Atheist Bus Advert Campaign gets $145,000+ in less than a week.

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.

I do.

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[1], has made my life a lot less worrysome.


If I am wrong then I will happily endure any torment or obliteration after telling God that he’s an evil bastard; but I believe I am probably right.

[1] unless man chooses to change that

8 Replies to “Atheist Bus Advert Campaign gets $145,000+ in less than a week.”

  1. I feel there is a lot of confusion over being an Athiest or Agnostic.

    To me (and this is just my view, just as you have posted yours), I agree with pretty much everything you say above yet I describe myself as Agnostic. While I love all the science and pretty much live my life through knowledge and fact there is still so much we don’t know or haven’t even started to know. I refuse to preach about a god but to me being an Athiest requires just as much trust and “faith” that I don’t want to preach about that either.

    I do hole heartedly encourage what the Atheist Bus Advert Campaign seems to be trying to do though, lets just all be nice to each other, no matter what they believe in 🙂

  2. Quite – I could describe myself as “Agnostic with a 99.999999r% disbelief in God” but at some point I (personally) feel forced to come out and say that I flatly don’t believe in him.

    Hence Atheist.

    I know I can’t prove lack of god any more than belivers can prove there *is* one, but for me the burden of proof rests on the believers for much the reasons cited above – viz: that god is not necessary, not a given, nor deducable (sp?) from observation.

    The question of “whether lack of belief constitutes a belief”, I leave for people with time to argue. 🙂

  3. Too much is made of the atheist/agnostic stance. Atheist means without god, agnostic means “without spiritual knowledge”. So by definition all agnostics are atheists, since they can’t believe in god of which they have no knowledge, and all atheists are agnostics (unless they have knowledge of god but choose not to believe it, which would be logically inconsistent but plausible).

    There is a classification of “agnostic theism”, which means belief in a god (usually just one for some reason I can’t fathom) but don’t believe his existence is provable. They are just confused since they believe is something for which they have no evidence, and which they believe is not disprovable. This is more bizarre than believing all unicorns are pink, since whilst I have no proof (of unicorns* or their pinkness), but I believe it is inherently disprovable if someone finds a non-pink unicorn.

    Believers can easily prove the existence of god, they just need to point to some evidence that can’t be explained without one. Agnostic theists hold such proof is unobtainable, which means they are even more skeptical of proof of the existence of god than I am (since I’d change my mind if there was some evidence). Douglas Adams hit agnostic theism spot on with the Babel fish proving the non-existence of (such a) god.

    * I did once hear someone argue convincingly that medieval descriptions of Unicorns were referring to the Indian rhinoceros – built like a horse with a single horn on its nose and difficult for a man to kill (one could see this evolving into the typical immortal fantasy unicorn of today). In which case all unicorns are white, grey or black, except for the pink ones of course.

  4. dogsbody: being an atheist doesn’t require faith at all.

    all it takes is not believing in something for which there is no evidence.

    same as it doesn’t take faith to not believe in invisible pink unicorns or to not believe that human destiny is guided by intelligent cucumbers from the stars, it takes no faith to not believe in any god or gods.

    and yes, i am as certain that there are no god(s) as i am certain that there is no invisible pink unicorn or intelligent cucumber. or the flying spaghetti monster. or any other absurdity that people believe without evidence and in spite of the contradictory evidence.

    these things (invisible pink unicorns etc) are no more or less absurd than any other god or gods – they just don’t have the same history as common religions.

  5. Amusing quote for those unacquainted wth Eta Carinae:

    It is possible that the Eta Carinae hypernova or supernova could affect Earth, about 7,500 light years away, but would not likely affect terrestrial humans directly, who will be protected from gamma rays by the atmosphere, as well from some other cosmic rays by the magnetosphere. The damage would likely be restricted to the upper atmosphere, the ozone layer, spacecraft, including satellites, and any astronauts in space, although a certain few claim that radiation damage to the upper atmosphere would have catastrophic effects as well. At least one scientist has claimed that when the star explodes, “it would be so bright that you would see it during the day, and you could even read a book by its light at night”.[17] A supernova or hypernova produced by Eta Carinae would probably eject a gamma ray burst (GRB) out on both polar areas of its rotational axis. Calculations show that the deposited energy of such a GRB impacting the Earths atmosphere would be equivalent to one kiloton of TNT per square kilometer over the entire hemisphere facing the star with ionizing radiation depositing ten times the lethal whole body dose to the surface.[18] This catastrophic burst would probably not hit Earth, though, because the rotation axis does not currently point at us. If Eta Carinae is a binary system, this may affect the future intensity and orientation of the supernova explosion that it produces, depending on the circumstances.[12]

  6. Simon & Craig, I can see where you are coming from and you are more than welcome to your views. As an agnostic (I hate labels but I’ll go with the name for now 🙂 ) I personally dissagree with your quote so just wanted to comment:

    “Atheist means without god, agnostic means “without spiritual knowledge”. So by definition all agnostics are atheists, since they can’t believe in god of which they have no knowledge, and all atheists are agnostics (unless they have knowledge of god but choose not to believe it, which would be logically inconsistent but plausible).”

    I try and learn about every god I can find, I find it fascinating to see what drives such huge percentages of our population to do things in the name of religion, as such I don’t feel I am without spiritual knowledge. I just choose not to follow any of them. I do the same with science, trying to understand as much of it as possible to explain the way that both nature and humans act.

    I talk about atheists having faith and perhaps that is the wrong word but you obviously have conviction that there are no unicorns, dragons, etc. etc. etc. I do not have these convictions at all. 200 / 100 / 50 years ago the best scientists in the world had ideas that were just wrong. I’m not knocking them, they did the best of their ability but some of the discoveries made since have been even more fantastic and spectacular than any unicorn or mythical (religious) thing. My point is, why rule them out just because they are currently unexplainable, hell, some of our basic quantam physics are based on rules that haven’t actually been explained yet. I have the feeling that even when the human race is exploring the stars there will still be huge gaps in our science knowledge and there will still be religion to fill the gaps. Who knows, one of the religions may have had the correct answer all along! God knows which one!! (bad joke) LOL

    I have no real point to this, just discussing it as per alec’s post, I certainly have no want/need to change anyone’s views (one thing I do personally hate). I guess my personal headline is that knowledge is power but that knowledge should include all sides of the coin and not just science. I’ll take the best bits from everywhere and use them in my life (thou shalt not kill seems like a good idea to me) 🙂

    I call myself agnostic because I haven’t found a better term yet.

  7. Thanks for the intelligent write up, Alec. I agree that if most people just lived each day for themselves and not for what may come after, and stopped arguing with each other about who is right about the afterlife, this would be a much better world to live in.

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