Sunday, January 11, 2009

There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

I'm giving a talk in five weeks (unless the baby arrives around then!) at Bristol University that in some way is a response to the atheist bus...  very helpfully raises some of the key questions for me to engage with.

If anyone would like me to wear this t-shirt whilst giving the talk, please feel free to offer to buy me one (£13+p&p) or contribute towards the cost. Medium/Black.


More information at www.atheistbus.org.uk
T-Shirt's at Blue Apple Music
Ariane Sherine in the Guardian

The bus campaign is said to be a response to hell-fire advertising by Christians - which you do see occasinoally in stations etc. It's real equivilant is the less-prescriptive Alpha approach which raises questions like "If there was a God, what would you ask him?". No harm in using ad-space to get people thinking either way as far as I can see.

The probably has produced much debate for various reasons - I'd say it helps promote conversation. As for the conclusion draw "now stop worrying and enjoy your life" is an interesting comment on the perceived effects of claim of God's existence. Particularly since it was Jesus who said, don't be anxious and was somewhat of a joy-promoter. That said, if you're atheistically inclined I suppose the possibility of there being a God who might hold you accountable for what you do could cause you some concern...

Anyways, I'm provoked by it to think more. How should I approach the talk I'm giving? Should I look at the word probably - and the whole question of evidences? Should I look at our motivation as we approach the question and whether we might be predisposed to want there to be no God? Or some other angle.

Comment welcome.

Update: Hmmm: A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming "There's probably no God". Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with "shock" and "horror" at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest. Seems a shame to respond that way. Maybe atheist bus drivers will boycott Alpha Buses...?

5 comments:

  1. couple of links on my blog in a post I did yesterday on research about belief in God and happiness, if you wanted to take that angle.

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  2. hey dave.

    I've found it helpful to ask myself & others why this campaign raised £20k in a single day.

    Because people obviously feel that without God, the first thing to go would be “worrying”, and the first thing to start would be “enjoying”. What a tragedy, given Jesus' bus campaign in Matthew 6, that we've got a heavenly father who loves us like crazy.

    Also worth mentioning that at his discussion with John Lennox in October, Dawkins publically regretted the exact phrasing - he didnt like the slack, laissez-faire implication at all, but nonetheless, had already gone to press expressing his support:
    "This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion

    Interestingly, theos think tank also sponsored it, and the sociologist, Nick Spencer (who's co-authored with Michael Green) wrote his two pence in the Guardian.

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  3. For my notes:

    Nick Spencer: The truly wonderful thing about the campaign is that it does that most un-English thing. It mentions God in public. Research has shown that most Christians are willing to talk about their faith if the subject comes up. Reluctant to introduce it themselves (presumably for fear of being labelled a "fundamentalist"), they are quite happy to "do God" if a friend mentions him, provoked, say, by a passing bendy bus.

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  4. Dave, Thanks to dmk, I had an interesting link on my blog with Joe the Peacock — a reflective US good guy atheist, on what things Christians do that impress him and what things they say and do that don't: http://bishopalan.blogspot.com/2008/11/evangelism-spam-versus-living-it.html . Really constructive and chalenging. Any ideas there to help?

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  5. Hi Alan,

    Yeah it's a helpful article - naturally not going to agree with all his points. The evidence point needs some response, but remembering that people don't believe in God, don't see the need to, and don't start out thinking that the bible is worth listening to etc is helpful.

    It is disturbing the way that we basically use interuption techniques - which on the one hand can be fine, but can be horrendous, desperate and rude.

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