Archive for Thursday, October 23, 2008

Atheists plan ad campaign

October 23, 2008


— London buses have God on their side - but not for long, if atheists have their way.

The sides of some of London's red buses will soon carry ads asserting there is "probably no God," as nonbelievers fight what they say is the preferential treatment given to religion in British society.

Organizers of a campaign to raise funds for the ads said Wednesday they received more than $113,000 in donations, almost seven times their target, in the hours since they launched the project on a charity Web site. Supporters include Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, who donated $9,000.

The money will be used to place posters on 30 buses carrying the slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The plan was to run the ads for four weeks starting in January, but so much money has been raised that the project may be expanded.

"A lot of people say trying to organize atheists is like herding cats. The last couple of days shows that is not true," said comedy writer Ariane Sherine, who started the campaign.

While most London buses carry posters for shops or Hollywood movies, Christian churches and Muslim groups have bought bus-side ad space in the past.

Sherine came up with the idea after seeing a series of Christian posters on London buses. She said she visited the Web site promoted on one ad and found it told nonbelievers they would spend eternity in torment in hell.

"I thought it would be a really positive thing to counter that by putting forward a much happier and more upbeat advert, saying 'Don't worry, you're not going to hell,'" said Sherine, 28. "Atheists believe this is the only life we have, and we should enjoy it."

Most Britons identify themselves as Christians, but few attend church regularly, and public figures rarely talk about their beliefs. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was rare among politicians in speaking openly about his Christian faith.

Dawkins, author of the best-selling atheist manifesto "The God Delusion," said that religion nonetheless held a privileged position in society.

"Religious organizations have an automatic tax-free charitable status," he said. "Bishops sit in the House of Lords automatically. Religious leaders get preferential treatment on all sorts of commissions.

"This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion."

Dawkins said that as an atheist he "wasn't wild" about the ad's assertion that there was "probably" no God.

Sherine said the word was included to ensure the posters didn't breach transit advertising regulations, which stipulate ads should not offend religious people.


classclown 9 years, 4 months ago

"There's probably no God" is an agnostic statement, not atheist. An atheist would say "There IS no God.".

BrianR 9 years, 4 months ago

They also fail to mention that even if there is a god, one can still stop worrying and enjoy their life. Why are they asserting that the presence of a deity takes the joy out of life?

BrianR 9 years, 4 months ago

"Many atheists are so simple minded they blame much of the worlds troubles on theistic religions."Blaming the Devil makes so much more sense.

jaywalker 9 years, 4 months ago

ragingbore:"Keep your God to yourself. All he does is promote bigotry, hatred, intolerance and war."Brilliant. Yeah, that's all one's belief in God does. I recommend a high colonic and a nappy nap, baby bear.

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

"Dawkins said that as an atheist he "wasn't wild" about the ad's assertion that there was "probably" no God."Sounds like some doubt was created. Guess he's one for assumption of FACTS.

Kryptenx 9 years, 4 months ago

jafs: Your assertion ignores every other position explained here and elsewhere. There is extensive literature attempting to explain what atheism is, partly because people hold so many different views about it.But, taken literally, atheism is the absence of belief. "Theism" is a believe in God or gods. The prefix "a" denotes an absence. Therefore "atheism" is simply an absence in belief of God or gods. Whether it be an explicit rejection of religious claims, or simply being a "non-believer", it's all atheism.For me, agnosticism gives religion too much credit. If someone told me "there is a magic invisible elephant hovering above your head that makes all your decisions for you," this claim can easily be dismissed as not true. I can't gather any evidence explicitly denying the existence of this invisible elephant, but I can rationally say that the elephant (probably, as in 99.99999%) doesn't exist. The same argument can be applied to theism as well. If there is no empirical evidence confirming the existence of a higher power, then there is no reason to say "we will never know, there may or may not be a God." It's like a 50/50 split, when in reality I believe it's more of a .00001/99.99999 in favor of atheism. Understanding these differences in viewpoints is key to understanding why someone can call themselves atheist without explicitly denying the existence of a higher power.

humble_simpleton 9 years, 4 months ago

Its a sad day when instead of simply condeming themselves in shutting their eyes to an obvious truth (Lets not confuse ourselves) They feel the need to destroy any other faith of any person. You say theists try to push their religion onto you? That's exactly what these hypocrites are doing! Religion encourages people to love, be compassionate and put others first, what in this is so catastrophic that makes these atheists so full of hate (and guilt) that they want to destroy it using namecalling and intimidation. It's time to put them back in their place.

Matt Torres 9 years, 4 months ago

christopherprescott is right. classclown, agnosticism is not "I'm not sure". Technically, someone who says "I'm not sure" to this question is an atheist. A simple test to find out whether or not you're an atheist, and a good way to explain atheism: If you DO NOT answer "yes" to the question "Do you believe in one or more gods?", then you are an atheist. Being an atheist does NOT imply that you're completely and utterly convinced there is no god, and that you can "prove" god doesnt exist. It just means that you do not accept the proposition "god exists" because you're not convinced. So, the reply "I'm not sure", does not mean that person is an agnostic. That person would in fact be an atheist because they are not convinced of the claim "god exists".As to these ads...I applaud their efforts to do this, but part of me knows people who see these ads will just have their negative views of atheists reinforced. Not saying we should all walk on egg-shells and not have ads like this, but there is a pretty strong push amongst prominent religious figures to promote the idea that the only reason people want to be atheists is because they want to be able to do "what they want" or live without morals or responsibility, which is a huge misrepresentation. These ads are a good idea, but I think they may just serve as fodder for people who want to promote the idea of atheists as nothing more than immoral and hedonistic.

Ragingbear 9 years, 4 months ago

I think people need to understand that belief in God does not diminish the quality of your life, but the quality of life all around you. Mainly because every time you drink, or any time a friend has a problem, you pull that annoying God card and make us want to hit you repeatedly with a blunt object of some sort. Keep your God to yourself. All he does is promote bigotry, hatred, intolerance and war. We already got something like that. It's called George W. Bush.

jafs 9 years, 4 months ago

Actually, I think atheism is the belief that God does not exist.Agnosticism is the belief that one does not/cannot know whether God exists or not, and that one is not convinced either way.BTW, why can't ads on a publc bus offend religious people? That's an interesting and strange requirement.

christopherscott 9 years, 4 months ago

Just want to make sure the facts are straight.Atheists come in all different types (just as theists, or religious folks do). Explicit, or strong atheists assert that there is no God; weak, or implicit atheism is simply the absence of belief in deities, gods, or supernatural beings.Agnosticism, is often (incorrectly) grouped with atheists as a sort of atheism-lite. Agnosticism is simply a philosophical belief that knowledge of certain things cannot be known, true or false. So agnosticism is a description of knowledge, and atheism is a description of religious belief (or lack thereof). It is possible, therefore, to be an agnostic theist, or a gnostic (the inverse) atheist. Also, as a segment of society, atheists are notoriously unorganized. It would be an error to attribute remarks by some, to all of the atheists, since - by their nature - they don't prescribe to a certain dogma or set of beliefs. Having said that, I think it's ignorant to declare that belief in God (or other religious entities) somehow saps joy and happiness out all those who share that belief. I was raised in a very conservative Catholic household, was head of a youth group throughout high school, and I know firsthand the power that faith can bring to a family and individuals. As an atheist myself, I may not believe the same things as others, but it's absolutely wrong to suggest that others are somehow worse off because of it.

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

Why? Guess some must know they are doing wrong and don't want to be held accountable. Otherwise, why couldn't they enjoy life knowing there probably is a God? Wonder what makes them think they are doing wrong.....

Kryptenx 9 years, 4 months ago

And logic like yours is what drives people away from religion. If your religion teaches love and compassion, where do you practice it? Certainly what you meant to say was that you have been taught love and compassion only for those who believe exactly as you. Open up your eyes and mind to the fact that people hold many different view points. We do not have to accept yours in order to be compassionate, helpful members of society.

Kryptenx 9 years, 4 months ago

99.99999 is a rough figure that corresponds to my personal beliefs, not a figure that should be taken as a factual calculation. It's meant to demonstrate that I believe agnosticism is a 50/50 split between probabilities, and that an atheist believes that a deity most probably does not exist, although atheism does not have to be an explicit rejection, as in "God absolutely, positively, does not exist." In fact, I believe that anyone who asserts the above statement is a fool, guilty of the same logic as "If you can't disprove me, I must be right." I would absolutely agree with you on your second question, given that empirical evidence actually did suggest that man played no part in global warming. Alas, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, some just choose to ignore it. Humans are responsible for immense damage to this planet and the other creatures that inhabit it; it's time that more people realize this and do something about it.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

"Atheists believe this is the only life we have, and we should enjoy it."Seems there are ( at least ) two possibilities:Either our choices have no relevance beyond this circumscribed existence, or they do.If the former, then choices make no difference; if the latter, then they make ALL the difference.Choose wisely... grasshopper.

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

"without at least one reference to Pascal's Wager."You mean the same as global warming - 'better safe than sorry'?"given that empirical evidence actually did suggest that man played no part in global warming.""guilty of the same logic as "If you can't disprove me, I must be right.""smile

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

"(probably, as in 99.99999%) "Could you show your work in how you came to that calculation?"If there is no empirical evidence confirming the existence of a higher power, "Would you also agree that if there is no empirical evidence confirming the existence of a man-made global warming there is no reason to believe in it?

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 4 months ago

Das_Ubermime: "TRA, I guess it wouldn't be a atheism thread without at least one reference to Pascal's Wager."You have edified me. I was not familiar with this reference. Pascal's notion appears to have evolved within a Judaeo-Christian context ( i.e., Heaven and Hell ) . Mine assumes a different framework, altogether ( ... tho' beyond the scope of this forum and, indeed, the comprehension of "mere" mortals ) . ,;-)Interestingly ( from Wiki )...A variation of this argument within the Islamic kalam tradition was discussed by Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni (d. 478/1085) in his Kitab al-irshad ila-qawati al-adilla fi usul al-i'tiqad or A Guide to the Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief.

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

"Following this rule, it is up to the believers to prove the existence of "god", not the other way around."Likewise, it is up to the global warmists to prove themselves, not the other way around.

Kryptenx 9 years, 4 months ago

GR: What's your deal with global warming? You obviously pulled only what you wanted to hear from my post and ignored the rest. Point is: evidence suggests global warming is real, it's even on LJW today: an intellectual argument, this is the part where you provide evidence that refutes those claims. Or, you can continue to pick what you want from people's posts and side-step the argument that you cannot win. The ball's in your court, but I suspect that you have absolutely no interest in debating actual facts, and will just resort to logical fallacies and omitting evidence to make your point.

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