If you’re commuting or touring around the UK in the next few weeks, you may see a strange looking advertisement on the side of public transport city buses.
The slogan is simple and thought provoking:
“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”
It all started when a writer, Ariane Sherine saw a religious ad on a bus and after following the URL, found it to be a Christian website which stated that non-believers would be“condemned to everlasting separation from God and then spend all eternity in torment in hell”.
She started campaign on the Guardian’s Comment is free blog to raise money for an atheist bus ad. Her initial intention was to raise around £5000. So far the campaign has raised nearly £140,000. Supported by the Humanist Association and Richard Dawkins, the campaign has taken off spectacularly.
The “probably”, in my opinion, serves two purposes. It provides a less strident, less dogmatic message, so as not to preach to the reader. But it also gets it past the Standards Authority as it’s not making a claim it cannot back up. I find this last one hilarious, as any alternative message claiming the existence of a god is completely un-provable.
There are plans for a second wave of bus ads in April so maybe Dawkins can get to show his teeth on those. He’s already suggesting, on his website risharddawkins.net, “there’s no such thing as a …. Child” (insert religion of choice), or a long list of ex-Gods (Mithras, Zeus, Horus, Wotan etc), all crossed out, with Yahweh and Allah crossed out, or, a favourite of mine, “Religions: They can’t all be right. They can all be wrong”.
Meanwhile buses around the world are being adorned with atheist messages.
In Washington DC, USA, the American Humanist Association launched the bus ad "Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness' sake."
In Genoa, Italy, the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists plan to launch "The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that you don't need him", in February.
In Barcelona, a translation of the London slogan is used.
According to Irish Times, the Humanist Association of Ireland has no plans to follow with its own campaign. This is a shame, as it so obviously hit the public mood in the UK. I see no reason for it to fail here in Ireland.
15 Jan 2009