Atheist Tattoo? March 27, 2008

Atheist Tattoo?

Someone out there has to have the tattoo of the Scarlet A by now.


Who are you and where are the pictures?

And if not that one, what’s a good tattoo that represents atheism?

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • The person is Matt Dillahunty. He’s President of the Atheist Community of Austin and hosts two atheist related shows. A TV show called “The Atheist Experience” and an internet radio show called “The Non-Prophets.” Both are available in podcast form.

    He’s mentioned his tattoo on The Non-Prophets in the past. He may have shown it on the TV show as well, but I’m not from Austin and only get the audio of the TV show. On the last episode of The Non-Prophets, he told the story of meeting Dawkins at a book signing and Dawkins getting a picture of the tattoo.

  • Brilliant idea! I’ve been looking to get some tats for awhile. WE NEED INSPIRATION 🙂

  • I know someone who has the American Atheists logo tattoo.

  • Becky
  • Damn you godless geek…you beat me to it.

    yeah I heard the same show I want to see a photo of it too.

  • 2 things are preventing me from getting that tattoo.

    1: A whole bunch of my relatives were tattooed for their beliefs and then gassed. I know, there are a lot of differences here… it’s just one of those things, y’know?

    2: The scarlet A is really frickin’ ugly. We need a better logo. Hasn’t anyone talked to ANY graphic design people at all??

  • Alycia

    I’m a graphic design person, and I agree that all the ones I’ve seen are fugly.

  • stogoe

    I love the scarlet A. It’s beautiful.

    Anyways, if I were to get an atheism tattoo, it would almost certainly be the ‘natural’ from music notation. But I have another tat ahead of it in the queue, and I’m not even sure I want more than one.

  • io

    I guess you guys will enjoy this one here.

  • Vincent

    Not only is it ugly, but who wants to be Hester Prynne?

  • TXatheist

    Next time I run into Matt Dilahaunty I’ll ask to see his tattoo. Non-prophets is an audio show but you can see the atheist experience tv show on google video. Don’t know if there is a show with his tattoo. We both served in the Navy but I had no intentions of getting a tattoo. Could never find one that I wanted to wear for 50 years. I actually have considered getting the word atheist put on my shoulder though but thought I’d wait til I was closer to retirement for whatever reason. Just figured if I got one my son would grow up and use that phrase “but you have one” and think I’d sign some pre-18 waiver so he could get one.

  • I like the irony of the scarlet A. I can relate to what Jeremy said but by doing this voluntarily, I think it is empowering. You can’t stigmatize me for something I am proud of being.

  • Writerdd –

    I can’t disagree with you. Like I said though, something about tattooing my beliefs just makes me kinda…. I don’t know….

    I know that’s not a word, but hey. 🙂

    That said, in all sorts of logical ways I totally agree with it being empowering.

  • RobL

    I am not proud to be an atheist any more than I am proud to be a mammal. An atheist is what I am, not who I am. I have a high level of discomfort with religious symbology to begin with and the idea of tattooing an atheist A to my body is pretty repugnant. I am totally turned off by religious tattoos and I would be equally turned off by an atheist tattoo. If we don’t want people thinking atheism is a religion we need to be careful not to make it look like a religion.

  • Matt

    I’ve never been against tattoos but if I ever got one I would want to be 100% sure I would never regret it. An atheism symbol is the first time I think I have found something I can be 100% sure about. Notice though that I said “an” atheist symbol, not “this” atheist symbol.

    That’s all changed however thanks to the the idea from RobL. I just need to find a kick-ass mammal symbol now.

  • I’d always assumed that tattooing was some sort of hold over from earlier forms of ritual scarification. Most scarification rituals are grounded in religion or at least heavily tied to tribalism and the superstitions involved with that. There are certainly supernatural overtones in the history of tattoos.

    I find it ironic that the atheist Scarlet A has been used in the same way.

  • Alycia

    hoverFrog, isn’t their a similar history behind piercing? I was told that there is tribal ritualistic symbology behind every kind of piercing (not navels, of course, unless there was an ancient tribe of sorority girls).

    It’s interesting to read all the viewpoints on tattoos. Up until a decade or so ago, one got tattoos to stand out and be individual. Now that they are so common and trendy, it’s more unique to not have any at all.

  • I wouldn’t worry too much about overtones of any sort in tattooing as a whole. There are supernatural overtones, after all, to the names of the days of the week, but we use those all the time without a blink.

    It seems to me that the obvious atheist tattoo is no tattoo at all.

    (Edited to add: Jinx!)

  • Phil

    This is what I’m going to get done. It’s arabic for “infidel”.

  • PrimateIR

    No tattoos, though I might do an embroidery A. Does anyone besides me think its funny that our symbol is co-opted from a book with a very religious theme?

  • I’m not too hot on the scarlet ‘A’… I’ve always been partial to the atomic-looking ‘A’ that was floating around previously. It had a sort of 50’s sci-fi appeal (which is why I’m sure most other people hated it).

    That said, I’m not sure I would get that tattooed either. I am looking to get a Deinonychus fossil tattooed on my forearm… It’s not an atheism tattoo, but it is kinda pro-science (in the creationism-kicking field of paleontology).

  • I have an atheist tattoo. Feel free to check it out. It’s on the outside of my ankle so I can control when and where I show it off. I’m going to get the “A” on the outside of my other ankle. I got this one about a year ago. – My Tattoo

  • Sharon

    It’s not specifically an atheist tattoo, but I did get a stickleback tattoo last month (it’s been a month already? awesome!) because I want to study evolution/speciation, and that’s the species that got me obsessed with the subject. 🙂

  • mike

    Really, I think that a tattoo of an atom would be best, or a carbon molecule. Pretty self explanatory.

  • I don’t know if I’d ever get a tattoo. Like 90% of atheists/agnostics out there, I have a huge respect for the possibility that I may be wrong, and I think no one should ever be certain about anything. And so a tattoo seems like it might be too permanent, like a life-long brand.

    However, if there is one thing I am confident about, it is my atheism. There are many things I have a lot of doubt about, and atheism is not one of them (but I still, of course, fall way short of certainty, as everyone should.) So I might get an atheism-related tattoo one day, but if I do I will do it very cautiously and thoughtfully.

  • JimboB

    I have a Humanist tattoo on my right arm. Not quite atheistic, but close enough for me.

    See pic via facebook.

  • Jodie

    Wait a second. Wouldn’t the perfect atheist tattoo be, you know….Nothing?

  • I so want an atheist tattoo. Besides for the American Atheists Logo, I have thought about the following (in the order that I like the best to least):

  • Alan Bombria

    My fave I found right here on Friendly Atheist

    I’m going to get it in August when my wife and I along with my step daughter get tats together. Daughter turns 18 in August, so I can’t get in trouble with her bio dad.

    img tagged worked in preview. I guess they are not allowed here…
    /end edit

  • Amy

    I got the Invisible Pink Unicorn tattooed on the inside of my ankle a couple of years ago, see pics here (mine’s the 7th one down:

    I struggled for 15 years with my Southern Baptist upbringing. When I finally realized I was an atheist, and, most importantly, when I finally realized it was okay, my tat was a way for me to finally close off that dark chapter of my life and move on to a more enlightened freethinking life. It was not for anyone but me (hence the location on the inside of my ankle where no one sees it unless I want them to). Everytime I look at it it reminds me of how far I’ve come from my brainwashed youth.

  • Tattoo’s will lead you to hell

  • Jen

    Tattoos freak the hell out of me. They never wash off. Christ almighty, that has to be weird, for your skin to suddenly be blue where it was skin colored.

  • Just a quick reality check, everybody: Tattoos aren’t necessarily permanent. They can be covered with other tattoos, and they can be removed entirely. Removal is not cheap, but it can be done.

    And I’m still toying with the idea of the DNA tattoo. Not atheist exactly, but I’m really more a naturalist than I am an atheist, and I think DNA fits that perfectly. It does kind of scream “nerd.” though — especially since my other two tattoos are of a labyrinth and the Jabberwock. I’d just have to make my peace with that.

  • I’m not the kind of person to get a tattoo, but if I did it would be a DNA double-helix that tapers to a point with a dagger hilt on the other end. I call it Darwin’s Dagger.

  • “especially since my other two tattoos are of a labyrinth and the Jabberwock.”

    You have a JABBERWOCK tattoo? That’s the mosxt awesome thing ever!

  • Chris_O

    When I was 18, I got a cross tattooed on my back. As an atheist, it doesn’t seem strange for me to keep it, it’s part of my history, how I was raised. Even though I don’t believe, it still means something to me. So even if you change your mind about atheism, I don’t see having an atheist tattoo as something you’d need to have removed. I’m still looking for a good symbol. I don’t like the scarlet A. I’m thinking of the zen “enso” symbol:

    Even though that’s not really an atheist tattoo, it seems to encompass a lot of atheist ideas.

  • Here are my tatts:

    The IPU is, obviously, explicitly an atheist tatt. The Rebel Alliance symbol isn’t atheist related, really, but I like to think that it could be interpreted that way – atheists are the rebel alliance fighting the Empire of Theism.

  • Just Some Girl

    I got a tattoo of a circle with a slash through it, ala the last symbol on this page:

    I wanted to get a zero tattoo before I even thought about tattooing myself with an atheist symbol, but this made it even more perfect. (First got the idea from a video game.) My tattoo is on my collarbone and has thinner lines, though. I have to say, most of the symbols I have come across look shoddy, from the 90’s, or just way too busy. I think the zero (circle with a slash) looks simple and timeless. Well, I hope so.

  • Cameron Pittman

    I’m studying abroad right now but as soon as I get back to the states (something seems sketchy about getting inked in a foreign country) I’m getting the equations for length contraction and time dilation on my back. Relativity = awesome.

  • How about this symbol for grounded? I really like the null symbol, but it would also be nice to use a symbol that indicates this-worldly concern.

  • I think I’d get tired of having to explain what it meant to everyone who saw it and deal with all the disapproval and attempts to convert me.

  • SPC Joni Cromwell

    I just got the American Atheists logo tattooed on my forearm.

  • I got a trilobite tattoo a few years back. I am looking to get a few more ‘fossil’ type tattoos to complete the picture…Go to to see it…

  • amanda

    i got one recently and i agree the ‘Scarlet A’ was to boring so i got this one

  • wayne

    I got one of the word logos in the original greek. I’m a philosophy major and aristotle wrote much about this. It is the root for logic which I allow to run my life. I got it in the oiginal greek how he would have written it. I can’t paste the unicode so just visit the wikipedia page to see it: The small text doesn’t do it jsutice if anyone wants a pdf of exactly what i got i’de be happy to email it to you (waynenilsen at gmail)

    I allow logic to quite literally run the most important parts of my life including my (non)religious convictions. The tattoo runs 18 inches of my spine top to bottom about 3 inches thick. I liked the spine because logic is central to my thought processes much like my spine is central to my body. I think this best represents my atheistic points of view.

  • rob
  • Lee H

    I plan on getting a uniqe idea the OUT A inside the Atheist atom instead of the regular A.

  • Kat

    I have never really wanted a tattoo, but I’ve become obsessed with getting an atheist one. My family is German, so I wanted to honor my heritage, too. I have looked all over for athiest tattoo ideas, then it came to me. Get “Befreien Sie Denker” in old German script. It means “Free thinker”. I don’t know if I’ll ever go through with it, but kinda I want to.

  • Tina


    Please make sure to get the CORRECT German word tattooed if you decide to do that. I am from Germany and “Befreien Sie Denker” does NOT mean “freethinker”. The German word for freethinker is “Freidenker”. So make sure you get the proper word put into old script.

    I have a tattoo of the flying spaghetti monster on my wrist. Of course, not every atheist is necessarily THAT into the whole Pastafarian thing…

  • kyle

    atheist reading up, infidel reading down

  • Marc


    I am in South Africa, and I have been googling around for an atheist tattoo idea that catches my fancy.

    I quite like the idea of the Arabic script for the word “kafir” or unbeliever or infidel. I don’t know how to post a pic of it here. Use Google language tools to translate “infidel” into Arabic if you’re interested.

    The word has some significant resonances for me. Firstly it obviously says “unbeliever” in Arabic, but more importantly, the word “kafir” is the root word of the hated racial epithet “Kaffir” which was used as an Apartheid era slur for black people. (Like “nigger” in the USA, but with the added baggage of decades of institutionalised racism, the political, military, and social subjugation of the majority of South Africans by a racist minority etc.)

    I am not black, but I was always an anti-Apartheid supporter. I was often beaten up at school for being a “kaffir boetie” (“nigger brother” or “nigger lover”), and I have always been opposed to racial discrimination in any form. I come from a family of anti-Apartheid campaigners, going back to my grandmother who was spied on, harassed, and eventually banned by the Apartheid government.

    So, I think the Arabic lettering of the word “kafir” is very symbolic of where I see myself as an atheist, a non-racist, and as an African. It may pose a problem for me if I ever visit an Arabic speaking country…

    Any comments about this? I need to discuss this sort of thing for some time until I’m SURE it’s the tattoo I want.

    I really look forward to hearing comments.


  • Anonymouz

    Hey Marc, I was actually just searching for tattoo’s and came across the “kafir” tattoo on US soldier’s backs, and after googling some more came across your post.

    I’m not sure this is what you are looking to express. Your feelings, lifestyle, and what you have been through is not being reflected in this tattoo, but rather by getting “kafir” tattoo’d on yourself you will be SOMEWHAT committing a SOMEWHAT racist act yourself.

    The meaning of kafir is something that is extremely difficult to understand in simple english, as… its complicated. The word kafir not only means disbeliever, or infidel, it somewhat means a person AGAINST islam and muslims. I’m not quite sure if that is what you are trying to do, but it would not be a tattoo I would recommend. It will without a doubt be frowned upon in all arab communities and people. Even if you have no intent in your life to ever visit any arab community, even so, there is a large population of muslims in the world, no matter where you live.

    In very simple words, and in short, I’m sure that a LOT of people would find it offensive and racist, just like myself, rather than understand that you are trying to portray yourself as an atheist and African.

    The muslims believe in a false messiah, “dajjal” who would have the word “kafir” carved on his forehead… (you can google this) trust me, weather false messiah or not, weather atheist or not, you do not want to be representing such a “message”. Also, according to muslim belief, satan, or “shaitaan”… is also a “kafir”, meaning that in some ways you would have… “im against muslims, i represent dajjal, and i represent the devil” tattoo’d on yourself.

    I hope you understand my point of view, and understand in more detail the meaning of what you will be getting written into you, and it influences your decision in what ever way you want.

  • Notanotherracistcomment

    Another accusation of mocking religion as being racist *hits head with hammer*.

  • Anonymouz, how the fuck is Islam a race?

  • Bea

    You have a tatoo liek this? Oh my….

  • ldaskj;f

    lol no apostrophe there stupid

  • Final archie

    I have a scarlet A on my chest, it’s different from this one

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