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Atheist Symbols and Their Significance

In today’s world, more and more people are abandoning religious practices and tilting towards the side of rational and scientific thinking. Atheist thinkers have created their own symbols to instigate greater awareness about atheism. Some atheist symbols represent the various elements of science, while others are a parody of religious symbols.  Irrespective of what it might look like, all atheist symbols have been conceived to unite like-minded people. Let’s take a look at ten atheist symbols and their significance.

List of atheist symbols

The Atomic Symbol

The atomic whirl, or the open-ended atom symbol, is one of the oldest atheist symbols adapted by the American Atheists. The American Atheists are an organization which emphasize science, rationality, and free thinking.  The atomic whirl is based on the Rutherford model of the atom.

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The lower end of the atomic symbol is open-ended, to emphasize the dynamism of science. Science can never be static or confined, and it constantly changes and develops, as society progresses. The atomic symbol also has an incomplete electron orbit, which forms the letter A. This A stands for Atheism, while the very large A in the midst, refers to America.

The Atomic whirl symbol has not gained popularity since the American Atheists have claimed its copyright.

The Empty Set Symbol

The empty set symbol is an atheist symbol that represents the lack of belief in a god. It originated from a letter in the Danish and Norwegian alphabets. The empty set symbol is represented by a circle, which has a line going through it. In mathematics, “empty set” is the term for a set that doesn’t have any elements within it. Similarly, atheists state that the concept of God is empty, and that a divine authority doesn’t exist.

The Invisible Pink Unicorn Symbol

The invisible pink unicorn (IPU) symbol is an amalgamation of the empty set symbol and a unicorn. While the empty set refers to a lack of belief in god, the unicorn is a parody of religion. In atheist beliefs, the unicorn is a goddess of satire. The parody is in the fact that the unicorn is both invisible and pink. This contradiction signifies the inherent flaws in religions and superstitious beliefs.

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The Scarlet A Symbol

The scarlet A symbol is an atheist symbol initiated by Robin Cornwell and endorsed by Richard Dawkins, a famed British ethologist and author. The symbol was used during the OUT campaign which encouraged atheists to speak out against institutionalized religion.

Dawkins campaign was an effort to stop the intervention of religion in public life, schools, politics, and governmental policies. The scarlet A symbol became quite popular due to the lack of a copyright. T-shirts and other such accessories have been designed with the A symbol and sold to people who support atheism or the OUT campaign.

The Darwin Fish Symbol

The Darwin fish symbol is frequently used by atheists all over the globe. It’s a counter to Ichthys, the symbol of Christianity and Jesus. The Darwin fish symbol has the structure and outline of a fish. Within the fish’s body, there are words such as Darwin, science, atheist, or evolution.

The symbol is a protest against the Christian concept of creation, and it emphasizes Darwin’s theory of evolution. Some people believe that the Darwin fish symbol is not effective in propagating the ideals of atheism, because many Christians also believe in the theory of evolution. Due to this reason, the Darwin fish symbol has not become a prominent symbol of atheism.

The Happy Human Symbol

The happy human symbol is used by atheists to signify a humanist world view, wherein humans are at the center of the universe. Although the happy human symbol is not explicitly a sign of atheism, it is used by atheists to signal the unity of mankind. Staunch atheists do not prefer to use this symbol as it does not represent disbelief in god. The happy human symbol is more commonly used as a universal emblem of secular humanism.

Atheist Alliance International Symbol (AAI)

The stylized “A” is the symbol of the atheist alliance international. The symbol was designed by Diane Reed, for an AAI contest in 2007. The AAI is an organization that strives to create greater awareness about atheism. The organization endorses atheist groups and communities at both a local and global level. The AAI also funds projects to promote secular education and free thinking. AAI’s major mission is to promote science and rationality in public policies and governance.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster Symbol

The flying spaghetti monster (FSM) is an atheist symbol that satirizes and parodies existing religions. In this aspect, the FSM is similar to the invisible pink unicorn symbol. The FSM is the deity of Pastafarianism, a social movement critiquing religion and the notion of creation.

The FSM states that there is no proof for the existence of god, just as there is no evidence for a flying spaghetti monster. The FSM symbol was first used in a letter written by Bobby Henderson who opposed the replacement of social evolution with intelligent design. The FSM gained wide public recognition after Henderson’s letter was published on the website.

The group even has a prayer, mimicking the Christian Lord’s Prayer:

“Our pasta, who art in a colander, draining be your noodles. Thy noodle come, Thy sauce be yum, on top some grated Parmesan. Give us this day our garlic bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trample on our lawns. And lead us not into vegetarianism, but deliver us some pizza, for thine is the meatball, the onion, and the bay leaves, forever and ever. R’Amen.”

The Four Horsemen of New Atheism

The Four Horsemen of New Atheism is not an official symbol, but is often used as an emblem of atheism, rationality, and scientific thinking.

The logo has images of the four pioneers of modern atheist philosophy, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris.

The logos’ have especially become popular in t-shirt designs, and many youngsters who have rejected formal religion are particularly fond of it.  

The Atheist Republic Symbol

The atheist republic is a platform for non-believers to share their views and express their dissent against institutionalized religion, rigid dogmas and religious teachings. According to the atheist republic, religion only leads to more oppression and violence, by creating divisions within the society.

The atheist republic has its very own symbol. This symbol features a lion and horse holding onto a large ring. The lion is an emblem of unity, and the strength of mankind. The horse is a depiction of freedom of speech, and liberation from oppressive traditions. The ring stands for peace, unity, and harmony.

Atheist symbols and their meaning

In Brief

Just like theists, atheists also have their own principles, vocations and beliefs. Their outlook towards life and society is represented by symbols. Although there is no official atheist symbol as such, many of the ones described above are widely recognized and acknowledged by atheist founders and propagators.

Affiliate Disclosures

Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.