Having blown past their £5,500 target in just 10 hours of accepting donations, the Atheist Bus Campaign in less than a week has raised over 16x that amount, some £93,000 (US$ 145,000) – and I think this is a good thing.
It was covered on “Thought for the Day” on Radio4 a few days ago (see the top link here) and I understand exactly why the Christian speaker on that programme said what she did, but I don’t think she gets the advert.
Having studied Astronomy I can easily imagine a universe without humanity, like the one that will exist in about 4 billion years when the Sun goes foom (UPDATE: See Also) and burns the earth. I know what the Universe can do to unlucky planets and can spin a story which would turn the stomaches of even the most apocalyptic of evangelicals… if they wouldn’t be enjoying it so much, that is.
So I believe life in any form is very precious, very rare, and deserves protection. I “eat tasty animals” but hate waste and strongly believe that if you are going to kill something then it should be put to a significant use, and should be sustainable. This goes for plants, too.
But I am taken by the argument that for any given religion, if you wipe away every trace of its histories and stories, and every memory, then the religion is gone – yet if a smart animal has the power to observe, he can reconstruct the whole of physics, chemistry and biology from scratch.
After years of disbelief it finally, deeply sunk into me: there is no fate, no karma, no evil spirits on my shoulders making me drop plates, no payback for the bad deeds in life – nor any for the good deeds, either. I have total responsibility for my life, and then I will die and then I will be gone.
This realisation was tremendously liberating – stress dropped away, I was empowered, I was tremendously astonished at what religion achieved (music, cathedrals, poetry, charity) and tremendously horrified by the waste, the pain, the torture done in the name of religion; I am still undecided about the palliative effects for those who do believe – eg: someone dying of cancer who believes they are going to a better place? Is it better that someone gives to charity in the delusion he’s gaining credit in heaven, rather than doing it out of compassion? Would a true believer equate the two? Do I look at it purely in terms of the benefit? Those sorts of questions are probably best left to secular philosophers; I don’t have enough time for that at the moment…
What I do know is that stopping any belief in God, and knowing how the world is likely to end, has made my life a lot less worrysome.
 unless man chooses to change that