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Atheist Bus Ads--Skeel

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.

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Comments ( 6 )

Just to vindicate Pascal a bit: his wager comes in the context of chastising his opponents, who were rationalists. If effect, he says to them: "You use reason to decide everything in your life save religion. Why not be consistent?"

A nice point: I'd completely forgotten the context.

That's not quite right. The slogan includes the word 'probably' because not including it would make the assertion as dogmatic as the
religious slogans it was intended to counter. Dawkins is said to have preferred 'there is almost certainly no god' and no doubt many atheists would have preferred 'there is no god' but the slogan was Ariane Sherine's idea and she represents the more reasonable view held by most non-believers. That the inclusion of the word 'probably' would make it more acceptable to the Advertising Standards Authority is an assumption that wasn't confirmed until after the bus ads started running and some religious idiot challenged it saying there is no evidence for the statement that there is probably no god. LOL!

As for telling people not to worry, this was intended to counter the lovely message being promoted by a Christian bus ad that non-believers will fry in hell. It was that ad that started the whole thing.

Your comment about not explaining a sense of beauty, morality etc is a non-sequitur. It's not a philosophical treatise, it's a light-hearted slogan intended to counter a nasty Christian message. Nothing more, nothing less.

Pascal's wager is inherently flawed. It presumes that the one true God is the Judeo-Christian God. As Richard Dawkins points out, one could be wrong about anything. There are infinitely many divine deities one could profess to believe in.
The second presumption that Pascals wager makes is that the one virtue God , if he were to exist, values the most is being believed in. The religious fanatics will dogmatically assert this to be true, but ultimately it is unprovable. Whos to say that skepticism isn't the virtue that God would value the most if he does indeed exist?

Tell me, Sir, do you read New Testament Greek?

If you do, I commend you as one of the few Christians who can actually read the original text of your faith.

If not, then I must confess I find your nitpicking about the precise meanings – and implied meanings – of the bus ad words rather amusing.

Their message, however, is that one should try to look on the bright side in one's attitude to life. As such, a welcome slogan for these difficult, depressed times.

And a far cry from the obsession with death and suffering that typifies the Christian faith.

“ There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”

One can believe in god and enjoy one's life. I hope