455 – Bringing the Hurt: 2


See strip # 152!

The Atheist Bus Campaign in London had given themselves two months to raise £5,500 to place their slogan, “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” on the sides of 30 busses for 4 weeks. (Richard Dawkins, noted atheist author, had pledged to match funds up to that amount.) In less than 24 hours they had raised £47,900. There was apparently more support than they had counted on.

Soon afterwards a new set of bus adverts purchased by the Christian Party hit the streets. These looked exactly like the atheist ads, but the wording had changed to “There definitely is a god, so join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.” Right after that, the Russian Orthodox Church bought their own bus ads proclaiming “There IS a god, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.” Not to be outdone, the Trinitarian Bible Society quotes Psalm 53:1 for their ad, which reads “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God…” This is a good one for me. I’ve always felt that the best way to defend the bible against people who think that the bible is a bunch of made-up hooey is to quote the bits of that same bible to them where it says that the bible is real.

My favorite part of this was that many christians who found the atheist ads offensive called the ASA (the Advertising Standards Authority) to complain that the claim that there “probably is no god” could not be substantiated, and therefore was a fraud. Now in order to rule on this complaint properly, the ASA would have had to put themselves in the position of publicly coming out either for, or against, the existence of a supreme being. Wisely, they punted, declaring that the adverts were an “expression of the advertiser’s opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation.”

If I had an ad on the side of a bus I wonder what it’d say…

22 Responses to 455 – Bringing the Hurt: 2

  1. I’m pretty sure mine would say “Stop reading this bus and watch the road! (Brought to you by the Commission for Public Safety)” or some such nonsense.

  2. “How do you know these things are true, citizen?”
    “Because the Computer told them to me. The Computer would not lie.”
    “How do you know the Computer would not lie to you, citizen?”
    “Because the Computer told me so…”

    Got to love that reasoning…

  3. So “There probably is no God” is unsubstantiated and fraudulent, whereas “There [absolutely definitely positively] is a God” is fine, because the Bible says so?

    Religious apologists would have a much easier time of it if they stuck to their own standards, and stopped being such flagrant hypocrites!

  4. I notice you don’t mention how long it took the various religious groups to raise the money for their ads. In fact, this is the first I’ve heard about it, and I live in the UK. Also, the original Humanist Association-backed ads were actually placed on buses around the country, not just in London. Now, on the basis of the complaints against them (that the claim of there not being a God was an exaggeration or inaccurate and has no independent documentary evidence to back it up), tell me, God-botherers, exactly where is the independent documentary evidence in favour of there being a God? And if you cannot provide any, you must take down all the advertising saying that God exists on the outside of churches, which are far more numerous than buses!

  5. Phew, even at these days i don’t understand why atheist can be so fanatics about them non-believing. It is like kind of religion. Just much worser. Yes, i know we live days of science, but guess that guys? Even scientist can believe in God, but maybe it is because they know much more than ordinary peoples, whose believes that TV and other things says.

    Darn! Think it peoples! Think it you atheists! You are believer too and also blind for seeing that is outside your own life. You just look at humans and think they are truth, but look. After all, human is nothing compared for universe. I understand still well because i have been reading about science. And i also think with my head, not with my genitals. They are just for propagation and boobs are just for children.

    That? Did not know that? Oh, sorry then that i take away from you reason for enjoying about life ^^


  6. Believe as you will, Grey.

    However, the point is not about whether or not God exists, but whether any one group has the right to prevent a dissenting voice from being heard.

    That’s my take, anyway.

  7. Haha, those atheists really deserved all those unsubstantiated claims in return for their unsubstantiated claim. That’s the main thing that’s bugged me about every atheist spokesperson/debater/etc. I’ve seen: as little or usually less reason than their opposition. If you’re gonna claim to be all about science, then make your claims with science already.

    Best way to decide for yourself is to read up for yourself and reason it out, rather than letting any group tell you what’s right (or “true” or “scientific” or whatever). There are lots of good debates, science and history for this; just read the original sources not some shortened conclusions someone published. Or at least verify a source (such as original source quotations made) and get multiple widely separated sources if possible.

    I agree don’t believe what you’re told. My favorite example was when they had us read the fedaralist paper’s in school they had us read the one on factions. Like everything else in the class, it was all about unity. The excerpt from the fedarilist paper said factions suck, etc. It was about half the original. I read the rest of the original and it said factions suck, but they are unavoidable. The only solution then is to have as many factions as possible to keep individual factions, aka political parties (yeah, it said that), from having any sway. Likewise everything else we learned at school that I checked up on had the exact opposite meaning when you looked at it in context.

  8. Wow! Those busses sure spark a lot of debate!

    BTW, I just want to say thanks to everyone here for not turning this into a flame war. Be as snarky as you like, as long as we don’t descend into an epithet-filled bile contest. (Which I would have to spend all my time deleting, and then who would draw the comics?)

    Now to enter the fray… I don’t personally believe in god because I think the notion makes very little objective sense. In order to believe, I have to take on faith quite a number of things that seem contrary to the actual world I live in. On the other hand, to not believe is easy, since all I need to do is live my life and interact with the world in a normal, human fashion.

    Admittedly I used to be much more belligerent on this subject, but Lena pointed out to me that I was becoming a bit of an asshole about it and I agreed. I still find it a fascinating topic and I quite enjoy discussing it, here or wherever.

    @Eric: I may have to do a blog on the factions section the federalist papers now! That looks like good stuff!

  9. Along these lines, did anyone see this weeks *Family Guy* in which Brian (the dog) is outed as an atheist: the local newscast features him in a picture titled ‘worse than Hitler’. Great episode! -r

  10. @ Eric —
    The partial text of the Federalist Paper in your example does not say the opposite of what the full text does. Rather it is the context in which it was presented that changes the meaning.

    A typical Federalist Paper, this poses a legitimate objection to the proposed Constitution and then discusses how this issue can be dealt with thereunder. It is important to recognize that all of the “governmental theorizing” of the founding fathers was highly pragmatic.

  11. it is man’s nature to believe that everything is under control,wether it be mans control or some dieties control.everythying has to be in order for it to function properly. this stems from man’s inhearent need to be superior to nature and his (i use the term “his” loosely im not trying to sound chauvanistic) surroundings. religion has been around for millenia and will continue to be here for as long as we are. if not just for the reason that we can explain the unexplainable as “god’s will”. whether or not there actually is a god will be answered when we leave this world and make our final journey. then and only then will we find the truth. i personally believe that there is something out there. a type of god if you will.but i also dont believe in organized religion. because who are you (organized religions) to say that im wrong. which we all know that they are so good at doing(i won’t name any religions specifically but there’s many that do that).but i also believe that “god” did intend for the world to adapt to its current environment otherwise how could we have grown as a planet(all earth creatures not just humans). as for the bible there are just too many holes in the story for it to be wholly believable but its a wonderful story and i encourage everyone to read it with an open mind about what it contains because you just might learn something

    on to a different topic: over the years (30 but whos counting right?) that ive been playing d&d ive gotten really good at dming on the fly(try having your players find a deck of many things and then go a totally different direction based on what they draw when you’ve had a war scenario set up for weeks)

  12. I tend to figure until someone has firm, undisputable PROOF that there is, or is not, a god/goddess/pantheon/other divine influnce, then it’s all just a matter of opinion and faith. And as we know, opinions are like assholes; everyone has one, and most of them stink.

  13. My take-home message from this story is that a little healthy competition is good for anyone. While I am a firm believer in God and the knowledge of His existence and love for me is a great source of comfort to me, I have to say that I’d have to come down on the side of the atheists on this one. I don’t agree with their message, but they have just as much right to put it out there as any God-fearing Christian. I find it very upsetting when a Christian essentially yells “SHUT UP!” over and over again to try to silence their opposition, and this is what the Christians in England were essentially trying to do by trying to outlaw the Atheists’ adverts. As Christians, we have many strong arguments to put forward to defend the existence of God. We don’t need to resort to trying to silence the opposition.

    @Grey. I too believe that being a man of science doesn’t exclude a belief in God. On the contrary, the more I learn about how life works, the more I am convinced of God’s hand in our existence. I have had my faith reaffirmed on many occasions during the course of my education. I believe it was Einstein who said that the more he learned about the universe, the more he was convinced that God “doesn’t play dice” with it. Correct me if I’m wrong. (I’m sure that no one will hesitate to do so. :-] )


    • Experiments run within the framework of Quantum Mechanics display a suprising effect, that the observer has an effect on the observed. When you get into the ideas of entanglement (two objects (let’s say protons) will both react, instantaneously, regardless of distance, when one is affected), superposition (a single object existing in multiple states and/or locations simultaneously), the Two-Slit experiment (unobserved creates a Wave pattern, Observed creates a particle pattern).

      “Do unto Others” as a rule is essentially saying, “be nice to yourself“. “You” and “Me” are as arbitrary a distinction as “Past” and “Future”.

      Sorry if the clarity of my intent is lacking. These counter-intuitive effects are hard to grasp, much less explain.

      short form – All matter has been entangled since time began (at the big bang).
      unobserved, there are no discrete entities
      Time is an illusion, broken by humans on a daily basis.

      Human thought affects objective reality in addition to percieved reality.

      Aslo, if “some-one/body/thing” created this place, with its infinite size and composition, they are as far above us evolutionarily as creatures living on the Planck Scale are below us
      (Planck Time = 5.39121 × 10^−44 s, Planck Mass = 2.17645 × 10^−8 kg, Planck Length = 16.163×10^−36 m)

  14. Hmm…an ad on the side of the bus…

    “Doctor, if you’re out there, park your TARDIS in America sometime. Getting the feeling you don’t like anyone but the Brits.”

    And then the British people would kill me for stealing him.
    Ah, well.

    “What WOULD Jesus Do?”
    Offensive or not, maybe people would be nicer if they considered it sometimes.

    “If you want people to listen, try talking nicely.”
    I agree with Andrew. Some Christians essentially shout, over and over, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!! LALALA!!!”, and it hurts us, both as people and as a religion.

    ” ‘Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable’ ~Sir Arthur Kieth”
    I just really like this one.

    “If you saw a painting hanging in the woods with no sign of a painter, would you not still conclude that there had to be one? Why is all of Everything so different from that painting?”
    And that one’s mine. I really like this one, too. 😀

    I’m sure I could come up with more. But who really wants to listen to them? 😀

    And, as a closer…
    “In order to believe, I have to take on faith quite a number of things that seem contrary to the actual world I live in.”
    *Curiosity is sparked* Like what? 😀


  15. Mine would say, “If there is a God, I will try to make His/Her world a better place, so even if there isn’t, I will have made the world a better place.”
    It would have to be a LONG bus, but it fits my Believing Agnosticism.

  16. Hi, I came across this a short while ago and never commented, so I just want to let you know that I really like it. Reminds me of the sessions I’ve had, but unfortunately my group can’t meet anymore. Being from Iceland I did comment on your previous blog about elves, please read it and if you would like to know more, just contact me.

    Personally, I’m a firm unbeliever, and even if I ever found there to be a god, I still would refuse to worship. I just can’t submit like that, I would much rather be independent, and live life the best I can and how I want, much like the ad says.

    As for my own ad on a bus….
    Perhaps a wanted ad for an assassin like Nietzsche, you know, to KILL God.
    Not that I really hate religion or anything, but I have a sinister mind that would probably enjoy the reaction to that.

  17. My add?
    “Look at the bible: Why worship a spoiled brat who lost all interest in us?”

    Anyway, although I find the atheist adds to be a stupid, if fun, idea, the christian reaction was even worse, both by lowering themselves to advertise too for a belief, and by trying to have the atheist adds banned while not even considering that their own were even less substantiated (probably because, to their eyes, they are perfectly valid. After all, there *is* a god, isn’t there?).

    Of course, who opened pandora’s box? I doubt england has never seen its share of pro-christain adds, whatever their form and support (tv or radio emissions…). I would forbid any pro or against god advertisement, on the basis that religion (or unreligion) is a private matter and you don’t have to bother people with it. But once you let someone do it, you’ve gotta know people will follow. On this matter, I doubt the atheist were the first to throw the stone, although I may be wrong.
    (That’s why I’m very much against our beloved omni-president pro-religious stances, he’s just inviting total war here, instead of staying above the fray)

  18. @SorceressKira: Before I start, let me state here that I’m not trying to change anyone’s opinion. Honestly, I don’t think I could, but folks get riled when they think you’re tearing down their beliefs and I’m just having a talk here. This was not always true of me, but I am kinder and fuzzier now.

    The first thing I have problems believing in is the physicality of god himself. Nothing in my life has led me to believe in the existence of an invisible person or people who float about undetected and undetectable who nevertheless control everything that happens, but only in such a way as to make it look perfectly normal and untouched by them in any way. If so many people didn’t get upset about it, I’d think it was a joke.

    Number two is the bible. Just like almost every other religious text in every other religion before it, the bible discusses a long ago time when everything used to be all magic and giants and gods and witches. Then the magic drained away, the giants died, the gods retreated, and the witches moved to Scotland, leaving a supposedly lusterless world behind. BUT… if I want to get back that magical world of wonder and eternal happiness all I have to do is believe hard enough (clap your hands for Tinkerbell!) and angels/fairies/valkyries/dust bunnies will wing my soul away (after I’m dead and can’t tell anyone about it) to heaven/nirvana/the happy hunting grounds/valhalla/mount olympus… whatever. What in my experience has led me to believe that this is anything more than nonsense?

    My third issue is with christianity’s exclusive claim to the ultimate truth. There have been thousands upon thousands of religions in the history of the world, most of which made the same claim… what are the real odds that christianity would be the only one with the golden keys?

    Fourth is the dick move issue, and this one kind of ties the rest up. God makes the world and all the people in it. Okay. He offers them heaven if they will believe that he he made the world and all the people in it. Oo-kay… for the sake of the argument, we’ll keep up. (Though it seems trite of him.) Finally comes the dick move, where god erases all evidence of his presence, going way the hell out of his way to make the world look like he never existed and seeming to prove within every logical construction and observation of our lives that he is nothing more than a figment to make some folks rich and keep the sheep in line, (I am the lamb of god) and even after all of that, the only way to be “saved” is to believe, against the reality of the world around you, that he is the bossest guy in all of reality. If it were MY universe, I would never be such a jackass.

    Reality isn’t a painting. It’s not a watch, and it wasn’t carefully put together by some invisible man who was so brainiac smart that he knew which way the electrons in my fingers would be flipping as I typed this back when he was intoning “Let there be light!” and yet he was still surprised enough to get all pissed off when Jesus was crucified even though that WAS THE WHOLE POINT IN PUTTING HIM THERE… No, reality happened. What we are looking at now is the result of umpteen bozillion years of things settling into their own systems. No direction needed. The systems that worked, propagated, the systems that didn’t, fizzled out.

    My life is full of wonder, magic, and love. I wake up every day thankful for my wife, who completes me in ways I’ll never truly be able to express, and who makes my spirit soar. I get to talk every day with people from all over the whole world about their ideas and feelings and experience some of the wonder in their lives as well. Not only that, but I have news from around the globe that pipes instantly in to me and tells me about all the mysterious and funny and tragic and beautiful things that happen, everywhere and anywhere. I have friends and family and places I love to visit and activities I love to do and absolutely limitless ways to keep me engaged in the world… and god figures into none of it. He’s just not there. The most important thing I would have to ignore is me. I am happy, and I have a full, rich life. My senses and my brain tell me that god is a fairy tale… and I have faith in me.

    @Andrew: When Einstein said “God does not play dice.” he was expressing his frustration with quantum mechanics, which seem to our eyes to be COMPLETELY random. In context, he was actually saying the opposite of what you thought. Not that the more he learned, the more he was convinced of the hand of god at work, but more that it didn’t seem that there was ANY intelligent creator behind the scenes. It’s unfortunate that this quote is the one so picked up and used by people trying to unite science and religion, since Einstein himself was not at all any kind of religious person.

    @Grey: I have had a vasectomy, and will never be having children. I would opine that both boobs and my genitals are ENTIRELY for my own entertainment.

  19. I Think The Buses should say
    If Christians are Made in God’s Image, Then How come they are not invisible and silent too?