Friday, October 31, 2014

Blog 3 - Interpretations

For this week, I chose three memes that challenged Christian views of being the "right" religion, or idea that one would be morally correct. Each meme keeps with the theme seen in the samples — that this particular Facebook atheist group uses memes to contradict monotheistic interpretations of God in a sarcastic and humorous way.


I've already discussed where "Advice God" originated from. However this meme above, incorporates a mix of repackaging and mimicry of  "Scumbag Steve" and "Advice God" in which God wear Steve's hat. In a nutshell, the Scumbag hat is supposed to represent someone letting down another person or inconveniencing someone in a "jerk like" fashion. The first line of image text refers to the idea that each monotheistic religion has a belief that they are the group ordained and blessed by God and will prevail in the end. The second line of image text, sarcastically mentions how each major monotheistic religion will essentially kill themselves for not agreeing with one another.

Above, is a twist on the Advice Animal meme, only a bible is in the center and the multi-colored wheel normally seen, is in shades of tan. It's suggesting how the biblical interpretation of God's origination is a paradox that can't be explained solely through scripture. The added "LOL," is meant to add sarcasm and the atheist's view that intelligent design is contradictory.  

Once again on this group, we see Advice God presented with a scumbag hat. The meme is discussing homosexuality, a discussion that is both commonly discussed and argued among many people. The underlying argument: God must hate his creations when they do not align with certain biblical scriptures. The atheist on this comment thread would argue that it is contradictory or evil for a divine creator to hate something supposedly made in his image. God's hat would symbolize the insensitivity and ego-laden God that many Atheists seem to object. 

Each of the above memes utilizes repackaging to incorporate an original meme, but alter the message and form in a certain way. In the cases above we can see the Scumbag hat utilized with Advice God as well as a bible used as an Advice Animal. The hat implies that God as a insolent puppeteer who imparts various interpretations to anger people. These techniques impart religion is lofty because without its legalism, it wouldn't hold. 

My samples use referential communication as a stance. As defined by Shifman, this kind of communication is "oriented towards the outside world" (41). The memes address issues like religious tensions, intelligent design/evolution and homosexuality, which has been a weighty topic of discussion in the last couple of years. Those who post on the atheist meme page are looking to discredit or paint an unrealistic picture of how religion functions. These memes also stand as emotive communication because the issues presented target some difficult inward reflection, such as "What do I believe?" or "Are my sentiments rational?"

Friday, October 24, 2014

Advice God & Demotivational posters

There are many different kinds of atheists. Some are more vocal about their beliefs (or lack thereof) and often set a stereotype that those of the atheist community are mean spirited and out to eradicate religion. I would argue this is not the case. Atheists often believe that religion stands in the way of scientific reasoning and keeps people from thinking rationally and objectively. 

The memes I chose to look at this week from the Atheist Meme base Facebook page were an "Advice God" and two "Demotivational memes." Each of the memes highlighted evoke a sense of sarcasm and drive to instill rational thought.

 Pictured to the Left is "Advice God." If you know anything about Advice God, he actually gained popularity in 2010, but his origins come from the meme "Advice Animal." The face pictured is actually from Michelangelo's painting "The Creation of the Sun and the moon." This meme in particular evokes a sense of sarcasm. The first line "Thousands of religions" seems vague and a little obvious, but the second line "Hope you guessed right," suggests that is silly to choose a religion, when many religions claim they are the sacred and prophetic. Religion, such as Christianity asks those to follow (if taken literally) Jesus. Those who not will go to hell. Its generalizing and breaking down a complex topic, but the meme is implying "Good luck, everyone thinks they're right, so why should you?" One person comments essentially saying that there is no "right" religion, because religious practices are often determined on your culture and location in the world. Another person said people might as well close their eyes and put their finger on a colored spinning wheel.

This next two images are "demotivational posters:" which are meant to "diminish morality" or self-esteem. Both images function similarly. Much like Advice God, sarcasm is lays on thick.

The image above is often seen on cloudy days or at sunset. Somehow the light streams from the sky in such a way that it looks ethereal, celestial. The poster functions as a dialogue. The first poster embedded is arguing to atheists that they have seen something from the divine which a miracle. The atheist argument is something scientific. Here they claim "Pareidolia." It's often seen in the news as a the woman who finds Jesus on her toast and claims it was divine works. The atheist claims science, they want rationality to explain that its really just a psychological phenomenon where the brain is stimulated in such a way that something familiar seems significant.

Above, we have two images — Jesus and Godzilla. This poster brings more humor into the discussion. It's still suggesting the idea of pareidolia, or maybe that people fabricate their experiences  with the divine. However, the poster also suggests that believing in Jesus is also quite similar to believing in Godzilla — neither exist.

Listed below are my sample of memes I plan to discuss throughout the duration of this project (including the above three)

Meme 1
Meme 2
Meme 3
Meme 4
Meme 5 
Meme 6
Meme 7
Meme 8
Meme 9
Meme 10
Meme 11
Meme 12

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Facebook community that I chose for this meme series provides content which center around atheism. The Facebook group was founded in 2012. The admins write that because many of them are "Ex-Christians," they feel they are most qualified to mock Christianity. The "About" section also mentions how the vast majority of the audience is also familiar with Christian or western religion. 

Below is the link to this page:

They also give a disclosure that they have posted memes regarding other religions, however, they don't want them sent if the photos "suck." The admins provide many links to videos regarding Atheism (such as: Atheism described in 60 seconds, Atheist make the mistake of reading religious text literally:, What started the big bang, etc.) and is obviously trying to prove their point in the matter of religion. They then go on to provide an apologetic of 20 paragraphs for their reason for being atheists. In the manifesto of defending atheism, an admin talks about why he or she defends science: "For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence -­- evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded."

The admins pose the question "Why do you believe in God" rather than "Why don't I believe in God." They are wanting to express logic and reasoning. Interestingly, the admin goes on to say that he doesn't have a problem with people believing in God, however when religion begins to infringe on people's rights, that is when the admin takes issue. They actually acknowledge that faith exists, however, but "believing in something doesn't make it true."

The admin goes on to recount a persona experience of how he became an atheist:

"But anyway, there I was happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that."
At the end he goes on to note a personal revelation — that honesty is important and that requires the truth — no matter how much the person doesn't like what they hear. 

This is a relatively popular page. It has more than 106,000 likes. People post actively and engage with one another, unlike many of the other Atheism meme pages I have come across. Throughout my time in this series, I'd like to focus on the memes they post and the communities response to those memes.