Atheism advertising on U.K. buses uses second-rate aphorism
There's been a bit of talk about some bus advertising in the U.K. which was purchased by groups friendly to atheism. But it's not much fuel for freethought. The slogan is as follows:
"There's probably no God. Now, stop worrying and enjoy your life."One question I'd like to ask is whether this is the probability from expectation, or the probability from observation. The prior probability just says, given what we've interpreted about life's experiences, God's existence does not match our intuitions. The latter probability just says, given our observations, the data does not support the existence of God. Now just what would those observations be? Unless someone makes one of the Abrahamic religions a foil for his or her philosophy of life, there are many metaphysical systems that could account for some pet set of observations, thus allowing there to still be a God -- or, even stronger, that those observations would actually be supportive for evidence for a certain kind of God.
An example might be helpful to express my position. Lots of people think that since there is so much suffering imposed on humans by nature (diseases, disasters, etc.), and so many morally bad things imposed on humans by one another (murder, rape, etc.), this screwed-up world is not compatible with the existence of God. Well, actually the state of affairs of the world might be easily compatible with the existence of God, if God is not involved or attentive to human affairs. But that's the problem, for most people want to presume certain attributes on God -- i.e., they want to do theology -- and do so in ways that somehow define God as attentive to the affairs of humans. But that's not observation. That's faith.
I'm not sure what are the probabilities of there being a God (or not), but I'm pretty sure the atheists don't have a clue about those numbers either.
Here's another odd thing: Apparently, given the phrasing of the message, the assessment of significant probabilities of God's existence is supposed to have made people worry or not enjoy life. Is that an empirical claim? Again -- were there several correlating studies that showed people who assess the odds of God's existence as significant or high were somehow found to be more worried or more sad? Ironically, a review of more than 40 scientific studies has found quite the opposite.
Look, I'm the first to point out stupid, irrational, or fanatical religious patterns of thought. I'm even paid to do so. But this bus advertising aphorism isn't doing freethinking any favors.
[image] Jon Worth Euroblog (Accessed October 27, 2008)
 "Religious People Live Longer Than Nonbelievers" Millennium Magazine September 8, 2008 (Accessed October 27, 2008)