Thursday, January 29, 2009

Atheist advertising campaigns

Driving throughout rural Virginia, you can easily find many religious signs and billboards, from the unnerving anti-abortion messages to the traditional "Jesus saves" script. My favorite in Henry County says something along the lines of "Abortion is the ultimate child abuse." In the same vain, a couple atheist groups have recently decided to advertise using similar campaign strategies.

In light of Darwin's upcoming 200th birthday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is advertising on billboards in specific cities, localities that hosted past religion-science debates: Dayton, TN (Scopes Trial) and Dover, PN (Dover trial). The billboards say "Praise Darwin -- Evolve Beyond Belief" on them. The article has other amusing messages that were considered.

In a currently on-going campaign, the British Humanist Association, funded by Richard Dawkins, is advertising their message on buses throughout England. Their message states "There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." Here is Dawkins' over-the-top justification:
Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride - automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children.

Even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side.

This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion.
Whether brainwashed or unthinking, over time I would be just as annoyed seeing these atheism-thumping messages - however cute or amusing initially - as I am with the religious ones.

4 comments:

aznew said...

I, unfortunately, wasted many hours of my life reading one of Dawkin's books, The G-d Delusion. I was not so much offended by Dawkins' lack of respect for the intelligence of people of faith as I was by his juvenile argument. Basically, he starts with the proposition that if you are not a Biblical literalist, then you are not a true believer. And once he is able to limit his attacks to a certain strain of Fundamentalist Biblical Literalism that simply defies experience (such as assertions that the earth is 4,000 years old), well, of course religion can be made to sound like silly Yahooism.

It, of course, skirts the essential point about the existance of G-d, which of course is unknown and unknowable to us as people.

At another point, Dawkins seem to reason hat G-d can't exist because, since G-d is infinitiely complex, there is nothing that could have created Him. Now, this at least has the virtue of being an actual sophisicated proposition, albeit one that is neither provable nor disprovable, nor even discussable in any realistic sense of the word. If G-d is infinite and eternal, then this is simply not an issue. But it is imporrible to argue either side of this proposition without committing the logical fallacy of begging the question.

Drew said...

aznew, I started reading the God Delusion, reader Darren was nice enough to let me borrow his copy. I got through the preface and fell asleep; he isn't the eloquent writer that some here seem to think he is. So I haven't gotten as far as his theological presuppositions yet. But to believe that biblical literalism is the only true Christianity ... and then to tear that version of Christianity down seems problematic, to say the least. Kinda reminds me how another atheist creates a narrow definition of religion in order to tear it down and offer their own interpretation of reality.

And to your last Dawkins point ... I thought we matured back these ontological children's games a couple centuries ago. My favorite: Can God create a rock big enough that God can't lift it? And to answer Dawkins question, like you, time and space are characteristics of the universe, so if God is transcendent to the universe, those constructs break down. At which time, to your point, we are begging the question.

Great comment.

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