... especially the last bit.
Let atheists have their bus slogans
February 21, 2009,
Atheists are finding their voice in the public square. The slogan, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life," has to date appeared on buses in England, Spain, the United States and Canada.
The original idea was the brainchild of Richard Dawkins, poster-boy for atheism, and well known for his bestselling book The God Delusion.
Responding to Christian advertisements on buses in London, Dawkins put up money and spearheaded the campaign to put atheistic philosophy on some 800 buses.
The campaign ran into problems in both Australia and Italy as censors initially kept the ads from appearing.
In Canada roughly 2,400 such advertisements have run on buses in Toronto, Calgary and Burlington. However, the Freethought Association of Canada has run into problems with city staff in Ottawa and Halifax who have thus far not approved the ads.
The ads have provoked sharp public response. Dr. Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, claims they are attack ads and should not have been approved. Calgary Catholic Bishop Fred Henry said the slogans were offensive, insulting and an attempt to marginalize Christians.
For my part, I am convinced that atheists should have the same right to publicly express their world view as Christians have. It would be patently unfair to deny their free speech rights, while insisting that ours be protected.
On that point at least I am in agreement with the famous freethinker Voltaire, the putative source of the dictum, "I disapprove profoundly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
That said, I am not suggesting that atheists should have more rights than Christians do. And I am increasingly concerned that politically correct busybodies like the human rights commissions and student associations on university campuses are demonstrating bias, if not outright hostility, against the free exercise of Christians to speak of their faith and moral values -- but that's a story for another time.
Back to the bus slogans.
Of course, when atheists come out of the closet like this they actually come out much further than they intended. For they claim that they are not a religion as such, but supposedly base themselves on science.
However, their statement, "There's probably no God . . ." is actually a faith statement pure and simple (a very doubting faith to be sure, but faith nonetheless since the premise cannot be proven).
They are free to believe it of course, but let's not pretend it's science.
When atheism comes to be seen as a faith system on par with other world views and faith systems it will no longer get a free pass in the public square for its pretence of being scientific and therefore neutral.
When atheists state, "There's probably no God . . ." they betray a profound uncertainty about their claim that God doesn't exist.
If I were to say, "There's probably a Jesus Christ who died for sin, who probably rose from the grave, and who probably ascended to the Father, and who is probably going to return and judge the world"-- I would gut my supposed faith. And the "probably" in the atheist slogan does the same to the atheist.
Indeed, some wag has suggested that this particular bus slogan is so harmful to the atheist cause that he wondered if believers in God might have orchestrated the campaign.
The advertisements encourage people to start thinking about God. The person of God, God's existence or non-existence, God's linkage to a life that is free from worry and filled with joy . . . all of these thoughts are now out in the open for discussion.
That is very good. Contrary to Richard Dawkins's assertion made to BBC media that thinking is "anathema to religion," Christians welcome thinking people and openly challenge them to evaluate the evidence before believing.
Actually, Christians owe atheists big time for plastering slogans about God all over the public square -- er, the buses anyway. Christians should chill out, and not be so threatened and uptight.
These slogans are like a gift. They give believers a perfect opportunity to speak up.
When one of these buses passes by I will point out the slogan to the friend beside me, and say something like, "You know, my life is largely free from worry, and I enjoy life as much, or more, than anyone else I know, and it's all because I follow Jesus Christ, this God that they think probably doesn't even exist. Wow! Who knew?"
Thank you, Richard Dawkins. I won't stand in your way. Buy all the bus ads you want!
Royal Hamel is an avid culture watcher who analyzes how culture impacts on religion and how religion impacts on culture. He is a member of the Mercury's Community Editorial Board. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org