Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Get on the bus

"You wait ages for an atheist bus and then 800 come along at once," said Ariane Sherine at the culmination of her campaign to put anti-faith slogans on the sides of UK buses. Throughout, she has been the antithesis of the shrill, dogmatic and shouty atheist that is so beloved of religious caricaturists. She is charming, smiley and wonderfully unintimidating and her campaign has captured the imagination of thousands of people.

Last summer, she was irritated by an advert on a bus from a religious organisation that expressed a profoundly threatening message (essentially, think what we think or "you spend all eternity in torment in hell"). She wondered if there was a classier and more thoughtful way of putting the opposing point of view.
The Atheist Bus campaign gets under way.

13 comments:

Jake said...

Is there a word, then, for people that don't believe in any kind of supernatural power, but don't want anything to do with the Steven Pinkers, Chris Hitchenses, and Ariane Sherines of this world who seem to think that atheism requires a movement? Because, being an atheist of the 'just shut up about it, there are more important things to talk about' variety, I'd quite like to disassociate myself from them.

Uroskin said...

It's true it's technically the "agnostic bus" istead of an atheist one.
God is an adult version of Santa.

Jake said...

Sorry, I meant Dawkinses, not Pinkerses. As far as I can tell, Pinker is more of the 'meh' variety.

Paul said...

Jake, I agree. The trouble with Atheists is that they take religion seriously. The very argument about whether God exists puts them in the same mental space as the religionists. And, it makes Agnostics of them, since they can only say that this God thing probably does not exist.

harvestbird said...

While I don't feel the need for a bus ad in general, there are occasions when I think it would be nice, much like the experience that prompted the original campaign. This is the basis on which I would commend Sherine's effort: pleasant, faithless and polite.

Giovanni said...

Salon Interview to Goldstein and Pinker on religion here: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2007/10/15/pinker_goldstein/index1.html

They describe themselves as proud atheists, and their attitudes seem pretty healthy to me, whereas the likes of Dawkins I'd rather call evangelical atheists - and Paul is totally right, they take religion far too seriously.

That said, the bus seems like a nice idea, although I had never seen an ad for religion before coming to NZ (the catholic church back home doesn't need them) and I find them immensely amusing to this day.

Jack said...

I'm proud to say I kicked 10 quid into the campaign. The response to the campaign would tend to support the theory that there are a lot of quiet atheists out there.

Dave said...

Jake: I was told a while back that my lack of any interest whatsoever in religion made me an "Apathist". I have since seen a couple of other commentaries putting up similar words for consideration.

Giovanni said...

The campaign starts in Italy. Which has me frankly rather gobsmacked.

(serpeci)

Giovanni said...

The campaign starts in Italy. Which has me frankly rather gobsmacked.

My scepticism was entirely justified, as it turns out: the campaign was announced (slogan: "The bad news is that God doesn't exist; the good news is that you don't need it") and slated to start on the buses in Genoa, but the media company in charge of selling the ad spaces refused to do business with the Uaar (Unione degli atei, razionalisti ed agnostici). Here's the link, albeit in Italian:

http://genova.repubblica.it/dettaglio/Ateo-bus-rifiutata-la-pubblicita-Niente-slogan-sui-mezzi-Amt/1576162

(ankiness)

Giovanni said...

The photo of the bus you see if you click on the link? It's a "PC simulation".

Paul said...

Peccato.

Giovanni said...

More news: the rationalists have come back with a new slogan which has been accepted by the powers that be. So the people of Genoa will be treated to the following pearl of widsom: "The good news is that in Italy there are millions of atheists. The even better news is that they believe in freedom of expression."

What's that sobbing noise, you ask? It's me weeping at how unbelievaby lame this is.