My first impulse when I saw a picture of Richard Dawkins standing in front of a London bus emblazoned with an atheist ad--“ There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”—was to chuckle. My second was to skim through the article to see if he really had endorsed these words, which are an atheist response to the ads run by a Christian group.
It seemed surprising that Dawkins would say there’s “probably” rather than certainly no God. I’ve never been a big fan of Pascal’s wager (the eternal consequences of God’s existence are so great that if there’s any chance He exists, the only rational response is to believe). But the ad certainly invites this response. It turns out this wasn’t the atheists’ first choice of words. “Probably” was included because the people who handle ads for the bus system concluded the ad would be misleading otherwise.
The second half of the ad struck me as equally puzzling. Not only does the invitation to “stop worrying and enjoy your life” strike an odd chord in these difficult times. But the suggestion that taking it easy is the benefit for rejecting faith underscores, by their omission, all the things materialism finds so difficult to explain—our sense of beauty, sacrificial love, the deep conviction that there is a moral order to the universe.
The ads are fun but a little more clever, I think, than they were intended to be.