Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There is probably no God: so start worrying.

A new advertising campaign will be running the slogans 'There is probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy life' on the side of London buses. (HT Dave Walker).

The Beeb report quotes Richard Dawkins:
Professor Dawkins said: "Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride - automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children.

"Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side. This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion."

'Accustomed to getting a free ride' says the Oxford academic who gets a prime time TV slot for his anti-religious propaganda.

'Unearned respect' - sure, if you discount founding the school system, hospitals, welfare state, care for orphans and the homeless, not to mention several Premier league football clubs, and most of the founding fathers of modern science.

'The right to brainwash children' - really? Scientific evidence please, Mr Dawkins, you've obviously not heard of the national curriculum.

'thinking is anathema to religion' - it may be anathema to certain campaigning atheists (did you read your own book reviews?), but that's just insulting nonsense. Most great thinkers have been people of religious faith, several were strongly motivated by their religion to 'think God's thoughts after him'.

And as for that slogan: who is actually worrying because they believe there is a God? What research there is seems to show that people of faith have longer and happier lives, and are more content with their lot, than those without. It's more a counsel of despair to claim that this is all there is, that your life has no greater purpose or meaning, and that you are the product of random chance plus time and nothing more, and that survival of the fittest is the only 'moral' system which goes with the grain of the universe. If you get run down by one of those buses, tough, you clearly were too stupid or slow to react not to get ejected from the gene pool.

The original idea actually makes a bit of sense: a Guardian writer who saw Bible verses on buses and found that the advertised website told her she'd burn in hell if she didn't accept Jesus. The thing is, if this is so off-putting, you don't actually need adverts for atheism. I'm pretty sceptical about Bible verses in public myself, especially if they're from the King James version. The Alpha 'questions' campaign is much better, and somewhere in the middle is the 'Billboards from God' that ran in the US a few years ago.


  1. There's even a facebook group: Atheist Bus Campaign. I've joined it. Maybe more of us should...

    There may or may not be a God, but there is almost certainly a rabbit; and in a 100 years (probably less than) there probably won't be a Richard Dawkins...

  2. I notice the Facebook group isn't that impressed with the slogan, and they're running a thread on some alternatives. Maybe we could come up with some.

    A friend sent the link to the original fundraising campaign - http://www.justgiving.com/atheistbus which is currently £50,000 over their target, and there are a lot of donors. It's probably worth reading the comments: Christians need to know what people think, and ask ourselves why so many people think we're bad news rather than good. They are partly right.

  3. The BHA's campaign isn't specifically anti-Christian. It's anti-fear. It was prompted in response to (yet another) message from a religious website that we should repent/worship or burn in hell. Nice. A great many people are religious because of fear - fear of what happens after death, fear of ostracism by their community ... fear of being judged, really. Or worse - in Iran, for example, apostasy is a capital offence. This campaign is saying we do not accept religious tyranny and the message that we must live our lives in fear. That's what it is saying.

  4. We believe the Humanists will be in for a big surprise one day, but their program is a great way to get people thinking and interacting.

    The Bible clearly teaches about Heaven and Hell. Jesus came to point people towards one and away from the other. We're so glad He did!

    We just wish as many Believers would send us $5 the same way the Humanists have supported their campaign.

    David Harrison, President
    Bus Stop Bible Studies