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Universal interfaith symbol

We are living in times of extreme religious divisivness, but then we
always have. It’s interesting that all religions teach the same
message: love, compassion, tolerance, brotherhood, generosity. All
religions teach us to aspire to our higher selves while conquering
our dark sides.

Since the beginning of history, the dark side has emerged and man
has used and abused religion for power, and pitted one religion
against another thereby creating hatred, intolerance, and greed.
This is nothing new, but I wonder if there’s something we can do to
make it a thing of the past.

Every religion has a symbol, but I don’t think there’s a symbol for
some sort of universal “connectedness”. Not a symbol to replace a
Christian cross or Star of David e.g., but to wear with, or possibly
incorporate into. A symbol with the message that we are all one on
a spiritual plane.

I cannot imagine a better group to design such a symbol, and to
introduce it to the world. We Orchidians are artists across the
globe, representing probably every religion there is. We seem to be
of one mind in this group. While we hold each other to a high
standard, we unconditionally support each other.

Lets think about the possibilities heRe: it could be something with
a dove, which is a symbol of peace, and also the holy spirit, in the
metaphysical realm. Or something possibly more geometric, or
something with interwoven or concentric circles to signify the
connectedness of us all. What should it be called?

I challenge you all to give this some serious thought. I believe if
any group can start a totally new concept such as this it is us. We
have the creativity, the diversity and the forum to “give it legs”.
It’s an opportunity for us to make a difference.

Tess Headley

I LOVE this idea. If we can come up with an appropriate symbol, and
many of us introduce (and explain) it to our corners of the world, I
believe we can create something lasting, like the way the symbol of
a twist of ribbon has come to have meaning, according to its color,
at least in the States.

Among us all, there must be a pretty worldwide set of religious and
spiritual knowledge. For example, a dove means peace and hope in the
Judeo-Christian tradition, but what, if anything, does it convey to
a Hindu, a Buddist, a Native American, etc?

I don’t have an instant inspiration, but I will definately think
about it. I hope y’all will too.


Hi Tess,

Awhile back Hanuman had mentioned something along the same line
about having a symbol of some kind. I sent in the idea of the
infinity symbol placed diagonally in a heart with the meaning of
Infinite Love.

Marta in Sacramento

How about a butterfly? It flutters freely about in most corners of
the world, comes in every beautiful color of the rainbow, is
peaceful, graceful, and is supposedly good luck if one lands on you.
I don’t know about anybody else, but when I see one I literally stop
what I’m doing to watch it dance around. And for a moment, every
problem in the world is forgotten.

This is definitely going to be one awesome thread!
Carol Carter-Wientjes

How about a symbol for all us agnostics and atheists?

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040

hi Tess,

To me the most basic interfaith symbol is the circle - never ending,
never beginning, it encompasses that which is inside and outside. As
a symbol it has a connection to pretty much every faith;
monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic. It can also be
incorparated with other symbols of different faiths.

Brigid Ryder

I like the idea of incorporating agnostics/atheists into this. The
circle works, the butterfly works, neither are associated so strongly
with any particular faith, or any faith, so as to be uncomfortable
either to another faith or to someone who believes in no god.

So perhaps a circle with a butterfly within it? Since, to me, there
should be an indication of humanity also, and I always associated
compassion with hands caring, what about a circle that is formed by
two hands cupped, gently cradling the precious butterfly of life?

Beth in SC

       How about a symbol for all us agnostics and atheists? 

I think part of the point was to try to come up with a symbol for
faith and hope, things that all people share, even atheists amd
agnostics. There are, I would guess, people who have no faith at
all, but I would also guess that most of these are members of some
Faith, i.e., religion.

What signifies faith to you, Tony? To me, images like a sunrise or a
leaf are appealing. They both hold the promise of growth and
renewal. But I think, if we can come up with something that doesn’t
already have “baggage”, like the example (again) of the twist of
ribbon, it would be most effective. The infinity symbol is
appealing, and the idea of combining it with a heart seems to be in
the right direction, though I think we’re going more for faith per
se than love, which the heart mostly conveys. Also, does a heart or
an infinity sign mean anything to non-eurocentric cultures?

I heard something on NPR last night that suggested that the lotus is
used as a symbol for the positive ideals in some Asian cultures.
Experts? Perhaps the lotus could be abstracted to create something.

What about an infinity inside a circle?

Perhaps if I knew what agnostics and atheists believed in I could
come up with a symbol. To me, it seems that agnostics and atheists
don’t believe in anything; how would you symbolize the lack of
belief? But, I’m probably wrong. Maybe you could enlighten me,
Tony? I’m not being facetious. I’ve actually battled belief and
nonbelief my whole life. In fact, I didn’t believe in God or a
Higher Power until the birth of my daughter. She was to be named
"Caitlin". When she was born, I looked at her beautiful face and
into her eyes and I KNEW that she was not just the byproduct of
"sperm meets egg"; that in fact she had been elsewhere before her
birth and was only on loan to me! It was at that point that we
decided on another name for her. My daughter, Faith, was named for
the birth of “Faith” in more ways than one. Faith will be 20 next
week! She has two sisters, Charlotte Lee, 16 (named for her
great-grandmother) and Grace Olivia, 13 (yes, I do believe in the
Grace of God as well). Peace and Blessings from our Creator (or
not!) to you all this holiday season!


How about a symbol for all us agnostics and atheists? 

The Sufi symbol of the winged heart does nicely as a universal
symbol, I think, and should resonate even with many agnostics and

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry

How about a symbol for all us agnostics and atheists? 

That’s the idea…one symbol for all of humanity. We are all one.

How about a symbol for all us agnostics and atheists? Brigid Ryder
suggested a circle as a 'basic interfaith symbol- never
ending,never beginning, it encompasses that which is inside and

…so if the believers are on the inside, and the non-believers are
on the outside, everyone has a place…Also, it could symbolize zero,
which would include the unincluded. Oh well…just a

How about a flower? Some Eastern religions seem to use the Lotus and
Christians often use a rose or Lily. There must be some flower that
is not “owned” by any particular faith but which might fit the bill.
Alos,there’s something about a circle: no beginning, no end, that’s
poetic in it’s simplicity. Or how about interlocking circles? I also
like the saying “The Truth is one, the paths are many” . Perhaps that
will give someone better inspiration than what I’ve suggested.

I am not into philately - and I’m not sure whether it is even an
English word - but a couple of years ago I saw a truly staggering
Swiss stamp. The stamp was made for some anniversary of the UNESCO. It
was so unbelievably simple. The stamp was rectangular, like most
stamps, the color was deep purple and for the rest there was only an
abstract face - two eyes, a mouth and two hands. I have this stamp
and can send pics if you are interested. I have always been
fascinated with people who are able to give a gigantic statement with
almost nothing. This face seemed to express certain things - of
course what exactly is in the eye of the beholder. But for me, it
seemed to say that we are all human, that we all have needs and that
one of these needs is to be of some significance to others. It also
seemed to say that we only have a little while to spend on this not
so bad planet and that it is not right for us to be without worries
and needs while 1,000 km - or 100, or 50 - away, people starve to
death or die from diseases which can be cured for 25 cents - which
they do not have. Also, this symbol could perhaps be acceptable to
the atheists between us such as myself. So you see, Dawn, we believe
in things as well. Maybe someone who can actually work with metal
could make the design in a circle, evoking the planet. Best, Will

Hi, Dawn- You stated-

To me, it seems that agnostics and atheists don't believe in
anything; how would you symbolize the lack of belief? 

Nihilists don’t believe in anything. Agnostics claim not to possess
a revealed knowledge of god. Atheists don’t profess belief in the
existence of a god or gods. Neither agnostics nor atheists, on the
whole, claim to possess a revealed knowledge of god’s absence, or
to accept god’s absence on faith. I think that an accurate statement
of the atheistic position is that they value knowledge and reason
over belief and faith, and that knowledge and reason have not
provided them with incontestable evidence of the existence of a god
or gods.

It is also possible, and in fact quite common, to embrace a
religious belief system without claiming a revealed knowledge of
god. Experience tells me that many churchgoers fall under this
category; under the strict definition, such people are both
religious and agnostic.

Being an atheist does not mean that one believes nothing is good,
valuable, worthy of reverence, etc. To the contrary, one may love
life, respect one’s fellow beings, reflect in awe on the majesty of
the universe, strive to become a better person, and conduct
oneself honestly and with integrity, all without embracing
religion. OTOH, one may embrace religion, even embrace it
fanatically, and still be an utter villain. I’ve seen it done!

A symbol which evokes the highest aspirations of humankind without
reliance on sectarian images or doctrine would likely resonate with
many agnostics and atheists as well as many of those who would
describe themselves as believers. My guess is that the harder sell
would be with those for whom their own sectarian path is the only
road, and who will not accept or acknowledge a symbol from outside
their tradition.

Lee Einer

This is a wonderful thread which allows us a nice opportunity for
exchanging ideas and learning more about one another’s cultures and
practices. If the primary goal of human existence was understanding,
tolerating, and respecting the many divergent philosophical and
religious traditions present in our world, then we would surely be
experiencing an age of enlightenment.

"The Truth is one, the paths are many" 

This has a resonance of the Sufi perspective, the mystics of Islam.
They were also the original alchemists. The pursuit of that which
would turn lead into gold was an allegorical cover story for their
mystical search for the secrets of wisdom which would turn ignorance
into knowledge. This was not well received by the fundamentalists of
their day, so by identifying themselves as scientists and alchemists,
rather than a religious sect, they were left alone with their
pursuits and free from persecution as heretics.

Unfortunately, this wonderful sentiment is more theoretical in
principle than it is practical in application. There are far too many
ideological groups who purport that their particular or peculiar
vision is the singular Truth, and lamentably many are often far too
willing to attack, persecute, subjugate and destroy any who don’t
have the exact same perception. This of course isn’t a new
development, it goes hand in hand historically back to the
beginnings of organized religion, and regrettably shows little sign
of abating even today.

If the “Truth” has in any way a theistic implication attached to it,
then it is exclusive of atheists, agnostics, and non-theists
(Buddhists) and can not be considered an appropriate “Universal
Truth”. If the “Truth” is that loving kindness and compassion are the
highest of all attainments for humanity, then it is probably an
acceptable Truth for almost everyone.

Michael David Sturlin

Let’s not leave out:

Palo Mayombe

I am sure there are many others too.

Michael David Sturlin

To me, it seems that agnostics and atheists don't believe in
anything; how would you symbolize the lack of  belief? 

On the contrary, most of us believe in some sort of Great Pattern.
It just doesn’t have a personal interest in us. The laws of nature
are not subject to revision just because we ask for it.


Hi Lee,

The Sufi symbol of the winged heart does nicely as a universal
symbol, I think, and should resonate even with many agnostics and

Wings typically symbolize angels; the heart is associated with St.
Valentine. Not exactly neutral symbols. If the winged heart
resonates with agnostics and/or atheists, the resonance is not likely
to be of the type you seem to expect!


To me, it seems that agnostics and atheists don't believe in

Not so! Both have to do with doubt/disbelief (respectively) in a
supreme being, not with lack of belief in anything; and certainly
not with a rejection of ethics and/or morality!