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In your face atheism?

Preachers on street corners, ads in the underground and on the sides of buses – you can’t spend a day in central London without being confronted by some sign that religion should be your only salvation. In frustration I’ve had a rather sporadic go at this in the past – shouting ‘long live atheism’ at street preachers and even being told ‘good on you that man!’ by another passenger when I proposed atheism in response to a 40 minute sermon from a mad bloke on the top floor of a 345 bus from South Kensington. In short I’m fine with people having religious beliefs, and keeping those beliefs to themselves. What I really loathe is people somehow judging that those with religious belief are somehow superior beings. I have morals, and I don’t believe in god. It’s possible – really.

Anyway, so why am I writing this now? Becuase I’ve come across an amusing column with a serious message at Comment is Free by Ariane Sherine about god adverts on buses. In it she proposes that 4,680 atheists could all contribute £5 and pay for an ad on a London bus for a fortnight. She proposed the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.” It’s wacky, but count me in!

[UPDATE] OK, now you can pledge your support for the campaign at Pledgebank, and also via Facebook. Not sure we’re going to get close, but hell, why not try.

[UPDATE 2] Ariane has a roundup of the reaction on her own blog.


43 Comments

  • Alejandro |

    Count me in too! I blog post is cheaper, but it doesnt have the same impact. I wonder how the London Transport Authority will react to a demand to put these adverts on their buses…

  • Zorro |

    I’d chip in a fiver! Having said that I somehow doubt the ad would run – couldn’t have the LTA busses offending any religous sorts could we?

  • Jon |

    Problem is that maybe 500 people will see my blog post, about as many that would see a bus on one journey between Aldwych and Holborn. So free it might be, but effective I fear it is not…

  • Jon |

    But we can have religion on buses offending atheists… It’s a bit strange don’t you think?

  • Trooper Thompson |

    Aw, isn’t it sweet! The atheists coming together. Do it, if it cares enough to you.

    Far preferable for you to express your freedom of speech, than try to get the opposite side’s stuff banned, as some would, ensuring an equality of silence.

    You know you could always go out with a Nietsche quote stencil and a can of spray paint.

  • DavidMWW |

    I love this idea and signed the pledge. I just posted over at Ariane’s blog that the bendy bus option seems unnecessarily expensive.

    I just checked the CBS website, and you can get 2 weeks on the side of a central London bus for £508.

    The coverage won’t be the same, obviously – but the idea of an atheist ad on the side of a bus is so unique and newsworthy that it might be sufficient for the purpose.

  • Jeremy Green |

    Sorry I’ve only just found out about this, the day the deadline expires! Please give it another go and I will try to whip up some more support.

  • John Demetriou |

    Hello John

    Your campaign came to my attention via the Torygraph article today. I thought it was interesting and so I wrote a piece about it on my blog. Drop by and have a read if you’re interested and I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts if you fancy commenting.

    Good luck

    John

  • Bob Hutton |

    You would be the first to go on about free speech rights. So why are you bellyaching about Christians preaching in the open air?

  • Elliott Bignell |

    I think we should go for something like this, but I wonder if we mightn’t get more mileage out of a Gideon-style distribution of The God Delusion, or perhaps something which hasn’t attracted so much dengative propoaganda from the fundies. Also, I might consider using some tricks from pro advertising campaigns to raise the emotional impact. “United Bloodshed of Religion”, or something similar.

  • James Davies |

    How about a tagline at the bottom of the advert?

    “Atheism: for the important things in life”

    Like on the Yellow Pages ad … y’know? … oh well … it sounded a lot funnier in my head …

    JD.

  • mark santos |

    The Idea is a perfect. Why not?
    London is a World, a big, big City! I liked London to
    much, and english to! I am an Atheist 100% from
    Germany! We must talking about Atheism, because,
    Atheist is a Futurideology. No War, No Racism, No
    Genocids, No Slavery!
    We have in the Bible: Slavery, Racism, War, Military-
    strategie, Cannibalism, Incest, Intoleranc, Hate!
    I likes and I respect Mr. Richard Dawkins and Mr.
    Michel Onfray (France) to much!
    I hate the criminal Bible!

    Thank You and much Greetings!!!

  • Andras Szucs |

    Is comment REALLY free?

    One may put up a poster saying: “God probably does not exists.”
    Could he also say?: ” Allah probably exist” . I think that would be probably thought to be offensive.

  • Sam Wilkinson |

    I am a christian and I feel I am no better than any atheist or any other religious person but i have a problem with the message “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.” because in my opinion people SHOULD worry about the big questions rather than just getting on with life even if they don’t come to the same conclusion as me.

  • Matthew Rimmer |

    humm… just to add a little bit that could be put on the end of this quote that could be put on the side of a bus. is.

    “But what if he did”

    now then i wonder the outcome

  • Bob Hutton |

    “But what if He did”. That is just the point; suppose God really does exist, and that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and that faith in Christ really is the only way to Heaven? There is always this nagging doubt at the back of your minds isn’t there? As a Christian I can’t lose. If there isn’t a God I won’t know the pain of being wrong as I won’t wake up after dying, but I have experienced the peace and joy of believing in Christ during my life. However, as an atheist you can lose, and lose big time; if there really is a God (and again you have that nagging doubt) then you are in serious trouble after dying.

  • Bob Hutton |

    PS. Think about it – there is no 2nd chance after death. Those who don’t turn to Christ now are gambling with their souls – and the stakes are high.

  • DavidMWW |

    Don’t you mean those that don’t turn to Allah and recognise Mohammed as his prophet are gambling with their souls? Muslim hell is a pretty nasty place too – and you might end up there, Bob.

    Even if god did exist, it is probably best to ignore him. He did a crappy job of communicating with us, and those people who think otherwise can’t even agree with each other about what he said (thus proving that he did a crappy job of communicating with us).

    You think about it, Bob.

  • Bob Hutton |

    I have given it very serious thought and am happy in the knowledge that I am “safe”. I cannot lose either way. Moreover, as Jesus rose from the dead (the evidence for this is compelling) He is the one who has conquered death.

  • Eduardo |

    “suppose God really does exist, and that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and that faith in Christ really is the only way to Heaven? There is always this nagging doubt at the back of your minds isn’t there?”

    No there isn’t. I’m 100% sure. I don’t believe that Santa or Superman are real life characters either. Oh, by the way, aren’t you supposed to go to hell if you lack true faith? “But what if He did” sounds pretty doubtfull.

    “I cannot lose either way.” Even if god would be the Flying Spaghetti Monster? I hope you don’t end in Meatball Hell.

  • Bob Hutton |

    I have no doubts; the reason I say “but what if He did” is to put the doubt in your mind concerning your unbelief. I note that the bus advertising campaign is under way, I wonder why the atheists say there is “probably” no God, that sounds as is they have doubts about their atheism.

  • David Vonarx |

    I´m French, so pardon me if my english isn´t that perfect.
    The message of Jesus was a message of freedom and peace, he was teaching to the people how to become better, giving a sense to there life, to become good persons. Knowing that it wouldn´t be sufficient to convince the people, in order to add weight to his message, he had to promise eternal life, he had to invent something greater than the man : “God”. And he had to threaten the people on a certain way (Hell) to oblige them to follow his message. He has created the fear.
    More than 2000 years later I´m convinced that most of the “civilized” people, doesn´t need that fear, that threat, the promise of the eternal life to be good persons.
    Most of the people can not believe anymore in the obsolete ideas of most of the religions, but unfortunatly it doesn´t mean that they have found a sense in there life.
    Basically I think that the original message of most of the religion were positive, intenting to help people to reach a balanced life. Only hhe way to convice was mostly wrong in my eyes.
    Nowadays our mission is simple (not easy), and actually we won´t have to convince the people, because they will convince themself. We have to learn them, how to be balanced and happy, how to create a paradis an earth (I know I´m a dreamer, but if I can share my dreams with many other people, in the end it will come truth !! Yes !). Therefor we have to educate our children (latter it is most difficult) in order to become selfconfident persons, who believe in there dreams, who are strong enough to fullfill them, who doesn´t accept all the frustrations without fighting, who are open enough to share their ideas and to listen to the other…And if you are a balanced person, a happy person, you will be able to share it with the others, you will be able to show the direction, you will be able to open the eyes of the others, to help them…You will not be able to ignore the starving people in our streets or in underdeveloped countries, you will not stand that we destroy slowly our planet, you will not accept that the money and the profit is becoming the aim of the world, you will not accept anymore that people mistreat other people…and you will act to change all these…and be happy doing all these…and when the end will come, you will be able to close the eyes satisfied of your life on earth and without fear for the next step…..

  • Bob Hutton |

    Jesus was not simply teaching people how to become better; He came to be a blood sacrifice for our sins. Those who truly repent of their sins and accept Him as their Lord and personal Saviour will go to Heaven; those who don’t will end up in Hell – it is that simple.

  • Bob Hutton |

    There is a way of knowing – the words of Christ are clear in the Gospels. You use the word “probably” when describing how you think God would act towards non-believers. Are you really prepared to stake your eternal destiny on a probability?

  • John Richards |

    If someone believes that God does exist and created the universe, then I ask him/her to define the word God. I have never had a clear-cut answer which is why I am an atheist, not an agnostic. Another is that there has never been even the slightest, tiniest piece of evidence that there is or was some kind of creator or super-intelligence. Is there a web site just for atheists, I wonder. John

  • joeldm |

    Bob here believes in the Magical Snake, not the Turtle with the world on his back or the Golden Egg the Hindus believe in. That Bob needs a magical being in the sky to feel safe or at least to lord it over non-believers in the afterlife is not really all that bad. That’s why they call it the mystery of Faith. There’s no proof on either side. My children believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy and I find nothing wrong with that (at least until they’re 8 or 9).

    Bob is just buying insurance and since I’m not aware of any other religious sales organization that pushes their product with the promise of eternal damnation, Bob is assuming the worst and paying to avoid it with his faith in the snake, the lamb and . . . what’s that whole Easter Bunny thing about anyway?

    It gets hard to keep up with all the stuff Christians believe in, in the Old Testament mixing types of thread is punishable by stoning, so I guess polyester blends are right out of the question, but then slaves are OK. 2000 years ago some men wrote some stuff and now Bob takes it all very literally because a few million people passed the message along to him. Ever try that thing where you pass a message from one person to another in class and how ridiculously wrong it ends up being after 20 people have repeated it?

    All the best Bob. The good news is that when you do die you won’t have any idea you were wrong . . . but then if the whole vengeful god thing (that was really made up well after Christ lived) is true, you’ll get to play the harp in heaven for all eternity while I get the business end of the devil’s pitchfork.

    I’ll leave it to ya’ll to decide which is worse . . . .

    JoeL
    Atlanta

  • Bob Hutton |

    I don’t need to prove the existence of God. As an evangelist I just declare the Gospel and God gives the gift of faith to the elect. If He is drawing you to place faith in Christ then you will repent and believe.

  • Tom van Gestel |

    @ BOB

    “Are you really prepared to stake your eternal destiny on a probability?”

    There are thousands of different gods that people believe and have believed in, and the probability that the answer to als your questions and uncertainties is your, or any god at all is so infinitely small that to your above quoted question I can only reply with this question;

    In the off chance you are destined to anything and this destiny is eternal, are you?

  • Bob Hutton |

    I go by the teachings of the Bible. Jesus made it clear (John 14 v 6) that He is the only way to Heaven. he backed up His claim by rising from the dead. You don’t believe because the Devil has blinded you and, unless God opens your eyes, you won’t believe.

  • Quinson |

    If I were to put 2 eggs together, and 2 of these eggs began to look at the other copying whatever the other did what would be the final diagnosis if one of the eggs wasn’t supposed to be the average egg, but remained that way because there was no change that took place inside?

    The only One that can change you, really change you to flourish and be who God, the True God created you to be is Jesus Christ. But you’ll never know that transformation until you come out from among the eggs.

    Visit my site at: Fulfil your destiny in Christ
    You’ll be able to get more stuff like this…I’ll show you how everlasting transformation takes place- in Christ.

  • leila |

    David Vonarx
    08.01.2009 at 14:46 | Permalink

    I´m French, so pardon me if my english isn´t that perfect.
    “The message of Jesus was a message of freedom and peace,” Wrong!
    Truth: Deut.7:1., Deut.7:22., Deut.12:29., Deut.19:1., Deut.20:16-17.
    Truth: Psalm 144:1., Matth.5:17-19., Matth:18:6., Lk.19:27. John:10:30.

  • Tony |

    Many non-Christians ask “Why is Christianity the religion to believe in?” Well, here is a good answer for that.

    To be an atheist, you need to have more faith than I do to be a Christian! Just look at it. Science can’t answer everything. It can’t even answer the big question. Where did life come from? Science tries to explain how life evolved once it began, but they have no explination of HOW, WHERE, or even WHY it began. If you are trying to find out the asnwer to the equation A + (B – C) where A = 1, B =2, and C = 3, the whole equation is wrong if you don’t know that A = 1. If you just plug some random number, like 5, into the equation, the rest of the equation is off, making your answer wrong. Science needs to look over their problem again and find out what A is before they can even begin to try and solve the rest of the equation!

    What about the other religions though? If being an atheist is out of the question, why pick Christianity over all of the other religions? What makes Christianity so special? The answer is simple. All other religions have something wrong with them. The person (or people) who started the religion is dead. You can find a tomb where the person lies to rest. (If you can rest in hell that is.) Buddah… DEAD, Mohammed… DEAD, Darwin… DEAD, etc. The list goes on and on. Now what about Christianity? Yes it is true that Jesus died a horrible death for you and I. There is no denying that. It even says so in the bible. The bible also tells us that Jesus rose from the dead, and that His body ascended into Heaven. So where in the world is Jesus’s body? No one can find it! That is because it just might be true that His body is no longer in this world! Face it, the bible may just be right. If you look at how everything happened according to the bible, it all makes perfect sense.

    Just a little something to think about. Remember, Jesus loves you, even thought you have been ignoring him all this time. He is waiting for you with open arms! When you open your eyes is up to you.

So, what do you think ?