Britain's atheist bus campaign
Are anti-religion ads constructive or a waste of money?
British comedy writer Ariane Sherine wanted to raise $8,000 to put an atheist billboard on a few London buses, as a “corrective” to religious ads, said Sarah Lyall in The New York Times. “But something seized people’s imagination,” and she raised more than $200,000, with atheist writer Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Society. Now 800 buses across Britain sport the message: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
Thank goodness for that, said biologist Paul Myers in Pharyngula. The “godless signs” are a real solace to the silent masses of rationalists who are “appalled at the blind faith of their neighbors” but “reluctant to speak up” because they think they’re alone.
“Atheists are by definition free-thinkers who don’t follow the crowd,” said James Randerson in Britain’s The Guardian, but it does feel great “speaking with a single voice.” That’s one reason people gave so much. The other is the “charming” Sherine, who has been “the antithesis of the shrill, dogmatic, and shouty atheist that is so beloved of religious caricaturists.”
She “totally wussed out by tossing ‘probably’ in the slogan,” though, said Allahpundit in Hot Air. And if these “dopey ads” hoped to get a rise from religious groups, early indications are that they failed. Some Christian churches even welcome the ads, because they might encourage people to think about life's big questions. So it’s hard to say if this is a “bigger waste of time and mental energy,” or just money.