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Innerbrat
Advancing the sum total of human knowledge and endeavour!
Presumption, not proof, bitches. 
13th-Jan-2009 02:13 pm
atheism
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 contravenes its truthiness truthfulness 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.
Opinions 
13th-Jan-2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
iawtc

Although, for 'atheist' I would read 'agnostic'. It's the 'probably' what does it.
13th-Jan-2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
The probably is a) there for legal reasons and b) something Dawkins ascribes to--he's an agnostic atheist and would happily accept proof of a god if anyone were to come up with something, he's on record as such (which is why I just discounted the Wardman Wire post when I read it, ill informed gibbering lunacy just isn't worth it).
13th-Jan-2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
The only thing I found offensive was that the advert didn't say "There is no god, not in any way, shape or form."

But then that's just me.

Other people can do whatever they want with their religion, as long as they don't bring it near me.
13th-Jan-2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
See, that's the ASA concession, right there. If an ad make a direct claim you can't prove (and you can't prove a negative), then they have a case against it. The word 'probably' was inserted simply for legal purposes.
13th-Jan-2009 02:13 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to imagine the reaction if this ad campaign ran here in the states.

There would be rioting, it would be hilarious.
13th-Jan-2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
13th-Jan-2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
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

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.


Ah, the "the only version of the afterlife is our version" argument. Not as sometimes-hilarious-sometimes-infuriating as the "the only version of god is our version", but still fun.
13th-Jan-2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Very much ties in, so.

./shrug

Although yes. Quite amusing.

"You're going to hell!"
"Oh really? Because I was intending to get reincarnated as a higher caste. ^_^"
13th-Jan-2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
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.

Love and respect? Love and respect? ANYTHING BUT THAT! STOP DISSING US FAITHFUL WITH YOUR LOVE AND RESPECT!
13th-Jan-2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
*disses you some more* ♥
13th-Jan-2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!

I think I said on apiphile's post that at least the humanist sentiment (as opposed to the atheistic part) can be appreciated by everyone, whilst the threat of hellfire is actually theologically contentious (but people are stupid and cruel, so it's always been shouted out the loudest). The Christians who are complaining are missing the point: IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU! Some people really don't believe in God, and not because they want to upset you, but because they just don't. If you expect them to put up with your no doubt well meaning lectures and nonsensical quotations as to why everyone should be a Christian, don't be surprised if someone comes back with why they think you should be a secular humanist.

It's all quite self-defeating and very silly.
13th-Jan-2009 02:47 pm (UTC)
I want to go to hell, but only because it's full of devils and dead rockstars.
13th-Jan-2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
I believe there's a line in Good Omens about how Hell has all the good musicians, even the classical ones.
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13th-Jan-2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
I think that's a really... sweet campaign. It gives me warm fuzzy feelings.

It's the "probably" that does it, I think. If it were a definitive statement, even one I mostly agree with, well-- I don't like definitive statements about religion, because they feel like they're telling me what to think, and that never ends well. But the "probably" makes me smile.
13th-Jan-2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
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.

Exactly! My dad is (in theory) Catholic, my mom is Episcopalian, my brother is agnostic, and I identify as pagan. We're still a loving family. I don't have a problem with Christianity (or any other religion!) until they try to force their views on everyone else or cause harm to others.

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.

Again, I totally agree. Every time I heard "the war on Christmas!" last month, I wanted to scream.

(Also, hi! Followed your link on Twitter. :)
13th-Jan-2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
Admittedly, my kneejerk was, ">:O!" but then I read on about the fire-and-brimstone scare tactics and I really can't say I disagree with someone wanting to fight that, because it pisses me off, too.

People need to quit trying to scare folks into religion, because that's both unChristian and self-defeating. Has nobody ever heard about catching flies with honey?!
13th-Jan-2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
The same could be said for animal rights and environmental activists.
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13th-Jan-2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, how I wish I could find that pie chart denotating Christians to non-christians in the United States that has the christian demographic (a good 2/3rds of the chart) screaming "Help! Help! We're being repressed!"
14th-Jan-2009 12:58 am (UTC)
My objection to this is actually "Why is an absence of deity any reason to stop worrying?" And it would be the same objection if the ad said "there's probably no hell," with which statement I would in fact agree.

I get that it's in deliberate opposition to religious scare tactics, but on its own it strikes me as a non sequitur.
14th-Jan-2009 03:41 am (UTC)
Locally, APN Outdoor - which handles bus ads - turned down similar and similarly inoffensively-messaged ads while making no comment. It was one of the only things I've kicked up a stink about, though admittedly over e-mail.

I agree with my mother, that I'd really like to see no theism - whether or not it has an a- in front of it - on public transport, but if the "Jesus Wept" ads can get on buses, then so too can "Sleep In On Sundays".
14th-Jan-2009 04:32 am (UTC)
I loved that article.

Have you seen the one about Heathrow?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/13/baa-heathrow-property
14th-Jan-2009 04:37 am (UTC) - Doh! Posted too fast.
Something from http://lapurr.deviantart.com/journal/22526450/
Proofs of the Existence of God

ARGUMENT FROM CREATION, a.k.a. ARGUMENT FROM PERSONAL INCREDULITY
(1) If evolution is false, then creationism is true, and therefore God exists.
(2) Evolution can't be true, since I lack the mental capacity to understand it; moreover, to accept its truth would cause me to be uncomfortable.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM FEAR
(1) If there is no God then we're all going to not exist after we die.
(2) I'm afraid of that.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM BELIEF
(1) If God exists, then I should believe in Him.
(2) I believe in God.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

PARENTAL ARGUMENT
(1) My mommy and daddy told me that God exists.
(2) Therefore, God exists.


RGUMENT FROM NUMBERS
(1) Millions and millions of people believe in God.
(2) They can't all be wrong, can they?
(3) Therefore, God exists.

ARGUMENT FROM AMERICAN EVANGELISM
(1) Telling people that God exists makes me filthy rich.
(2) Therefore, God exists.

MITCHELL'S ARGUMENT
(1) The Christian God exists.
(2) Therefore, all worldviews which don't assume the Christian God's existence are false and incomprehensible.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM MANIFESTATIONS
(1) If you turn your head sideways and squint a little, you can see an image of a bearded face in that tortilla.
(2) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM SHEER WILL
(1) I DO believe in God! I DO believe in God! I do I do I do I DO believe in God!
(2) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM NONBELIEF
(1) The majority of the world's population are nonbelievers in Christianity.
(2) This is just what Satan intended.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM LONELINESS
(1) Christians say that Jesus is their best friend.
(2) I'm lonely, and I want a best friend.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM INSECURITY
(1) We have gone to absolutely berserk lengths to establish that atheists are laughable morons.
(1.5) Actually, we did so in the hopes of curing our own insecurities about theism — but there's no chance in hell we'll ever admit that.
(2) Therefore, atheists are laughable morons.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM SUPERIORITY
(1) If God does not exist, then I am an inferior being, since I am not "special" in a cosmic sense.
(2) But I am superior because I am a Christian.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM ABSOLUTE MORAL STANDARDS
(1) If there are absolute moral standards, then God exists.
(2) Atheists say that there are no absolute moral standards.
(3) But that's because they don't want to admit to being sinners.
(4) Therefore, there are absolute moral standards.
(5) Therefore, God exists.



PEACOCK ARGUMENT FROM LIMITED VOCABULARY
(1) You use lots of big words.
(2) Therefore, I cannot possibly be expected to understand your refutation of my position.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



BENDER’S ARGUMENT
(1) One day, demons were tap-dancing on my roof. I prayed and they went away.
(2) Therefore, demons are really good dancers.
(3) Also, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM SPEAKING IN TONGUES
(1) My friend here, once started spontaneously speaking some jibberish that sounded to me kind of like Russian.
(2) But neither he nor I know anything about Russian.
(3) The only explanation is God.
(4) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM TINKERBELL
(1) I really want God to be real.
(2) If you wish for something really hard, it'll come true.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



ARGUMENT FROM EYEWITNESS
(1) Someone wrote the creation story in the Bible.
(2) That someone must have been an eyewitness to the described events.
(3) Therefore, God exists.



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