The wheels on the atheist bus go round and round

Picture from osocio.org

Picture from osocio.org

I know the short atheist bus issue is getting stale, but I thought I should comment on it because it keeps coming up. To get the gist of the story, read this article.

The first thing that comes to mind is the message itself: “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life.” I don’t know about you, but the word ‘probably’ isn’t the word I would have gone with. ‘Probably’ leaves room for error.  Had it said definitively that “There is no God” I might have left it alone. But if life after death is a possibility, ‘probably’ is not a chance I’m willing to take.

Whatever it is you believe, you need to consider why you believe it. A public advertisement telling you not to worry about it isn’t helpful because there’s no introspection. You should worry about… well not worry, but think about it.

Moving on. My question to you is would you care if Toronto (or your city) welcomed this sort of advertising?

To answer my own question, if irreligious advertising makes the bus any slower then I definitely care. Otherwise, I don’t. I feel that any sort of political or religious promotion is for the people who belong to those groups. If I’m a liberal, I don’t care if the NDP bash my leader in their commercials and I’m certainly not swayed by a few lawn signs. That’s not how persuasion works… at least not for me. If atheists want to promote their beliefs, it’s a free country. Will I take their word for it based on a bus? Probably not.

Actually, I would argue that most atheists (the thoughtful ones, not the angry, System-of-a-Down listening anarchists) wouldn’t want people to take the ad at face value. From what I understand, atheism is a serious study. What do you think?

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7 thoughts on “The wheels on the atheist bus go round and round

  1. Yay!

    First of all, as an atheist, I would say that I agree with them using ‘probably’. There is no way of ‘definitely’ knowing there is no god. That’s why some people, when they believe that God has become unbelievable, will say that they’re agnostics. Just like how there is not way of definitely showing there are no green swans. Perhaps we just haven’t seen any yet. However, most – I’d actually venture all (barring all synesthesics, and schizophrenics) – people do not believe in green swans…they may say “there is definitely no green swans” when really, they have no way of knowing that fact 100%. Thus, there is probably no green swans (fairies, greek gods, bla bla bla).

    Secondly, I just want to say that I kinda think this bus ad is stupid. If there was a Scientology billboard on a bus, I would probably think to myself “well at least it’s not another cell phone billboard…god I hate those fucking cell phone billboards. On the other hand, what the fuck is Scientology doing taking up that space? Couldn’t that space be used to advertise better things? Like charities or sexual education or government programs or telephone support lines?”

    Thirdly, have you heard about how much money these atheist billboards have gathered through private donations? It’s ridiculous! I wonder how they’re spending that money…

  2. @ alex – I know *why* they said probably, it’s just not a persuasive statement. As for the money, I heard it was up in the 10s of millions. Crazy. I hope they give to me to put towards my school debt.

  3. IMO religious conviction of any kind (and ‘atheism’ is just as much of a religious conviction), has no place in the public realm. Keep your beliefs to yourself and I’ll do the same. That is all.

  4. A person who claims to be an atheist has to believe in evolution – the universe happened by chance and it took a long time to evolve.
    No design. No designer. Only time and chance. Atheism and evolution are inseparable and evolution (with the unsaid atheist belief) has been taught in our schools for over 50 years. (right on Roselle!)
    While belief in evolution or creation both require faith, it doesn’t take much scientific investigation of our universe to come to the conclusion that the belief in evolution really doesn’t hold water.
    Mankind may not like it but, like it or not, there is a God. There is too much wonder in this universe to suggest otherwise.
    Yes, in the light of human suffering, there are problems not being able to understand God or his ways and I can see a person logically embracing Atheism thinking a loving God wouldn’t allow ……! The problem is the evolution belief is so weak it just doesn’t stand and with it goes Atheism. We’re left struggling with a God we don’t like or trust and, from a human standpoint, is illogical.
    Perhaps the sign on the bus should read “There is a God. You probably don’t like His plan”.

  5. So apparently they were not allowed to write “There is no God”. Their ad was not approved by the big man upstairs, no not god, but some corporate person in charge of censoring our media. That being the case they re-drafted and went with “Probably” so they could still run the ads. It was safe and allowed. In the end I think it worked to their advantage.

    I think if we are going to let believers in God advertise we should do the same for the opposite argument. Religious beliefs are personal and such relationships shouldn’t be able to be bought, so we probably shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I am with you, a billboard is not going ot sway my beliefs, but it does encourage conversation which is often a positive outcome. At least it is about something one could call meaningful as opposed to those damn Koodo ads which make me want to punch someone in the neck.

    When it comes to ad space it is about who can afford it, not who deserves to be known about. As an employee for a not-for-profit charitable arts organization I wish things were different, but alas, that is what sponsorship proposals were made for.

  6. I like these ads, simply because the buses and subways already have “ads” that are short excerpts from the bible, and that’s been around for years. I am not persuaded by either ad to change my beliefs, but I like that there are now two voices out there.

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