124 2 mins 13 yrs

Now here is an interesting one.

“A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with an atheist slogan proclaiming “There’s probably no God”. Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with “shock” and “horror” at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest. First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Mr Heather does not have to drive the buses.”

I am conflicted on this! For starters, I don’t think the Bus company has done anything wrong and if anything are acting as a  model of corporate understanding. Second, whilst I fully understand Mr Heather’s view – being a poor Christian myself – I think he is wrong! My reason is that it sets a precedent where everytime any employee sees any advertisement they don’t like, they can immediately object and expect to be accommodated. That’s commerically wrong. No, Mr Heather is employed to drive buses and if he doesn’t like the issues this brings he should look for other employment.  The campaign to insult Christians, which is behind this ad campaign, is pathetic and I just dismiss it as such. I am sure God Almighty is a bit bigger and stronger than to take notice of the scribbles of an Ad Agency on the side of a bus! Your thoughts?

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124 thoughts on “A ROUTE TO HEAVEN OR HELL?

  1. The thing is, David, that in the UK it is illegal to religiously harrass an employee. Forcing a Bus Driver to drive a Bus with that Ad on it could be seen as Religious Harrassment.

  2. Seamus

    Of course it isn’t. It is a commercially paid for advert that’s all, not personally directed at the driver of a specific bus. David is right, it is ridiculous and completely unjustified for drivers to be allowed to pick and choose which buses they drive according to their personal views on whatever adverts are being displayed. Also, to regard this advert as an insult to Christians is as accurate as suggesting that the promotion of faith by church groups is an insult to atheists.

  3. "Also, to regard this advert as an insult to Christians is as accurate as suggesting that the promotion of faith by church groups is an insult to atheists."

    It is reasons like this that Religion is kept out of the workplace. This bus is this man’s workplace and thus Religion needs to be kept out of it. I would be saying it as well if it was an advert from Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus or anyother Religion.

  4. Next thing we hear will be all the bloody muslims claiming that as their bloody allah has been offended, they are gonna’ call a Fatwa down upon the bus company, the ad. agency, the Atheist society who thought up the slogan, and just about everyone else because we let this bunch of crazies speak their minds!

  5. The bus company should be free to sell advertising as it sees fit. I’ve seen religious ads before, why not atheist or agnostic organizations?

    So long as he doesn’t have to drive a bus with a lawyer’s ad on it. Now that would be cruel and degrading.

  6. I think he’ll probably end up having to drive one anyway, which he has agreed to do if neccessary. But quite frankly, I think he’s well within his rights of conscience to say ‘I’m not happy about being used to promote that’. I’d say the same if it was an atheist complaining about driving a bus with a religious ad on it.

    This is what free society is all about – being allowed to say you aren’t happy to go along with something without complaint. It’s not like he’s calling for anyone to be killed because he’s offended, is it? I kind of think that a gently presented protest of conscience is far more preferable than either lock-step conformity or threats of violence.

  7. Mahons,

    "I’ve seen religious ads before, why not atheist or agnostic organizations?"

    Exactly. Religious ads are common here also.

    However the idea that every expression of a view different to ones own constitutes an ‘insult’ is an incredibly intolerant reaction and one that is very peculiar to religion. Presumably I should by the same token take offence at all the religious ads I see on my commute.

    It’s also rather odd for David to think that the ad is somehow specifically insulting Christians only, since there are many other outfits promoting that God stuff.

  8. Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with "shock" and "horror" at the message …

    Well, I doubt that.

    Libbie –

    Yes, he’s entitled to ask not to drive that bus. His employer is entitled to kick his arse onto it.

  9. Come to think of it, Christians ought to be delighted with the ad, one which betrays a lack of certainty of behalf of the promoters. I have no doubt that more atheists will be moved to think about the matter than Christians.

  10. "Come to think of it, Christians ought to be delighted with the ad, one which betrays a lack of certainty of behalf of the promoters."

    Such arrogance. Where do you see the word Christian in that slogan?

    It says nothing at all about how certain they are about your god’s non-existence. It may be Zeus they don’t rule out.

  11. I think this is a classic.

    A christian organisation put money into this ad campaign alongside the atheists. As the christian spokesman (correctly) noted "the biggest issue facing religion is apathy".

    And of course it has paid off in not only firing up the discussion points as they intended but creating all the silly bones of contention that will further promote the discussion – such as the one in the post.

    Interesting too that the ASA made them stick the word ‘probably’ in their claim. LOL

  12. Oh, as a Christian, I’m not offended by the sign. I think it’s inadvertantly amusing, and has actually been a tremendously well-used opportunity by many Christians I know. The ‘probably’ does render it somewhat ineffective for the purpose intended. I should imagine Dawkins and co are ‘probably’ quite disappointed by the lack of frothy ranting about it. With the exception of Stephen Green, who can be relied upon to be frothy about almost anything.*sigh*

    And yes, the employer does have the right to tell him to get on with it (which I believe he has agreed to anyway).

  13. Quite a lot of detail there ! Take me too long to read and even longer to digest πŸ™‚

    Very convincing indeed ! But it shows that you do think about such things. Keep at it.

    Very impressive.

  14. Alison,

    "A christian organisation put money into this ad campaign alongside the atheists"

    Was it the Anglicans? Figures. lol

  15. Alison,

    "Interesting too that the ASA made them stick the word ‘probably’ in their claim."

    I wondered if that was the case…is that true?

    I’ve never seen a religious slogan similarly caveated, e.g. ‘Jesus may have said…’…

  16. ‘The campaign to insult Christians’

    There probably is no God is what Dawkins et al. would say. If you read his book, he says it al the time! One cannot say, for definite, that there is no Thor, Zeus either. One cannot say that David is not the second coming of Christ either! He is as likely to be as the Christian is to be correct.

    ‘The campaign to insult Christians’

    Really, it seems pretty benign to me. Christians say that atheists, Gays, Muslims, Jews (and so on so on) are going to spend an eternal agony in hell. And they say that they are certain about it.

    All we are saying is that, ‘you might be wrong, don’t worry about it!’

    Christians on the other hand say this about atheists:
    Mark 3:29 "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

    Now, honestly, using your rationality and logic, which is more insulting?

  17. ‘I’ve never seen a religious slogan similarly caveated, e.g. ‘Jesus may have said…’

    Thats because atheism is not a religion; it is the lack of religion.

    A religious person choses to be a Christian and they always want to be a Christian.

    An atheist does not chose to be an atheist. Many would much prefer to be Christians.

    I could not chose to be religious even if i wanted too. (I would quite like Buddhism to be true) Why? because my rationality and logic tells me that it is false. Therefore, i cannot lie to myself and believe.

  18. GUBA,

    "Thats because atheism is not a religion; it is the lack of religion"

    Yes I know but that’s not the point I was making. If atheists are forced to add ‘probably’ to such an ad (if they were), then the same rule should apply to any ad including a religious one.

    However if that standard were applied then religious ads would look very different. Even ‘Jesus probably died for your sins’ wouldn’t meet the same standard. For that matter even ‘possibly’ would be stretching it.

    "(I would quite like Buddhism to be true) Why? because my rationality and logic tells me that it is false. "

    I think there are variants of Buddishm that don’t have any supernatural element, it’s not the usual sky god thing.

  19. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember tha name of the Lord our God" Psalms 20:7. Nothing there about buses, so I figure the Big Guy don’t mind.

    Now if you want to put that same ad on your Ark, you might be tempting fate.

  20. Most Buddhists, as far as i know, would be technically agnostic. They still, however, believe in reincarnation and the other tenets, which are supernatural.

    I doubt atheists were forced to put in probably, though ‘almost certainly’ may be better.

    Religion depends on certainty and the the suppression of reason. Puting ‘probably’ into a Jesus slogan is dangerous as it may encourage Christians to think about. People who thought about Christianity were burned for much of its history and still would be were it not for the deists and atheists of the revolutions. (Why did the Puritans burn Quakers? I mean, come on!)

  21. My understanding is that the Advertising Standards Aithority did make them insert the word probably as claiming there is no God is not a provable statement and is against the rules odf public advertising, which makes it surprising that faith groups are allowed to promote their beliefs without ambivalence .

  22. Demonstrating your objection to an advert by ensuring that it gets publicity in the national press seems somewhat self defeating.

  23. Colm,

    "My understanding is that the Advertising Standards Aithority did make them insert the word probably as claiming there is no God is not a provable statement and is against the rules odf public advertising"

    I’m not sure they were. Reading the background to this (here), it seems they chose to use the word ‘probably’, and then only as it worked in the Carlsberg ad (‘probably the best lager’).

    The religious adverts get away with not showing their work because (e.g.) they quote from the Bible. So if the atheists behind this had quoted ‘there is no god’ from somewhere they would probably have got away with that. In any case it’s not up to anyone to prove a negative, somebody would have had to prove the claim false (and good luck with that).

  24. Frank

    I’m only going by the fact that you are advised against advertising anything stating it is categoric unless you have the fact to back up your claim – so advertisers tend to use ‘may’ ‘could’ ‘probably’.

    Calsbery cannot claim their lager is the best in the world. It was a clever campaign that hints at it without stating it as fact.

  25. Alison,

    Yes I understand. But it’s a bit like saying you can’t run an ad that states there is no such thing as invisible unicorns without qualifying it. Anyone who objects should be the one to have to back it up with some facts.

    Plus I’m pretty sure there are some religious ads that aren’t just quotes from the Bible etc.

  26. Mahons, getting around London generally requires the suppression of reason, especially on a bike.

  27. Frank – same in New York. I don’t know how anyone rides here in Manhattan. And not only is biking dangerous, but so I bikers.

  28. NY is biker – hostile and dangerous as respects commuting from most places

    There are lovely bike areas within the city, but Manhattan is very tough as are many parts of the other boroughs

    The worst thing about Manhattan- no good place to securely stow a bike.

    As an occasional biker, I am very jealous of what I see in Amsterdam, Munich, or even Japan as respects bike friendliness.

  29. Frank

    The Israelis have been using invisble unicorns to carry out intelligence gathering ops for decades now. C’mon. Pick a better analogy πŸ˜‰

  30. London improved a lot for bikes since the congestion charge, maybe coincidentally but that’s how it looked to me. I had a bike which stood in the hallway for years (the only trip it had made was down the road from the bike shop 200 yards up the road).

    But when the CC came in it seemed to me the cyclists looked a lot less terrified and so I started using it. Nowadays most of my route is cycle lanes and side streets and there are only a few parts of it that involve the wacky races with the bendy buses and black cabs. And that covers about 6 pages of the A-Z.

  31. But when the CC came in it seemed to me the cyclists looked a lot less terrified and so I started using it.

    That’s because you all travel in giant herds now. You’ll be featured in the next BBC edition of ‘Swarm’. And traffic lights and crossings mean nothing either you menace!

  32. getting around London generally requires the suppression of reason, especially on a bike.

    Agreed. Its really best not to think about it too long. While Belfast isnt the worst, the traffic can still be very thick and on dark winter nights even more so. I remember once pondering it one day when I got home from work, and honestly didnt get back on the bike for a month. I had competely lost my bottle. I had dwelled too long on the fact that I spent my whole time in the middle of two lanes of moving traffic with less than a foot gap either side, and wing mirrors inches from the bars. I also reflected on the few near misses I had had. One of which would have been fatal, without a doubt, had I not cleared the car-door (which I did with millimeters to spare). A big lorry came roaring past just as i cleared the door.

    It was all enough to put me on the bus for weeks. Now I dont have any such troubles. Im defacto barred from cycling long term till the spine gets better and core strength improves.

  33. Really scary.

    I think that you could easily triple the number of bike commuters in lots of places if the cities were made bike friendly.

    Which in a big city should mean protected bike lanes, which is way easier said than done.

  34. I accept the burdens of enlightening the masses.

    I’m used to it.

    ASA regulations dictate that certainty must be provable. Therefore, "There is no God" would be declared verboten because it’s not provable.

    But that’s irrelevent to this campaign.

    The woman who created and promoted it was born and raised a Christian but now regards herself an atheist – justabout. She doesn’t know for certain that there is no God but thinks it’s ‘probably’ the case.

    This campaign reflects that view only. The business about the ASA was put about after the campaign was launched but isn’t relevent.

  35. The campaign to insult Christians, which is behind this ad campaign..

    No. The slogan refers to the non-existence of god in general. That applies to all superstitions religions, including the islamists who attacked the twin towers on 9/11 in the name of their particular sky-god fantasy.

  36. I’d say the terrorists who acted on 9/11 in the name of Islam where in fact acting counter to Islam as most Muslims in the US have indicated.

  37. Frank

    "It’s also rather odd for David to think that the ad is somehow specifically insulting Christians only, since there are many other outfits promoting that God stuff."
    I don’t think that it was about insulting anyone but if I did I would be more inclined to think that Christianity was it’s target than other faiths, even if just because I think that that is the relgion that most of those involved would have been rebelling against.

    ""Come to think of it, Christians ought to be delighted with the ad, one which betrays a lack of certainty of behalf of the promoters."

    Such arrogance. Where do you see the word Christian in that slogan?

    It says nothing at all about how certain they are about your god’s non-existence. It may be Zeus they don’t rule out."

    tut tut Frank, Why shouldn’t Chritians be delighted about an atheist add that "betrays a lack of certainty" about the existance of God as opposed to one, which might be expected that denies Him as a possibility?

  38. Mahons

    Maybe so, but I can recall the cheering among the Paestinians at the news of the twin towers. The islamic jihadists have considerable support, even if they are a minority.

    Slightly off topic, here is an interesting reflection on the Salman Rushdie affair and the stifling effect of Khomeni’s fatwa, 20 years on.

    "The Satanic Verses was published on 26 September 1988 and, after pressure from the Janata party, banned in India by Rajiv Gandhi’s government nine days later. Flushed with this success, Indians working for the Saudi-financed Islamic Foundation of Leicester suggested trying to get the book banned in Britain. According to Malise Ruthven, author of A Satanic Affair, the campaign was then orchestrated by Jamaat-i-Islami, the party founded in Pakistan by Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi. A journalist-cum-theologian, Maududi preached that "for the entire human race, there is only one way of life which is Right in the eyes of God and that is al-Islam".

    Nevertheless it was the Saudis who funded the United Kingdom Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, the protest body set up to maximise pressure on The Satanic Verses. It featured Islamists like Iqbal Sacranie, the future head of the Muslim Council of Britain. (Sacranie famously opined that "death, perhaps, is a bit too easy" for Rushdie. He was later knighted for services to community relations.) And it was the Saudi clerics who were planning a trial of Rushdie in absentia.

    In keeping with most Muslim countries, Iran did not ban The Satanic Verses. It was even reviewed in an Iranian newspaper. But noticing the protests in India and Britain, a delegation of mullahs from the holy city of Qum read a section of the book to Khomeini, including the part featuring a mad imam in exile, which was an obvious caricature of Khomeini. As one British diplomat in Iran said: "It was designed to send the old boy incandescent." So it was that the Iranians delivered the fatwa, thus winning the competition to be the greatest haters of Rushdie, and therefore the West, and all that entailed…."

    Well worth a read.

  39. I heard some woman being interviewed about this and as I recall she was purporting to speak for those behind it. She said that they wanted to be more emphatic about it but that this was the compromise with TS (or I think it was TS).

    I can well understand why the driver would be upset/uncomfortable with driving it and I think that it is eminently sensible of his emplyers to try and organise things so that he doesn’t have to.

  40. Re the point about faith and religion, atheism and theism and logic and rationality.

    Theism and atheism are equally faiths and are neither religions, although theism is more likely to have religions associated with it but you can have theist faith and no religion.

    Theism and atheism have anything much to do with either reason and logic.

  41. Aileen,

    "Why shouldn’t Chritians be delighted about an atheist add that "betrays a lack of certainty" about the existance of God as opposed to one, which might be expected that denies Him as a possibility?"

    Because the statement is about all gods, not just theirs.

    One can be certain god A doesn’t exist and leave open the possibility of god B. It would still be true to say there probably isn’t a god. One might be absolutely certain there is no Yahweh but open to the possibility of Aphrodite.

    What that statement means (as written) in relation to the Christian god, is that it is improbable at best, not at least.

    Of course whoever wrote it may have meant something else and I am merely reading what they wrote. πŸ™‚

    (Personally I like to see the sign (just because there was a time people were not allowed express that view), but the ‘so stop worrying’ part is a bit irritating. A lot of people seeing that sign around london these days are probably homeless and sleeping rough, or just got sacked.)

  42. I cannot really understand his problem. It is an innocuous sign; were i his employer i would question his state of mind. He is probably a terribly unhappy and unhappy man, if he is reacting in this way.

    Were i a bus driver, and a sign saying, ‘there probably is a God, try and love one another’, i would not care in the least. I do not know any atheist who would.

  43. ‘a terribly unhappy and unhappy man’! That means, of course, that he is a terribly, terribly unhappy man.

  44. Pete

    Thanks for the link.

    Hitchens on top form, and the enticing picture of Kate Winslet was a bonus.

  45. Frank

    It still allows for doubt which is one step away from pure atheism which is definite.

    "There is probably no God". Still allows for the existance of God. Those who beleive in multiple Gods can also celebrate this.

  46. Aileen,

    "It still allows for doubt which is one step away from pure atheism which is definite. "

    Not really. Many atheists are simply talking about a particular religion or the monotheistic religions, as well as a long list of stuff nobody believes in any more, when they say there is no god. They don’t give it any more credence than a chain letter…which it is very similar to (if you don’t believe it and pass it on, then something bad will happen).

    They might still allow the possibility of something like Einstein’s god, which is a different animal entirely.

    In any case I never understand the common believer’s attitude that as long as you allowed for the possibility of some nonsense being true, even if it wasn’t their preferred brand, that was still better than dismissing all such nonsense. It must be some kind of defense mechanism of religion, as it means the spell isn’t broken if even people who don’t believe it act like it is somehow plausible.

  47. Of course we can never be 100% certain that there is no god. Which is why the bus advert says "probably". It doesn’t state a probability on the advert, but let me share mine here: 99.99%. Sorry, make that 100%.

  48. Frank

    What we expect from atheism is a definite statement about the non existance of God, so changing this to a probability allows for the possibility of the existance of God, THE God (i.e one and only), which their accpeted stance absolutely doesn’t.

  49. What we expect from atheism is a definite statement about the non existance of God

    Well Aileen, you just got mine πŸ™‚

  50. Aileen,

    "What we expect from atheism is a definite statement about the non existance of God, so changing this to a probability allows for the possibility of the existance of God, THE God (i.e one and only),"

    And you would get that if you asked them about the god of the bible, say. You would certainly would from me.

    There are lots of different versions of atheism though. However when atheists say there is no god, they generally don’t mean the one and only they mean a long list of them, because the number of gods people have dreamt up over the ages is more than one.

    And as Peter points out the probability meant is exceptionally small. According to QM, there is some possibility that a statue could start waving its arm and doing a dance from the rocky horror show. It is, however very improbable, for a rather large value of very. It could in fact be rounded to 0% chance of that for practical purposes, which is what atheists (and even agnostics) generally do in practice when it comes to god. And by all outward appearance, so do most Christians, come to that.

    Basically we have the same view of gods as you probably have of the proposal that there are invisible pink unicorns prancing in the walls of your house. It’s probably not true, is it.

  51. Frank

    That’s not really relevant as we are discussing the slogan on the bus and not your or Peter’s atheism. The point that I am making is that that the comment does allow for the possibility of the existance of God. The fact that I would agree that it is not intended to be very big doesn’t alter that.

    I don’t have a problem with either you or Peter being atheists. It doesn’t affect my theism :o)

    BTW, who told you about my housepets? πŸ˜‰

  52. Aileen,

    "The point that I am making is that that the comment does allow for the possibility of the existance of God. "

    Yes, well by all accounts you have to allow for the possibility or he might get Thor.

  53. Aileen, apparently the ASA wouldn’t allow you to say God is. You’d have to back it up with some evidence – and let’s face it there isn’t enough evidence in the Bible to convict the Romans of murder never mind the rest.

  54. Aileen –

    They don’t mean it. Deep down, deep deep down, no person is an atheist, humans just cannot be that way. Some simply play at it to show off.

    Look, here’s the fella O’Dwyer, "There are lots of different versions of atheism though."

    See? All over the shop. None of’em are absolutists, no way never no how. They all leave that skinny gap of hopeful redemption.

  55. None of’em are absolutists..

    Oh yeah? Try me. I was an unbeliever aged 6. I remember the teacher talking about how god made the world and I was bursting to ask "but who made god then?" but of course I didn’t dare. Probably my Asbergers wasn’t as avanced then.

  56. Aileen

    I have to disagree with you about the ‘uncomfortableness’ you say the driver must feel. Why. As long as he is strong in his faith he should view the advert as nothing more than an exersize in free speech which he did not choose being promoted on a vehicle which he does not own. His job is to safely drive passengers from A to B. The adverts on the side of the bus are irrelevent.

  57. Frank

    I’m sure I could find some ordinace that would trumph that :o)

    LOL Pete Actually I believe that too.

    I don’t totally undertand the different versions of atheism. Surely they all beleive that there is no God anything else isn’t athesism. It’s not like being an theist as that lends itself to differences in the nature of that God. Whereas there can’t really be differences in the nature of the nonexistance of God, can there? Or degrees of non existance.

    Like vegatarians who eat fish. They aren’t vegetarians then.

  58. Pete,

    "They don’t mean it."

    Cancel your subscription to the psychic friends network. You really cannot read minds.

    Neither can I, but I bet I get closer than you: You’re projecting. You say you are a Christian and believe in God, but you don’t mean it. Indeed as I recall you informed us that you go through the motions for tradition’s sake.

    "Deep down, deep deep down, no person is an atheist, humans just cannot be that way."

    Don’t follow this link. It proves you are wrong.

    "Look, here’s the fella O’Dwyer, "There are lots of different versions of atheism though.""

    Impressive rebuttal.

  59. Colm

    "Aileen

    I have to disagree with you about the ‘uncomfortableness’ you say the driver must feel. Why. As long as he is strong in his faith he should view the advert as nothing more than an exersize in free speech which he did not choose being promoted on a vehicle which he does not own. His job is to safely drive passengers from A to B. The adverts on the side of the bus are irrelevent."

    I am assuming that he is upset/uncomfortable about it or he would not have objected.

    I’m not saying that every Christian driver must feel the same.

    Why should he view the advert the way you suggest? I am strong in my belief that cancer is not nice. I wouldn’t want to drive a bus (mind you I wouldn’t want to drive one anyway :o) ) that bore the legend "cancer is probably ok".

    The fact that it is not his bus etc does not mean that he hasn’t a legitiamate concern about it.

  60. Peter –

    I know you have your doubts, we all do.

    Aileen –

    I don’t totally undertand the different versions of atheism.

    You’re doing better than me then. I didn’t know there was more than one version.

    Frank O’Dwyer –

    Just to be clear, I’m agnostic. I haven’t a clue. Far greater minds than mine have grappled with this question without success. It’s pointless me even thinking of arriving at any certainty.

    However, I am a Christian and think we all ought to be Christians – to acknowledge who we are, to honour our Christian ancestors, to accept our Christian heritage and because it’s our only way of perpetuating our civilisation.

  61. Aileen

    Thanks. I believe Mozart was so afflicted.

    Actually I don’t believe I have the syndrome in any significant way. But I do have a brutally logical streak which can be a real pain to others, and even to me sometimes. That’s probably why I’ve been a convinced atheist since my early twenties. If there’s no evidence …

  62. Frank that link doesn’t actually prove Pete wrong as he is talking about "deep down",;o)

    It is an interesting story though. I remember a radio programme about it.

  63. to accept our Christian heritage and because it’s our only way of perpetuating our civilisation.

    Of course I accept it, as does Richard Dawkins. And if it comes to a choice between our society and the caliphate, I know which side I’m on, even if the god bit is a crock.

  64. Peter

    Mozart, Einstein etc etc etc. I’m not full blown Aspergers, just strong traits (my social skills are to "highly sophisticated" for the full deal. (Dyspraxia and ADD are enough to be going on with).

    Logic is my strong suit too but that has little to do with theism or atheism. I don’t see that lack of evidence for means non existance of.

  65. Just got back from a trip. Have I missed anything?

    GUBA,

    Good to see you fighting the good fight. Your posts are a joy to read.

    Just this:

    "A religious person choses to be a Christian and they always want to be a Christian. An atheist does not chose to be an atheist. Many would much prefer to be Christians."

    I take issue with this. I didn’t choose to be a Christian. My parents made that choice for me, as do millions of Christian parents for their own offspring.

    An infernal cheek of course. Many of us involuntary Christians rejected this imposed faith when we were old enough to know better. I didn’t go as far as you or Frank though. I do believe in a god. Can’t abide religion, however, with the possible exception of Buddhism. Religion is responsible for so much perversion in the world.

  66. >>I am a Christian and think we all ought to be Christians – to acknowledge who we are, to honour our Christian ancestors, to accept our Christian heritage and because it’s our only way of perpetuating our civilisation.<<

    Once a religion is based only on social or political needs, it will fall as quickly as the Tower of Babel.

    "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all creatures the most to be pitied."

    Paul to Corinthians

  67. "we are of all creatures the most to be pitied."

    Who’s going to be pitying us, the salamanders? That quote makes little sense.

  68. Pete,

    "I didn’t know there was more than one version"

    Some people lump in agnosticism and atheism…both are lack of belief in gods. Some people talk about weak atheism (agnosticism) and strong (positive belief that there is no god). There are different types of agnosticism…some people say they don’t know, some say it is impossible to know. There are many philosophy books on the topic, or you could read this, which is a nice short summary.

    Anyway I suppose it’s reassuring for some to believe that it is impossible to be an atheist – though one wonders why those who wrote the Bible and Koran etc went to such trouble to describe their grisly fate at some length then. Perhaps God made a mistake?

    Not only that but it would appear all those people put to death for disbelief, as the good book instructs, were entirely innocent.

    "However, I am a Christian and think we all ought to be Christians – to acknowledge who we are, to honour our Christian ancestors, to accept our Christian heritage and because it’s our only way of perpetuating our civilisation."

    I don’t think pretending to believe something honors anybody, and it’s not really an option anyway. Plus the idea that it is the only way to perpetuate civilisation, or even a way to do so, is clearly false. And if you could ask your atheist ancestors that were put to death by your christian ones, they’d probably agree.

  69. Frank

    Pete may not agree but I would say he is an Anglican not a strict Christian, but with a particular pride in the cultural and intellectual development of the English nation through post-enlightenment Christianity and genuine liberalism.

  70. Frank O’Dwyer –

    All silliness. I picked a sentence at random which told me that if God exists we must be able to see physical manifestations of it.

    Not really.

    Anyway, a belief in God is no more outrageous than a belief, say, in the Big Bang. Now that is daft.

  71. Frank

    "Some people lump in agnosticism and atheism…both are lack of belief in gods. Some people talk about weak atheism (agnosticism) and strong (positive belief that there is no god)."
    Yeah but they’re just wrong :o)

    "There are different types of agnosticism…some people say they don’t know, some say it is impossible to know. There are many philosophy books on the topic, or you could read this, which is a nice short summary."

    Surely not surely all the isms are positive beliefs.

    "Anyway I suppose it’s reassuring for some to believe that it is impossible to be an atheist – though one wonders why those who wrote the Bible and Koran etc went to such trouble to describe their grisly fate at some length then. Perhaps God made a mistake?"

    Oh I think that God was misquoted ;o)

  72. Pete,

    "All silliness. I picked a sentence at random which told me that if God exists we must be able to see physical manifestations of it.

    Not really."

    Indeed not really, this is what it says: If God interacts with our universe in any way, the effects of his interaction must have some physical manifestation. Hence his interaction with our universe must be in principle detectable.

    Clearly you pay as much attention to your Christianity as you did to that, as Christians do have a similar theory.

  73. For me its the greatest deception man has ever conceived and when deception becomes such a central part of society or civilisation it allows for any amount of further deception. (See: Planet Earth)

    God? Count me out. That wont stop me pondering the notion for a lifetime though.

  74. Daytripper

    Is that pondering God or the absence of same?

    If the latter,how much is there to ponder?

    I didn’t read Dawkins but the bits that I couldn’t help picking up from others’ comments seem to be pondering others faith and the consequences of that.

    Or are you admiting to a wee bit of doubt there. An atheist wrestling with his faith perhaps? ;o)

  75. The only thing all humans can truely be is agnostic. There is an enormous mind bloggling universe out of a size we can barely comprehend and which has existed for a time span of mind bending length. We almost certainly have but the tiniest fraction of knowledge of how it all came about and the force that created it. There is nothing wrong with following a belief in God as a way of ordering our lives and spiritual needs but no human being can ever say with certainty that they KNOW of the existence of God.

  76. Colm,

    "no human being can ever say with certainty that they KNOW of the existence of God."

    Well they can, just as some people say with certainty that they know they are Napoleon. Or on a more mundane level anyone can say with certainty that they saw something even when it is known to be an optical illusion.

    People also report that they first will their arm to move, and then it starts moving. But experiments show it happens the other way around, and the motor neurons start firing before the conscious intent to move your arm is reported.

    People know with certainty a lot of things that aren’t true. πŸ™‚

  77. Aileen/Frank

    Ok yes of course people can say they KNOW of the existence of God , just as I could claim to KNOW that I am the most intelligent, witty, erudite, knowledgable, factual, best looking sexiest and most popular commenter on ATW, but of course only one of those claims can be proven πŸ˜‰

  78. LOL Frank πŸ™‚

    Colm

    Defintition of know – verb (past knew; past part. known) 1 have knowledge of through observation, inquiry, or information. 2 be absolutely sure of something. 3 be familiar or friendly with. 4 have a good command of (a subject or language). 5 have personal experience of. 6 (usu. be known as) regard as having a specified characteristic or title: the boss was universally known as β€˜Sir’. 7 archaic have sexual intercourse with.

    I think that within that range, it is legitiamte for people to say that they know that God exists and/or know God.

    People experience a connection with something and that something, they call God.

  79. On the point of the bus ad. I just hope that they don’t start putting it on planes. I wouldn’t want it on the tubes either.

    I personnally hope I don’t have to take one of these buses either. On the other hand I’ll probably be ok as I doubt if I would notice it. :o)

  80. Aileen

    Why on earth should these adverts bother you. What on earth is wrong with alternative expressions of opinion on the subject of belief in god. I cannot understand why you should feel uncomfortable travelling on a bus just because of the advert on the side.

  81. Colm

    I don’t like flying. I don’t want any unplesant messages or images in my awareness when I do. The applies to a lesser extend on other modes of travel.

    "What on earth is wrong with alternative expressions of opinion on the subject of belief in god."

    Nothing at all nut that doesn’t mean that I want to travel with them.

    On a slightly similar note although I would contrinute to a collection for cancer care, I would never wear a badge or button about it. Partly because I only wear charity symbols that are a mork of respect or acknowlegdement of debt (e.g. poppy) or "dyspraxia foundation" badge as that is about awareness. – but also because I don’t want to wear the word cancer.

  82. Aileen

    But travelling on a bus is not an endorsement of or even an involvement in whatever is being advertised on it. It is not the same as choosing to personally wear a badge.

    Frank’s comment was no doubt tongue-in-cheek but is it the case though that on some supersticious level you feel that somehow that advert might annoy ‘him upstairs ‘ and somehow make the transport less safe.

  83. Colm

    "But travelling on a bus is not an endorsement of or even an involvement in whatever is being advertised on it. It is not the same as choosing to personally wear a badge. "

    You misunderstand. I have no problem endorsing a cancer charity. I just don’t want to wear the word charity. It has nothing to do with endorsement.

    "Frank’s comment was no doubt tongue-in-cheek but is it the case though that on some supersticious level you feel that somehow that advert might annoy ‘him upstairs ‘ and somehow make the transport less safe."

    nope not at all. I don’t have any belief AT ALL in a Him upstairs that gets "annoyed". I just want plesant positive imagies and influences especially when involved in something I don’t like.

  84. Ah but my clinching argument is that in order to avoid seeing the unpleasant images the best place to be is ON THE BUS πŸ™‚

  85. I already said I’d probably be ok re the bus as I’d proabably not notice it. :o)

    But if I did, I’s still be aware that it was following me!! ;o)

  86. Followimg you ?

    Sounds like it could be one of those trashy horror B movies. THE ADVERT FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. or ZOMBIE FLESH EATING POSTERS

    It looked just like a harmless roll of paper on the side of the bus, but it was more than that. It had a life of it’s own and innocent young Aileen could not escape it. Wherever she went that evil poster followed her, haunted her tormented her. Just like Jack Nicholson in the Shining it even came straight through Aileen’s front door….

  87. We had a poster at work re health and safety. There had been a series of posters denoting inhuries.

    One in particular used to confront me on the way back to the office after a nose powder. It was a very very bloody toe. I didn’t want to have to look at it so I got a postit and covered over just the bloody bit. It use to disappear and I used to replace it. I then put a note on it saying that I opjected to haveing to look at in and signed it. This disappeared as well so I took it down (I had already mentioned it to my boss and he was supporive).

    I got a call from someone demanding that I put it up again. I asked for the name of his boss and I complained against the poster and the way it had been handled by his member of staff. There was no subsequent attempt to put the poster back up.

  88. Frank

    Frank as an advert, I find the notion of the non existance of God unplesant. It is to me a message of doom.

    That is not the real point I am arguing though. My right to consider it so is.

  89. Aileen, no problem, I was just curious…it doesn’t seem like a message of doom at all. Quotes from the Bible on the other hand.. πŸ™‚

  90. Frank

    It would be such an involved explanation

    I don’t disagree with your comment about quotes from the bible. There are a lot that I also wouldn’t want to see on the side of a plane as I entered;p)

  91. "One in particular used to confront me on the way back to the office "

    Oh no it’s those Zombie posters chasing Aileen again. Have we reached the part in the movie where you trip over in the forest and scream as the Billboard gets closer ?

  92. LOL Colm

    Your 1:43 has settled tonight’s nightmare. But then maybe I shouldn’t be sleeping. I should be on duty here satisfying the curiosity of other posters or learning more about the Isreal Hamas conflict to make a judgement about it. Although actually I am expected to make a judegement about it without adequate knowledge of it.

  93. Aileen

    Since when has lack of knowledge prevented most commenters (myself included) from sticking their tupence worth of views on ATW ?

  94. Colm

    Oh I through in my views on topics that I know little about but they tend to be on specific elements that I have cordoned off that I can extropolate to something more general.

  95. Colm: Agnosticism is not the only position we can really take. We are all atheists with respect to Thor and Odin and the giant teapot circling the sun.

    The idea of a ‘God’ is very new in human history, we went for most of our existence without believing in one, so we know that it is a valid position to take.

  96. Gubu,

    "The idea of a ‘God’ is very new in human history, we went for most of our existence without believing in one, so we know that it is a valid position to take."

    I agreed with your first paragraph, however this is a pretty poor argument…first, we went for most of our existence without accepting or even knowing about relativity and quantum mechanics etc. Second, I’m not sure it’s even true.

  97. Frank, for most of our history, humans were animist. Animism is the religion practiced by most pre-agricultural tribal societes today. Animists do not believe in gods as we know them. They, rather, believe in a spirit or force within every thing. This spirit was in no way a god. Shinto is quite animist in nature.

    Amazingly, it appears that certain primates have developed a crude form of <A>HREF="http://www.science-spirit.org/article_detail.php?article_id=229">religion</A&gt;

    Our concept of Gods developed with agriculture. Agriculture led to the idea of private property and hierarchy. Tribal societies have no concept of private property or kings. They are egalitarian, anarchist.

    It was with the development of agriculture, that a concept of a god more powerful than man and capable or ruling over him developed.

    The idea of Gods being men is an urban phenomena. The Greeks and Romans were not farmers, so their connection with the natural ‘gods’ was severed. The Celts, when invading Rome, were horrified that the Romans believed the Gods were in human form. They regar5ded it as an insult to compare us to the great gods of nature.

    So, our idea of Gods is new, and, not inherent. Relativity and Quantum mechanics have been proven to exist., God has not.

  98. "They, rather, believe in a spirit or force within every thing. This spirit was in no way a god"

    How can "a spirit or force within everything" be "in no way a god"?

  99. They had no concept of a God as we know it. It would have been impossible. It is difficult for someone who has grown up in the Abramic tradition (like me) to understand it and even explain it.

    The spirit was part of the thing, not supernatural in their mind. It was not superior to them, just another thing in the world, like a Wolfe or a rock.

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