Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The atheist bus ads

So -- perhaps not surprisingly -- Ottawa said no to the atheist bus ads that read:

There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

What came as a more pleasant discovery was the editorial by Atheist Bus proponent (and Freethought Association of Canada president) Justin Trottier in today's Citizen. Expecting a confrontational tirade on Ottawa's conservative approach and the slippery slope of censorship, I was surprised to find a relaxed, fact-based (23% of Canadians don't believe in any god?) argument that called for continued discussion (and some talk of free speech, rightly so).

So here I am, Justin, trying to keep the conversation up.

I took interest in the mention of public transit as an ideal space for moving this discussion into the mainstream, and the suggestion that the United Church and other groups are in support of this dialogue.

Good defence on the money-well-spent front, and I've never really heard atheism summed up so succinctly:

"While atheism is not itself an ethical system, secular and humanistic values are crucial to an open society. They are the values of individual autonomy and universal human rights. They include the belief that evidence, reason and free inquiry form the best way of seeking solutions to shared problems. Try fitting all that on the side of a bus."

I've been following most of said discussion, but I'm still left wondering: how did you come up with the text for this ad?

I know you couldn't fit all of the above on the side of a bus, but as a Christian I'm confused. My belief in God doesn't make me enjoy life less. Rather, the exact opposite. I worry, sure, but doesn't everyone, regardless of their worldview? And I don't worry that much. Maybe that means I'm not a real Christian.

In any case, in all the debate I haven't heard where this text came from -- and I'd love to.


thelefthank said...

It was a response to religious ads in the UK that openly threaten non-believers with eternal torment, hellfire and general nastiness. The atheist ad is geared toward those who do not believe, and basically means, "Don't listen to those jerks. Life is good, and you know it. Now enjoy your one life as is your right."

As for religious people also enjoying their lives, no doubt you do--and you should. But the good feeling religion gives you is a selfish one. Drunks and drug addicts certainly enjoy themselves, but that doesn't meen their enjoyment is not selfish. Same with the god-high: it feels good, but that doesn't mean there is a real god in the sky.

This world is beautiful. Time has marched along for all eternity, and it will march along for all eternity after. In the middle, you get 80 quick years to be conscious.

Please don’t waste the tiny sliver of life you have on Earth because you somehow think you’re going to get another one. You’re not. One per customer, please, and enjoy it to the fullest; morally, ethically and completely.

Now try putting THAT on a bus.

Dayanti Karunaratne said...

Thanks for the response. I do not think I waste time on this earth b/c I think about another chance next time around, but it's goo to take pause and consider how my belief in a God affects the way I savour each day.