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Walter Watts
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Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« on: 2009-01-07 02:22:45 »
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There's our good buddy Richard Dawkins standing by a beautifully adorned British bus.

Hmm....
I wonder if New York City's MTA would take our money....
--Walter
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The New York Times
January 7, 2009
London Journal

Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses

By SARAH LYALL

LONDON — The advertisement on the bus was fairly mild, just a passage from the Bible and the address of a Christian Web site. But when Ariane Sherine, a comedy writer, looked on the Web site in June, she was startled to learn that she and her nonbelieving friends were headed straight to hell, to “spend all eternity in torment.”

That’s a bit extreme, she thought, as well as hard to prove. “If I wanted to run a bus ad saying ‘Beware — there is a giant lion from London Zoo on the loose!’ or ‘The “bits” in orange juice aren’t orange but plastic — don’t drink them or you’ll die!’ I think I might be asked to show my working and back up my claims,” Ms. Sherine wrote in a commentary on the Web site of The Guardian.

And then she thought, how about putting some atheist messages on the bus, as a corrective to the religious ones?

And so were planted the seeds of the Atheist Bus Campaign, an effort to disseminate a godless message to the greater public. When the organizers announced the effort in October, they said they hoped to raise a modest $8,000 or so.

But something seized people’s imagination. Supported by the scientist and author Richard Dawkins, the philosopher A. C. Grayling and the British Humanist Association, among others, the campaign raised nearly $150,000 in four days. Now it has more than $200,000, and last Wednesday it unveiled its advertisements on 800 buses across Britain.

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

Spotting one of the buses on display at a news conference in Kensington, passers-by were struck by the unusual message.

Not always positively. “I think it’s dreadful,” said Sandra Lafaire, 76, a tourist from Los Angeles, who said she believed in God and still enjoyed her life, thank you very much. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t like it in my face.”

But Sarah Hall, 28, a visitor from Australia, said she was happy to see such a robust example of freedom of speech. “Whatever floats your boat,” she said.

Inspired by the London campaign, the American Humanist Association started running bus advertisements in Washington in November, with a more muted message. “Why believe in a god?” the ads read, over a picture of a man in a Santa suit. “Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

Although Australian atheists were refused permission to place advertisements on buses saying, “Atheism: Sleep in on Sunday mornings,” the British effort has been striking in the lack of outrage it has generated. The Methodist Church, for instance, said it welcomed the campaign as a way to get people to talk about God.

Although Queen Elizabeth is the head of the Church of England, Britain is a deeply secular country with a dwindling number of regular churchgoers, and with politicians who seem to go out of their way to play down their religious beliefs.

In 2003, when an interviewer asked Tony Blair, then the prime minister, about religion, his spokesman, Alastair Campbell, interjected, snapping, “We don’t do God.” After leaving office, Mr. Blair became a Roman Catholic.

More recently, Nick Clegg, a member of Parliament and the leader of the Liberal Democrats, announced that he was an atheist. (He later downgraded himself to agnostic.)

David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, alluded to a popular radio station when he joked that his religious belief was like “the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes.”

Still, since Sept. 11, 2001, religion has played an ever more important role in public discussions, said Mr. Dawkins, the best-selling author of “The God Delusion,” with the government increasingly seeking religious viewpoints and Anglican bishops still having the automatic right to sit in the House of Lords.

“Across Britain, we are used to being bombarded by religious interests,” he said, “not just Christians, but other religions as well, who seem to think that they have got a God-given right to propagandize.”

Next week, the Atheist Bus Campaign plans to place 1,000 advertisements in the subway system, featuring enthusiastic quotations from Emily Dickinson, Albert Einstein, Douglas Adams and Katharine Hepburn.

An interesting element of the bus slogan is the word “probably,” which would seem to be more suited to an Agnostic Bus Campaign than to an atheist one. Mr. Dawkins, for one, argued that the word should not be there at all.

But the element of doubt was necessary to meet British advertising guidelines, said Tim Bleakley, managing director for sales and marketing at CBS Outdoor in London, which handles advertising for the bus system.

For religious people, advertisements saying there is no God “would have been misleading,” Mr. Bleakley said.

“So as not to fall foul of the code, you have to acknowledge that there is a gray area,” he said.

He said that potential ads were rejected all the time. “We wouldn’t, for example, run an ad for an action movie where the gun was pointing toward the commuter,” he said.

But Mr. Bleakley said he had no problem with the atheist bus ads. “We do have religious organizations that promote themselves,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t believe in religion, why wouldn’t we carry an ad that promotes the opposite view? To coin a phrase, it’s not for us to play God.”


Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #1 on: 2009-01-07 16:37:57 »
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Check out comment #3 
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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #2 on: 2009-01-07 17:39:25 »
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Quote from: Walter Watts on 2009-01-07 02:22:45   

There's our good buddy Richard Dawkins standing by a beautifully adorned British bus.

[Blunderov] I suppose you might say that our lad is having something of a busman's holiday...



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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #3 on: 2009-01-10 13:08:41 »
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[Blunderov] According to Stephen Green there is plenty of evidence for God's existence. But none exists of where he actually might be.

Hmm.

www.telegraph.co.uk

<snip>You cannot sue God... he has no known address
An American politician's attempt to sue God has been thrown out of court after a judge ruled the suit could not be served because the Almighty has an unlisted address.<snip>


http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2009/01/christian-voice-lauch-complaint-over.html

Friday, 9 January 2009

Christian Voice lauch complaint over Atheist Bus Campaign

It was no surprise to see it reported on the BBC that Stephen Green has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency over the Atheist Bus Campaign and its slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Green thinks the slogan breaks ASA guidelines, saying "Advertisements are not allowed to mislead consumers. This means that advertisers must hold evidence to prove the claims they make about their products or services before an ad appears."

Here's Stephen's logic - since you can't provide evidence for there being no God, you're misleading consumers, probably or no probably. But it wouldn't be misleading to say there is a God, as he explains:

"There is plenty of evidence for God, from peoples' personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world. But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it."

Green's complaint has elicited a fantastic response from the British Humanist Association's chief executive Hanne Stinson, who told the BBC:

"I've sought advice from some of our key people here, but I'm afraid all I've got out of them so far is peals of laughter. I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God's existence."
So they're not taking Green seriously then? Which brings me to my usual question on this matter - why is the BBC still taking him seriously?

Posted by Paul Sims at Friday, January 09, 2009   

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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #4 on: 2009-01-10 13:18:07 »
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Quote from: Blunderov on 2009-01-10 13:08:41   

Here's Stephen's logic - since you can't provide evidence for there being no God, you're misleading consumers, probably or no probably.

This kind of logic gets repeated so often that I fear many believe it is true. Sure "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence", but we have evidence of absence in the form of modus tollens:

if X then Y.
Y is false
therefore X is false

Substitute "god exists" for X and "prayer works more often than chance" for Y as one example.

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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #5 on: 2009-01-10 15:35:55 »
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While now relegated to the pit (and so not generally available), there was a protoFAQ thread put together by Metahuman (infra) from older postings by myself and Dees which contained multiple reasons why many aspects attributed to many gods - omniscience, omnipotence, etc. are incompatible with the known attributes of our Universe. In my opinion such arguments to self or nature contradiction are much stronger than deductive arguments based on statistical evidence.

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Why God cannot exist by Joe Dees & Hermit

Source: Church of Virus BBS, Cathedral, The Pit, Why God cannot exist by Joe Dees & Hermit, 2003-05-21, Metahuman
Authors: Hermit, Dees
Compiler: Metahuman
Dated: 2003-05-21

Define "God".

If it can be defined, then if the definition meets the generally accepted definition [e.g. omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, immortal] by the religious many, then it can be shown that it [God] cannot exist in our Universe.

The generally accepted definition of God is logically flawed. For instance:

1. It is impossible for both omniscience (all-knowingness) and omnipotence (all- powerfulness) to inhere in the same being, since a being that knew the future would be powerless to change it, and a being that could change the future could not know it in advance, and

2. an omnipresent being could not perceive, for one perceives from a perspective that is not identical with the object of perception, and such a viewpoint would be lacking for an omnipresent being, and

3. it is even impossible for a perfect being to think, for perfection is singular, and thought is the movement of mind between multiple concepts), but they are also violations of Occam's Razor, in that there is no necessity for the concept to explain the perceptions we have, and it is not either verifiable nor falsifiable, and therefore is an article of belief, not knowledge, and... well, there's lots more, but that should be enough.

The classical attributes of a deity are singularity ("there can only be one") omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful), omnipresence ('(S) He’s everywhere!"), omni beneficence (all-good), and omni-sentience (all-true). One can immediately see that the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence cannot simultaneously inhere in a single universe. If a deity were omniscient (knew everything), then it would know the future and thus be powerless to change it, but if it were omnipotent (all-powerful), then it could change the future, and therefore could not know it for certain. It's like the simultaneous impossibility of an irresistible force and an immoveable object; if one of these two deific properties exists (and they are considered to be the most important two), then the other logically cannot.

Furthermore, if deity were everywhere, it could perceive nothing, for perception requires a point of view, that is, a spatiotemporal perspective other than that of the perceived object from which to perceive that object. Deity being omnipresent (everywhere), there is nowhere that deity would not be, thus nothing it could perceive.

It gets even worse. Deity must be perfect; in fact, perfection is what is broken down into all those 'omni' subcategories. Thus, a perfect deity could not even think. Thought is dynamic, that is, to think, one's thought must move between conceptions. Now, thought could conceivably move in three directions; from perfect to imperfect, from imperfect to perfect, and from imperfect to imperfect (from perfect to perfect is not an alternative, perfection being singular and movement requiring distinguishable prior and posterior). But all of the three possible alternatives contain either prior or posterior imperfection or both, which are not allowably entertained in the mind of a perfect deity.

There's much, much more that I could add, but this should more than suffice to demonstrate that asserting the existence of a deity possessing the attributes that most consider essential to it deserving the deific appellation mires one in a miasmic quagmire of irretrievable contradiction, once one journeys beyond emotion-driven faith and uses one's noggin to divine (Luvzda pun!) the nonsensical and absurd consequences necessarily entailed.

Heisenberg, tells us that omniscience is not possible at the particle level. Once one obtains complete information about a particle it evaporates. So the simple fact that baryonic matter exists tells us that there is no omniscient entity in our Universe. Given that so much else is dependent on causation at the particle level, omniscience is not possible at the macro level either - unless the Universe were frozen to absolute zero. The Universe is not frozen. Thus there are no omniscient creatures in the Universe.

Given c as a constant, and given Universal expansion initially at near c, and apparently accelerating, any being which was omnipresent would take an infinite amount of time to communicate between its extremities, and would require an infinite amount of energy to do so. Given that the Universe is neither uniformly hot nor at absolute zero, we know there is no omnipresent being in our Universe. In addition, as all the energy would be used in transferring information, no energy would be available to do anything - thus omnipresence and omnipotence are mutually exclusive.

The processing of information necessitates storage. Storage of information requires at least as many storage locations as the thing being stored unless the information being stored is highly compressible. As the Universe is comprised of particles which are truly a noise source, the Universe is not compressible and Shannon tells us that it will require a minimum of twice the material in the Universe to store the information inherent in the Universe. For one instant. Thus an omniscient god would be the Universe's largest amnesiac, unable to think from one moment to the next. Such a being would never be able to do anything. In other words, this is a contradiction between omniscience and omnipotence.

As previously said, I could go on. The inventors of the gods were not philosophers, and were not scientists. They were prehistoric and historic con artists. "Wickedly good" mememakers. Mankind has moved on more than a bit since then in just about every possible way, while the "perfect" gods have remained frozen in time and left far behind. It is time to recognize that the only difference between our gods and other people's myths is perspective. And through a telescope, they are all far enough away to look identical. When we realize that, mankind will realize that Nietzsche's announcement was accurate and that it is time for some new memes. A little earlier we saw that we may already be on our way to obsolescence. Hopefully our memes will survive us. The CoV and the people in the CoV and our successors have the potential to help to form these replacement memes. A fun job indeed.
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #6 on: 2009-03-11 01:39:07 »
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The atheist bus campaign has a website:
http://www.atheistbus.org.uk/

And yesterday Mon Mar 09/09 Calgary Ab. Canada joined the ranks of atheist bus ads!

"CALGARY — Atheist ads will start running Monday in Calgary — only the second Canadian city after Toronto to accept the controversial messages on its public-transit vehicles.
Signs bearing the message, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” will appear on eight Calgary buses for four weeks.
“It’s time that we show our point of view,” said Cliff Erasmus, executive director of the Calgary Centre for Inquiry.
The campaign started in European and American cities in recent months, and made its way to this country when the Freethought Association of Canada, a national atheist organization, raised $43,000 in donations across Canada to buy similar ads."

I can't wait to get my picture with one I'll definitely post it!

Cross-posted to the Calgary forum (in the back-area)
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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #7 on: 2009-05-08 10:33:10 »
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I can only pray that we in the U.S. will be able to do the same... I love it!!!!  
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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #8 on: 2009-05-10 10:44:57 »
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Quote from: Tas6 on 2009-05-08 10:33:10   
I can only pray that we in the U.S. will be able to do the same... I love it!!!!  


relevant to that concern:

40 Million Nonbelievers in America? The Secret Is Almost Out
By Ronald Aronson, Religion Dispatches. Posted May 5, 2009.
Secularists have very quietly become one of America’s largest minorities -- how long before they use their power?
Full article: http://www.alternet.org/rights/139788/40_million_nonbelievers_in_america_the_secret_is_almost_out/

Quote:
A recent Newsweek cover—in a bid to (finally) match the celebrated 1966 “Is God Dead?” cover of Time—read, in the shape of a cross: “The Decline and Fall of Christian America.” Editor Jon Meacham’s story highlights Newsweek’s latest poll results showing that 10% fewer Americans identify as Christian today than twenty years ago. But more importantly, and mentioned only in passing, is the growth among atheists and secularists of all stripes.

According to the latest American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of more than 54,000 adults, between 2001 and 2008 the number willing to identify themselves as atheist and agnostic has gone from under 2 million to 3.6 million. Small numbers compared to the whole, of course, but most notably it’s a rise of 85% of those willing to describe themselves as living without God during the years of our most overtly religious presidency!

Even more newsworthy, when the widely-scorned labels “atheist” and “agnostic” are replaced with specifics about beliefs (“There is no such thing” as God, “There is no way to know,” or “I’m not sure,” and added to those who refused to answer) it turns out that over eighteen percent of Americans do not profess belief in a God or a higher power.
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Re:Atheists Decide to Send Their Own Message, on 800 Buses
« Reply #9 on: 2009-08-15 04:29:02 »
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Ads for atheists stir up free speech debate

[ Hermit : Pity the headline is, like many things in the body of this article, not true. ]

Signs on buses read, ‘Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone’

Source: MSNBC.com
Authors: Not Credited
Dated: 2009-08-14

A dispute about bus advertisements seeking to publicize atheist views has touched off a free speech debate after the signs were torn down — then posted again — on the sides of Des Moines city buses.

The ads, sponsored by the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers, picture white puffy clouds against a blue sky and read: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone." The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority stripped the signs after receiving complaints, then after meeting with the atheist group, reversed course and replaced the ads.

The ad campaign is part of an expanding national effort by Washington D.C.-based United Coalition for Reason, which has placed ads on buses or billboards in several cities, including Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Phoenix; New Orleans; Charleston, S.C.; Philadelphia; Kansas City, Mo.; Denver; Boulder, Colo.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Moscow, Idaho.

The issue with the ads in Des Moines was with the word God, said Elizabeth Prusetti, chief development officer for the bus agency.

"We have never allowed that word in our advertising, promoting a religion," she said. "We've never used the word God in any advertising to maintain some autonomy. We've had churches advertise, but it's been for their church and not a belief."

Lilly Kryuchkov, spokeswoman for Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers, said the group was surprised by the bus agency's decision and believed the group's right to free speech was being trampled.

"We were not trying to offend anybody," Kryuchkov said. "We were just trying to reach out to people like us who don't believe in God, and we were surprised and disappointed that DART pulled the ads."

Ad seeks to enlighten

The United Coalition of Reason, which works to raise the visibility of nontheists and to improve the way they are perceived by average Americans, said the ad campaign is fueled in part by the prevalence of mainstream discussion of religious beliefs. Fred Edwords, the spokesman for United Coalition of Reason, said the environment in the country has begun to shift, in part because of President Barack Obama's acknowledgment of nonreligious people during his inaugural address, when he said "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers."

"We're in the right moment right now where we're motivated to speak out, and we have the opportunity and enough of a level of acceptance that we're willing to do so," Edwords said. "We aren't the pariahs we once were."

Prusetti said a breakdown in communication within the bus agency led to the ads being put on 20 buses by mistake. The agency's general manager and the chairwoman of the agency's commission determined that the signs were inappropriate, she said, and that the message was not communicated to the maintenance department that puts the signs on the buses. The mix-up, not complaints from citizens, led to the removal of the ads, she said. [ Hermit : Lying for Jesus? How precious. ]

The agency has since decided its advertising policy was outdated, and is changing it to better align with other policies regarding civil rights, the state's obscenity and profanity laws and the diversity of the community, said Brad Miller, the agency's general manager. Prusetti said agency did not specifically address religion in its old advertising policy and that the decision not to have the word God appear in ads has just been continued on over the years. Prusetti said the word God will be allowed under the new advertising policy. [ Hermit : Translating the above into, we ripped of the signs due to blatant prejudice, but we would rather not be sued for it so we will pay to put the signs back. Of course The United Coalition of Reason could use the Supreme Court decision that "One Nation under God" is nothing but a "patriotic slogan" if push came to shove.  ]

"By honoring the freedoms protected through our shared civil liberties, DART ... will be in the position of displaying messages and images that may be controversial or uncomfortable to some, but legal and protected by civil rights," Miller said.

The American Civil Liberties of Iowa has asked to see the updated policy. Randall Wilson, an attorney for the ACLU of Iowa, said there have been numerous cases in which bus agencies have lost lawsuits over decisions against displaying certain types of advertising. He cited a 1994 case against the Massachusetts State Transportation Authority and a decision not to display AIDS awareness advertisements. In 2004, a court ruled against a Washington, D.C., transit agency that decided not to accept marijuana law reform ads.
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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