I saw my first Atheist Bus
yesterday, and it made me smile, especially as I'd spent the journey from Finsbury Park to Euston looking at an on-train tube advert
by the same campaign, quoting Emily Dickinson
That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.
Underneath which, of course, was the campaign's slogan:
There's probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life
When I went to link to the site this morning it seemed they'd exceeded their bandwidth. This is a sign, of course, that they've done what they intended to do: they've got people
talking, and visiting their site far more often than was expected. Because everyone is
talking about it. They're talking about it a lot
, and that makes me happy.
Firstly, let me say why I'm a fan of the ads, and it's very very simple: finally there's an advert in my visibility that doesn't tell me:
- I'm going to Hell
- cool people drink themselves under the table and have useless ugly gadgetry
- my value as a person is linked to how much crap I pile into my face and hair
- I would be happier and healthier if I spent up to $10 on pills and 'supplements'
Finally there's something on the tube other than the Poems on the Underground
that I actually agree with and enjoy reading. Finally someone's catering to me. That's what it's like for me; a nice thought for the day that makes me smile.
But, of course, other people don't have the same reaction as me; there's Stephen Green
, always good for entertainment, has complained
to the Advertising Standards Agency, claiming that the claim
probably no god
ness requirements, and the burden is on the campaign's organisers to prove otherwise. Interestingly enough, Will Crawley at the BBC
and Andrew Brown at Cif
seems to agree with this (the latter link is just the anthropic principle, nothing interesting.) I don't know what Green, Crawley and Brown think about Carlsberg
, but I assume they drink it regularly.
Much as I often have problems with the British Humanist Association, I did love their response to the allegations
I’ve sought advice from some of our key people here, but I’m afraid all I’ve got out of them so far is peals of laughter.
Arrogant, yes, but bloody funny, nevertheless.
Another delightful claim of Green's is the idea that non-Christians want
to go to Hell:
Apparently, the comedy writer had a sense of humour failure when told she would burn in hell, but if she does not believe in a final judgment, what is her problem? And if she does believe in an afterlife, where does think she is going to spend it? She won't like heaven, because God is there
David Keen at the Wardman Wire seems to get hung up on this too
I very much doubt that Richard Dawkins would take kindly to spending eternity with the God he’s spent his whole life trying to disprove. So if he’s going to hate ‘heaven’, there has to be an alternative.
Because apparently, all that lake of fire stuff only hurts if you were Christian when you lived. Or you can only get annoyed at scare tactics if they work on you, specifically, or something. Keen goes on to say that religion can be proven to make people happy, so the 'stop worrying' part of the slogan is just plain wrong.Which is such an old tired argument it depresses me. The proper atheist response is
just because it makes happy doesn't mean it's true
, but in this context it's more appropriate to say that the campaign's entire purpose is an uplifting anti-fear tactic, as a direct response to the Alpha Course's implication that we need to be 'saved' from something. It's not trying to convert
currently happy Christians, but to talk to anyone who reads the other religious posters. Those ads say 'you need to be saved'; the atheist campaign says 'no you don't'.
Yes, yes, I know it's easy to look at people preaching on the internet and act like I'm applying a broad brush to everyone who subscribes to similar beliefs, so let me reinstate that I respect a whole lot of people who believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, and try to find peace and salvation through his teachings and accepting his blood sacrifice. I don't hold this belief, but people I love and respect do.
It has to be pointed out, though, that Christianity is still the majority religion in the Western world, and the UK is still a theocracy that allows freedom of religious practice: the Anglican Church and the British Government have reciprocal controlling interest in each other, and that's not likely to change, but there are is a plethora of other religious practices and beliefs in the country, and in the spirit of diversity and mutual celebration we as individuals have a duty to acceptance and respect regarding religion.
Naturally, this isn't always the case, because humans are human, and discrimination is fun! At least for those upstanding representatives of the Met's finest, who while I was getting off the tube at South Ken this morning, saw fit to stop and search the very visibly (he was exceptionally tall) Sikh man at the gates. Sure, they might have stopped plenty of white people before I arrived, but when he was the only person in the station wearing a turban, I was sadly unsurprised to observe him being targeted.
But when I hear of Christians such as Green whining loudly about how he's actually the horrible oppressed minority and the heathens are being mean to him, I do have to point out the crap that places him in the same box as white people who complain about racism; men who complain that the feminists are being mean and anyone who thinks gay marriage violates straight rights. If you're the ruling dominant group, the societal structure is of your making, and you don't get to cry offence at people speaking up. At least, not much.