's environment and obtained information. If we expected morality to be objective from an omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, perfect creator - we would expect the opposite of all of that. We would also expect the book authored in the name of such a personal deity to be consistent, good and not have commandments like, killing your bride on your wedding night, at her father's doorstep, when she cannot prove her virginity (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). What is closer to reality? Come on out Jake, the reality is fine.
Eppur si muove February 07, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Referring to the "atrocities" of Hitler and abortion: "I know they are not from the Bible." Look, if you aren't even going to read the book, at least look this stuff up on your internet before presenting such claims. Try googling, "genocide" or "child murder" in the bible. Here's a few lines: "And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain." -Deuteronomy 2:34 Deuteronomy 3:6 Deuteronomy 7:2 Deuteronomy 7:16 Deuteronomy 13:15 Deuteronomy 20:16-17 Joshua 6:21 Joshua 10:40 1 Samuel 15:2-3 There are many more and I feel like I'm forgetting about a deluge in Genesis where maybe a large ark was involved. Anyways, I think you get the picture. These things are in the bible. Don't push the book on others if you aren't even going to study it yourself.

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