Sunday, October 26, 2008

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.[1]

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.


REFERENCES

[image] Jon Worth Euroblog (Accessed October 27, 2008)

[1] "Religious People Live Longer Than Nonbelievers" Millennium Magazine September 8, 2008 (Accessed October 27, 2008)

O.

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8 Comments:

At 4:42 PM, Blogger The Wanderer said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger The Wanderer said...

In your opinion, is it generally speaking better for someone to be a stupid Christian, or a stupid atheist?

 
At 9:49 PM, Blogger wallisorama said...

I believe it says "get on with your life."

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger brinticus said...

No, it says "enjoy your life." Here is another picture of it on another bus: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/21/religion-advertising

 
At 11:40 AM, Blogger Tracy Crouch said...

This makes me think of an instance where a Christian gentleman was speaking with a self-proclaimed atheist. The Christian simply told the atheist fellow that he wasn't an atheist he was a moron. For a true atheist would have studied not only the Bible but all the religions of the world and after such study would have then concluded that there was no God, but in his case he decided to circumvent the entire intellectual process and conclude of his own accord that there was no God, therefore he is a moron, not an atheist.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger The Inquisition said...

Couldn't we just say that they (the atheists and friends) are taking a position similar to that of Russell, that their isn't enough evidence? And what kind of evidence is there? In all honesty I don't think I've heard a reasonable presentation of evidence for a God. But, then again, I've never really heard any reasonable evidence that disproves God either. So why don't they take a more agnostic view. I think the reason they don't is not because of any evidence of God, but rather a frustration with God's follower. I believe there was a church with a sign that said, "Oh God, please save me from your followers."

 
At 11:15 PM, Blogger woofmutt said...

I wonder if such a campaign would even be able to buy public advertising space in the US or if anyone in the UK even cares about it.

OK, a quick search reveals apparently some people in the UK care:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5075740.ece

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger wallisorama said...

I'm talking about the picture on your blog.

 

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