back to article Dawkins' atheist ad campaign hits fundraising target

An atheist bid to counter religious advertising, backed by the evolutionary theorist and anti-religion firebrand Richard Dawkins, has hit its £11,000 fundraising target. The money will pay for the UK's first "atheist bus campaign", which see will the slogan "THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE" …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Hehe

    'The organisers say the aim of the advertising campaign will be to "brighten people's days on the way to work, help raise awareness of atheism in the UK, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists. We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves."'

    Counter with religious propaganda for a religion who purpose is to proclaim that there is no religion? Irony, we've heard of it. Flame retardant shielding engaged cap'n.

  2. Dale

    Money

    Surely there are better causes to spend your money on than one which is using your money to tell people that something *doesn't* exist. Advertising a non-existant product doesn't seem very sensible. Especially since their big message seems to be to get people to think for themselves, and the way they're doing it is by telling people what to think.

  3. Jon
    Thumb Up

    Best of both world's

    I am not anti religion but am anti fundamentatlist (so that includes most organised religion).

    But here we have a chance to not only put one in the eye of the Christian fundie advertisers but also bankrupt the atheist fundie Dawkins in one swoop.

  4. Mike Crawshaw
    Thumb Up

    Excellent.

    But how long before they get pulled for being "offensive"?

    Personally, I find bible-thumpers standing in the street and shouting about how everyone but them "is going to hell!" offensive, but I guess that's just me?

  5. Steve Swann
    Thumb Up

    So, how long will it be....

    ...before the PC brigade manage to get this most worthy campaign banned as being 'offensive to religious minorities' ?

    However, my hat is off to the Humanist Society and Dr. Dawkins for this brave, and reasonable, move.

  6. Ralph B
    Stop

    Dodgy Slogan

    > THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE

    Hmm, if all the god botherers start enjoying their lives - in whatever uninhibited manner may occur to them - it could become even more unpleasant for the rest of us.

  7. Tom Mason
    Unhappy

    Good news?

    How will "There's probably no God" brighten anyone's day?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Cowards

    Why not "Hey, theres no Allah or Mohammed" adverts.

    No, wouldn't dare, instead they take on the blue-rinse brigade and middle class england.

    Anonymous, cos....you know, they're all fuckin mentalists.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'm joining in

    Instead of giving them money, I'm going to spend my weekends in a suit knocking on doors and asking people if they've thought about letting Christ out of their lives.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    It's not a religion

    Oh look, someone who's making shit up to defend the indefensible. Atheism is not a religion. There are no "vicars of the non-existant God". It doesn't require you to believe anything, it just asks that you don't believe "just because". That's it.

    And, when it comes down to it, "just because" covers things like personal experiences of the Godhead. It's all you: start taking the credit instead of palming it off on some sky fairy.

  11. Jim Coleman
    Coat

    The problem is...

    ...it's not whether there's a god or not, but how you define "God".

    Big beardy bloke going around planting trees in people's gardens and then telling them not to eat the fruit, flooding entire planets and killing everyone and everything except some old hippy and his wife, telling people "thou shalt not kill" and then asking his mate Moses to kill his son, then going "hey I was only joking"?

    Perhaps not.

    An intangible spirit that infuses all living things, yet has no sentience of its own?

    Certainly.

    The world isn't black and white folks, it's a delicate shade of grey.

    Mine's the one with "Think outside the Box" written across the back and a wet haddock in the pocket.

  12. lIsRT
    Go

    ...and climbing fast.

    Seems like the total is changing with each F5.

    Jon - only on the 1st £5,500...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Shut up Dawkins you annoying little turd

    "We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves"

    ...Implying that people who hold to any sort of faith / spiritual belief are not thinking for themselves? Dawkins and his fellow Atheangelists continue to insult and deride anyone who won't allow him to think for them; I have no problem with Atheists running such ads, it's their right just as it's the right of faith communities to express their own beliefs but I find Dawkins' blinkered hypocrisy incomprehensible for someone with his supposed intellect.

  14. Jason McLaughlin
    Jobs Halo

    'probably'

    Why the insistence on the wooly adverb 'probably'. The atheist position is surely that god definitely does not exist - anything less than that and you can't class yourself as an atheist.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Sigh

    I don't quite know where I stand on this one. I'm a Christian and guess what? I also think that the religious advertising you typically see in public is utter nonsense, they are trying to make money or gain power. It's got nothing to do with Christianity. The people who publish it are either confused or knowingly deceitful thieves and villains. On the other hand I feel exactly the same about the atheists' advertising.

    In fact, to be honest why don't we just remove ALL ads in public spaces (where I don't have a reasonable choice to see them or not).

  16. ElFatbob

    Eh?

    > "We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves" <

    Oh thanks, i was worried that maybe I couldn't think for myself....

  17. Mike
    Thumb Up

    Quality :-)

    A priest sees a young lad with a box of kittens, he says to the boy "aren't they cute" the boy says, yes the're christian kittens", "aw that's lovely" replies the preiest, a week later the priest is walking with a fellow priest and says, come and see this little boy with his box of kittens, the new priest says "they are just adorable", the boy says, "yes they are atheist kittens", slightly taken aback the first priest says "last week you said they were christian kittens", "yes" the boy says, "that was last week, their eyes are open now".

    Seriously, if all the effort spent in worshipping a non existant god and filling the coffers of organised religion was spent improving peoples lives, the world would be a better place, religious people are often good people, they are just misguided and need help, I welcome this awareness campagin.

  18. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    @ Hehe

    Eejit.

    Atheism is NOT a religion.

    Back to school for you my son!

  19. John Wilson
    Thumb Up

    @Money

    "Surely there are better causes to spend your money on than one which is using your money to tell people that something *doesn't* exist."

    Well, given how much of our tax money is spent on promoting something that doesn't exist, I think donating a few quid to remind people that this thing does not - in fact - exist is not a bad idea.

  20. Gulfie
    Joke

    I Believe!

    No, hang on, what I mean is, I don't believe...

    Or as Terry Pratchett put it, "I don't believe in a big beard in the sky"

    Fantastic way to spend £11,000. What next - how about door-to-doors on a Sunday morning with leaflets esposing the benefits of spending the day gardening or visiting a local stately home?

  21. Aaron Jacobs

    FSM

    How about a banner that reads

    "Touched by His Noodley Appendage"

    ??

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    A petty pedant's problem

    That is not an atheist slogan. And athiest is certain there is not god. An agnostic is uncertain whether there is a god or not and so gets on with his/her life as best they can. So it is an agnostic slogan. Nyar.

  23. Duncan Hothersall
    Flame

    @Anonymous Coward 12:14

    I realise you think you are being funny, and possibly even clever, with your flamebait, but how can you describe atheism, the lack of a belief, as being a religion? How stupid are you, exactly?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    In January?

    Oh, you mean after Christmas!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Rusty Shackleford says'

    Never happen. The Muslims will get 'offended' and spineless Brits will cave.

  26. James Anderson Silver badge
    Happy

    Non-existense is the new cool!

    Bradford and Bingly a non-existant ex building society are still advertising (the green cutie with hte bowler hat).

    The soon to be non-existant RBS had thier logo on Lewis Hamiltons winning car.

    Those irritating full production number all singing all dancing adverts still advertise the non-existent Halifax ( we give you Extra nothing).

    There was a party political broadcast thingy for the "Labour Party" the other week .......

    Dawkins is merely jumping on a band wagon here.

  27. Gareth
    Happy

    Rather amusing billboard in Orlando...

    There was a rather amusing billboard here in Orlando, FL which read "All Religions are Fairytales".

    Of course, it lasted about 3 days and the billboard owner claimed it was vandalism. So much for the much-vaunted American free speech.

  28. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Cowards

    Don't be hysterical. I'd say 'God' in this instance covers pretty much every deity.

    Anyway, the point is, WIN.

  29. Eddie Edwards
    Joke

    Dawkins believes that?!

    Sounds like a bit of a U turn for Dawkins to use the word "probably".

    I thought he had, like, unshakeable faith in the non-existence of God?

    He's so lucky to have such strong faith I think he should declare it more openly. You don't see Rowan Williams vacillating like this.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    probably?

    is that "probably" as in "Carlsberg - probably the best lager in the world"? What next "Atheism - reaches the places other religions don't reach" .... suppose could use the Hamlet ad with an atheist dying and finding out there is a God after all

  31. John Imrie
    Happy

    What happened to

    the Flying Spaghetti Monster, all praise to his noodley appendages.

    I wonder if we could start a campaign to raise awareness of Pasterfariasm

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Hehe

    Atheism is not a religion. Silly boy.

  33. Arnold Lieberman
    Flame

    Atheism or agnosticism?

    If there is "probaby" no god then that implies there might be one.. surely the atheists behind this campaign have the balls to state categorically that there definitely isn't one!

    I only hope they don't place the posters on any bendy busses, cos the ensuing fire will give the god squad a field day!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alpha Course

    My bus this morning bore an Alpha Course advert which read "If God did exist what would you ask him?" Well my question would be:

    "If you are indeed omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, why do you need advertising?"

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This slogon is agnostic not atheist

    Picky but an atheist believes there is no God (believes not knows) an agnostic understands that there might be a God or there might not, until some credible scientific evidence is presented there can be only doubt.

  36. ekimdam
    Happy

    It's about time...

    ...that we stood up against the oldest form of repression and anti-thinking!

    Religion\God -

    Created by man-kind and the eventual downfall of man-kind.

    Death and destruction brought to you by religion in the name of GOD.

  37. John PM Chappell
    Happy

    If it brings the morons who think 'Atheism' is a religion out of the woodwork...

    ... so that I can ridicule their stupidity along with all the other irrational and superstitious fools, it gets my vote (and fiver).

    :¬)

  38. Jonathan McCulloch
    Stop

    @HeHe

    "Counter with religious propaganda for a religion who purpose is to proclaim that there is no religion? "

    Atheism is not a religion.

    Moreover, many atheists are atheists because they use their own powers of critical thinking. Religions, however, thrive on dogma, which is antithetical to critical thinking.

    -- Jon

  39. Tanuki
    Thumb Up

    Perhaps we need a funding drive for...

    ...us proselytising Agnostics? We go in pairs from door to door on Sundays disturbing people by saying "Is there a God? Well to be honest we're not really sure one way or another...."

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Backasswards

    "Surely there are better causes to spend your money on than one which is using your money to tell people that something *doesn't* exist."

    Being as there's plenty of knuckleheads of all stripes going around saying there IS a God I think it's only fair to point out that all the emperors are decidedly lacking in clothing. Quite anti-marketing-a-non-existent-product, if you will. ("Anti" and "non" will probably produce NaN when combined but there you are...)

  41. Ben Robinson
    Happy

    Excellent

    Good news, indeed. For all these idiots posting up here that Dawkins is a fundamentalist, or that atheism is equal to a religion, maybe get an educated adult to read your posts first.

    Science and atheism are based upon the same principles, fact and evidenced based iterative research. Religion is based upon pure faith, facts, evidence and research play no part.

    Ben

  42. Ben Robinson
    Linux

    Erroneous Posters Everywhere

    "That is not an atheist slogan. And athiest is certain there is not god. An agnostic is uncertain whether there is a god or not and so gets on with his/her life as best they can. So it is an agnostic slogan"

    Incorrect, an atheist says that there is no empirical evidence that there is a god, that existence of a god is not falsifiable and therefore not fit for research, and therefore the atheist lives their life as if there is no god. An agnostic believes in a higher power but has not decided what it is.

    Ben

  43. Mr Chris

    @ Jim Coleman

    "An intangible spirit that infuses all living things, yet has no sentience of its own?

    Certainly."

    is ever so slightly contradicted by:

    "The world isn't black and white folks, it's a delicate shade of grey."

    And anyway - if you've got proof that there is a non sentient intangible spirit infusing all living things, how come you're not a Nobel-prize winning Jedi?

  44. Mike

    Re: Why not "Hey, theres no Allah or Mohammed" adverts.

    Because Mohammed probably existed and Allah is just the Arabic for "God", the adverts don't say any particular god probably doesn't exist, they all probably don't exist; Xenu, Thor, Zeus etc. etc. (don't forget that the Christian, Islamic and Jewish god are one and the same, a kind of cross dogma trinity if you like).

  45. Jolyon Ralph
    Thumb Up

    Other non-existent advertising

    Just last week I saw a taxi parked outside the local bakers covered in 'Icesave' advertising. I bet he feels a right muppet driving that around now.

    Now of course all he should do is put a banner over it saying

    "There's probably no safe place to save your money. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

    Jolyon

  46. drunk.smile
    Happy

    @Duncan Hothersall

    "Anonymous Coward 12:14".

    Are you quoting from the Book of El Reg there?

  47. Daniel Garcia
    Thumb Up

    Donations so far: £ 14,432.50

    my tenner is in the pot!

  48. Vincent
    Alert

    Um...

    I'm not too bothered about it, I consider myself an athiest, but I can't help but think that this will just end in tears. Religous people will whine about it and it'll get taken down. Or worse.

  49. Michael

    Sad case

    I'm reminded of the story of an American evangelist in the late 1800s who was challenged by an atheist to a debate to discuss whether or not God existed. The evangelist agreed on the proviso that the atheist brought with him twenty people whose lives, and the lives of those around them had been transformed and improved by their disbelief in God. The athiest declined.

    Interesting to see from the slogan that Dawkins is afraid that their might be a God, not that there might not be one.

    Furthermore, he equates the existence of God with a lack of personal enjoyment of his life.

    Dawkins' atheism simply expresses fear and selfishness.

  50. This post has been deleted by its author

  51. mittfh
    Paris Hilton

    Probably?

    Surely if they're saying there's probably no God, then there's an element of doubt. Which makes them lean slightly towards agnosticism...

    Paris, because she probably has other things to worry about...

  52. Mark

    @dale

    Uh, would it be better to tell people terrorists AREN'T a danger rather than try to scare sheeple shitless by saying "there are thousands of terrorists out to get you!!!"?

    What about "CoS is NOT a religion"? Would that not be a better spending of money than "CoS is a lovely religion. Join now!"?

    This campaign is as valid as the one that had busses telling people god did exist.

    Which isn't valid either, but the validity is the same.

    Didn't hear you complain about the godbotherer recruitment drive, though, did we.

  53. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Re: Cowards

    "Why not "Hey, theres no Allah or Mohammed" adverts."

    Well in the first case, "Allah" is just the Arabic word for "God", so that's precisely what *is* in this advert. From his various public pronouncements, I doubt Richard Dawkins is worried about upsetting the Islamic world, but it seems entirely reasonable that he should present a sentence entirely in the one language.

    In the second case, I'm not aware of anyone who worships Mohammed and in any event there is I presume quite a lot of evidence that he existed since he was quite a thorn in the side of Constantinople well within the period of recorded history. Now, if you'd said "Jesus", or "Moses"...

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @fLaMePr0oF

    >Implying that people who hold to any sort of faith / spiritual belief are not thinking for themselves

    Which is a perfectly valid thing to do. Think of it this way - why does someone believe in their god? Mostly, because their family, culture, and/or society told them to.

    When they start asking "but why", most religions unravel rapidly because "because I said so" is not a good enough answer.

    Asking "why" is "thinking for yourself"

  55. JasonW
    Boffin

    @Mike Crawshaw

    Nope you are not alone. Persons attempting to ram their beliefs down my throat are given short shrift by me, often quoting back from their holy book of choice as a counter argument to their own point of view.

  56. Richard Cross
    Boffin

    Surrender Monkeys to Modernism

    Surely even the statement "There is probably no God" is just the expression of a different kind of faith (one that is probably even less aware of the forces which shape it's pre-suppositions)? I find the proposed advertisment as nauseous as being told what God is like (thanks all-knowing Christian fundies - Oh no, that's a characteristic of God isn't it?), or that a certain type of watch is going to boost my attractiveness to women (I should be so lucky).

    Dawkin's humanism is just as much a surrender monkey to the dictates of modernism as the blind faith of the [insert your preferred religion here] fundamentalist.

    I feel sorry for people who have no wonder or mystery in their lives. We are the insect life of eternity (probably!).

  57. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Actually...

    @Duncan Hothersall

    "how can you describe atheism, the lack of a belief, as being a religion?"

    Actually Atheism is not just "the lack of a belief" in a god, it is the belief in the lack of a god.

    I know that Atheists are among those with the lack of belief in a god, but their views are stronger. Lack of belief in a god implies a more Agnostic view.

    Sorry to piss on your bonfire, but Atheism is closer to a religion than you realise. There is a strength of beleif that god does not exist, and it is a wholey unscientific standpoint, in spite of what people say. True Scientists would be agnostic, given that there is no strong proof in favour or against the existence of a god, therefore he may or may not exist.

    Saying that, at least atheism isn't an *organised* religion. People are free to beleive what they want, rather than an organisation telling people what to beleive. I actualy have no problem with religion, but organised religion is just a method of control. A god as described in the greek scriptures (new testament) would not condemn people for not following the rules to the letter. If he did, I would not want to follow him anyway.

  58. Peyton
    Happy

    I agree with an above post

    The "probably" makes this much more agnostic... that said, "There is no God. Now stop worrying..." makes the statement a bit less palatable and a bit more inflammatory to theists. I say any effort to make fewer people angry rather than more is worthwhile.

  59. jason
    Thumb Up

    Good move

    Nice to hear something like that happening.

    Dawkins last book "The god delusion" is an excellent one, recommended for everyone, no matter what you believe.

  60. Steve Swann
    Thumb Up

    The word 'probably'.

    No scientist or atheist would, in self-respect, make an absolutist statement such as 'there is no God'. It is the very essence of science to allow oneself, or one's theories, to be challenged and even disproved should sufficient evidence be presented.

    We shall leave such absolutist ideas (such as "there IS a god, I've MET him") to the religious.

    On the other hand, Dr. Dawkins has oft-stated in his own books that he will not enter in debate with the religious establishment as to do so would give them a forum to debate their ideas as though they were worthy equals to scientific understanding.

    Surely, this advertising campaign is the opening move in just such a debate (or perhaps his books are already filling that role?)

    Either way, I think Dr. Dawkins is wrong to refuse to engage in open debate with his detractors; his ideas are certainly solid enough to withstand the cursory and fragmented arguments produced by the religious primitives amongst us.

    So, I still applaud the advertising campaign, but I think that those behind it need to be prepared for a broader, and public, argument.

  61. Matthew Brown

    Nice

    Not sure about the wording, but the idea has value...

  62. Aaron
    Gates Halo

    Atheist != Agnostic

    "Why the insistence on the wooly adverb 'probably'."

    Because Simon Dawkins isn't an atheist. He's agnostic.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get your terms right.

    A couple of commenters mistakenly assume that "atheist" = "certain there is no god". "Atheist" simply means "without (belief in) god or gods". Cast-iron certainty is optional, and is a minority viewpoint at that. "Agnostic" means "without knowledge (of god or gods)" - in the purest sense of the term, that the answer is inherantly unknowable; agnostics may or may not still hold the belief that god exists. The terms are not mutually exclusive - most self-identifying "atheists" are also agnostic, and most self-described "agnostics" are also atheists, whether they choose to identify with these terms or not.

  64. Anonymous John

    Shut up Dawkins you annoying little turd

    ".Implying that people who hold to any sort of faith / spiritual belief are not thinking for themselves?"

    Are they? I'm sure they do think for themselves, but not about religion.

    Only a tiny few switch religions, as opposed to those who become atheists. The majority stick with the one their parents practice.

    And atheists don't kill people who cease being atheists.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    @In January?

    "In January?...

    ...Oh, you mean after Christmas!"

    Yeah, you know, the Winter festival hijack by early christians to convert happy pagans into god fearing unhappy "believers".

  66. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Probably definitely does not exist

    I believe the "probably" element is a legal requirement, in the same way that Carlsberg is probably the best lager in the world. Means other beers (or Gods?) can't sue for false advertising.

    But I don't think the crazy fundamentalists would like to debate this issue over a nice cold beer.

  67. sabroni Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Dawkins is a scientist?

    He met with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake when making "Enemies of Reason" for Channel 4. Dr. Sheldrake had provided him with some papers from research he was doing, via controlled experiments, on whether people could tell who was calling them on the telephone from a random selection.

    When asked about the evidence Dawkins replied "I don't want to discuss evidence"

    A scientist who isn't interested in the evidence? How is that scientific?

    (The conversation makes interesting reading (Fortean Times 232: 55 if you're interested))

    Seems like this man is just as irrational as those he seeks to disprove.....

  68. Adrian Jackson
    Paris Hilton

    Atheism a religion

    It may not be a religion per se, but it *is* a religious belief. And the strong form of atheism (an assertion that God *does not* exist, rather than a simple lack of belief in his/her/its existence) is one that's based on a leap of faith in exactly the same way as religious belief is.

    This is why the only rational viewpoint is agnosticism and weak atheism. Which Dawkins recognises intellectually but sometimes seems to forget emotionally. These adverts hit the right mark, though.

    And Ben, please don't try and correct definitions and then get them hopelessly wrong yourself. An agnostic believes that the existence or otherwise of God is not knowable, from the root 'a' (no) and 'gnosis' (knowledge), obviously. You're getting agnosticism confused with deism. While it's technically possible to be an agnostic and deist, the vast majority of agnostics are also weak atheists.

    Can't help wondering what the next steps are. A Church of Atheism with weekly services and a Sunday School where children are taught a hideously oversimplified version of the nicer bits of evolutionary theory? Nice young men in suits knocking on doors asking people whether they've accepted a healthy scepticism to dogmatic beliefs and faith in the scientific method as their personal saviour? Sending missionaries out to distant countries to provide charitable works while spreading the word of rational humanism? The mind boggles...

    Paris, because if ever there were proof that there is no God...

  69. David Taylor
    Thumb Up

    @Jim Coleman

    "it's not whether there's a god or not, but how you define "God".

    Big beardy bloke going around [...]?

    Perhaps not.

    An intangible spirit that infuses all living things, yet has no sentience of its own?

    Certainly."

    If you read Dawkins' book, he addresses this point. He is not arguing against a "spiritualist" "pantheist" God - belief that God is some spiritual "force" running through the universe. Nor is he primarily arguing against a "Deistic" God that created the universe, then ran away - although he argues that that is highly unlikely. He is arguing that there is no theistic God, like the Christian, Muslim, or Hindu Gods; a God that can "punish" the bad and "reward" the Good, or interfere in the day-to-day running of the Universe. Furthermore, he is arguing that religion itself harms society more than it helps.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Well done Mr Dawinks

    For all those, "it's not an atheist statement", how about thinking of it as an advert, like "Probably The Best Larger In The World". It's not aimed at religious nuts, they have already proved themselves mislead beyond all and any rational understanding, but it might save some poor person feeling a bit down and unloved from being sucked in by any of these religious fraudsters.

    I always feel if you believe in one god you have to believe in all of them, can you really get into "my imaginary god is the real one" and "your imaginary god is rubbish". It's a bit like Harry Potter or the Golden Compass being banned in some church schools, Why?, they are as likely to be real as God(Catholic or otherwise).

    I just don't understand why people believe in the bible, it makes no sense to have a best of the gospels and other assorted writings, selected 300 years after the main event, translated multiple times and bent a bit on the way, and then some nuts take the English version as word for word the truth.

    Perhaps I'm a real atheist, don't I believe that most of the things we see in the media, newspaper and TV are more than 30% to 60% truth. In fact this is probably a figment of my imagination.

    Mines the coat without the bible in the pocket.

  71. Bob The Dog
    Paris Hilton

    @ 'Atheism is not a religion'

    Atheism is not a religion, but it is a position of faith.

    As the ad itself says, there's "probably" not a god, so to state *definitively* that there is no god is, ipso facto, a statement of faith which in many ways is comparable with religion.

    Frankly, Dawkins gets right up my nose with his dogmatic atheism. If people want to believe in a big beard in the sky, that's fine with me - heck, they can even believe that I and my ilk will burn in the fiery pits of Hell for all eternity, just as long as they don't force me to sit/kneel/genuflect before some freakishly vindictive ghost.

    Nice ad, though - and a useful and cheerful antidote to the god-bothering on buses at the moment.

    Paris, because sometimes she's not sure either.

  72. Graham Davis
    Alert

    I'm all for free thinking

    Let's all start thinking for ourselves and believe exactly what Dawkins tells us to.

  73. Ben
    IT Angle

    I'm with Linda Smith on this one

    If God had wanted us to believe in him... he'd have existed.

  74. Olaf Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    probably

    They have to say 'probably' because it's impossible to prove a negative.

    I wonder how the fundamentalists will cope with a non-threatening message. Probably blow the bloody buses up.

  75. Jonathan

    @Michael

    My life has been improved by becoming an Athiest - I dont live with doubt or fear anymore, I am my own boss and am more motivated by it. I am no less moral than I was when I was a Christian, if anything I am more tolerant of others. Everyone I know who is an Athiest feels the same.

    Maybe the Athiest in your example declined the debate because everyone that he knew that was an Athiest feared being revealed to the public, and being treated as an outcast for not believing in God.

  76. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: @fLaMePr0oF

    Also, people who think for themselves are free to reject the rather passive and inoffensive message here and choose religion, aren't they? Suggesting people think for themselves is pretty neutral and benign.

    I can never get over how defensive the devout can be - surely one of the many enriching and fulfilling things about faith should be that it frees you from feeling you have to go on the warpath all the time against people who question your choices. It's genuinely sad.

  77. BlueGreen

    Slouching towards Cern to be born

    Dawkins is a fundamentalist idiot but on the other side. Religion has done its immense stupidities and atheism can do the same if it has the right leader so, welcome dawkins, we need more aggression, more polarisation, in this discussion.

    Can a human be so clever, so well educated, yet still fail so totally to get human nature?

    If I didn't have the very strong preconception that dawkins *is* an atheist then I'd have to suppose that he's an agent provocateur set up and funded as a publicity and profile-raising stunt by some very clever theists.

    Fool, fool, fool.

    FTR I'm an atheist.

  78. Steven Raith
    Paris Hilton

    "probably"

    Hi All.

    If you say "God Definitely Doesn't Exist" to someone of a religious bent, you offend them [or at least get their attention a bit more aggressively than necessary] and start a fight - they are on the defensive straight away and normally won't give you much of their time,

    if you say "God Probably Doesn't Exist", then it's more of an introduction to a debate - much more productive.

    Which one do you think is likely to cause more or less trouble with the particularly sensitive types - normally the ones who are acting on behalf of religious groups, of course, not actually being part of them...

    Which is the whole point - to make people think; not to jab them in the fucking eye about their personal beliefs.

    Also, it is a handy get out clause for any religious groups who take offence - "probably" is a good qualifier for that....

    Hope that helps.

    Paris, because even she could work that out, as could anyone else who has spent more than ten minutes working in customer service.

    Steven R

    [athiest]

  79. Gavin
    IT Angle

    Enriching

    @ Michael - the fact that people who disbeleive in God haven't had their lives enriched by not beleiveing does not by any stretch of logic mean that God exists.

    You might as well say "I disbeleive in the Loch Ness Monster but as my life has in no way been enriched by this disbeleif I will take it as conclusive proof that the Loch Ness Monster is real".

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: "No Allah " comments

    Look, get this into your head for once and for all, Islam and Christianity are sects of Judaism, they all believe in essentially the same crap^H^H^H^H Abrahamic legends.

    While the non-sentient spirit that infuses all things interpretation of God is less concrete than a proposed cloud factory, in fact I think I resent the, Gaia/lifeforce/borrowed from far away and so more mystical, shite more than the intolerant bigots who have constituted Christianity for the majority of it's existence. At least there's something to resist in that old-time religion.

    On the whole I approve of this one, though with the probably it could be an ad for the CofE.

  81. jim
    Linux

    If...

    If there is no God, I'd hate to be the chef cooking up the humble pie when the world collectively realises who is to blame for all the things done "for the greater good of God."

    Penguin, because a true god would've made them in the image of himself.

  82. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice boost to the campaign

    I like it, although I hope it gets a bigger take-up and spreads round the country to include train stations and airports. That'll make the place popular with religious *zealots* everywhere.

    It's probably too much to hope that if they are any protests against it that there will be a debate about freedom of speech.

    @Evil Graham: class! Must add that to my stock when the god botherers come round.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    atheists?

    @Tom Mason

    How will "There's probably no God" brighten anyone's day?

    Because it brings your focus to the things that really matter - other people and the life you have here and now.

    @fLaMePr0oF

    ["We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves"

    ...Implying that people who hold to any sort of faith / spiritual belief are not thinking for themselves? ]

    Not at all. The implication is that SOME people accept religion as fact WITHOUT ever thinking about it. In fact, you can't help this if you are brought up in a religious family or community. There really is no hypocrisy here for you to rail against.

    @ lots of people

    It is a perfectly good atheistic slogan. Being an atheist simply means you do not believe in any gods, you don't have to deny they exist too. There are hundreds of gods worshipped by billions of people, some you've never heard of in your life. You can't logically deny the existance of "Bob" the god of "Builders" until you find out more about it, but naturally, you will have no reason to believe in it. Remember; "an atheist only believes in one less god than a christian" ;)

  84. Stern Fenster

    Erroneous Posters Everywhere

    <Incorrect, an atheist says that there is no empirical evidence that there is a god, that existence of a god is not falsifiable and therefore not fit for research, and therefore the atheist lives their life as if there is no god. An agnostic believes in a higher power but has not decided what it is.>

    Er, no. Atheist is from a-theos (= no god). Agnostic is from a-gnosis (= no knowledge). That seems pretty clear.

    Dawkins is annoying precisely because he treats atheism, which by definition is not a religion, as if it was. His pseudo-science appears to be faith-based. Anyone see him on telly declaring that "oh yes, we call it the *theory* of evolution, but that's just a convention, it's the truth" ? That's not science. The point of science is that you never get *the* truth, you just get the best truth yet.

    I'd like to spend my time fighting off idiot fundamentalists, not people who pretend to fight fundamentalism by simply reversing the polarity.

  85. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @ Sad Case

    ", and the lives of those around them had been transformed and improved by their disbelief in God. The athiest declined."

    I for one can make this rather satisfying claim!

    I'm sure there are one or two others on this rock who might also make this claim.

    Throwing off the cloying shackles of religion is a wonderful experience!

    You should try it.

  86. Steven Jones

    Definition of an atheist (and hypocrisy)

    I too used to follow the line that I was agnostic because I couldn't prove that a god didn't exist. However, an atheist is simply somebody who doesn't believe in the existence of a god, not somebody who absolutely knows (in the faith sense) that there is no god. They may believe it personally, but know they can't prove it. Read Dawkin's books and he says exactly the same thing - he can't prove a god doesn't exist, it's just extremely unlikely.

    It's simply illogical for any rational atheist (which includes Dawkins) to believe they can absolutely prove that a god doesn't exist. They can just conclude that it is very unlikely, and that the specific instances of deities as put forward by the various religions on the planet have all got logical inconsistiencies and/or contradict observations. To the truly faithful that doesn''t matter. The Sarah Palins of this world will continue to beleive what they do whatever the arguments.

    I'm not sure where the accusation that Dawkings is a "blinkered hypocrite" comes from? If I understand the poster, he is claiming that Richard Dawkins is saying that the "faithful" are not thinking for themselves, but just following a set of rules, and that if they were rational they would not have that faith. Well that's an argument , not hyocrisy. Richard Dawkins is indeed saying that a rationalist who thinks for themselves will not believe in the existence of a god (certainly not in the organised religion sense). The argument that somebody might end up with "faith" through a flawed analysis or delf deception does not make you a hypocrite, it just means you have a different point of view.

    Hypocrisy is people of faith preaching peace yet practiciing violence. Hypocrisy is people of faith claiming moral superiority yet engaging in immoral acts. Hypocrisy is religious texts claiming to follow the way of the right, yet being full of questionable stories (read the Old Testament for any number of those). If religious societies were morally superior, then Somalia would be a haven of peace, the Spanish Inquisition would not have happened, the English Civil War would not have happened. The list goes on - it't not religion as such, it is the absolute certainty of faith that's the problem (and that includes faith in political idealogies, equally as dangerous).

    Whatever Richard Dawkins is, he is not a hypocrite. It's about time that people worked out, whatever the the turht of otherwise of a god, religous movements are social constructs. The vast majority of followers of a religion are that through an accident of birth. It's a statistical and inarguable fact. That means that people do not, by and large, come to be the religion that they are through careful thought. They are raised into it. There are exceptions, but that is exactly what they are - exceptions.

  87. Paul M.
    Stop

    Is Dawkins a Freetard?

    The guy is a millionaire and he can only stump £5,500 to support his favourite obsession?

    What a tightwad. He's either Scottish or a Freetard.

  88. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    agnostic/atheist

    I did read somewhere that strictly speaking all reasonable and non-hysterical atheists *and* theists alike are also agnostic, in the sense that they accept there will never be absolute proof that there is or is not a God. So you're an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist if you accept the logical limits of your belief either way.

    It's a nice idea, anyway, and I'll buy it. Any proper scholars on this?

  89. weirdcult
    Coat

    @ekimdam

    Here Here!!

    Want to come and join a group of similar thinking individuals.....

  90. Dr. E. Amweaver
    Paris Hilton

    Richard Dawkins is as much of...

    ...an intractable fundamentalist bent on destroying opposing worldviews as any crazed choir-singing maniac I've shared a plane with.

    (Believe me, being the only goth on a plane of 300 fundies is no picnic. Particularly on Pan Am.)

    At least choir-crazed maniacs believe in SOMETHING.

    Paris, because she knows Dawkins is really the alien lizard shapeshifter who was masquerading as the Queen Mum up until a few years ago.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ben

    There's two types of atheism as well as two types of agnostic.

    Strong atheist: There is not god - get over it punk

    Weak atheist: God is irrelevant.

    Weak agnostic: God may or may not exist, and at some point we may even know!

    Strong agnostic: God may or may not exist, and we'll never know. Tough.

    So all in all - you've described a weak atheist well - but COMPLETELY missed on agnostics.

    Public service broadcast for the day complete. (I'm a non-believing weak agnostic, with weak atheist leanings if you are interested)

  92. Eddie Edwards
    Stop

    @ Ben Robinson

    Look up "Agnosticism".

    Agnosticism is the acceptance that such questions as "is there a God" are unanswerable. An agnostic does not "believe in a higher power, but has not decided what it is".

    Agnosticism is the rejection of both Theism and Atheism. It is the only valid viewpoint given what we already know about the limits of knowledge. Both Theism and Atheism are irrational belief systems, which is why sometimes people refer to Atheism as a "religion".

    Atheists know that their position is philosophically untenable so, when pressed, many claim that their Atheism is just agnosticism. This has led to confusion, with many people apparently believing that Atheism is functionally equivalent to agnosticism and declaring themselves as Atheists on those grounds. We would be better served if those people read about the subject and then declared themselves as agnostics.

    Dawkins is an Atheist. An agnostic would never write a book called "The God Delusion".

  93. weirdcult
    Coat

    False advertising

    The bus in front of me this morning bore an Alpha Course advert which read "If God did exist what would you ask him? Is this IT? I thought it was a computer training course

  94. blackworx
    Pirate

    @ Jason McLaughlin 12:29

    Hear, hear.

    "There probably isn't a god" <=> "There might be a god"

    This will only further confuse the poor "vulnerable people" who, by the organisers' own assertion, have so much difficulty thinking for themselves. In fact I would go so far as to ask who is going to pay for the cleanup crews when all these confused nonthinkers' heads start to 'splode, eh? Eh?

    It's fundamentalist tubthumping gone mad I tell you and nowt good will come of it.

  95. Roger Pearse

    Inoffensive

    It's inoffensive stuff. Of course it does beg the question of when will the people who did it stop worrying and enjoy their lives!

    Wasn't it amusing to read them all chanting the Victorian slogan about "thinking for themselves"? If they ever thought a moment for themselves, they'd have expressed themselves in their own words!

    Atheists are a bit of a hate group, tho. Most hate groups wouldn't be allowed to advertise like this. Which leads onto the obvious question of just who can be slagged off and who cannot.

    Not sure that we want a lot of negative advertising tho, especially if it will only be targeted at people like Christians unpopular with the Powers That Be. The chances of an anti-Moslem campaign running must be less than zero.

    I don't actually belong to any of the legally privileged groups -- gays, Moslems, immigrants, etc. That leaves only me, and like me, who can be slagged off. I'm not sure that I want negative advertising which only targets me and those like me!

  96. Mark
    Thumb Up

    I look forward to seeing it

    Of course I predict that this campaign will draw out all the "But atheists are just as fundamentalist!" whiners....

    "Especially since their big message seems to be to get people to think for themselves, and the way they're doing it is by telling people what to think."

    If you want to people to think about an issue, it's standard practice to have both sides of the issue put across. One side is already out there, so this is to put the other side across.

    After all, it's started up a debate on this page, and that's the point of it.

    Plus, there are other reasons put forward for doing this, as well.

    If you have a better idea for a message that gets people to think, then feel free to propose it?

    "Counter with religious propaganda for a religion who purpose is to proclaim that there is no religion?"

    But atheists don't claim that, not all of them - that's a straw man. Note the word "probably".

    "The atheist position is surely that god definitely does not exist"

    Not all atheists take that position. Even Dawkins puts it in terms of likelihood, rather than absolute certainty, I believe. I can see the point that perhaps it would be bolder to strike it out. But that would also just bring out more of "atheists are just as bad as religious people" type comments, as seen in this thread.

    "And athiest is certain there is not god. An agnostic is uncertain whether there is a god or not and so gets on with his/her life as best they can. So it is an agnostic slogan."

    It's both. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. And some agnostics probably wouldn't agree with the statement, as they'd say we couldn't say how likely his non-existence is at all, so it's more atheist, I'd say.

  97. Matt D
    Stop

    Now Christian Voice get in on the act...

    From the BBC report http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7681914.stm

    [ Stephen Green of pressure group Christian Voice said: (...) "People don't like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don't like it." ]

    Where's the "pot, meet kettle" icon?

  98. Tony Hoyle

    agnostic/atheist

    Certainly agnostic atheists and agnostic theists seem to be able to get on with each other more easily (and appear to be the majority from my limited experience).

    The extremists love to fight over message boards though.. best to just get the popcorn when that happens.

  99. Phil the Geek

    Birmingham buses

    I think it's good they're advertising on London buses, they should do it in Birmingham too. Maybe it would prevent utter idiocy such as Birmingham City Council's recent categorisation of atheism with witchcraft and "occult practices, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism".

    As opposed to proper religions like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, which are obviously all 100% correct and never cause any trouble or anything...

    /sarcasm

  100. Chris Adams

    The problem with Dawkins is...

    I'm an Atheist. If I believe in anything it is the ability of scientific method and rigour to observe and explain the universe around us. I don't need a higher power weaving mystical tapestries to explain why I'm here. Nor do I expect to ever know all the answers to all my questions. Here's the problem, though, and it is why debates between Atheists and Theists (generalisation ahoy, cap'n!) always fall down.

    Atheist: Prove to me, in accordance with scientific rigour, that there is a deity!

    Theist: Prove to me, using your science, that there isn't! My faith says there is, so my faith can do more than your science.

    Atheist: Fuck, how do I tell this guy about Santa Claus?

    The problem with Richard Dawkins is he's an Evangelical Atheist and, while I totally support the aim of encouraging free, informed thinking rather than accepting something because someone in an assumed position of moral authority told you it was the truth, Richard Dawkins rehashing the above argument again and again won't change anyone's mind or change the nature of the argument.

    What it will do is put out one more slogan in a sea of otherwise pro-religious propaganda and maybe kick off this same, pointless debate many more times.

    Still, it's one for our side so: WIN!

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    There's probably no perfect OS. Now stop worrying and use Windows.

    And sit back and await the flames.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God is a noun

    God is a noun albeit describing a very vague thing. It means roughly "that which is bigger then man". Early Gods include; the sea, the sky, the earth, death, life and so on.

    Clearly "that which is bigger then man" exists and is an indisputable fact, which is unfortunate for me as I am an atheist.

    (which incidentally means I have no reason to suppose that God exists in exactly the same way as I have no reason to believe that goblins exist.)

    Confusing isn't it.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    God or no God?

    My father claims the record for the fastest demolition of a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses on his doorstep. His opening line was "Hi, I'm Jehovah. How are we doing?". There was no reply...

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sarah Bee

    "It's a nice idea, anyway, and I'll buy it. Any proper scholars on this?"

    In a word, no. :o)

    Although this post is largely redundant, a quick view of the above ranting, flaming and sense of humour failures could have answered your question. Still it must just be another day at El Reg. Here's a challenge: Are there any comment threads that aren't smoke filled? Enquiring minds need to know.

  105. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a God...

    Black and White... you play a God.

    Any Sims game... you play a God.

    Any game that has a "God" mode....

  106. Gary

    (untitled)

    Fair enough, let all those with blind faith proclaim it on the side of busses, so long as they stump up the cash.

  107. Robert Ramsay
    Flame

    Atheism v Religion

    I believe people should be free to have whichever imaginary friends they like.

    To quote Ben Elton: "If you try and make people think, the only thing they're gonna think is what a patronising bastard you are."

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'bout time too!

    It's about time we had a little balance in advertising. Though I'd also argue about the use of the word probably! More agnostic than atheist IMHO.

    Either way I'm all for pushing free thinking as opposed to religious dogma down the throats of our impressionable youth.

    Now, how long now before us non-religious types get something to balance out "The God Channels" on TV. Or is that already covered by the Discovery Channel?

  109. david wilson

    @Sad case

    >>Dawkins' atheism simply expresses fear and selfishness."

    What is he frightened of?

    Is he frightened there *isn't* a god? (That rather sounds like the position a doubting believer would take).

    Is he frightened there *is* a god? (That rather sounds like the position a believing sinner would take).

    Though I stand to be corrected, from what I've read, I rather think that Dawkins honestly doesn't believe there *are* any deities, or any evil beings he can blame whenever he screws up.

    It's hard to be scared of what you believe doesn't exist.

    Not believing in the existence of deities has precisely the same internal/moral implications as not believing that aliens are about to arrive on Earth to punish, reward or save Mankind.

    However, looking at external implications, *saying* you don't believe aliens are about to arrive on Earth only risks offending a rather smaller number of nutcases, few, if any, of whom are potentially homicidal.

    It is, of course, the *expression* of a lack of belief that really upsets the lunatic fringe of believers. Most people who would be upset by someone avowing their atheism would be perfectly happy if that atheist just kept quite and *pretended* to believe.

    Thus, conformity is valued over honesty, and duplicity is promoted as the next-best-thing to faith.

  110. Adrian Jackson
    Alert

    re: agnostic/atheist (and probably)

    Speaking as a fundamentalist agnostic, I like the implication that in order to be considered reasonable and non-hysterical, you must embrace agnosticism, regardless of whether you're a theist, a deist or an atheist. I guess Pascal would be your prototypical agnostic theist, even though the wager that lets him hold that position is horribly flawed.

    As for the 'probably', I'm shocked by the number of people who don't see how important it is. Dawkins is advocating a rational approach to belief here, and the slogan is based on the fact that there is no proof *either way* when it comes to the existence of God, but at the same time there is no evidence that is best explained by his/her/its existence either, leading us to take the default position of non-belief. "THERE IS NO GOD" is an unsupported claim of strong atheism, something that deserves mocking as much as most religious beliefs - more, in fact, since it's a position all-too-frequently held by people who should know better. "THERE IS PROBABLY NO GOD" is a convenient shorthand for the sensible agnostic/atheist view. "THERE IS NO COMPELLING EVIDENCE OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AND NO REQUIREMENT FOR A GOD TO EXIST WITHIN OUR CURRENT MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE BASED ON OBSERVATION AND THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, AND THUS IT MAKES A GOOD DEAL OF SENSE TO ACT ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THERE IS NO SUCH ENTITY UNTIL SUCH TIME AS HIS EXISTENCE IS REQUIRED TO EXPLAIN THE OBSERVED FACTS OR STRONG EVIDENCE OF SUCH A BEING COMES TO LIGHT" probably doesn't fit on a bus advertising sign in letters large enough for the target audience to read it.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    I suppose I had to get involved eventually

    @Alpha Course:

    "My bus this morning bore an Alpha Course advert which read "If God did exist what would you ask him?" Well my question would be:"

    "If you are indeed omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, why do you need advertising?"

    And my answer is:

    "Google is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, but it still needs advertising."

    Thangyooverrahmuch.

    If any other Reg readers have tricky questions they'd like answered, let's hear them.

    That's a burning bush icon, by the way.

  112. Brutus
    Alien

    From the Beeb

    I rather like this quote from 'the opposition' (talking about the ads on the buses):

    But Stephen Green of pressure group Christian Voice said: "Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large.

    "I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti.

    "People don't like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don't like it."

    Which side was he arguing for?

    (Alien because they started the entire evolutionary process!)

    PS, this isn't Dawkin's campaign, he's just adding his support.

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    What?

    Rich must have had a really bad time as a kid. I don't know anything personally but I can only assume he wanted to be home watching cartoons when his parents made him go to church. Mine let me watch cartoons and I made my way to religion honestly and without force. What I found was not control, or even really order.

    Dawkins gives Atheists almost as bad a stereotype as the nutjobs give religion. Why does he always assume it's all fear and ignorance that brings people into a faith? I can honestly say that judged by his own ideals I'm a better person than I was before. What's there to be so happy about if there is no God, no afterlife, no heaven or hell? What's the point of it all then? Why bother with society?

    Mine is the knock off technicolor dream coat.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @sarah bee

    "it frees you from feeling you have to go on the warpath all the time against people who question your choices"

    Strikes me that it's the commenters in this thread who are non-religious (look-I didn't say anti- ) that are on the warpath.

  115. Chris

    Hmm

    I much prefer the atheists of the French Revolution, who went around cemeteries putting "death is an eternal sleep" on the gates. Not that it would make for a cheerful slogan on a bus though.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Total shooting up...

    The total donated so far is approaching £25K - and rising fast.

    Where will this be in a few weeks time? Let's do a TV campaign instead!! :D

  117. David Arno
    Thumb Up

    Why are so many people confused over agnostics and atheists

    I believe there probably isn't a god. This makes me an agnostic atheist. Agnostic and atheist are NOT mutually exclusive terms.

    I think the bus ads are a brilliant idea.

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's got more than double.

    Month 1: There's probably no God...

    Month 2: Kids, your preacher is lying to you, ask him to prove what he says!

    Month 3: Isn't it time the government outlawed religious nutjobs and their fairy stories?

  119. Adrian Jackson
    Flame

    Re: burning bush icon

    Burning Bush? Does this mean God wants us to vote Democrat?

    Mine's the one with the stone tablets covered in commandments in the pockets...

  120. Tom Silver badge

    @Arnold Lieberman

    I am an atheist - I KNOW there is no god.

  121. Tim
    Joke

    The Christian and the atheist

    A Christian and an atheist were having a discussion.

    The Christian says “You know, I feel that an atheist is like a man in a blacked out room looking for a black cat that is not there.”

    The atheist replies, “I feel the same about Christians, the only difference being that the Christian thinks he has found the cat”

    (Inspired by Dave Allen)

  122. Daniel B.
    Happy

    Re:Cowards, Agnosticism

    As others have pointed out, translating "Allah" translated to English means "God". In fact, "Allah Ackbar" actually means either "God is great", "God is good", or even "Praise God". Notice any similarities?

    Anyway, the phrase is Agnostic, as it is 'probably'; which means we can't prove/disprove the existance of a God. Incidentally, it also shouldn't inflame anyone but the most religious zealots, as it isn't mocking or offending any beliefs. Its a nice counter to the religious propaganda out there anyway.

  123. Jonathon Green
    Thumb Up

    About that "probably"...

    I'd quite like to see the ads run without the qualification. If nothing else it would be amusing to see, for instance the CoE making a complaint to the ASA that the BHA was making an unsubstantiated claim in its advertising :-)

    My understanding is that (before it became a catch-phrase in it's own right) the Carlsberg ads originally carried the "probably" qualifier precisely to forestall such objections...

  124. Antony Shepherd

    Probably?

    Probably? That's being a bit wishy-washy, isn't it?

    A bit soft?

    Should have gone for "THERE IS NO GOD. NOW GET OVER IT."

  125. ElFatbob

    @Mike

    > (don't forget that the Christian, Islamic and Jewish god are one and the same, a kind of cross dogma trinity if you like). <

    A common misconception, but wrong for many reasons. The main one I can think of is that the Christian's believe in a triune Godhead. The assertion that God had a son (who is the second person of God) is blasphemy to a Muslim. Judaism also rejects this assertion.

  126. John Savard Silver badge

    Enjoy Your Life?

    Yes, there's probably no God. But that won't be good news that helps people to enjoy their life for everyone. What about people who have recently lost a loved one? Religion isn't just a bunch of silly rules that make people's lives miserable; it is also a source of solace, by providing hope that there will ultimately be justice for the oppressed and miserable. The choice of slogan makes it sound like they've forgotten that.

  127. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    No probably

    There's no "probably" about it, get off the fucking fence and stand up for what you don't believe in.

  128. Chris
    Coat

    Alternative version for pubs

    "People are likely to disagree, why not have a pint and talk about it?"

  129. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Second most offensive adverts

    I find those christian ads in railway stations only the second most offensive. The ones I really hate are the "our staff have the right to work free from the threat of violence" ones. I once had an idea similar to this current scheme: I'd pay for adverts to be put up in railway workers' offices with graphic pictures of dead bodies from Clapham, Potters Bar etc. reminding them that I had the right to travel without the threat of suffering a nasty death. I should try to revive the idea. Anyone else in?

  130. spegru
    Unhappy

    Interesting

    118 comments at time of writing on this. Where's the IT angle?!?!

    Shows that people are very interested in this matter - Why if people dont care?

    Interesting again since Dawkins' ad seems to advise people not to care.

    The fundamental point that he seems to assume is that Religion is a problem. I'm pretty sure, having read some of his work that this is one of his main motivations.

    What he doesnt seem to realise is that it's not really religion as such that has caused wars/ inquisitions etc over the centuries, it's Human Nature: which is to fight for your own group/tribe against others for power & resources such as land/oil/food etc

    If anything religions in their pure sense seem to moderate against such problems - so it's nice to see such interest.

    It's hijacking of religions by those in power that cause most problems.

    So how does this ad help anyone?

    Not at all I would say and it certainly won't brighten anyones day, that's for sure

    Mine's the one with the Aerosol can in the pocket!

  131. Phil the Geek
    Joke

    Flying Deities

    If Richard Dawkins was able to prove that Flying Deities do not exist, where would that leave Richard Branson?

  132. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    There's probably no perfect OS. Now install Linux because it's clearly superior.

    And sit back and await the flames.

  133. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Flyers required

    Please will someone knock up a quick PDF version for printing on the company colour laser printer, to give to the Jehovas Witnesses and other numpties who turn up on the doorstep.

  134. censored
    Thumb Up

    Firstly, the 'probably' is an unfortunate weasel word...

    They'd rather not say probably, but without it they'd be in the ludicrous position of having anti-blasphemy laws brandished at them. For some reason, expressing an athiest view isn't a protected position, unlike those who express a belief in a sky fairy.

    Secondly, the athiest position is NOT a religion. Agnosticism is NOT science.

    Scientists make hypotheses based on the available evidence. They postulate on things on the balance of probabilites and possibilities.

    We can safely assume that there is no iPhone on Mercury. Firstly, there hasn't been enough time to get one there since it came out. Secondly, we know no-one has been there to leave it. We cannot prove that there is no iPhone on Mercury, but until someone comes up with better evidence than to say "Steve Jobs says there's an iPhone on Mercury", we don't need to say 'probably'. We can say there is no iPhone on Mercury, and that's a scientific viewpoint.

    The same is true of God. We can have a huge amount of evidence for how evolution occurred. We have evidence for the Big Bang. We have the historical evidence around the New Testament that shows who wrote it and why (hint: a few decades after Jesus, and embellished rather a lot to get a point across). We have the varying definitions of who and what 'god' might be but in all of recorded human history, there is not one single, credible shred of evidence of his appearance or interference with humanity.

    It is a perfectly acceptable scientific view to say "there is no god".

  135. Chris Adams

    @John Savard

    The "solace" that religion brings in times of grief is simply a blind "It'll all be OK in the end, really it will" temporary abstention of emotional hardship which is a natural defensive reaction anyway. People have different coping mechanisms and this effect is not limited to religion. At some point it is necessary for that grief to be worked through naturally and being able to pretend that everything is OK because God made it happen and he's kind and loving does not encourage taking responsibility for ones own feelings.

    Alternatively you could dress up as a bat and fight crime. Oh dear, I think that means it's time to seek solace in the church of the holy lager. Another pint please, Vicar!

  136. David Pollard
    Alert

    @Steven Jones

    "Richard Dawkins is indeed saying that a rationalist who thinks for themselves will not believe in the existence of a god."

    Hmm. Bishop Berkeley's concept 'Esse est percipi (aut percipere)' in the early 18th Century is surprisingly close to some of the concepts being advanced in contemporary quantum mechanics. So a rational scientist could quite reasonably have houseroom for a concept very similar to that of a theologian's omniscience. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esse_est_percipi)

    Suggestions that Dawkins is a "blinkered hypocrite" come about not so much because his approach is rational but because it is strongly reductionist and appears to many agnostics to deny all spirituality and sense of wonder.

    @ Sarah Bee (though I'm not a proper scholar myself)

    My old headmaster, Nat Clapton, would not let any of his charges put 'atheist' on their university application forms, arguing succinctly that to deny proof of God's existence was also to deny the opportunity of disproof, therefore logically untenable. He did, however, allow 'agnostic'. I assume that his usage of the terms as answers to the question, "Does God exist?", of 'No' and 'Dunno' was correct, though this may have changed in recent decades. Admittedly this doesn't provide shades of 'Dunno' but it does keep things simple.

  137. Steven Jones

    @John Savard

    "Religion isn't just a bunch of silly rules that make people's lives miserable; it is also a source of solace, by providing hope that there will ultimately be justice for the oppressed and miserable."

    Deliberately misleading people in order to make them feel better is what you do to children. It's surely much better to get people to come to terms with what has happened than have them go around deluded. Following your line of logic, we should be praising the mystics who prey on the believed by pretending to be in contact with their lost ones. This type of thinking is truly the "opiate of the people view". It's the same logic that allows oppressed people to remain passive on the basis they will be rewarded in some after life. It's great at keeping the common people down - to accept their lot, a tactic followed by the powerful for centuries.

    The proper way to deal with those who are oppressed and miserable is to do something about it in this life, not to tell them comforting stories.

  138. Jolyon Ralph
    Thumb Up

    I'd prefer the Trent Reznor version

    "YOUR GOD IS DEAD AND NO-ONE CARES"

  139. Adrian Jackson
    Linux

    Re: Where's the IT angle?!?!

    IT practically invented the religious flame war. Dawkins vs Jesus is *nothing* compared to vi vs emacs.

  140. Jonathan
    Paris Hilton

    @Interesting

    No, he advises people not to worry. He doesnt say anything about whether you care or not. Besides, if people weren't so busy judging people according to their religion's rules of what is right or not, perhaps they would be nicer to each other?

    As for religion moderating against some problems, The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the modern war in the Middle East all beg to disagree. All that you need for trouble to start is for one charismatic people to unite people under the fear of what is different, and you can get major wars occuring.

    No religion = no power base to be hijacked = no problems. People will hopefully have open minds and hopefully not vacuously follow something without thinking about where it leads.

    Now, if we can back to more important matters, such as worshipping Paris Hilton, I'd appreciate it.

  141. Gilbert Gosseyn

    superstitious crap and nonsense

    Many have said something similar to this complete tripe...

    "True Scientists would be agnostic, given that there is no strong proof in favour or against the existence of a god, therefore he may or may not exist."

    I'd wager these people don't have any proof that there is not a teapot in orbit about the Earth. So, are they all Teapottists? Do they all believe in The Teapot because there is no proof of its non-existence?

    Its down to critical thinking, scientific method and probabilities isn't it?

    Given the the VERY BEST stories and "proof" spouted by the pious;

    Given all the stupid contradictions in religious writings;

    Given the fact there are regularly, train wrecks, tsunami, disease, death and corruption;

    Given the murderous, misogynistic, anti-science, anti-progress, backward looking, violence-ridden nature of most religious writings;

    Given the fact I've seen no religion do any good whatsoever (other than as a bribe to coerce more people into the belief system);

    I and other atheists are as close to damned sure as makes no odds that there is no god. Its the scientists in us (and the PC brigade elsewhere) that make us use words like "probably".

    Just step back, ask "why" and "how", and you'll see all religion for the childish superstitious crap that it is.

  142. Mark

    re: Good news?

    How about "there's no hell so you can stop worrying about that"?

  143. Mark

    re: Atheism or agnosticism?

    Not really.

    I don't KNOW that unicorns don't exist.

    However, I can't rule out they do.

    The problem is that most agnostics are atheists too. Only nuance makes the difference.

  144. Mark

    "What about people who have recently lost a loved one?"

    What about them?

    They aren't believing in God but in an afterlife. And if there IS a god, if you only believed he existed because you didn't want to lose a loved one, how much do you think He'd appreciate it?

    Not a lot.

  145. Julian
    Paris Hilton

    BHA: British Humorless Association.

    "I much prefer the atheists of the French Revolution, who went around cemeteries putting "death is an eternal sleep" on the gates."

    These are the cemeteries for the tens of thousands they guillotined I presume.

    This tack (and tacky) campaign by the BHA is the classic response of people who feel like their power-base is slipping through their grasp. In the days when the church dominated the belief landscape of the country atheists encouraged people to question religion.

    And that's fine, millions did. But the church asks us to raise questions (as, for example, in the Alpha Course) the BHA jumps in free-thought lock-down mode. "God's not likely, so don't start asking questions, just get on with life!"

    Thankfully, they've got a long way to go before they start wheeling out the guillotines.

    Paris, because she really does prove how gracious God is!

  146. DirkGently
    Happy

    RE: A petty pedant's problem

    If it were an agnostic slogan, it would read "THERE'S POSSIBLY NO GOD..."

    I agree with RD - everyone is an atheist of one form or another. Christians are Allah atheists and Muslims are Jesus atheists. They're convinced that the other god doesn't exist. I don't think you'll find any Thor or Zeus believers today, so we are all Thor and Zeus atheists.

    My only problem is the slogan is too tame, but then I guess one has to temper the language in this day and age to get it past the censors. And I suppose it's wise not to alienate people.

  147. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Atheist or Agnostic

    I'm an atheist. I'm not agnostic. The reason I have this position is because I am not indifferent to the existence of a higher power. I have simply looked at the evidence around me and come to the conclusion that a higher power does not exist. This is the basic tenet of The God Delusion and something I agree with. At some point in the future, if someone came forward with evidence that when balanced with the evidence I already had, showed me that God existed, I would believe in him. My atheism (and Dawkin's atheism as far as I know) is not belief based, it is evidence based.

    Where Dawkins and I do differ is that he is an evangelical atheist and I am not. I will not preach my conclusions on others because I don't believe it gains anything. This includes bus slogans.

  148. DirkGently
    Flame

    RE: Sad case

    The atheist probably declined because he didn't want his atheist friends to be outcasts in society when they professed their atheism.

  149. MD Rackham

    "Probably"?

    Way to take a bold, assertive stand.

  150. Vin Patel
    Happy

    The statement is correct, the use of the word probably is objective

    I am an athiest i absolutely don't believe in god or metaphysics. But i cannot prove there isn't a god only point to the overwhelmingly increasing evidence against the existence of god or metaphysics and occams razor.

    So the use of the word 'probably' is correct and will also serve as a pivot point for the people to debate on about the nature of evidence, the difference between dogma and empericism etc.

    Dawkins is not a fundamentalist: his views are based upon objective evidence and fundamentalist's views are not. He is not doing a U turn, he is being scientific saying the weight of evidence is against the existence of god and his hostility is against ignoring objective evidence.

    Man, i think its a beautiful idea! lol. Thank you BHS, RD and donating friends.

    I will cheer and applaud if i ever see a bus with that slogan on it!

  151. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    I donated.

    More of this please.

  152. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Agnostics, monotheists

    We don't know if there is a god vs There is one single god but he doesn't have much to do with life on earth these days.

    Somehow monotheists don't half sound like agnostics to the ears of a polytheist.

    Mine's the one with the big hammer in the pocket.

  153. Lee T.
    Jobs Halo

    There is a perfect OS, and it's name is Leopard

    ....Psyche!

    And sit back and await the flames.

    atheist BTW, also

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/richard_dawkins_on_militant_atheism.html

    Dawkins in his own words.

  154. Andrew Garrard
    Gates Horns

    Well, now I'm torn...

    I'd commend this kind of thing, but the involvement of Dawkins (whose belligerent criticism of anyone who might dare to believe is probably strengthening the beliefs of a generation) means I'm not going to donate. Having a discussion with someone about how the basis of their belief might be faulty and rationally persuading them to reconsider is one thing. Telling them their belief system is evil and that they've been brainwashed seems highly unlikely to work, not least because people stop listening around the time they realise you're not prepared to start with a rational debate.

    I believe those who believe in (a) god are wrong; I don't believe that all that's done in the name of religion is "evil", nor that a fallacious belief in something is necessarily harmful. (Think of the "lies to children" approach of vastly oversimplifying subjects in school.)

    Initially, I liked "There's *probably* no God", on the basis that at least it was slightly less aggressive than the recent pro-atheist publicity, but in retrospect it's probably true that it makes the authors sound unsure of themselves. I'd prefer a phrasing that - while acknowledging that there's no proof that there isn't a deity - better presented the viewpoint that there's no reason to believe in one.

    Dawkins is probably doing better than most (by being obnoxious) at persuading religious types that all atheists are inherently evil. I was recently in a very christian community in Australia, where they suddenly got very wary of me when I indicated that I was an atheist. Ralph B's comment is a good one: atheists can have a highly-defined moral code for very good logical reasons other than that their god told them to do something. That many with religion have been convinced that, without faith, mankind cannot behave in a civilised manner is a great bolster to their belief - and says much about their innate maturity. This suggests that gently leading people to a rational viewpoint would be a better idea than demolishing their belief system without providing a substitute.

    Anyway, standing up for the atheists is a good thing, and providing some balance against religious propaganda is definitely something of which I'm in favour, but I hope they work on the slogan. (Above all, don't let Dawkins re-write it, or we'll get "repent, sinners!")

  155. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    How about....

    "A credible god created science. Embrace it. Understand it. Use it."

    -or-

    "A god that denies science is the Prince of Lies"

  156. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Boffin

    'probably'

    First commenter omitted the word entirely, while another commenter complains that the word is "wooly". Several other commenters bemoan the word in similar arguments. Personally, I like the way it's phrased. It's (probably) not as offensive to God-believers, and it gives everyone a little wiggle room to accept/respect each others beliefs (or lack thereof). Rather than being a sign of weakness, I think it's a shrewd move. The existence of God can't be disproved any more than it can be proved, for one thing, and putting it like this is shifting the onus of proof back onto believers. When they've exhausted their arguments, it's the athiest saying "yeah, but that's probably not true, eh?" who's going to have the stronger argument? The guy who engaged in specious and fanciful "proofs" or the guy who was consistently saying "probably not"?

    Basically, it's agnostic athiesm... it's agnostic as to whether athiesm is true or can be proved, but still leaning heavily towards the "no God" hypothesis.

    /science-y icon

  157. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Flame

    @Good news?

    > How will "There's probably no God" brighten anyone's day?

    Because it's probably (at least) one less thing to worry about. Your Mileage May Vary if you believe God is not only true (real/actual) but also necessary. The thought that God probably isn't necessary to living a happy, good, moral life kind of brightens my day.

    <-- flames, just in case

  158. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Adrian Jackson - Voting Democrat

    Good question.

    Well, it's not for me to tell you how to vote. How to think, act and feel, how to love, worship and generally behave - yes, I do interfere a bit there, I will admit. But voting is up to you.

    Having said that, Mr Bush has been a rather naughty boy hasn't he? I'm sure there's a commandment or two that he's broken.

    I had them written down somewhere but I can't seem to find them at the moment...

  159. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Alert

    @fLaMePr0oF, AC. Dr. Mouse, Stern Fenster, Eddie Edwards, Chris Adams

    > ... Atheists ...

    should be

    > ... atheists ...

    Fixed that for ya.

  160. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Go

    snowclone: THERE IS PROBABLY NO X

    I'd probably contribute to a bus-based ad saying:

    THERE'S PROBABLY NO TERRORIST THREAT. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE

  161. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Alert

    @Arnold Lieberman

    > If there is "probaby" no god then that implies there might be one

    No, you just inferred that. See my previous posts.

  162. DrXym Silver badge

    This shouldn't be necessary

    I would much, much prefer that all forms of religious advertising be banned. No whacky scripture verses on buses, no ads for Dianetics (or personality tests), no advertising on fundamentalist christian TV, no door to door godbothering, no flyers for the revolving door of Imams, preachers, moonies and assorted others on their world tours. Ban the whole lot of them.

    If political ads can be banned then why not religious ones?

    Let people ponder the existence of non-existence of god for themselves without having the religions and cults with the deepest pockets sucking people in.

  163. Chris Haynes
    Thumb Up

    @John Savard

    "Religion isn't just a bunch of silly rules that make people's lives miserable; it is also a source of solace, by providing hope that there will ultimately be justice for the oppressed and miserable."

    So you admit religion is, among other things, a bunch of silly rules that make peoples' lives miserable? Cool.

    Also, why mourn someone's death and hope that they're in a better place? According to the rules that Christianity (more specifically, Jesus) requires, no one is ever going to get into heaven. Why not celebrate that person's LIFE? Remember their achievements, their personality, their friendships, their manner. That's the best way to remember them.

  164. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Photograph of Jesus walking on water

    .

    Seems the ad campaign may be a waste of money.

    Here's a photo of His son walking on water............

    http://www.boreme.com/boreme/funny-2008/jesus-hydrofoil-p1.php

  165. Schultz
    Thumb Up

    @God

    I definitely like His sense of humor. Gets us thinking about Him by commissioning an ad questioning His existance. He's creepy smart, innit?

  166. Lonesome Twin
    Flame

    There is no dark side of the moon, matter of fact it's all dark

    So a few grand will get me some posters to proclaim 'Darwin was probably wrong, that's why you're still here'?

    I'm in, any other takers?

  167. Anonymous John

    @ God or no God?

    If they were there long enough to be identified as Jehovah's Witlesses, he hadn't quite got the knack of getting rid of them.

  168. Vincent

    Re: Photograph of Jesus walking on water

    That's brilliant!

  169. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    go Richard

    that is all

  170. Alexis Vallance
    Thumb Up

    Confusing

    "How will "There's probably no God" brighten anyone's day?

    Because it's probably (at least) one less thing to worry about. Your Mileage May Vary if you believe God is not only true (real/actual) but also necessary. The thought that God probably isn't necessary to living a happy, good, moral life kind of brightens my day."

    Not quite sure why you needed a poster to remind you that you don't believe something! And how can forgetting to remember something you don't believe in be something to worry about.

    How can you worry about something you've forgotten??

    Personally, I find there being no God (and I assume as a consequence once you're dead that's it) to be very depressing!

    You lot can crumble to dust. I'm living it up before coming back down here to do it all again.

    See, I'm Christian but pick and choose what to believe in. Reincarnation baby!

  171. Sceptical Bastard
    Flame

    Priorities, people!

    Jeeeze! 164 comments (OK, 165 now) on this story within a few hours of it appearing on El Reg. Yet only 20 comments on the G6 Counter-Terrorism Symposium and its draconian proposals, 80-odd on the UK Ministry of Truth plans to "regulate" the internet, and 124 (in four days) on Home Secretard Jacqui Smith's planned über-database.

    What are we all? Religious nuts? Get a grip, fellow commentards!

    PS: Who gives a flying fuck about Dawkins. Bloke's as mad as a wasp. And who gives a shit whether 'Christian' nutters put adverts on buses? Is any sane rational person going to be converted to superstition by propaganda? Wr... wait a minute... not sure I've thought that through...

  172. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Big Beardy Bloke ...

    Exists — and he's called Rassilon.

  173. ekimdam
    Happy

    @weirdcult

    "Here Here!!

    Want to come and join a group of similar thinking individuals....."

    No thanks. I prefer just being an individual. As you know, individuals can do more damage to death cults.

  174. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well you'll find out sooner or later, or not be in a position to say "told you so".

    It is reasonable to believe there is a cause for all we perceive around us, and ourselves. By calling this cause "God", we have a reason to believe "God" exists. We have no reason to believe there is a teapot orbiting the earth, it serves no purpose: thus all such comparisons are false, and convinces no one.

  175. OrsonX
    Coat

    Alone in a Godless Universe and out of Shake & Vac

    That is what should be on the side of the bus!

    re: probably

    Why is the word 'probably' in the advert?

    This is EVEN WORSE than an advert saying 'Praise The Lord!'

    To the advert organisers, please stop pandering to political correctness and worrying about causing offence, the word 'probably' is an insult to my intelligence. I have to say that I am surprised that Professor Dawkins has agreed to this poor wording.

    Mine's the one with the 2000 year old copy of the HHGTTG in the pocket... all hail the mighty Profet Zarquon!!!

  176. This post has been deleted by its author

  177. David Simpson
    Thumb Up

    Slogans

    Sounds like a great idea but I'd rather they advertised with my slogan

    "If Jesus hadn't died on the cross I would have killed him"

  178. John Angelico

    ROFL!!

    Fool <======================================> money

    Keep spending folks, gotta fix up the economic mess!

  179. Peyton
    Thumb Up

    @agnostic/atheist

    Ahh - thanks for chiming in with this. I was honestly getting frustrated/confused by the idea 'atheists won't claim there *isn't* a god' - I rather thought that was the point. But the idea that everyone (that isn't completely stark-raving) has a touch of agnosticism actually clears it up quite nicely.

  180. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Dead Vulture

    @Alexis Vallance

    > Personally, I find there being no God (and I assume as a consequence once you're dead that's it) to be very depressing!

    Ah, but that's probably just because you've been indoctrinated to think that life is meaningless without an afterlife. I find it quite liberating and non-depressing to consider that everything that has a beginning has an end. Memento mori and all that.

    Full disclosure: I'm a Buddhist, but agnostic about reincarnation in a literal sense.

  181. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    @Sceptical Bastard

    > [complaining that this seems to be a bigger issue with readers than Quasi-Stasi laws]

    #1 maybe they decided complaining on el Reg isn't as useful as actually doing something?

    #2 maybe this thread is a lot more fun?

    #3 maybe puncturing the myths of fundamentalist religions is a better, more direct way of taking the wind out of the anti-terrorist rhetoric?

    #4 maybe we don't want to give away our plans to TPTB?

    #5 maybe you're right and Dawkins is working for them? (damn... now <i>that</i> would be a cunning plan to divert attention!)

    #6 maybe we think the plans are FAIL anyway and we're adopting a wait-and-see attitude

    #7 maybe we don't live in the UK and can't expect to subvert the government there without being labelled a terrorist?

    #8 but maybe we'll do it after this thread dries up

    Well, that's just me, anyway.

  182. B B Beyer
    Unhappy

    Aarrghhh!

    Adrian Jackson said: "[atheism] . . . may not be a religion per se, but it *is* a religious belief."

    Mmm - in the same way that thinking Nazism is wrong is actually a form of Nazi belief, presumably? Come on - a view about religion is not a "religious belief".

    "the strong form of atheism . . . is one that's based on a leap of faith in exactly the same way as a religious belief is".

    It's the same "leap of faith" that leads me to conclude there aren't pink fairies who really want to love me playing fragrant luminous harpsichords at the bottom of my garden. Never heard them , never seen them, never smelt them - just like God, in fact. But I don't sit up all night worrying about the slight possibility that they might, in fact be there, and that perhaps I ought to "believe" in them.

    BTW, if I'm wrong, and He does exist, thanks for the most excellent blue sky, green grass and fluffy bunnies, God dude. But earthquakes and cancer? What's that all about? I can only conclude he is, in fact, a right f**cking c*nt, and therefore I won't be worshiping the insecure, megalomaniac omnipotent bag of sh*te.

    "Have a good time, *all* the time. That's my philosophy on life, Marti."

  183. Jacob Reid
    Unhappy

    'Probably'?

    They made a mistake in creating the advert, it should have said 'definitely'

  184. Matthew Flint
    Thumb Up

    Here's why they use the word "Probably"

    Ariane Sherine wrote in the Guardian: "I Googled Carlsberg and found this marketing site, which suggests that using the word "probably" at the start of the ad saved Carlsberg from litigation."

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/20/transport.religion

  185. Michael

    alternatively...

    Dawkins et al aknowledge the possiblity of there being a God, and tend to believe that this is improbable. So the text of the advert could equally read;

    "There might be a God, and you could be in a shedload of trouble..."

    Now, if even Richard Dawkins aknowledges this possibility, and with the stakes being pretty high (to say the least) surely the sensible thing to do would be to go find out for yourself. There is a wealth of written evidence and present day testimony about, you really would have to walk about with your eyes shut not to see it.

    Alternatively you could sit around making snarky comments about the flying spaghetti monster (yawn).

  186. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    @Tony Mason

    re ' How will "There's probably no God" brighten anyone's day? '

    easy , they MIGHT just stop day dreaming about a load of fairy stories , and get with what is happening in the real world that is PROVABLE .. oh shit , that will probably depress them.

    okay Tony , maybe you have a point .

    Believing stuff that is provable , is a bit like taking the pill in the Matrix where Neo really finds out what is happening , reality sucks....

    Maybe I will consider believing in Fairy Stories after all, Jesus did walk on water , and yes his mother was a virgin ..... , God does love me and doesn't think I'm a no good wanker just like the majority of humanity.... Hallelujah , I believe MAN, I can see the light ............

    and it's all BULLSHIT ! oh dear there's the downer again.........

  187. Adrian Jackson
    Coat

    @DirkGently

    > If it were an agnostic slogan, it would read "THERE'S POSSIBLY NO GOD..."

    If it were truly an agnostic slogan, it would read "I DON'T KNOW WHETHER THERE'S A GOD, AND NOR DO YOU."

    If it were a weak atheist slogan, it would read "I DON'T BELIEVE THERE'S A GOD."

    If it were a strong atheist slogan, it would read "THERE IS NO GOD."

    If it were a deist slogan, it would read "GOD IS."

    If it were a theist slogan, it would read "THERE IS A GOD!"

    If it were a baptist slogan, it would read "THERE IS A GOD, AND HE LOVES YOU!"

    If it were a Russian Orthodox slogan, it would read "THERE IS A GOD, AND HE HATES YOU!"

    If it were a Catholic slogan, it would read "THERE IS A GOD, AND HE HATES US ALL." followed by an elaborate sad Virgin Mary smiley.

    If it were a C of E slogan it would read "I JUST GO FOR THE HYMNS. ANYONE FOR A NICE CUP OF TEA?"

    If it were a Muslim slogan, it would have been defaced by a barely-literate Daily Mail reader.

    I'd get my coat, but I can't be sure whether it exists.

  188. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    What about Apatheism ?

    which is what I am and is summed up as I don't know, and more importantly I don't care.

    What I have faith in is that if I wasn't meant to be here , well then I wouldn't be here.

    To me it's only the weak willed, dictatorial or those with more time than they know what to do with that need to believe in ANYTHING else.

    Get on with life , if you weren't meant to be here, well then you wouldn't exist.

  189. NT
    Coat

    Getting my coat ready in advance

    I said I wasn't going to bite on any more of the Reg's "point and laugh at the stupid religious idiots" trolls. I told myself I wouldn't, too, and I meant it. But who was I kidding?

    Speaking personally, I'm not in the least bothered whether Dawkins and pals don't believe in God. What difference does it make to my life? I'm not even bothered if, despite their claims to be concerned only with rationality and the good of the human species, they spend ludicrous amounts of money on what is really nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. Money that would, I'm sure, have been welcomed by any few dozen scientific or humanitarian endeavours you'd care to name. If religious people are to be criticised for wasting money on propping up 'useless' old buildings (never mind their historical or architectural value), or spreading the word of some "non-existent sky fairy", then surely non-religious people can be criticised for throwing good money after bad and aping those very same deluded fools.

    But the truth is it's not Dawkins' non-belief, nor anyone else's, that annoys me. It's not that I think those people shouldn't have the right to advertise their opinion; and - though I realise this is beyond comprehension for some - it's not that, as a religious person, I think my beliefs should be respected and held as sacred and beyond challenge or mockery. (Of course, Dawkins strongly implies that I must think exactly that, so it's up to you who you trust to describe my feelings more reliably.) I honestly don't care what you think about what I believe - and similarly, I don't really care about your beliefs, either. I'm not interested in brainwashing your kids. I don't care whether you have abortions or not. I don't believe the universe was created in twenty-five minutes just before tea a week last Thursday. I don't want to take away your right to Have Your Say. I don't believe you have a soul, or that it'd need saving if you did - and even if both of those applied, I doubt I'd consider it my responsibility to save it for you. Sort it out for yourself. It's not my problem unless you ask for my help (in which case my help will probably consist of a more diplomatic version of “sort it out yourself”).

    No, the thing that gets right on my tits about this flame war (and I mean this particular one - the one we go through every time El Reg gets bored and falls back on this subject) are the absolute pig-headed and bone idle generalisations and taunts, snarky remarks and well-rehearsed jibes that get trotted out by both sides with such repetitive regularity that I could almost wonder if the whole debate wasn't just a bunch of computers running a pre-programmed script (including any reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose true purpose seems to have been long abandoned and who's now nothing more than a blunt instrument of mockery).

    Atheism is not, repeat, is NOT, a religion - and yes, I say this as a religious person. Atheism is the absence of belief in God or gods or, if you like - and bearing in mind the more defensive type of atheist will take great offence at this - the belief that there is no God. Despite the endless bickering over which of these is correct they amount, in effect, to the same thing. The atheist does not recognise God, nor therefore any of the obligations or concepts traditionally associated with God. Whether that constitutes a 'belief system' in itself is irrelevant insofar as it determines the behaviour and the attitude of the atheist.

    But atheism is not the problem here. Nor is religion. The problem is with those who not only reject the belief system of another, but assume the right to enforce their own views. That doesn't define an atheist, and it doesn't define a religious believer. It is, sadly, an unfortunate characteristic of some human beings. Some charge at the complex issue of human spirituality like bulls at gates, trampling nuances, shades and distinctions underfoot.

    As well as being religious, I'm someone who is very keen on science, and some aspects of science I absolutely adore - such as astronomy. In my paganistic view, there can be no better homage to the divinity of the cosmos than to study it, and I admire anyone who devotes themselves to that, be they professional scientist, amateur enthusiast, or armchair philosopher. As long as people are thinking and questioning, I'm not going to presume to tell them what conclusions they must reach. I love science - but I can't and won't assume that it will one day answer every question the cosmos might confront us with. The assumption that it will, or even that we have evolved or could evolve the capacity to reach a full and complete understanding of the natural world, is, to my mind, as much an article of faith as the belief that one day we'll all go to Heaven. As is my belief that the cosmos is ultimately without rhyme or reason and will continue to confound our attempts to describe it in every last detail.

    Everyone who has a strong point of view on such questions bases that viewpoint at least to some extent on their belief about How Things Are. There are, I believe, questions that are simply too big or too strange for science as we understand it today to deal with. What is reality, for example? How can we test it TRULY objectively? But does that mean I think science is worthless? By no means. I believe it's crucial - and a good framework for dealing with more everyday problems and questions.

    In short, religion - the thing so many of you are so desperately eager to attack, if only to prove your intellectual credentials - is not one single viewpoint that you can legitimately pigeon-hole. Consider:

    The Cosmos exists in every place and every time. Everything that can possibly happen might - perhaps will - happen within it: it has the power to do anything. It has intelligence (because we are part of it and we, at least, have intelligence), and contains all possible knowledge, whether we can ever obtain that knowledge for ourselves or not (does each of my brain cells know everything I know?). It knows everything that has happened and that will happen. It has created us, nurtures us, and one day may choose to destroy us. It may have a plan. It is infinite in extent, or - if not - as near infinite as makes no odds from our insignificant perspective. How many people's definition of 'God' would those statements satisfy?

    And yet Dawkins and those like him tell me that there is no god, and that I'm a fool for believing in something greater than myself? But in truth, there is no question of belief: there's only a question of perspective.

    Let the atheists spend their spare cash on trivial publicity stunts. I've no interest in their silly banners any more than I've any regard for the silly banners of the churches or other places of worship. You will see divinity in the world or you will not. You will see meaning in your life or you will not. You will live a moral life or you will not. You will think, or you will not. No one of these necessitates any of the others.

  190. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Pragmatism in belief....

    for education purposes I agreed to let my daughters go to a Catholic Primary school, and avoid the local-council-estate-cesspit near where I live. ( my wife is a recovering-deluded-catholic )

    Okay the school promotes a load of delusional rubbish.... Also I suppose at least they do care...

    However one thing that i have found, is that the school is after way more money than the local-council-estate-cesspit-school near where I live.

    Organised religion definitely seems to be a business to me, and looking at the size of the buildings they have managed to create over the years a very successful business too.

    They knew a thing or two about advertising and controlling their market several millennia before Saatchi and Saatchi.

  191. Tim Brown

    What a pussy.

    Probably? PROBABLY? I thought Dawkins was atheist, not agnostic. What a cop-out.

  192. fred

    on the buses

    Current donations is now valued at £51,000.

  193. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @NT

    "Atheism is ... the more defensive type of atheist will take great offence at this - the belief that there is no God"

    I'm not surprised. I don't believe that there is no God. I think that based on the severe lack of objective empirical evidence that the existence of God is unlikely. It isn't a belief. It's a cold hard look at the facts. You like to think of it as a belief so that you can claim that it is the same as your belief in a god. It isn't.

    By the way, I'm not being defensive. I'm correcting your error.

    Now either stump up some evidence or go away and mumble into your hands somewhere else.

  194. Frankie
    Alert

    Here here!

    After that, I Googled Carlsberg and found this marketing site, which suggests that using the word "probably" at the start of the ad saved Carlsberg from litigation.

    Read the Frakking Article.

  195. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is...

    ... that the god grovellers will love this; nothing they like more than being picked on, persecuted, or having their faith denied. It makes them realise just how 'special' they are to have made the 'right' choices, and creates the bizarre illusion that they are floating 3 inches above the pavement on a cushion of angelic self righteousness.

    I once spent a 42 hour train journey in a compartment with 6 especially devout followers of a religious brand known for its zealotry, intolerance and general swivel-eyedness. In between their bouts of worshipping, they'd read heartening little stories to each other from a book ( a support manual as opposed to the product itself, i.e. THE Book). The theme of each story was identical; someone would be persecuted, usually physically, until finally, at an especially bloody point in the tale they'd accept Deity X into their hearts, and a sense of inner peace would descend on them - usually brief, as their persecutors generally staved their heads in terminally at this point. Upon which choirs would erupt and heavenly rewards would be handed out to the newly minted seeker of truth (deceased).

    By the end of hour 42 I was beginning to understand what the persecutors in the story had in mind, although the regular bouts of deity butt kissing were occasionally enjoyable due to the constant turns in the track and the interaction of the trains metal chassis with the christmas cracker plastic compass they'd brought for the purpose of ascertaining which direction god lived in.

    So the idea of public transport being used as a medium to unsettle the deluded especially appeals. If this takes off, who knows? Perhaps a future ambition might be that coveted 30 second TV slot at the Superbowl, or perhaps a sponsored insert to Gideons Bible.

  196. Paul Murphy
    Happy

    If you hold up a cat ..

    and insist on calling it a dog people will laugh at you.

    If you hold up an image of a diety <insert your preference> and say there is no god _some_ people get very defensive.

    If people truly believed in their deity they would laugh, not get defensive.

    ttfn

  197. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most religion persists purely through child abuse

    > The problem is with those who not only reject the belief system of another, but assume the right to enforce their own views.

    Well, "NT", since over 99% of "religious people" are only that way inclined because their parents and/or society forced this nonsense into their heads while their tiny 3-to-7-year-old brain was at its formative stage, I hope you'd agree that we must stop parents and societies from doing this?

    No-one, but no-one, who grew up to the age of 18, say, just learning stuff - "what we a species know so far, to the best of our ability" - and was then, at 18, will a fully-formed brain, presented with the ideas of any current major religion, would do anything other than laugh.

    These religions persist purely through the most appalling life-wrecking child abuse.

  198. Dan Cooke

    Agnostic/ Atheist?

    you guys are such idiots. Atheists _believe_ there is no God, because there is no evidence for it. In so much so as they accept it as fact until proven otherwise. Agnostics are just: 'i dunno?' - ie, idiots, but not as much idiots as religious people. This means Atheists believe there is no God but are open to the possibility is someone can demonstrate it scientifically. As with all things scientific. Yes, its fairly weak, but its probably to appease all you idiots who demand things such as: 'evolution is a theory, stop spouting it as fact??!! ! mleh mleh'. so, get this:

    Theory: the is a God

    Evidence: ermm...... what?

    Conclusion: no God. (however, feel free to produce some evidence to back up your theory some time).

    OK, even this is BS because you can't base a theory on nothing. Just because you can think of something (hmm, like, you all owe me £10grand) doesn't mean its a theory.

    so basically. 'probably' no God is correct, technically. But in normal speech, i agree we'd say: 'there is no God, retard' (because we usually have to summarise it like that to not overload your brain with such a complicated abstract concept such as probability.) Is God more complex than probability - no, thats why millions of people understand God, but can't do simple maths.

  199. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @NT

    Very good post. Pretty much how I feel. I am also breaking my self imposed ban on commenting on religeous articles on the reg.

  200. Robert St-John
    Paris Hilton

    Cheap Shot

    Whatever side of the fence, or even if you sit in the middle. Its a pretty lame slogan about worthy of a bunch of six formers.

    Paris , as she could of probably come up with something a lot better

  201. Adrian Jackson
    Thumb Down

    @B B Beyer

    What a horrible analogy. No, it's like claiming that being anti-Nazi is a *political* belief, even if you don't espouse any particular political cause yourself.

    And I don't see that most people would argue with *that* definition.

    Now, if I'd claimed that a stated lack of belief in the Abrahamic God was a *Christian* belief, your point might hold water. But that would be silly.

  202. Graham Davis

    How to argue pointlessly

    1. Critically examine the loopholes in your opponent's hypothesis

    2. Exaggerate these to the point of ridicule

    3. Personally attack the individuals holding that viewpoint

    4. Under no circumstances critically examine your own viewpoint

    5. Stick to your ground rigidly, remember, you are right and they are wrong!

  203. Plankmeister
    Thumb Up

    Consciousness raising.

    The entire point of this campaign is to raise society's consciousness regarding the special priveliges that religion enjoys. It's certainly acheived that goal already, even before the campaign has started. I guarantee that there'll be a whole bunch of fuss made about this, and the Humanist Society and Dawkins et al will be interviewed, and the net result almost certainly will be an increase in the nation's numbers of atheists.

    And to those who are saying "Isn't Dawkins an atheist? Why's he saying probably?" Read the article again. The entire thing was set in motion by the British Humanist Society, and received the backing of Dawkins. Dawkins is not behind this. He's a late-comer to the party, offering to match the first £5500 in donations with his own money. Dawkins therefore had no kind of input into what wording the advert contains. If it had been up to Dawkins, I'm sure it would have said something like "A personal god does not exist. Your prayers are not being heard."

    On a personal note, I give a big thumbs-up to the campaign. Dawkins got it unequivocally correct when he stated that religion enjoys privileges not afforded any other kind of opinion- or belief-based subject. It's about time non-religion enjoyed the same privileges.

  204. Mat

    Just a quick note.

    to all the people who have bitterly moaned about 'religious types' ramming their beliefs down peoples throats.

    They are now doing exactly that.

    That is all.

  205. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @NT

    ^<-What he said.

    To borrow a phrase from someone more learned than myself..

    "Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say "Hang the sense of it" and just keep yourself occupied."

  206. Michael

    @Gavin

    As you say, belief in God does not prove his existence. It is a matter of faith. Dawkins has faith that God (probably) does not exist while others have faith that he does.

    Mother Teresa spent 50 years in the Calcutta slums in the belief that God existed and that he had told her to work there. This enriched her life and the lives of those that she helped.

    Dawkins faith would never lead him to do that. His faith leads him to fear that God might exist and thus have some impact in his life which he might not like.

    His professed lack of belief of the existence of God brings him fear and selfishness.

  207. Mark

    Proving God doesn't exist

    Put on the busses "God Doesn't Exist. If he did, this bus would have been smited".

  208. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Religion Smeligion

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Religion?o=0

    options 3 & 6 could apply here.

    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices:

    6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience

    Atheism could be considered a religious belief structure, religion doesn't need a figurehead deity, just a common set of beliefs.

  209. Paul R
    Paris Hilton

    I need to clear a few things up:

    1. This is not a Richard Dawkins campaign, he is just it's biggest financial contributor.

    2. The word 'Probably' is being included out of necessity. The owners of the bus don't allow adverts that may offend the religious, the Probably gets around this in the same way the Carlsberg do in their adverts.

    3. Atheism/Theism is a statement of belief. Gnosticism/Agnosticism is a statement of knowledge. Two different things. You can believe and still be agnostic, and you can disbelieve and be gnostic.

    PH, she believes in many odd things.

  210. Mark

    re: Getting my coat ready in advance

    "The problem is with those who not only reject the belief system of another, but assume the right to enforce their own views. "

    Uh, that's what the religious nuts are doing.

    How many scientists go door-to-door knocking on the door and asking "Have you thought of letting Christ out of your life?". Someone did that in Utah. VERY violent reaction. Yet how many atheists do you hear of threatening with physical violence (with a GUN!!)?

    Are atheists trying to get their scorn of religion taught in RE classes? Ot Churches to teach evolution?

    No.

    The worst this is from the side of the atheists is a public discussion between the two sides.

    The godbotherer side is using the public discussion and private lobbying and legal pressure to have their side taken on.

  211. blackworx
    Flame

    @ Jolyon Ralph

    ...or the Gary Numan version:

    "If you are my answer, then I must have asked the wrong question.

    I'd spit on your heaven If I could find one to believe in."

    Ever so slightly more on the heretic side than atheist admittedly, but what the hell (um, so to speak).

  212. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget it.

    Ah, screw it. I'm becoming a Jedi.

    Then I won't have to think about s*** like this anymore. Believe whatever you want, but keep it out of my face.

  213. Plankmeister
    Flame

    @Michael

    "Mother Teresa spent 50 years in the Calcutta slums in the belief that God existed and that he had told her to work there. This enriched her life and the lives of those that she helped."

    Ok... so by this statement you are saying that Mother Teresa enriched the lives of the people she came into contact with, and thereby enriched her own life.

    I feel my life has been greatly enriched by reading Dawkins' "The God Delusion". Therefore Dawkins has at least enriched my life, and undoubtedly the lives of others all over the planet, not just in the Calcutta slums. In doing so, I'm pretty sure that Dawkins' derives a certain satisfaction from the fact that he's helping people become cured of religion.

    So - in that context - he's not that different from Mother Teresa after all. If you'd read any of his works you'd understand that - at least where the existence or non-existence of god is concerned - he has no fear of that. If you believe there's no god, how is it possible to fear it?

    You're just spouting righteousness, which just makes your comments seem crass and closed-minded in the context of open and serious debate about the subject; the ultimate "ner ner!"

    Perhaps you should read a few books on atheism, or at least realise that the possibility that there actually is a personal god "out there" that listens to your prayers is actually highly, *highly* unlikely.

  214. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC Troll 08:38

    I'm hoping that this will be the final post I make on the reg about a religeous story, I try not to, but I really can't let this one go. I realise you are probably trolling, I suspect that you're sat down with a smug sense of self satisfaction for rather unimaginatively having taken one of Dawkins' ideas from "The God delusion" and regurgitated it like it is your own, but to say:

    "These religions persist purely through the most appalling life-wrecking child abuse."

    Is not only ignorant in the extreme, it is grossly insulting to those who suffer actual child abuse.

    It should also come with the caveat: "If I am right", because if you aren't, not telling a child about God, if you are the parent/guardian, would be the same thing.

  215. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Michael FAIL FAIL FAIL

    Mother Teresa spent 50 years in the Calcutta slums justifying the suffering of the poor, as they would be rewarded in heaven.

    Are you really suggesting this is a good model for human behavior?

    She was a model advocate FOR poverty, still helps the rich sleep at night.

    FAIL FAIL FAIL Michael FAIL FAIL FAIL

  216. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Michael

    "Mother Teresa spent 50 years in the Calcutta slums in the belief that God existed and that he had told her to work there. [...] Dawkins faith would never lead him to do that."

    Since the campaign under discussion is run by humanists, you might want to consider other motivations for helping people in the Calcutta slums apart from "God told me to do it". Religion isn't a necessary precondition for being a good person.

  217. Adrian Jackson
    Unhappy

    Faith and terminology

    @Michael: The thing is, some of the views held by people are based on faith. Some of them are not.

    A definitive belief in God is based on faith. Strong atheism (God does not exist) is based on faith. Weak atheism and agnosticism *are not faith based* because they don't make definitive statements that go beyond the actual evidence available to us and what we actually observe. Which is why they're (in my opinion) the only sensible position for a rational person or one who claims to respect logic and the scientific method.

    Also @Dan Cooke: Can we *please* stop misrepresenting agnosticism? No it isn't a case of just saying "I dunno", and it isn't weaker than or incompatible with the more rational forms of atheism. You might want to take a look at the Wikipedia page on the subject, particularly http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism#Types_of_agnosticism and if you're genuinely interested follow up some of the sources. It just annoys the hell out of me (pun possibly intended) that people who claim to be representing the rational (SCIENCE LOL!!1) against the irrational (RELIGION LOL!!1) have a worrying tendency to not only be painfully wrong with the basic definitions of the things they're discussing, but also to exhibit a wilful disregard for the fundamental rules of logic. Makes me ashamed to be an atheist at times, just as many reasonable religious people are ashamed by the behaviour of the fundamentalist nutcases who make up the majority of the anecdotal evidence in discussions like this.

  218. Shakje

    Hmm

    I understand the think freely idea, but for the life of me I can't work out the point behind this. If you're already religious, you're not going to care about an advert on the side of the bus, especially one endorsed by that pompous twat Dawkins. If you're not, it's direct tone is almost insulting. For the ones I've seen, the Alpha course is more asking questions in the spirit of encouraging lively debate, this is just a direct statement that will offend a fair few people.

    As someone with a religiouis family background (my father was a minister), I've generally found that Christians (I can't really speak for the other religions)are as happy in their lives as equivalent atheists (if not moreso when they have less), they just live their lives in a slightly different way, and have different priorities. In general, if you're a good person, whether you're religious or not you'll do good things. If you're a happy person, with or without religion you'll be a happy person, and quite frankly, some people do find happiness through religion and a sense of fulfilment, whereas I, and many others, find fulfilment through other means. Whatever gives you happiness in life I think you should grab with both hands and hold onto, not be cowed into something else (either by fundies, or by militant atheists).

    On whether religion causes more harm than good, I've always argued against it. Religion has brought a lot to our world, and I'd argue that religion itself is never the real reason behind any war, but it's really either politically motivated, greed motivated, or power motivated. This doesn't mean that the footsoldiers are recruited by being told "we need to take over this land for stability", they're fed whatever crap is the flavour of the day in order to motivate them to kill people. Eg. hatred for communism for Vietnam, terrorism for Iraq. Without religion, governments will still find excuses to kill people (as we are seeing in an increasingly atheist world, eg. Vietnam, Iraq, various South American countries). Religion has just been used as an excuse, and in the most part, the things that religion has provided for us (I don't really have time to list them, but Red Cross, printing press, etc.) have generally allowed for a better world.

    Lastly, I really can't understand why people would put good money into something like this. I really don't think it's going to change many peoples minds, all it will achieve is offending some people, and I don't really think spending 11 grand to offend some people is a good cause. It actually must be insulting, especially to charities (even moreso to Christian charities like Christian Aid which do a LOT of good aid work overseas) that people are willing to part with that much money to do something that's pretty much pointless, but can't stump up a measly tenner a month to help some people who are in dire need of aid. If that's what being pro-atheism means, why would anyone want to be an atheist?

  219. Metal Marv
    Thumb Up

    Over 200 Comments!

    That's gotta be an El Reg record hasn't it?

    No other topic is as guaranteed to incite people to voice their opinions as much as religion does :)

  220. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    @Michael

    >Mother Teresa spent 50 years in the Calcutta slums in the belief that God existed and that he had told her to work there. This enriched her life and the lives of those that she helped.

    >Dawkins faith would never lead him to do that. His faith leads him to fear that God might exist and thus have some impact in his life which he might not like.

    Mother Teresa was an evil whore, she relished suffering, caused people to die who would otherwise have lived, took money from terrorists, criminals and the poor to fill the Vaticans coffers, I suspect you are right, Dawkins wouldn't do that, to be truly evil take religion.

    The facts of her life are out there and completely undenied, like people who believe in the bible but have never read it, her life is a sham, but what do you expect from an organisation who has ex hitler youth for a pope and refused to condem the Nazis?

    Theists are ignorant, which would be fine if their ignorance didn't kill people, nobody objects to personal comforting belief (even Dawkins, when he talks fondly about a priest from his childhood), but theist ignorance is abused by those who weild religious power for their own aims, raising awareness of ignorance would reduce their power and make the world a better place.

  221. Gilbert Gosseyn

    honest god-fearing people

    Many have said something similar to, "If you're already religious, you're not going to care about an advert on the side of the bus, especially one endorsed by that pompous twat Dawkins."

    I'm having trouble understanding how so many people have thought so little about this!

    Many people are *only* religious because they have been brainwashed and browbeaten from being tiny babes into it with threats of eternal pain and suffering, hell and damnation, the bloody and violent revenge of a childish and petty god, original sin (look this gem up, if you're not familiar with it), fear and guilt and more, (a nice bunch, the religious, aren't they).

    This is the very point of the ad: to make honest god-fearing people feel comfortable questioning what they have been sheepled into from the day they were born. The religious propaganda and marketing machine has had 6000 years to learn how to manipulate the minds of the masses. We (as vociferous atheists) have only been trying to undo the harm for the last 20 years.

    As for Dawkins, he says he is sick of the undeserved respect and reverence religion and religious people enjoy. He pulls no punches, and you don't like it. Dawkins is merely a taste of your own medicine. The pious pull no punches and will gladly tell me I'm going to endure an eternity of pokers up my arse in hell. And worse.

    I have a blog in which some entries sometimes criticise religion. The nastiest, most hateful and foul emails come from, you guessed it, christians. Read Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" to get a taste of what I mean.

    I defy *anyone* to look into religion with an honest enquiring mind and not see it for the sham it really is and for the harm it really does.

    Religious people really are *nasty*.

  222. Mike
    Happy

    @Shakje

    You've said a lot so I'll apologise up front for only answering some soundbites;

    You say religon is used to justify bad things "whatever crap is the flavour of the day in order to motivate them to kill people" is honest and a I thank you for that, take religon away and you have less "crap" to motivate killing, i.e. the world would be a better place without religon, yes, something else might fill it's place, but much harder to justify than blind dogma.

    Notwithstanding, what about the indirect suffering, Mother Theresa, Condom use, pro choice, preventable cervical cancer - all suffering caused by the church.

    Organisations like "christan aid" saves lives, but better non aligned organisations like doctors without borders do it altruisticly with no agenda behind it, giving a child a toy at christmas sounds nice, but find out who funds it, what they expect in return before you think you're doing a good thing, some of these people are like child abusers that have a pocket full of sweets.

    Your post seems nice and well meaning, you sound like a nice person, I would suggest, if you want to, read "Letter to a Christian Nation", it's very short but may open your mind to the suffering caused by others less well meaning.

    If you feel offended by "THERE'S PROBABLY NO GOD. NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR LIFE" then I suggest tht your outlook is biased, which you can either reject, accept, or accept and try and do something about it, knowlege will not kill you, only ignorance.

  223. Adrian Jackson
    Thumb Down

    @Gilbert Gosseyn

    Thanks for calling various of my friends and members of my family '*nasty*' from your position of arrogant ignorance. It only helps to make the point that anyone who takes an insular viewpoint and condemns other people based solely on the fact that they belong to some wide-ranging group quickly becomes an obnoxious bigot, whether they're religious or atheist.

    If your occasional blog entries are as filled with such weak trolling as your post here, then you can hardly be surprised that some of the more extreme religious idiots write in to have a go at you. Would you be shocked to learn that people who write blogs that occasionally criticise atheism also receive hateful bile-filled emails from... you guessed it, *atheists*?

    Some people are asshats. This is hardly news. Some religious people are asshats, some non-religious people are asshats. Trying to assert that there's a direct correlation between being a credulous god-botherer and being an asshat or a godless heathen and being an asshat just puts you firmly in the asshat category in my book, whatever your belief system.

    <sigh> I guess the research was right - people really *do* lose their capacity for rational thought when it comes to religion and politics.

  224. Mark

    @Adrian Jackson

    But maybe you and your friends would be BETTER people if you weren't religious.

    Be all you are and use your mind. Live for THIS life, not for the next. Do good because good should be done, not because you'll get good seats after you're dead.

    Be

    A

    Human

  225. Mark

    @Adrian JacksonStrong atheism (God does not exist) is based on faith.

    Nope. I have a STRONG belief that there are no invisible pink unicorns in my house.

    This, however, is not a matter of faith but on the difficulty of their existence in my house without being discovered.

    Same with God.

  226. The Jon
    Thumb Up

    *Probably*

    Maybe they should change the *probably* to a *definitely* in order to bait $religious_group into court. Then the defence can ask $religious_group to prove the existence of $deity. Job done for the atheists.

    The Jon (secular humanist)

  227. Adrian Jackson

    @Mark

    Maybe *you* would be a better person if you learned to read, rather than jumping to incorrect conclusions. As I've said before in this thread, I'm an agnostic and an atheist and I think everyone else should be too.

    Your comment is irrelevant anyway. Whether people *could* be better or not, the assertion being made was a generalisation that "Religious people are *nasty*". And as anyone who bases their opinions on actual observation and has met any typical religious people would know, this is clearly not a valid generalisation. I know some very nice people who are religious (across a range of religions). I know some very nice people who are atheists. All the violent murderous thugs I've known have been atheists, but the sample size is quite small (I try not to associate with violent murderous thugs) and I'm convinced by the evidence that there are violent murderous thugs who are religious as well (choosing to take a liberal interpretation of 'thou shalt not kill' or the equivalent in their particular faith).

    The stunning level of self-righteous hypocrisy from a lot of people in the atheist camp is why I find discussions like this so aggravating. It's bad for religious people to be judgemental and hold irrational beliefs about non-believers, but at the same time it's fine to spew this sort of garbage claiming that being religious makes you a '*nasty*' person? When atheists do bad things then there are other underlying reasons, but when nominally religious people do bad things then it's the evils of religion to blame? And this from the people who claim that rationality is on their side? <sigh> That's why I so often find myself playing devil's advocate.

    And yes, it's fine to have a strong belief that invisible pink unicorns don't live in your house. It's fine and, in my opinion eminently sensible, to live your life on the basis that this is indeed the case. But don't tell me that it is definitively the case that they don't and you can prove it, because you can't. Don't tell me that the probability that they exist is vanishingly small without showing workings of how you reached that probability. In particular, don't do these things and accuse *other* people making similar leaps of being irrational because of it. It's only fair. And don't confuse the adjective 'strong' applying to belief with the phrase 'strong atheism' - in that case it's not a sliding scale, it's a binary distinction between whether you actively assert the definitive non-existence of god or not. And I don't have a problem with people *being* strong atheists - some of my best friends are strong atheists. The problem comes with being unable to acknowledge the leap of faith that you have to make above and beyond what you can prove in order to hold that position.

  228. David Harris

    Probably?

    Oh dear, there is only 'probably no God', so you still have to worry as you cannot be certain

  229. Adrian Jackson
    Joke

    @Mark

    PS: Have you checked behind the sofa?

  230. Martin Yirrell

    Probably?

    What a pathetic slogan. If it's down to 'probably' then you might be wrong and then you won't enjoy yourself in the end.

    "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment." Ecclesiastes 11:9

    In any case why shouldn't a religious person enjoy themselves? As the hymnwriter wrote "Religion never was designed to make our pleasures less". Of course it has to be a rational religion - not the Atheist one. Strange how so many people here are totally irrational on the subject

    Martin

  231. Mike
    Happy

    Re: PS: Have you checked behind the sofa?

    Quick check..... eeeeewe..... you won't believe what the flying spaghetti monster is doing to the pink unicorn with his noodley appendage.......

  232. Mark

    answerin adrian

    And maybe you should be more forgiving.

    YOU posted your outrage.

    I responded with a message about how your indignation was misplaced because they WERE NOT saying ANYONE was bad for being religious. YOUR PARANOID put those words in there.

    So learn to read yourself and don't let the voices in your head make you look dumb.

    RE: the PS. well that's the point. I CANNOT *know* can I.

    But not believing in IPU isn't faith no matter how adamant at my disbelief I am.

  233. OrsonX
    Alien

    Orbiting Teapot.... Probably

    @Steven Raith: 13:33

    "Which is the whole point - to make people think; not to jab them in the fucking eye about their personal beliefs."

    - in your first few paragraphs you put the case for inclusion of 'probably' very well (no I'm not being sarcastinc), the above sentence is funny, trouble is, why pander to them? Why not put the actual message across instead of a confusing message (see next)

    @blackworx: 14:00

    "There probably isn't a god" <=> "There might be a god"

    well done! see Steven, that's the problem.

    @Adrian Jackson:14:41

    "the slogan is based on the fact that there is no proof *either way*"

    Jezus! That's the friggin problem & the bit you clearly don't get. Have you read The God Deluison? An Atheist does not have to prove ANYTHING!! How can I prove that something does not exist, consider.....

    [to paraphrase badly]

    ... if I told you that I believe there is a purple teapot full of warm tea in orbit around Jupiter. Would you believe me? What's that, no? You want me to prove it you say? I know it's a fact, I believe in it, I don't need to prove it... you need to prove to me that there isn't a teapot....

    DUMB ISN'T IT?

    The advert on the bus should have the disclaimer "Agnostic Society - not endorsed by Atheist"

  234. OrsonX

    @ Stern Fenster: 13:38

    "Erroneous Posters Everywhere"

    Er,..

    QUOTE [Anyone see him on telly declaring that "oh yes, we call it the *theory* of evolution, but that's just a convention, it's the truth" ? That's not science. The point of science is that you never get *the* truth, you just get the best truth yet.]

    WRONG.

    You are correct in saying that some things are just theories, or our best guess yet of how things work, but this is not the case with evolution, it is no longer a theory but an accepted scientific fact.

    Consider a working 2008 Ford Mondeo falling backwards in time to 1800. The best scientist would deduce that the magic carriage is not magic put is propelled somehow by the combustion of refined hydrocarbons which drive pistons, but how the SatNav works we haven't a clue....

    BUT, as the years progress the scientists would develop better and better theories of how the Magic Mondeo works, until finally they knew EXACTLY how it worked. At this stage it would no longer be a Theory of Mondeo, just Mondeo (evolution).

  235. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    I believe we all exist in a giant computer simulation

    and some lunatic sysadmin is going to reboot the system soon, so live life whilst you can mateys !

    I told that to a psychiatrist , and he said I was delusional, so he gave me some neuroleptic drugs, that soon cured the delusions. They cured them so much that I couldn't think at all straight.

    whilst I was on the hospital ward I found a load of other people had some delusional ideas, and lots of them had a God theme and the ones that wouldn't let go of these God delusions well they got filled up with Neuroleptics too. That taught the buggars.

    Anyway I decided to view my imagination just as imagination, and now think it's a laugh to imagine things I can't prove, and that I'm only delusional when I really believe in things that are unprovable. ( like your average God believer )

    Maybe we should have a national campaign of filling everyone who claims to believe in God up with neuroleptics, after all it worked for me. The horror of letting those lunatic psychiatrists fill me up with neuroleptics makes sure to not entertain delusional ideas again, and to make the correct choices about what I believe in (i.e. things I can PROVE ).

    Believing in God should be classified as a mental illness. Come this way and get filled up with neuroleptics !! They worked for me, they can work for you too ! They are a bit like when Pavlov electrocuted his dogs to change their behaviour, brutal but they work.

  236. Shakje

    @Mike

    I'd like first of all to point out that though I'm from a religious background, I'm agnostic at best, and generally hold the view that God is something that's created out of people doing kind things to other people, personifying that kindness isn't necessarily a good thing. That's just what I believe, in a VERY brief overview, although as with all things spiritual, it's rather more complex than that. All you have to know is that whilst I have a family with a strong belief in the big beardy, I defininitely do not have such a belief.

    I don't think it is so hard to fill a void with such dogma. Look at the IRA, Basque seperatists, Baader Meinhof, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in the Falklands, the war in Vietnam, and look at the core motivations behind them. 25% of terrorist acts are comitted by Islamic Fundies, the majority are comitted by people wth political perspectives. The IRA is a particularly good one, in that it operates the same way as indoctrinated religion, targetting the young and unfulfilled, and filling them for hate for something through ideology. There's a religious element, but it can't be denied that the republican cause is motivated by political means. There was always exactly the same power of motivation as in religiously motivated violence (the fact that they didn't blow THEMSELVES up can be put down to intelligence). World religions always condemn acts of violence as soon as they have the chance if their religion is named as the cause. For an even better example, just look at how easily Hitler motivated the Germans, purely based on fear of recession and scapegoating of the Jews, it had nothing to do with religion, and it's by far the biggest war we've faced. Religion isn't a motivation for violence, extreme belief is, but that can be a belief in anything.

    I honestly think Mother Theresa had good intentions, whilst her homes are terrible, is it true that a well meaning atheist who setup similar homes might not end up with the same situation? I think not.

    Condom use, Catholic church. Personally I think putting all that power in front of one man is dangerous, as was shown clearly in the Crusades. However, if you follow the tenets of Catholicism you won't have sex till you're married, so why's condom use a problem? If you break one why not break the other? Pro choice is a difficult one. I find it very difficult to just treat a human baby, at whatever stage, as just an embryo. Put it this way, I would cry if my wife had a miscarriage. What's a valid reason for abortion over adoption? I know not everyone feels the same way about things like that as me, and that's their option. If it's legal you can do it, if you're a good Catholic maybe you won't, but once again that's a Catholic thing.

    Preventable cervical cancer. If I remember rightly that's a single school, and the Catholic church (again) didn't have much to say on the matter other than "that's their choice". If the parents think it's a good idea they can take their kids to the family doctor. I don't agree with the school btw.

    Christian Aid don't have an agenda behind them either, they exist to offer aid, they just do it with the backing of church communities. Put it this way, from just googling a charity I remember hearing about when I was younger, think how many people with HIV Tearfund could provide ARVs to with 10k. That's 20 years longer to live for every person treated properly with it..

    I don't necessarily agree with the idea of using church funds to put adverts on the sides of buses (especially considering I have a fair idea of the terrible wages ministers get while on call 24/7), but if you really wanted to make a difference, or balance out the evil in the world (I say in the world, as I don't think religion is realistically behind the evils in the world), how about giving some money that could actually save someone's life?

  237. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @I believe we all exist in a giant computer simulation

    You may enjoy reading _The_Clay_Machine-Gun_ by Victor Pelevin (ISBN 0-571-20126-1). Drugs, lunatic asylums, inquiring into the nature of reality, frequent reboots, etc. Quite good. An excerpt (random page):

    'So you're telling me that it's rendered real by a certain substance of which it consists?'

    Maria thought.

    'Yeah, more or less,' he said

    'Well, that's why we're drawing Aristotle. Because before him there was no substance,' said Volodin.

    'What was there then?'

    'There was the number one heavenly automobile', said Volodin, 'compared with which your Mercedes-600 is nothing but a heap of shit. This heavenly automobile was absolutely perfect. And every single concept and image relating to automobiles that drove around the roads in ancient Greece were no more than its imperfect shadows. Projections, so to speak. Understand?'

    'Yeah. So what came next?'

    (for that you'll have to read the book)

  238. Bob. Hitchen
    Thumb Down

    Dawkins the Dickhead

    What's the point in sticking a stupid sign on a bus. If the USSR couldn't wipe out belief then what chance has this tosser got? His book is dire to boot. I don't care who believes what so long as they don't try to pressurize me to do likewise.

  239. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought Bill Gates created the universe

    Worked for six versions then had a day of rest. Unfortunately Vista turned out to be rubbish so he has to turn up on Sunday too

  240. Gregory Lorriman

    Simple to find god.

    Knowing if God exists is simple: persistently and sincerely ask, like "God if you exist please revels yourself". Faith isn't voodoo magic: it is defined as "Assent to divinely revealed truth". Ie, God proves his own existence and then we must freely agree to that proof (in belief *and* conduct). Obviously reasonable. Baptism, which you can find out about yourelves, is the mechanism of objective knowledge from God, and "baptism by desire" how non-christians are saved. The definition found in the OED "Belief without proof" was invented by modern philosophy, and is BS. Indeed a true atheist "To deny the gods/God" better fits that bogus definition as they believe something not provable. Lovely irony.

    The innocent suffer in union with Christ the pains deserved by the guilty that they may be given the chance to repent and so enter in to the joy of the infintely good God.

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