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Religious Tolerance logo

About the starburst image
on our website's home page

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By mid 2005-AUG, our dissatisfaction with the design of our home page reached the breaking point. It was probably an adequate design in 1995 during the infancy of the Internet when we started the web site. But it looked quite antiquated by today's standards. 1 offers hundreds of web templates for their registered users to freely download. Two of them attracted our attention: they both had a starburst image: one in red and one in blue. Our group chose the blue design because that color tends to be more soothing.

Choice of color is surprisingly important. Web designer Jason O'Connor comments:

"Ever come across a website that uses some funky combination of print and background colors? If you ever want to experience an eye-twisting headache, try reading yellow print on a blue background. The reason you see black type on a white background so much is that it is the best color combination for reading, both on and offline. And since it is even harder to read text on a monitor than it is on paper, we must all be especially careful with the colors we choose for our websites, or suffer less-than-optimal site traffic and repeat visitors....each color carries with it both positive and negative ideas. 4

Commonly associated with the color blue are positive emotions of tranquility, love, acceptance, patience, understanding, cooperation, comfort, loyalty and security. We felt that these are a close match to the message of our web site. However, blue also is associated with negative emotions such as fear, coldness, passivity and depression. Still, it seemed to be the best choice.

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Once stuck with this image, we had to justify it:

So we had a brainstorming session to interpret the image. Some of the meanings that we found were:

bulletIt represents the creation event circa 4000 to 8000 BCE described in the Bible at Genesis 1:3: "And God said. Let there be light: and there was light." 2
bulletIt symbolizes the Big Bang some 15 billion years ago when the universe came into existence.
bulletEach ray stands for one of the world's 270 large religions. The dots represent various denominations of each religion. They are arranged on a continuum with more liberal faith groups near the center, and more conservative groups near the periphery. The religious liberals from various religions are closer together in their spiritual beliefs; the conservatives tend to hold much more specific beliefs and thus are more widely spaced.
bullet It shows an explosion, and represents the violence that has been increasingly associated with world religions over the past two millennia, including the persecution of Christians by Pagans in the early years of Chrstianity, the persecution of minority Christian faith groups by the successful early Church, the extermination of Jews and warfare against Muslims during the Crusades, the "burning times" during the late Middle Ages and Renaisance where the Catholic and Protestant Churches exterminated those it regarded as religious heretics, hanging of persons accused of Satan worship in Salem, MA, the Armenian geocide in early 20th century Turkey, the Nazi holocaust, etc.

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Relating the image to religious diversity:

bullet Many of our site visitors adopted this theme:

bulletAll rays leading to God at the center.
bulletIt represents something heard at the 1999 Parliament of the Worlds Religions in Capetown, South Africa: "We are not trying to create a single religion, we are acknowledging that we are all looking at the same truth."
bulletIf you look closely, there is one ray that penetrates to the exact center where God is. This is the one true religion. All other religions are imperfect in some way because they only approach God but are never able to actually embrace God.
bulletHow all the human differences consecrated in the different religions come together to form a plural one-ness in an age of convergence.
bulletHow all the differences among religions are spreading humanity away from each other in a new age of fundamentalism.
bulletEach of the rays represents a system of religious belief. If one moves to the end of any of the rays and looks back towards the center, they will see a dot, representing God. Thus, all viewers at the end of any of the lines will interpret their particular religion's ray as being the correct and direct path to God. The symbol as a whole demonstrates that there is a multiplicity of paths to deity. No one path is best for all.
bulletReligious diversity. If one interprets each ray in the burst image as representing a religion, then the image is incomplete. It doesn't have any provision for people who wish to alter their religion by switching from one ray to another. [Webmaster's note: Perhaps that is what the dots are for: they may represent logical places for people to jump from one faith to another.]
bulletEach individual ray is a complete entity unto itself which does not require the presence of the other rays in order to be what it is. Each religion is complete and sufficient unto itself from the perspective of an individual within that ray. However, viewing the pattern from an external perspective, one sees that these discrete and sufficient components form a compelling pattern suggestive of many different notions, but all radiating from a central point.

All religions do have characteristics in common which form a broader pattern; this leads to the notion that there *is* some central truth, approached to varying degrees, but probably never reached, by the various religions. All observers shall almost inevitably differ on what that central truth may be, even though they be in agreement that a central truth exists, or is at least indicated by the pattern implicit in the arrangement of the components.

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Comments on other themes:

bulletThe sight one sees when driving through a snow storm. White particles appear to be coming from a point ahead of the car.
bulletDamage done to a windshield by a projectile. It creates cracks in the safety glass which radiate from the point of impact. Yet the glass holds together and remains intact. She likens it to God's process of sanctification: shattering her heart, then pruning and healing it.
bulletThe end of world anger and the beginning of world peace. Good and evil (light & Dark) trying to coexist. In the end, only true peace will shine, through a burst of pure light. Only those who understand and follow the simple laws of life well be able to see the end and the beginning of a new world.
bulletThe moment which one is enlightened and sees the wisdom of peace and the "other side". The moment of
bulletA Higgs boson, a.k.a. the God Particle. It has been the most difficult element of matter for researchers to find. Its existence is predicted by quantum theory. Physicists say that they are the smallest particle in the universe and are the basic building block to everything.
bullet"... the ideas of Greek philosopher Democritus; namely, that the soul is made up of many different 'soul atoms', which are perfectly round and smooth.  Upon death, the soul atoms shoot off in all different directions." They form a new soul.
bullet"...particles and waveforms -- Those pesky unmeasurables that have caused so much consternation in the Quantum Physics field."
bullet"... the purpose of this web site: the dissemination of knowledge. The website itself is the center. The rays are messages of education creating tolerance. They are of different lengths because sometimes you have to reach farther to some than to others."
bullet "... a loose, imperfect spiritual DNA strand, representing the imperfection of each of us, overlaying the power and energy used and released during the explosion of creation."
bullet"...  the Flying Spaghetti Monster, reaching out to all with his noodley appendages."
bulletJust a bunch of lines and dots.
bulletThe Second Coming of Christ, when he shall descend to earth in a blaze of glory!!

bullet A group of human spermatozoon converging on an ovum.

bullet A super-nova. Stars within a certain range of masses generate a massive burst of energy at the end of their life. Apparently, all the heavier elements in the universe are generated this way. Human beings are formed in part of such elements. Thus, we are, in essence, formed from stardust.

If you would like to tell us what the symbol means to you, please Email your thoughts to us. We may post them above, with any personally identifying information removed.

References used:

  1. provides dozens of free tools for webmasters, ranging from guest books, to forums, hit counters, web templates, site search, etc. See:
  2. King James Version.
  3. According to David Barrett et al, editors of the "World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions - AD 30 to 2200," there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones.
  4. Jason OConnor, "How To Choose Your Website Colors,"  Site Pro News, at:

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No copyright claimed
Originally posted: 2005-AUG-23
Latest update: 2011-DEC-05
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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