Signing Atheists

I was going to set up a group for Deaf Atheists, but figured I'd probably be alone in here if I did that so I figured I'd open it to anyone who knows sign language or even interested in learning it.

Members: 33
Latest Activity: Feb 24, 2015

Discussion Forum


Started by DeafAtheist. Last reply by Stuart T Feb 24, 2015. 37 Replies

sign language word Atheist

Started by sflmac May 24, 2013. 0 Replies

Vatican halted trial for man accused by deaf boys

Started by Eric. Last reply by Loren Miller May 22, 2013. 1 Reply

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Comment by Mriana on May 25, 2011 at 4:27pm
Is this the group you meant?
Comment by Eric on February 13, 2010 at 2:29am
I came across this blog from December 2007, titled, "Jesus Hates Deaf People," but to me it reads more as an attack on deaf culture by an atheist who doesn't really appear to understand. I could not really tell if the atheist was a hearing or (self-hating?) deaf person. But Deaf culture certainly isn't mythological, virtually every group that exists eventually develops its own values, attitudes, behavioral norms, traditions, folklore, and so on, and some of the details of those can conflict with how the same things are viewed by people from outside the group. How would you have chosen to respond to this person?
Comment by Eric on February 12, 2010 at 11:33pm
I was playing around with the search engine on YouTube, to see if I could find anything about deafies or ASL users talking about being an atheist or about atheism. I came across this video, thought you might be interested in seeing it. Any thoughts about what he had to say? (Yep, I'm trying to figure out how to liven up this group!)

I am an Atheist
(ASL, no English captions)

Want to help me find any more good videos like this from YouTube?
Comment by Eric on January 1, 2010 at 8:25pm
I don't like the first two ways of saying atheist in the link's ASL dictionary - those are negative (and actually inaccurate) ways of saying atheist.

The first video is actually two signs, (1) DON'T-BELIEVE followed by (2) GOD, and there's no AGENT-suffix at the end. What is shown here is closer to "atheism", and doesn't fit under the entry given , "atheist".

The second is just the ASL sign for DOUBT and has nothing to do with the words atheist or atheism.But if there's doubt rather than certainty, you'd be going for agnostic or agnosticism, not atheist or atheism, right?

The third video is just the fingerspelling of the word A-T-H-E-I-S-T.

If this ASL video dictionary were to be evaluated for accuracy, only the third video would past the test. From what I'm seeing here so far, this dictionary needs more work!

Good try anyway and thanks for sharing this with us, It's-Just-Matt! :-)

I wonder how other online ASL video dictionaries that are also out there might compare with this dictionary for "atheist"? In our free moments here and there, maybe we could look around the web and post our findings here.
Comment by It's just Matt on January 1, 2010 at 2:40pm
Comment by Eric on December 30, 2009 at 7:15am
Hello guys, know anybody in Rochester, New York who might have a room or apt to rent for a good price? I'm a single deaf gay guy from Michigan. I don't know anybody in Rochester, and I've contacted friends in the deaf community and in the deaf gay community who might have friends and contacts in Rochester, and I may also look for a room or apt to rent in the hearing gay community too. I'm transferring to RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) beginning in spring quarter 2010 (classes start the first Monday in March), so I will move after February 12. Feel free to pass this info on! If you don't know anybody, thanks anyway!
Comment by DeafAtheist on November 7, 2009 at 5:12pm
I wasn't talking about the sign you mentioned. I meant that if there was a more mainstreamed sign in use by deaf people in general for "atheist" or "atheism" it was likely to be unflattering due to the fact that most deaf people are theists and have unflattering views of atheism. Signs tend to reflect general mentality of the people who use them take the deaf atheist who made up the sign you described... he used an "A" with the sign for "smart", "intelligent", "logic", "think"... etc. A deaf theist creating a sign for "atheist" or "atheism" would likely have different adjectives in mind to equate atheism with when creating a sign for the word.
Comment by Eric on November 5, 2009 at 4:06pm
As to what It's just Matt said, new signs can appear in a variety of ways, just like with spoken languages, and some processes of formation are unique to sign languages.

For one example of the latter, if you fingerspell a word often enough, the form eventually changes. If the new form lexicalizes, then you have lexicalized fingerspelling, which looks different from normal fingerspelling. In BACK, the letters A and C are gone, but the B and K is still there, plus it's now a directional verb, you can move the sign from the subject to the object in signing space.

If the form changes even further, it's possible that eventually you can no longer recognize that the sign originally even came from fingerspelling. An example of that would be EARLY. In Michigan and Washington, DC you can still see the L and the Y in EARLY, but the first three letters are completely gone. In Ontario, virtually all of the letters are now gone, even the L and the Y.

Another way is to simply borrow from other sign languages, or from gestures used by hearing people. In the deaf gay community, the sign for DRAG that is now used first appeared with a deaf gay man from Germany who attended a deaf gay conference in Dallas in 1991. Possibly the sign was a sign already used by the deaf gay community in Germany, I don't really know. Everybody loved that sign and immediately switched over to it. The older sign for DRAG, I still remember it, but I haven't seen anybody use the older form in years.
Comment by Eric on November 5, 2009 at 4:05pm
No, I was told that the person who originally made it up was himself a deaf atheist, who then showed it to a hearing person. It was the hearing person who subsequently showed it to me. I don't know who the deaf guy was, but had no reason to doubt the veracity of the hearing person who showed me the sign and told me where it came from.

Also, there's nothing in the sign that I was shown that looks theistic, and it doesn't look like it was intentionally meant to be unflattering. The only way a sign would look theistic would be, possibly, if it was clearly based on another sign that was a religious sign, and I don't know of any examples of such signs.

If you wanted a sign that others would adopt, you wouldn't want to create anything that might be stigmatized, that would only hinder its spread. Signs originally from SEE are largely stigmatized.

In ASL before SEE was invented, some signs were initialized (such as signs for most days of the week). But in SEE, it is my understanding that just about every sign is initialized. I don't even know if there are any exceptions to this rule.

So, if you wanted to create a new sign that would be more likely to be used by ASL signers, for example, to up the odds maybe you'd want to stay away from creating a sign that's initialized. Unfortunately it's probably a lot easier to create an initialized sign, doesn't require too much thinking. I'll be impressed if anybody can think of a sign for atheism that isn't an initialized sign, i.e. doesn't use the A handshape.
Comment by DeafAtheist on November 5, 2009 at 1:52pm
I've never seen a sign for it. I've always spelled it out. Even so deaf atheists are few and far between and any sign for "atheist" or "atheism" is likely to have been made up by deaf theists and could possibly be unflattering.

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