Of Atheists and False Advertising
On Jan. 6 some 800 British red “bendy” buses carried the sign: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
The Atheist Bus Campaign organizer, a young comedienne named Ariane Sherine, took exception last June to several London buses swathed with biblical quotes, placed by Christian fundamentalists.
Her idea to fund a few challenge ads took off; donors sent in $200,000 in two days. Ms. Sherine was joined by Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins, a leading British atheist and author of “The God Delusion.”
He predicted anger from believers. “They have to take offense, it is the only weapons they’ve got,” Mr. Dawkins said as the first bus rolled through the streets of London. “They’ve got no arguments.”
But the response by most faith leaders isn’t quite what was expected.
Religious institutes, church pastors, and divinity school professors have not treated the ads with Old Testament wrath, but with a relatively open mind and even embrace of so important an issue.
“Many people simply never think about God or religion as a serious question, and if this prods them a little bit, then that’s great,” says the Rev. Stephen Wang, of the Westminster diocese of the Roman Catholic church.
More. It turns out that religious folk are more open minded and tolerant than the atheists in this story, who are the ones bothered by the very sight of a contrary point of view in public. Talk about irony.
I also found this bit amusing:
Much of the campaign’s initial buzz centered on the assertion that God “probably” doesn’t exist. Does this suggest a hedging of bets – a move past atheist dogma? Only partly.
Some organizers wanted a flat “there is no God” statement. Dawkins favored an “almost certainly no God” wording. But Ms. Sherine says that British advertising officials advised that a phrase less absolute and not subject to proof would ensure the ad did not run afoul of the advertising standards authority.
(HT: Ross Douthat)
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