Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The atheist bus

How an atheist bus ad might look: "there's probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life."

A little while ago, inspired by Ariane Sherine, Jon Worth started a tongue-in-cheek campaign to raise enough money to put an atheist advert on a London bus, to counter the large number of sky-fairy promotions.

The pledge didn't make its numbers, but now Jon has started it up again in earnest.
The Atheist Bus Campaign launches today, Tuesday October 21. With your support, we hope to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across the capital for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Donate online now!

Professor Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion, is officially supporting the Atheist Bus Campaign, and has generously agreed to match all donations up to a maximum of £5,500, giving us a total of £11,000 if we reach the full amount – enough for a much bigger campaign. The British Humanist Association have kindly agreed to administer all donations.

Sounds like a giggle...

UPDATE: the Beeb have picked up the story.
The atheist posters are the idea of the British Humanist Association (BHA) and have been supported by prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins.

The BHA planned only to raise £5,500, which was to be matched by Professor Dawkins, but it has now raised more than £15,300 of its own accord.
...

Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the BHA, said: "We see so many posters advertising salvation through Jesus or threatening us with eternal damnation, that I feel sure that a bus advert like this will be welcomed as a breath of fresh air.

"If it raises a smile as well as making people think, so much the better."

Mind you, comment of the day has to go to that dangerous, joyless fucking lunatic Stephen Green, of Christian Voice.
But Stephen Green of pressure group Christian Voice said: "Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large.

Really? Okaaaaay...
"I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti.

Oh look—it's a barely concealed threat!
"People don't like being preached at. Sometimes it does them good, but they still don't like it."

Says Stephen Green, the man who tried to bring an entirely frivolous lawsuit against the BBC and, having lost, pleaded that he shouldn't have to pay them. This man is a hypocritical cunt and even if these posters only annoy him, it will all have been worth it.

UPDATE 2: good god!

If I start an atheist Devil campaign, could I raise £44.7k, I wonder?

UPDATE 3: The Daily Mash is a treat, as always...
BUSES which carry adverts doubting the existence of God are risking their eternal souls, Christian campaigners said last night.
...

But Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, said: "Any bus which allows itself to be abused in this way will spend eternity in the company of Satan's bus.

"They will burn alongside gay buses, buses that have had abortions and buses that knowingly took people to see Jerry Springer: the Opera."

Unfortunately, I don't think that one can actually satirise Stephen Green: he is just too barking...

UPDATE 4: there are some very bizarre comments on this post. People seem to have little problem with your humble Devil promoting his belief in libertarianism, but doing the same for atheism seems to have raised some hackles. Apparently, promoting libertarianism is fine, but promoting atheism is being "close-minded".

Fucking hellski.

Ah well, for me, The Nameless Libertarian has hit the nail on the head.
The neutrality of the message has won me over as a supporter - I can't be bothered with militant atheism (I can't be bothered with anybody who is shrilly evangelical about any belief - believe what you like, just shut up about it when you are around me) but the message is a nice counterpoint to the increasingly ubiquitous Alpha course and other demented religious advertising.

The advert does not say, you will notice, "everyone who believes in a god is a fucking moron and should piss of and die. And rise again (if they can)" or anything like that. It says, "There's probably no god [allowing for all probabilities, y'see—DK] so stop worrying and enjoy your life." I thought that it was a rather positive message, frankly. But no: apparently

However, as TNL has pointed out, the whole campaign gets even better...
And whilst you are there, take a look at some of the totals. As I write the campaign has made £55,288.90—the target was a mere £5,500.00. And, best of all, the Gift Aid stands at £13,039.22—that's right, over £13k of government money is going towards the promotion of atheism.

I wonder how Gordon Brown, who was raised by a minister of the Church of Scotland, feels about that?

So this campaign is pissing off evangelicals at the same time as probably pissing off Gordon Brown. And as such, it is one of the most worthwhile causes I think I have come across for a good, long time.

Quite. Great: it's annoying two birds with one mischief-making stone!

Although there is a downside: it does mean that we are promoting an organisation that made Polly Toynbee its president, and that does make me unhappy. But—hey!—it wasn't my idea to involve them and Jon is a Lefty, after all...

Oh, and donations are now at £60,623.82, with Gift Aid of £14,051.15. Lordy...

138 comments:

haddock said...

what are the chances of a slogan " There's probably no Allah "

about nil I suspect.... how brave !

Andreas said...

god, Allah... same (non-)entity.

haddock said...

andreas, to the unlearned, yes, quite so.

Budgie said...

Where does the Humanist Association and Prof Dawkins get the feeling that:
1. it is a "duty" (to reassure people that there is no god);
2. the "duty" should be acted upon?

"Probably" seems a bit equivocal to me. Hedging your bets?

Anonymous said...

Oh goody, proselytizing atheists. Next you'll be on my doorstep trying to sell me a copy of the Don't Watch Tower.

Feck off.

The Nameless Libertarian said...

I've signed up for it - not because I believe that atheism needs to go evangelical, but rather because it would be nice to have a counter-balance to all the Christian evangelism that goes on. Seriously, the Alpha Course advertises in some areas as much as fucking McDonalds.

Dave said...

I don't have the faith to be a full blown atheist.

Declaring that there's no God, no salvation, no promise of eternity and having the faith to believe it up to death.

Ther are no atheists in fox-holes

Jon Worth said...

Thanks for the link DK... :-)

We've raised over £11K in one morning, not bad.

hsld said...

Bloody humanists. I've been to a christening and three funerals in the past few years which were humanist ceremonies and they consisted of sub greeting card mawkishness combined with something which sounded suspiciously like socialist rhetoric. It was nearly as bad as listening to " Imagine " by that Lennon twat.

If they truly are atheists then they should use a slogan like " Lifes a bitch, then you die " - tell it like it is ( according to them )

I don't have any religious beliefs but I'm heartily sick of militant atheists. Grow fucking up and stop pretending to be offended by things which don't concern you - leave that to the Muslims, they wrote the book on it.

Dave H. said...

Does the insurance on the bus have an clause excluding damage caused by Acts of God?

Chris (from Oz) said...

Dave, there are atheists in fox holes. Just google that term, and see the first link.

But what if there weren't ? What would your point be exactly ? That theists are the only ones who are happy to kill people ?

Or perhaps you're admitting that belief is just an irrational crutch that people cling to because they don't want to face the fact they're going to die ?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Nanny Beeb have cottoned onto the story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7681914.stm

Dave H. said...

er, no. I just found the thought mildly amusing. Sorry.

ENGLISHMAN said...

Save your eleven grand ,get pissed ,buy a fuck,and leave those who want to believe in something alone,after all by ths mans own admission what does it matter if he is as "rational" as he pretends?

Chris (from Oz) said...

ENGLISHMAN, if the theists did as you suggested, and left the rest of us alone, then atheists would leave them alone.

Laurence Boyce said...

Hey, nice to see you and Worth are the best of friends!

Obviously there is no God. But is there a devil . . . ?

kev g said...

If the point of this is to shock or scare simple people with the prospect of their own death, then it is in fairly poor taste.

Dawkins is a tosser who thinks it's big and clever to snatch peoples' comfort blankets away, a louche preening narcissistic little toe-rag whose intellectual pinnacle was a doctorate on the pecking patterns of chickens. What a copper-bottomed qualification that is to lecture the rest of us proles about metaphysics. Not.

His main contribution to European Civilization was an oxymoron called the meme - the idea that ideas that are transmitted by the blind chance of natural selection. Well, that's critical rationality out the window then. A meme for memes, anybody?

Dawkins cannot prove the non-existence of anything. As Kant spelled out at remorseless length, the existence of a deity cannot be ruled either in or out on rational grounds. There really is no more to be said except perhaps that the universe appears to be governed by mathematical laws that we can half way understand and that both phenomena are intriguing but imponderable. And, of course that Gordo is a cunt.

No, before anyone asks. I think "the afterlife" is a silly idea.

Henry Crun said...

Bet they don't put these buses on the route round Finsbury Park on a Friday.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"As Kant spelled out at remorseless length, the existence of a deity cannot be ruled either in or out on rational grounds."

You will notice that this is why the slogan reads, "there is probably no god."

DK

Dave H. said...

Re. S. Green. I just got this off Wiki. Try not to laugh.

"Green was hit by a bird dropping as he spoke a prayer in the street, which he interpreted as a message from God to cease talking to the TV crew"

Sound more like a message from George Spigott, a not-so-humble Devil.

Harry Haddock said...

andreas, to the unlearned, yes, quite so.

Nope. Exactly the same chap. Go to St Georges Orthodox cathedral in London. There you will find a load of Antiochian Orthodox Christians going through the same liturgy as in a Russian or Greek church. Except, as they are doing it in Arabic, they pray to Allah, cos it's the Arabic word for God. Simple, innit?

BenSix said...

"Sound more like a message from George Spigott, a not-so-humble Devil."

Hehe, very good.

Roger Thornhill said...

Not being an atheist does not mean one is part of an organised religion, let alone a Totalitarian, Authoritarian bunch of mind-robbing scumbags that those at "unChristian Bleat" pretend to represent.

If Jesus came down he'd give them such a bitch-slapping for sure. After buying a "NOT IN MY NAME" T-shirt, natch.

Deogolwulf said...

"You will notice that this is why the slogan reads, 'there is probably no god'."

Was that probability calculated on rational grounds?

MisterBarrington said...

As a personal take on atheism, it can be a moral choice (rather than the bleak "you live, you die, fuck off" stance). Without a god you have to acknowledge that humanity is responsible for the fate of the planet - there's no magic wand, no get out of jail card. And without the religious "justification" for fatwas or regime change, maybe we'd all get along a little better.

But y'know, I'm a realist, it wouldn't all be peace and flowers. There would still be plenty of kneejerk blog comment vitriol masquerading as discourse.

Nice blog, btw. Cheers.

Winston said...

DK, in your very own link it says that the word 'probably' was included at the behest of TfL. Nothing to do with the atheists lack of faith in their beliefs.

There must be a God, he lives in the scullery.

haddock said...

"Except, as they are doing it in Arabic, they pray to Allah, cos it's the Arabic word for God. Simple, innit?"

no, not that simple, at the most basic level.... I have two cakes in the cupboard, both called cake but completely different.

People share a name..... haddock, let's say, are you saying we are the same person by arguing that a Christian Allah is the same as a muslim Allah ??

as I said..."to the unlearned, yes, quite so."

gildedtumbril said...

I am a born-again atheist since the age of seven. It sounds jolly funny to me. I would contribute if I could afford it but my constantly shrinking state pittance forbids.

the hobbs end martian said...

Target acheived:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/21/dawkins_athiest_bus/

Anonymous said...

Well, I am going to put a little in the charity box nonetheless.

He is your God, they are your rules. You burn in Hell! (snaffled from a much-venerated contributor to alt.tasteless, now with his maker).

Anonymous said...

"If they truly are atheists then they should use a slogan like " Lifes a bitch, then you die " - tell it like it is ( according to them )"

A close friend of mine died last week. An atheist. It's precisely what he said. There will be no greeting card mawkishness at the ceremony.

Tomrat said...

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God "
They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds;
There is no one who does good.
Psalm 14:1
(NASB)

Does anyone know a lighter word for fool, corrupt, abominable & good?

How about chump, crooked, detestable and nice...probably before all of them.

RL said...

Humanism is Socialism with pretention that they aren't a political doctrine. And if anyone is in any doubt about that, it is my pleasure to inform you that dearest Polly is the president of the BHA. They've even got that lovely photo of her on the front page. By the way, this is the same BHA which is managing donations for this bus campaign. Don't be surprised if a (not so) little BHA logo turns up in the corner of these posters.

hsld said...

Good old libertarians - eternal rebellious teenagers - metaphorically painting their bedroom walls black to upset their middle class mummies and daddies.

Congratulations, you bought an advert on a bus. That'll stick it to the crusty old uncool vicar who doesn't like your Bauhaus records and your eyeliner.

The unintended consequence being that you funded Polly's best mates to the tune of nearly 50 grand. What an outstanding fucking result, well done :)

A Terrible Prole said...

Libertarian? Nonsense, DK. I've read a a fair few comments about this yet have not found anyone sharing my viewpoint.

How about we forget the politio-relgious message and give the message that really matters underneath the prominence it deserves?

haddock said...

hsld, we really don't expect rational discourse in the 6th form common room. If DK really needs to discuss religious matters, and to shriek his rantish squawks about the upcoming debate on abortion time limit he should do so over at Cranmer's blog, with 'intelligence and erudition', he will find , metaphorically speaking, that he has a new arsehole ....ripped by a towering intellect ...............( intelligently and eruditely of course )

still, the children are amused by the cockroach thing.
and the imaginary friend thing
and the sky fairy thing

ho ho what japes we have here !

Dave said...

To Chris from Oz,

I'm making the point that most people when scared, facing death, etc cry out to god to save them.
It's always funny to hear atheists call out to someone they don't believe exists asking that deity to save them.
It's a bit like the atheist waking up on a sunny day, in good health, feeling good about himself, realising that he did nothing at all to bring about his well being and having no-one to thank or praise.

It takes faith to be a scientist. I mean, can you really be sure that 2+2 = 4? Can you really be sure that say, Ohm's Law is correct? Or Newton's? Yet we believe implicitly. We trust science even though we don't understand half of it.
You need faith to complete a Rubik's cube. It's not much of a faith granted, but you work at the top of the cube, trusting that the side you can't see is being arranged.
All I'm saying is that you need faith to function in the world. Even Atheists need faith.
I don't buy a lot of the Christian tosh, I don't buy any of Islam, buy the truth is out there somewhere. It's sad that people are more willing to believe in Mulder & Scully than God

Peter C said...

kev g - try looking up what an oxymoron is before you use long words. Quoting Kant is not clever - it just shows that you cannot think of anything to say yourself.

How can you start blabbing on about how peoples belief that there is no god is in poor taste when you consider all the poor taste that accomanies the major religions. It's this sort of crap that annoys moderate people into becoming 'militant atheists' as you call them.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"It's always funny to hear atheists call out to someone they don't believe exists asking that deity to save them."

Personally, I was using it ironically; I imagine that Chris might have been doing the same.

"I mean, can you really be sure that 2+2 = 4?"

Yes, I can be sure that the discrete number that we know as "2", when added to another discrete number that we know as "2", makes a number that we call "4". You can argue this point, but only on semantics.

"Ohm's Law is correct? Or Newton's?"

As far as can be tested, these laws are correct (given all of the conditions that attach to those laws); they will remain observably correct up until scientific testing disproves them. It has so far failed to do so, and so we can say that they are (in our current knowledge) correct.

This is not faith: it is observable proof (as far as you can prove anything in science) which is why we call them "laws".

DK

the a&e charge nurse said...

The fact is society privileges certain things because they are backed up by entrenched, and at times rabid, religious ideologies - and no matter how absurd these beliefs might seem [to secularists] they are automatically deemed worthy of "respect".

Fine, don't eat bacon, wear a cloth on your head or send a child into the confessional box - but why aren't the views of atheists afforded equal importance ?

Clearly any religious ideology [providing it is expounded by enough people] does not have to have any rational basis to be taken very seriously indeed.

In my view the bendy bus is on higher intellectual plane than weighty tomes like [fill in preferred religious tract] yet the secularists still have to doff their cap whenever religious claptrap is wheeled to justify some bizarre form of activity [see bacon, head gear and confessional box to name but three].

Most children learn to accept that Father Christmas is the stuff of fantasy - isn't it time for adult 'believers' to each a similar conclusion ?

Tom said...

Kev G quote - "His (RD's) main contribution to European Civilization was an oxymoron called the meme - the idea that ideas that are transmitted by the blind chance of natural selection"

You have clearly never read a word about what a meme actually is, and you have obviously no idea what natural selection is since you refer to it's "blind chance". Why bother posting a comment if you don't actually understand the words and concepts to which you refer?

kev g said...

"You have clearly never read a word about what a meme actually is"

Fair cop, guv. You caught me red handed when I didn't read a word about what a meme is.

"since you refer to it's "blind chance". "

"Blind chance" is Dawkins's own expression for the lack of purpose in the incremental change from one generation to the next.

Since you "actually" understand the words and concepts that you use, suppose you indicate to me the "actuality" of memes? Like where I can find one?

Then we can start again. Or not.

Anonymous said...

a&e charge nurse -

'Most children learn to accept that Father Christmas is the stuff of fantasy - isn't it time for adult 'believers' to each a similar conclusion ?'

What a wonderful example of a closed mind. Also a complete failure to understand how religious faith works. Do you actually think that all 'believers' secretly know that they are deluding themselves, but carry on regardless? Are they all really atheists at heart, and just won't admit it? How arrogant.

DK -

I greatly enjoy reading your posts skewering politicians, EUrocrats etc. for their hypocrisy and feather-nesting. The actions these people take affect us all, and they deserve censure. Long may you continue to sharpen cockroaches!

On the other hand, your posts attacking perfectly ordinary people for their religious faith - which affects no-one but them* - are frankly boring. It's a shame to see your closed-minded side so clearly on display.

* Yes, I know that you will argue that you are only countering the outward manifestations of religious belief which you feel infringe your personal beliefs as an atheist. However, from the contemptuous tone you use when describing faith (and your constant use of the term 'sky-fairy'), it seems you are offended by the mere fact that religious belief exists. That's sad.

R Miller

Tom said...

Dave, I really don't know what to make of your comments regarding science and faith. They seem so monumentally stupid that I can only assume you are joking on some level. Faith is not in any way associated to a Rubik's cube either. I learnt to complete one when they first came out and there are absolute laws that govern its function - no faith, just simple rules. Supposing you could assign the task to a robot in posession of a Rubiks cube and the set of rules that govern its operation, the robot would not require any faith to comlete it. The suggestion is bizarre.

Also,

1. Who do you know that 'believes' in Mulder & Scully?
2. Do you not know for an absolute fact that 2+2 =4?
3. Ohms law is the law as we understand it now. Just as Newtons laws are superceded by Einsteins for objects travelling at high speed, we may have to revise Ohm's as our depth of understanding grows. Bear in mind that Newtons laws replaced the theory that the planets were carried in their orbits by a host of angels!

I may be wrong, but I believe you are terribly misusing the word 'faith' to try and indicate that everyone needs it. They don't.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Typical, anonymous - a secularist offers an honest opinion, but because it doesn't fit with the religious world view accusations of "closed mind" are immediately trotted out.

If you don't want to eat bacon, wrap a towel round your head, or push a frightened child into the confessional box then that's a matter for you - I am not asking for any impediment to religious practices [not matter how esoteric they may seem] I am simply suggesting that similar courtesies [vis a vis "respect", freedom from interference, etc] should be extended to the secularists.

Our views are equally valid, you know.

Tom said...

Kev G,

I am prepared to conced that Richard Dawkins referred to natural selection as blind chance if you can provide a reference where he says so. I have read many of his books and seen countless interviews where religious people try to undermine what he says about NS by calling it something along the lines of blind chance, and he always rolls his eyes at the ploy. I think he is getting bored of it.

As I understand it from his book The Blind Watchmaker, this is the very point he is arguing against. Evolution does not need blind chance at all - He refers to it as "the process whereby replicators out-propagate each other". He argues that you do not need to rely on the idea that blind chance is driving evolution when you have the process of natural selection.

As for memes, I can refer you to the Wikipedia definition as one possible source of reading. The whole concept of a meme is contentious but at least it encourages debate and as a theory (not an "actuality", as you say), it can explain some of the phenomena you see in the world. He only included it incidentally in the Selfish Gene and it is only a small contribution compared to his work in the natural sciences. Your comment that it is his only contribution, whatever you think of the man, does him a disservice.

Anonymous said...

a&e charge nurse -

Your post, to which I responded, went as follows:

1. Society privileges religion.
2. Why aren't atheists offered the same privilege?
3 & 4. Faith is irrational, and less intellectually responsible than atheism, but atheists are still not given the privileges religious believers receive.

I'm not particularly interested in arguing these points with you, but could you give me some concrete examples of how religious believers are privileged over atheists in the UK?

Point 5. (which is the only section of your post on which I originally commented) You say children believe in Father Christmas, and imply that once they grow up they realise that they are mistaken. You then draw a parallel between children who believe in FC and adults who have religious faith. You are suggesting that all religious believers should simply grow up and stop believing, and that any religious belief is on the same level as a belief in Father Christmas (i.e. an infantile fantasy).

Can't you see the difference between this last point and those you made before? The first 4 points addressed an interesting issue; namely, the position of atheists versus religious believers in UK society. Your final point was 'Yah boo, all religious people are childish fools and ought to get over it.'

Which, then, is your honest opinion? That we ought to have a debate over the rights of believers/non-believers, or that religious people should be treated like children purely on the grounds of their belief?

If it is the latter, then this sits rather uneasily with your plea for 'respect' for secularists. Please also note the difference between your two statements:

'Most children learn to accept that Father Christmas is the stuff of fantasy - isn't it time for adult 'believers' to each a similar conclusion ?'

and

'Our views are equally valid, you know.'

It is intellectually dishonest of you to condemn religious believers for their views, and then to object when I criticise you for yours.

R Miller (please note, I am using my name, no need to refer to 'Anonymous')

kev g said...

"I mean, can you really be sure that 2+2 = 4?"

DK: Yes, ...


Up to a point, Lord Copper.

Paraphrasing very crudely, mathematics is either consistent or it is complete. It cannot be both. Mathematics is not self-justifying. Its consistency can only be proved by metamathematics, whose own consistency must then be shown by a yet stronger system, etc …

To cut a long story short, our working assumption - never likely to be falsified - is that mathematics is consistent but incomplete, ie it contains formally undecidable propositions.

But the logical possibility remains - and will always remain - that it is complete but inconsistent, ie that somewhere in the woodwork there exists a proof that 2+2=5.

Which all (eventually) goes to show that even mathematics muddles along with an article of faith. Et in arcadia dubitas …

For me, this certainly puts any shrill dogmatism from practitioners of less rigorous disciplines into perspective.

good heavens said...

There is of course the possibility that there is a God and He/She/It is incredibly irritated and annoyed by all the fuss and trouble humans make about He/She/It.

There is also the possibility that He/She/It doesn't give a damn about anything 'down here' in the same way that number 10 Downing Street does not respond in any way to all the praying the ants in my back garden do.

And we ought not to forget the old religious line: God answers all prayers, but the answer is always "No"

John B said...

"I greatly enjoy reading your posts skewering politicians, EUrocrats etc... On the other hand, your posts attacking perfectly ordinary people for their religious faith...

On the other hand, I find the politician ones entirely dull ("people who seek elected office in 'venal and stupid' shock"), but very much enjoy the skewering of idiots for believing nonsense precisely because most of the media is too dull/scared/'respectful' to do so.

Maybe we should accept that DK can write whatever the fuck he likes, and it's his call whether people like it or think he's a cunt?

Anonymous said...

"Ohm's Law is correct? Or Newton's?"

As far as can be tested, these laws are correct (given all of the conditions that attach to those laws); they will remain observably correct up until scientific testing disproves them."

DK – these laws are known to be incorrect – i.e. only approximations. Ohm’s law – every resistance is non-linear at high enough current. Newton – only in non-relativistic regimes.

Anonymous said...

Won't someone spare a thought for the souls of the poor little buses?

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/blaspheming-buses-will-burn-in-hell%2c-say-christians-200810221343/

Also, you god-botherers, if you really have a problem with people exercising their free speech, why are you frequenting a blog that's whole raison d'etre is to push an extreme libertarian message?

What's that? I see... You support freedom of speech, thought and conscience when they're in line with your personal beliefs, but when they're not it's time to burn some infidels.

Budgie said...

I am always amused by Prof Fred Hoyle's story of a lecturer who, on describing how the earth rotates around the sun, is challenged by an old dear.

Old dear: "The earth is supported on the back of a giant turtle"

Lecturer (humouring old dear): "And what supports the turtle?"

Old dear: "An even bigger turtle"

Lecturer: "And what supports that turtle?"

Old dear: "You can't fool me mister, its turtles all the way down".

Apologies to the Dawkins faithful but there is only the option of a designer or blind chance in the universe. "Natural" selection may be possible within a given environment, but since that environment (up to the level of the universe) has itself only occurred by blind chance (by postulation it has not been designed), then "natural" selection can only be the result, ultimately, of blind chance.

Anonymous said...

DK - one final bizarre comment :-) and then I must get back to work.

I don't object to the idea of the atheist bus per se (although with that text on the side I think it's better described as an agnostic bus!). I also don't have any objection to you promoting atheism as you do libertarianism.

My objection is simply that you seem to be actively anti-religion, rather than pro-secularism, and I see the two as very different things. That's all.

Up the cockroaches!

R Miller

Umbongo said...

I can't see why peter c criticises kev-g for citing (he didn't "quote") Kant. Kant had important things to say about religion and knowledge. To quote Kant (from my imperfect memory) he said something like "I have denied knowledge [ie the provable certainty of God's existence] in order to make room for faith". Kant was not only a philosopher of genius (and a distinguished scientist), he was also born into membership of a strict Christian sect where he stayed until the day he died.

As to "probability" of God's existence, literally no-one knows: his existence (or non-existence) cannot be proved scientifically. Accordingly discussion on probabilities is barren: not that the religious nutters (in which I include militant atheists like Dawkins) are interested: they have their own axes - and inner demons - to grind. The most distinguished follower of Kant - Schopenhauer - was an atheist but, nevertheless, considered that the three great religions (Hinduism, Bhuddism and Christianity) were repositories of truths which he (and Kant) had arrived at by rational thought.

Dave said...

I've decided I can't argue for or against what can't be proved either way, so I give in.
However I will say that bendy buses are definitely satanic

kev g said...

"I am prepared to concede that Richard Dawkins referred to natural selection as blind chance …"

A little more precision, please. *Incremental change* is a matter of blind chance.

"...if you can provide a reference where he says so"

If memory serves from twenty years ago, it was two or three chapters from the end of the Blind Watchmaker. Sorry if I can't be more precise at this distance.

"The whole concept of a meme is contentious"

Thank you.

"at least it encourages debate"

So do plenty of other half-baked theories that seek to explain everything including themselves (see meme for memes, in Wikipedia among other places). So do religions.

"as a theory (not an "actuality", as you say), "

You're getting perilously close to Bill Clinton semantics here. If the gene/meme analogy is going to get anywhere, then we need some analogue to the unit of replication and the mechanism of selection. I would have thought that each needs to inhere in some sort of actuality, or am I being old-fashioned?

It's also an eminently unfalsifiable "theory" and therefore worth very little attention, at least from this bear of very little brain.

"He only included it incidentally in the Selfish Gene and it is only a small contribution compared to his work"

You may wish to remove yourself from the fence. Either it is a piece of half-baked whimsy - in which case why leap to its defence? - or it is a robust theory which deserves to be propagated. Then again, it may be a meme, in which case, who cares? Let good old natural selection be the judge.

Finally, I note that you do not produce an alternative example of wherein Dawkins's originality lies, not that I would be particularly impressed if you could show that he was anything more than another Darwinian bulldog a la T E Huxley.

Ridiculing the attempts of less well educated people to make sense of their place in the world is simple bad manners. Attempting to argue people in or out of faith - in religion, Marxism, Darwinism or any other deterministic system - is futile. That Dawkins makes a fat hansome living out of the attempt makes him a charlatan in my book. Toodle pip.

Kev

James Higham said...

to counter the large number of sky-fairy promotions

Of course the truth is the diametric opposite of this.

the a&e charge nurse said...

R Miller - infantile, well yes, that's exactly what I mean [since you ask].

Wasn't it Freud who pointed out the universal human need for a substitute all seeing, all knowing uber-parent to replace the one lost in child hood ?

Isn't this is a form of being 'stuck', in a kind of infantile state ?

Humans are also inordinately fond of story telling and myths - some have been passed on for generations, and great importance has been attached to them because of their longevity [if it's been around that long it MUST be good].

These self-evident processes are manifest in just about every era and culture, except it used to be animals or trees that were worshipped before more grandiose deities were invented.

At least that's how we atheists see it - and one or two of us think it is perfectly OK to express certain views on a bendy bus.

gypsum23 said...

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

Please tag them all with

"Yeah! You could get hit by a bus tomorrow"

haddock said...

"perfectly OK to express certain views on a bendy bus"
I'm not sure that there are any believers in God that say it isn't.

This particular believer goes back to his original comment ( no.1 ) in this thread..... why not set your sights a little higher and provoke those that will not just argue but have a more robust method of debate? Of course the answer is that it is easier/safer/cowardly to pick on belief in God.
For those so ignorant of theology as to say the Christian God and the muslim Allah are the same, do a little reading.... even a child can work out that the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas are different.... whether the child believes in either is not the point... they have the wit to see them as different.

A N Other said...

Ah religion; proof that God does have a strange sense of humour.

Peter C said...

"For those so ignorant of theology as to say the Christian God and the muslim Allah are the same, do a little reading.... even a child can work out that the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas are different".

...Priceless analogy - Thank you Haddock for making my day.

windy blow said...

To be seen on route 666, apparently

Anonymous said...

a&e charge nurse -

So atheists in general see religious believers as infantile? OK, that is half an answer to one of the questions I asked you in my previous post. Here are some more:

1. Do atheists have any respect for the views of religious believers at all?
2. Or do they all believe that religious believers should simply get over it, as you indicated in your last post?
3. If the answer to 2. above is 'yes', why should they expect any 'respect' from believers in turn?

RM

Devil's Kitchen said...

RM Anon,

"1. Do atheists have any respect for the views of religious believers at all?"

Not much, no. But I'm sure that cuts both ways.

"2. Or do they all believe that religious believers should simply get over it, as you indicated in your last post?"

You can believe what you like. But, basically, yes.

"3. If the answer to 2. above is 'yes', why should they expect any 'respect' from believers in turn?"

Why on earth would we want the "rispec'" of believers?

DK

Old Holborn said...

Do you think the religion of peace will like it?

Gareth said...

Did a politician write the advert? No conviction to it at all. Besides which it could be worded better.

There might be no God. There probably isn't a God. There's is a shit contraction. It is the fat, billy-no-mates, last to be picked for a kickabout of contractions.

But what are the probabilities involved. 50:50? Can't fathom how it could be anything else. Does that make the BHA wrong?

The existence or otherwise of God is not a worry to those that have religion and those who do not. That is the nature of faith. Seems like a pointless campaign to me.(So too the ad campaign it is meant to counter.) From one of the articles I've got to via the BHA's website Dickie Dawkins is quoted as saying: "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."

Perhaps the BHA have missed the point. If nobody thinks twice about religious adverts surely that's because people don't take any notice of them.

I don't agree with Gift Aid. Never have. Never will. Too much like taxpayer funded soothing of the corrupt consciences in Parliament for my liking.

kev g said...

I'll just lob in one more grenade, raise my titfer to Budgie and Umbongo, and then I'm going home.

Darwinism - that the fittest survive.

What do we mean by fittest? The strongest? The cleverest? No. Weakness and stupidity everywhere abound.

So, by the fittest, we must mean those that survive.

Darwinism - that survivors survive.

(And if you meet a sacred cow on the road, shoot it.)

the a&e charge nurse said...

I can't speak for atheists in general, RM, but I doubt if my views are very different from other non-believers.

When you enquire about respect for religious views I suspect there are two main stumbling blocks for secularists: first is lack of evidence [in the scientific sense] then we have perpetual, and at times brutal conflict amongst the religious factions.

Perhaps atheism is an attained state that requires an open and enquiring mind - quite the opposite, in fact, from the type of childhood indoctrination so common in many religious families [and the bedrock of each new generation of recruits].

If a believer uses religion to justify certain life style choices [clothing, holidays, foodstuffs, etc] then surely atheists should be permitted to enjoy similar privileges for certain things they might find important ?

Deogolwulf said...

“Perhaps atheism is an attained state that requires an open and enquiring mind”.

One of the dumbest things I’ve read all week. If introspection cannot reveal to you the plain falsity of that conjecture, then surely your experience of atheistic half-wits can – or have you never met any? I should say the world does not lack for those whose atheism is but the empty-headed and social-pathetic attempt to position themselves in accordance with the now common but quite strangely erroneous belief that atheism is what the clever believe. As with theism and agnosticism, it is true to say that atheism requires almost no thought at all.

FrankFisher said...

I hate buses and I hate London and I really fucking hate London buses.

Quite like Stephen Green though - DK, he comes on t'telly and argues his points, is polite and persisent and hasn't beheaded anybody. He may be a loony, but he is an ordinary decent and transparent loony, and this is to be encouraged.

El Draque said...

I am an evangelical Christian and I laughed out loud when the original campaign failed to reach the target. Christians raise funds for the Alpha campaign and reach millions. Atheists sneer at it but can't be bothered to campaign.
Stephen Green should have kept quiet. Our God is big enough and old enough to cope. He took a flogging for us, we Christians can at least be polite to those who don't share the belief.
But - watch out for the hidden rise of the evangelical-pentecostal movement. 500 million world-wide, said The Economist last year.

Anonymous said...

And I quote:

"..One of the dumbest things I’ve read all week. If introspection cannot reveal to you the plain falsity of that conjecture, then surely your experience of atheistic half-wits can – or have you never met any? I should say the world does not lack for those whose atheism is but the empty-headed and social-pathetic attempt to position themselves in accordance with the now common but quite strangely erroneous belief that atheism is what the clever believe. As with theism and agnosticism, it is true to say that atheism requires almost no thought at all..."

I don't know about you lot but I can't stand verbose fuckwits with about as much grasp of the English language as they have of reality...What a pretentious TWAT!

hsld said...

£60k now ! - I bet Pollys crypto-socialist mates at the humanist society can really use a cash injection like that.

Still, you got your advert on the bus and stuck two fingers up to the 'sky fairy' believers - which is all that counts isn't it ? Because really, it's ALL ABOUT YOU

J.C. said...

Excuse me, but what are all you evangelicals doing at a website called the 'Devils Kitchen'? I don't want to seem rude, but you do come across like you're out of the same box as the radical Muslims. To wit; cannot tolerate any other views but your own.

Just an observation.

J.C.

haddock said...

some of us come here because DK sometimes says something interesting, other times we come to see just what sort of cunt he's making of himself on that particular day. We tolerate views.... but we do argue against them, no beheading, no suicide bombs, no screaming about sharpened cockroaches ( do you see the difference now between God, god,the Devil and Allah?...... sorry to patronise if you are not a sixth former.... I'm an ex-teacher, I can recognise their debating style ...and habits die hard.)

The Nameless Libertarian said...

El Draque,

You wrote:

I am an evangelical Christian and I laughed out loud when the original campaign failed to reach the target.

Presumably the success of the second campaign is making you weep like a baby. I hope it is, anyway.

Christians raise funds for the Alpha campaign and reach millions. Atheists sneer at it but can't be bothered to campaign.

What is this, then, if it is not a campaign? And the campaign seems to be going rather well, doesn't it? And one of the reasons why I support this is the tedious, shrill and occasionally sickening preaching of the evangelical Christians. Most atheists don't see it as an automatic need to spread the word of their belief (or lack of) - it is the persistent attempts at conversion and indoctrination of elements of all religions that provokes campaigns like this.

Stephen Green should have kept quiet.

Don't be nasty about Stephen. He is one of the funniest people I have ever come across. Seriously, if I had a choice between watching a stand up comic and that lackwit, Green would get my vote.

Our God is big enough and old enough to cope. He took a flogging for us, we Christians can at least be polite to those who don't share the belief.

I'm sure your God will cope; if he/she/it survived the oppression of the Roman empire, then he/she/it will probably survive an ad campaign.

As a small point, it was Jesus who took a flogging for "us", not God. Jesus is part of God, but does not represent the whole of God. And on the day Jesus was flogged, he was also crucified. I'd imagine, on what was probably quite a shitty day for him, the crucifixion was more of an issue that the flogging.

And some of the comments on this post, combined with the hysterical reaction from a lot of Christians in relation to this campaign, just shows how evangelical Christians aren't polite to those who don't share their belief. My personal experience of those types of Christians is they wander around, telling people they are going to burn in hell for not believing. Atheists are saying enjoy your life, Christians are saying you will burn. Hmmmm, the former message is slightly more positive than the latter message, no?

But - watch out for the hidden rise of the evangelical-pentecostal movement. 500 million world-wide, said The Economist last year.

And there it is! The veiled threat. Although I have to say the hidden rise of the evangelical-pentecostal movement is not as worrying as you might think it is. Frankly, I am more scared by the potential rise of Skynet and the Terminators. Which has something in common with your God - it doesn't exist.

Look. We live in a democracy. Atheists have decided to run a bus campaign to provide a counterpoint to Christian advertising. You are perfectly entitled to not agree. But the Christian hysteria around this suggests to me that your God is not as strong as you make he/she/it out to be; if your God really is big enough and strong enough to shrug this off, then why are you (all) taking the time to comment on this and argue against it?

The Nameless Libertarian

The Secret Person said...

As an atheist, I certainly don't believe in the devil, or his kitchen.

FlipC said...

'I am here to tell you about another way, a way that shuns the tyranny of the current two-party majority system.'
'Huzzah', 'You tell them'.
'For too long they have dominated us, for too long they have told us how to act and how to think. For too long have they decided what is right and what is wrong.'
[Cheers]
'They have lost their relevance, they have lost their purpose. No longer do they speak for the people of this country.'
'Too true'.
'So join me in this endeavour to rid this country of the pestilence that is Christianity and Islam forever.'
'Hurr... what? I thought you were talking about the Tories and Labour parties... fucking bigot!'

Devil's Kitchen said...

FlipC,

I don't think that I ever said that I wanted to get rid of Christianity, Islam, Paganism or anything else.

There is, however, no room for a state religion in a libertarian society (you are placing one group of people above another).

For what it is worth, I do not find being an atheist easy: it was a desolate day when I realised that I had no faith in any kind of supreme being, afterlife or overall meaning to life.

Yes, there are atheists who are merely lazy, but I can assure you that I am not one of them.

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

P.S. Lazy people are not, in fact, usually atheists but agnostics – they are both too lazy to argue their corner also not determined enough in their belief to understand that "hedging your bets" is not a valid position.

A lot of people misunderstand atheism: it isn't that we don't necessarily want there to be a god, but only that we cannot, logically, believe in the existence of such a being.

Were god to manifest on Earth (as a god) tomorrow, then I would believe in such an entity because the evidence would be there.

DK

John B said...

I think FlipC was making a satirical point about how religious views are supposed to be 'respected', and saying 'Christians are a bunch of thick cunts' gets you called a bigot, even though they're exactly the same as political views and it's entirely acceptable to say 'Labour supporters are a bunch of thick cunts'.

Dave Mills said...

Hey I totally agree, nice article. Have been saying similar things myself but less eloquently on my own site(linked via my name).

witchibus said...

I tend to approach it from the perspective that it's lazier to have a nominal religious belief (just sticking with whatever you've been raised with - not thinking to challenge those ideas) than making the decision to actively not believe. It's more comforting to hope that there's a higher power who'll be on your side, just so long as you follow the rules. Someone/something you can appeal to when stuff goes tits up.
I was raised as a Catholic (but with less and less direct involvement, as my mum started to question her faith in the Church hierachy through the child abuse scandals of the early 90s), but I'm now seriously considering atheism, as opposed to the lazy notion of spirituality that I've engaged in for most of my adult life.
I've always had real problems with my behaviour being influence by love/fear of some higher power. How I behave as a human being should rest on the strength of my own judgement, including my understanding of how it will affect others. I don't need a religion or a god to help me make those decisions. Curiously enough, I can offer support, care, understanding and even, on occasion, love to those around me without it being couched in religious belief. I'd like to think, rather, that I should look to myself and be responsible for my own decisions, judgements and actions. I don't want some old god who tells me what I want to hear, as if I cannot tell obedience from fear.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely sure that 'maybe' there is no god ... but a goddess? Now that's a distinct possibility!!!

Me, I'm a witch ... and before you reach for the bell book and candle, just be careful.. if I can really do all the things you accuse me of, surely I am the last person you want to get offside with!!!!

And yes - I do mean you

Rory Meakin said...

Adding "(or Allah)" after "God" would have been good.

urban man said...

"Were god to manifest on Earth (as a god) tomorrow, then I would believe in such an entity because the evidence would be there."

Of course, but the evidence would have to be pretty darned good, wouldn't it, DK? Nothing less than a snow white beard would do. Few, gingery streaks left? Nah, just a frigging tramp.


"I might tell you to go to the Charing Cross Road and kick a blind man standing on the corner. That blind man may tell you something, lead you somewhere..."

Harold Wilson

Deogolwulf said...

“[A]gnostics . . . are both too lazy to argue their corner also not determined enough in their belief to understand that "hedging your bets" is not a valid position.”

No doubt such people exist, but if you think that “hedging your bets” is a good conception of agnosticism itself, then you conceive of quite a low species of one. Yet it is rather the essential position of agnosticism that one is not determined enough in one’s beliefs about an empirically, conceptually, and logically indeterminable position, weak-willed though such a position may be. Darwin, for instance, a man of brilliant and subtle mind, unlike his epigones, was certainly not “hedging his bets” by his agnosticism; he was admitting that he had no answer or conception to what seems to be an unutterably complex and unanswerable question. (“In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.” C.R. Darwin, Letter to John Fordyce, 7th May 1879.) You say: “we cannot, logically, believe in the existence of such a being.” I might then ask, firstly: which conceptions of such a being do you find logically impossible? -- logical impossible conceptions? But anyone can easily not believe in those! Secondly: what kind of “logic” is this that precludes all conceptions and which has escaped the notice of all the greatest minds? If that logical preclusion is there -- and if you truly came to your position through it -- it would of course be of great value if you could share it with a world which hitherto has had to muddle through with the blank minds of the Kants, the Darwins, the Eddingtons, and so on.

Martin Meenagh said...

God bless you one and all. And stop giving Toynbee loads of money.

spotty muldoon said...

1. You will notice that this is why the slogan reads, "there is probably no god."

DK
10/21/2008 03:04:00 PM

2. we cannot, logically, believe in the existence of such a being.

DK
10/23/2008 10:43:00 AM

3. "hedging your bets" is not a valid position.
DK
Ibid.

Despite your iron logic, you seem rather to have been chased up an argumentative tree. Wouldn't you say?

FlipC said...

Thank you John B the inspiration for my little 'speech' being 'People seem to have little problem with your humble Devil promoting his belief in libertarianism, but doing the same for atheism seems to have raised some hackles. Apparently, promoting libertarianism is fine, but promoting atheism is being "close-minded".'

Umbongo said...

DK

"we cannot, logically, believe in the existence of such a being"

The logical position is to be an agnostic. No-one can prove the existence or non-existence of God. Your faith - your scientifically unfounded belief - is that there is no god. I happen not to believe in God (in the Judaeo-Christian and Moslem sense) either but neither I nor you can prove it.

The word "probably" in the ad is dishonest (well Polly is involved after all) since it implies some kind of belief process amenable to arithmetic calculation. If you must have a caveat, "possibly" would be more accurate and more honest.

Stan said...

I'm a Christian but have no problem with this message being displayed on buses - although I think the use of "probably" rather than "possibly" is contentious.

However, couldn't we apply a similar doctrine to other things rather than having someone else's will imposed on us? For example, "you probably won't crash today so don't wear your seatbelt and enjoy the freedom".

woman on a raft said...

There is, however, no room for a state religion in a libertarian society (you are placing one group of people above another).

DK - move to put that on the 'pending' list along with the monarchy.

The monarchy and the CofE both have practical effect of occupying a position which is otherwise permanently contested. Strangely, if you have a rule which says 'this is the state religion, you are perfectly entitled to dissent from it, only go off and dissent on your own dollar' it means that nobody else is in a strong enough position to start demanding belief. For example, there is the successful protection of Judaism in Britain since just after Cromwell. The Jews clearly were not going to accept the state religion, but so long as they accepted the legitimacy and primacy of the Crown's religion and the Crown guaranteed their right to hold differing views in private, it produced a working fudge.

As I'm interested in getting to freedom, I'm prepared to tolerate theoretical inconsistencies. Think of it as cowpox innoculating against smallpox.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Umbongo and spotty muldoon,

*sigh*

I can say that there is no evidence for the existence of a god. Therefore there is no god.

Now, you can tell me that this is a belief or a faith, if you like; however, I still regard that as being semantic bollocks.

If I asserted that there was a chocolate teapot circling the sun in an orbit between Earth and Venus, most people would say, "yeah? Prove it."

As I would be unable to do so, the assumption is that there is no such teapot.

I could say that I have a foot long cock, and you response would be much the same. Were I to produce no picture of said cock, you would assume that I was lying because the balance of probability is that I do not have a foot long cock (and that balance is tipped further to the side of improbability by my refusal to produce any evidence).

The default position is that such a thing does not exist unless you can prove that it does. I think that I can make an argument for the existence of god being so vanishingly small that the probability of this entity existing is close to one.

You are correct that I cannot be absolutely and totally certain but I don't think that the onus is on me to prove that a god exists: the burden of proof is on the believer to prove that he does.

It's the same approach that we take in criminal trials, come to think of it. You have to prove that the evidence of my crime exists: I do not have to prove that I did not do it (not yet, anyway).

DK

johnny nunsuch said...

If there is a God/Allah/Vishnu/Jupiter etc call him/her/it what you will are you sure he'd want such a bunch of bigoted violent psychopaths cluttering up his paradise ?

And as for Lucifer etc I'm sure he/she has better things to do then torment those who are mere then equal to the task of doing it to themselves or others

haddock said...

if you could produce writings from long ago that predicted that one day in the future a man, with a foot long knob, would appear..... beneath a sky populated with chocolate crockery..... you would be close to establishing a religion maybe....

Otherwise it would just be someone making a 6th form argument

barry said...

I don't believe in Richard Dawkins, but the smug, mama's darling little cunt seems to be omnipresent.

If I want to believe in the tooth fairy, I don't need this sanctimonious prig pissing on my parade.

BTW, he looks like a failed vicar, whatever that means, which is probably what makes him so bitter.

Gareth said...

Praise be to the John Holmes and his levitating chockery! He was arisen many times. Usually in the company of women. His being has not been felt for many years. For it was foretold in the ancient scrolls 'Johnny Wad and the flying chocolate teapots'.


One of the religions we didn't cover at school...

Deogolwulf said...

DK, you say: “I can say that there is no evidence for the existence of a god. Therefore there is no god.” That is illogical. (But I am puzzled why you would even think it good; surely you don’t think all those logicians from the middle-ages down to our own day missed that “disproof”?) As for Russell’s Teapot (or something similar: Flying Spaghetti Monster, sky-fairy, etc), it is a poor analogy, if taken to imply anything more than the demand for the burden of proof for some outlandish claim, or a mere statement against the illogical thinking of the form: x has not been disproven to exist, therefore x exists. Perhaps you might claim that all concepts of God are concepts of an outlandish nature analogous to a flying teapot or a spaghetti monster. For so interesting – and dare I say outlandish – a claim there is no justification. You have taken some point about proof and logic and turned it into an epistemic claim about the equality of credibility of all concepts of God and those of flying teapots, etc, such that, just and insofar as we have no reason to believe in flying teapots, spaghetti monsters, etc, so we have no reason to believe in God howsoever conceived. Is it the case, however, that God must be – or indeed typically is – conceived as a physical object in the universe, as the analogy demands if it is to stand? Moreover, is it the case that the concept of God must describe – or is even typically taken to describe - a contingent fact about the universe, as the analogy suggests, rather than the necessary ground of its existence and therefore of all contingent facts? You will, I hope, find the answers to be “no”, and thereby find the analogies with flying teapots, spaghetti monsters, etc, to be embarrassingly poor. It is indeed, as Haddock says, a sixth-form argument. Still, Dawkins seems to be making a decent amount of cash out of peddling such things.

Devil's Kitchen said...

My dear Deogolwulf,

Your screed can be answered thusly:

a) what empirical evidence is there for a god?

b) what empirical evidence is there for a chocolate teapot orbiting the sun?

I think that you may find that "none" is the answer to both questions and therefore (if only in my mind (and I'm pretty sure that it is not only in my mind) they can be considered analogous.

There are, of course, arguments against the probability of both based on logic and observed behaviour but, to be honest, what is the point of trotting those out? The burden of proof is on those who believe to prove the existence of said entities.

Now, does anyone here believe in ghosts?

DK

Deogolwulf said...

But you haven’t answered my screed; you have asked two different questions and answered them, finding a point of comparison – their evidential status – which was never under question by either you or me. And what have ghosts got to do with it?

El Draque said...

Just to be quite clear.
There is not, and (probably)never will be, physical evidence for a creator of the universe. Because the scientific evidence would be physical, with a cause. And it would be explicable in terms of physics, etc.
Faith, in my view, is therefore entirely personal, and cannot be encapsulated into a doctrine of "eternal truth".
As it a matter of my belief only, then I fall into the the evangelical line.
Sadly, many people of that persuasion think they have the "fundamentals of the faith" and seek to exclude all other lines of thought.
I am libertarian, Darwinist, and lots of other things too.
The reference to the 500 million pentecostals was not a threat - but a warning. I know them; they insist on being tolerated when a minority, when a majority they become tyrants. Libertarian evangelicals need to defend the rights of other Christians and other religions too.
We're on the same side, you know. Really.

haddock said...

"b) what empirical evidence is there for a chocolate teapot orbiting the sun?"
absolutely none at the moment, there is a possibility that one may be spotted. one could argue that no one has been looking very hard for one.
as for seeing ghosts yes I have
http://haddock-somethingfishy.blogspot.com/2007/12/more-than-meets-eye.html
do I believe in ghosts ? logically, no I don't but when you actually see one I suppose you have to.

Gareth said...

"The burden of proof is on those who believe..."

If you are firmly in opposition your burden is as theirs. You can do no more than believe their higher power/being/lump of pasta does not exist. You set aside the uncertainties you know are there but still insist God does not exist. That is as illogical as any belief in sky fairies.

You cannot know God does not exist. You might be confident you are correct but then, so are they. Does it matter which of you is right?

Like George Michael, you gotta have faith. Either way. Yet faith is... illogical.

Devil's Kitchen said...

You are right: I cannot prove that there is a god. I have acknowledged that this is a logical point.

I wandered to Wikipedia to see if it could sum up what I have been trying to communicate: "Atheism, as an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of the nonexistence of gods, or the rejection of theism. It is also defined more broadly as an absence of belief in deities, or nontheism."

I have an absence of belief in gods. OK? I am not militantly atheist: I do not go about blowing the shit out of people who believe in gods: I just have an absence of belief myself.

I don't believe in a god because there is no evidence for gods.

I don't really see what the big fucking problem is, really I don't.

The position that you all seem to be arguing is agnosticism: "Agnosticism is the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims — particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology, afterlife or the existence of deities, ghosts, or even ultimate reality — is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently impossible to prove or disprove."

I am not a philosopher, because most philosophy has little application to the real world (and, in any case, always boils down to semantics); it is a similar reason why I am a Consequentialist rather than a Rights Libertarian.

DK

hsld said...

If you middle class public schoolboy libertarian computer nerds paused for a moment to stop docking your Ipods to your blessed Apple Macs so you can sync them to your RSS feeds ( or whatever it is you wankers do with your computers ) then you might find the time to read some old fashioned paper books on cosmology.

The Big Bang ? a theory proposed by a Jesuit priest. One of those morons who believes in sky fairies, except he backed it up with some serious mathematics. Georges Lemaitre.

His main opponent was a bloke called Fred Hoyle, who didn't like the Big Bang, because avowed atheist Fred thought it left room for a creator, so he proposed the steady state theory. Except later on Fred recanted, and even started talking about the universe being controlled by a superior...entity.

The current state of cosmology is this :-

In the beginning there was nothing, and it exploded.
The nothing which exploded created an expanding universe full of boring crap, which became more interesting crap thanks to nuclear interactions. The reason gravity didn't pull everything back together in a big crunch is because the expansion rate just accidentally happened to be the correct one, which is like winning the national lottery ten times over on the day Polly Toynbee is eaten by rabid skunks, to the power of ten million.

I should point out that this staggeringly unlikely set of circumstances is backed up by sciences best attempts to probe the wherefores of the whatever, and I'm inclined to agree with it.

Finally we end up with the world as we know it, so I can get to be made miserable by socialists. What a fucking result.

And you think Jesus walking on water is unlikely....

spotty muldoon said...

DK - You have as good as admitted your basic philosophical illiteracy. In answer to Kev G's citation of Kant on the limits of logic, you drew attention to probability, a quantitative method which underpins empirical judgements about events. Then you shifted back to logical impossibility and would have no truck with hedging bets (probability).

In short, you are yourself hedging your bets between the logical and emprical and are basically all over the place. You are not so much out of your depth as drowning in your own piss. It makes no sense to talk of "evidence" of the precondition of something rather than nothing to exist. It is a category mistake, or schoolboy error, if you prefer.

"Philosophy is silly anyway." True, most of it is, but a basic training in the subject will also reduce your chances of talking tosh.

Kev, Umbongo, Deogol et al have at least read their stuff and know what they are talking about. You don't.

You are a good bloke and provide a valuable public service and it is with that endorsement that I now recommend that you quit while you're behind.

haddock said...

Fred Hoyle, astronomer.... and sci-fi author
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Cloud

Umbongo said...

DK

1. Wot spotty muldoon says

2. You assert that "most philosophy has little application to the real world"

"sigh"

Ever read any philosophy? William of Ockham for instance. I suspect you use his philosophy every day - or you should. Plato, Popper, Kant - even Marx - they've all passed you by? Sad, but this isn't the place to teach the wilfully ignorant.

To repeat: you can't prove or disprove the existence of God scientifically: the existence or otherwise is not amenable to scientific enquiry. End of story. However, Dawkins is just as much a nutter - and your atheism is just as much a "belief" - as any bloke walking along Oxford Street claiming "The End is Nigh" because his god tells him so.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Okey doke, I'm happy to admit that I have read almost no philosophy although I am familiar with some concepts (Ockham's razor is a lovely concept, by the way, but William merely articulated a mode of thought). I'll also admit that I should have used "rational" where I used "logical".

I will happily admit that I don't know that there isn't a god and I'll admit even more readily that I couldn't give a shit because I don't believe in such an entity; it is also my belief that anyone who subsumes their life to a hypothetical entity, for which there is no evidence is, a bit silly but I am happy for people to live their lives in whichever way they see fit).

However, on the original point -- that the bus ads are a bit of a giggle -- I yield to no one: if one bunch of people are allowed to announce their faith -- and attempt to recruit people to it -- on the side of a bus, I don't see why atheists shouldn't do the same. And I think that it's amusing -- which is why I used the tag "mischief-making".

I will also admit that I actually do not give a flying fuck whether or not there is a god: it has no obvious effect on my life and so whether or not such an entity exists is of absolutely no interest to me. Not in the slightest. At all. Zip. Nada. None.

Are you people happy now?

Now, does anyone mind if I get back to slagging off politicians -- in the real world -- rather than fielding unanswerable arguments about a pointless subject?

DK

barry said...

So, we are all agreed, Dawkins is a cunt.

Laurence Boyce said...

"And you think Jesus walking on water is unlikely...."

No actually, it's completely impossible. And if you want anyone to think otherwise, then you're going to have to repeat the trick in full view. Failing that, you'll just have to brainwash kids into thinking it might have happened.

pedants r us said...

"No actually, it's completely impossible."

No actually, it's your belief that it's completely impossible.

dr cromarty said...

Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad.

What a fucking waste of money.

Toynbee? Dawkins? Now you. I thought better of you, DK. Since you've become a politician you've joined the ranks of the bossypants, I'll-tell-you-what's-good-for-you brigade.

Dawkins and Toynbee are just the atheist version of the doorstepping Jehovah's Witnesses - they've just got an anti-faith. Dofferent badge same hectoring, finger-jabbing illiberal mentality.

FFS!

Devil's Kitchen said...

dr cromarty,

What the fuck? Since when did supporting a campaign to put an advert on buses saying, "there is probably no god" make me a bossypants?

Might I point out that I supported the campaign long before Jon brought Dawkins and Toynbee on board, and mainly because I thought it would be fun? What the fuck is up with you people?

If the advert said, "There is no god and if you don't say so, I will come round and shoot your children" then you might have a point.

"What a fucking waste of money."

That may be your opinion, but people can spend their money how and where they like. If you disagree, you are merely what you accuse me of.

FFS, what the fuck is wrong with you silly bastards?

DK

dr cromarty said...

I thought it would be fun

It's not fun hitching up with a pair of authoritarian busybodies like those two.

You've become an evangelical atheist and like any evangelical, be it a happy-clappy Christian, a Wahhabi dawa-merchant or a Hare-Krishna freak and of course and especially the brand of dinner-party atheist who luuuuurves to tell the other about his oh-so-transgressive atheism, you risk becoming (a) a crashing bore and (b) someone who likes to tell others what to believe (even if you stick a 'probably' in as a qualifier)

Laurence Boyce said...

"You risk becoming (a) a crashing bore and (b) someone who likes to tell others what to believe."

There's no getting away from this Dr Cromarty. Like you're telling Devil that he shouldn't be supporting this advert. It's the same deal.

dr cromarty said...

I don't like being told what to believe by you or him. I thought he was a libertarian. Strange bedfellows Toynbee and Dawkins make in that. Both betray a totalitarian mindset and in-yer-face atheists are just as boring as the nutters at Speakers' Corner banging on about not eating protein.

Laurence Boyce said...

Well I'm no fan of Toynbee, but I don't mind Dawkins at all. Dawkins has argued that there are no good reasons to believe in God, and several good reasons not to believe in God. I totally agree. So what if that amounts to "telling people what to think"? We do it all the time, either explicitly or implicitly. And you're doing it now telling us not to support the bus advert, to which incidentally I have already contributed a modest £25. I'm not a libertarian, by the way, and one of the reasons is that I repeatedly see libertarians getting tied up in knots over freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Dr Cromarty,

"I don't like being told what to believe by you or him. I thought he was a libertarian."

Obviously, the standard of intelligence required of doctors has decreased since I applied.

I have a perfect right to tell you what to believe. And you have a perfect right to refuse, or ignore me.

What I do not have the right to do is to enforce that belief on you by force (or the credible threat of force).

Do you see the difference?

Now, let's look at the wording of the advert...

"There's probably no god."

That is a statement made by those who paid for the advert: there is no order implicit in that.

"So stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Well, if you were a total tosspot, you might interpret that as an order, I suppose: on the other hand, one could also interpret it as an invitation or an exhortation.

Given that it is only an advert on the side of a bus, I think that you can safely ignore it, if you like.

Now, if the advert were to say, "So stop worrying and enjoy your life or you could get 5 years in prison" then the situation -- and my attitude to it -- might be slightly different.

Grow up, Cromarty. Oh, and whilst you are about it, why don't you go and look up what libertarian actually means?

DK

Laurence Boyce said...

"What I do not have the right to do is to enforce that belief on you by force (or the credible threat of force). Do you see the difference?"

Hope you don't mind me butting in on your conversation Devil. I do indeed see the difference, but in the normal course of events the argument is much more nuanced than that. The threat of force is one thing, but what about a more subtle and gentle coercion? What about faith schools in other words?

I want to see faith schooling phased out and am prepared to argue for this outcome through the political process. But I have rarely if ever received any support for this proposition from a libertarian. It's always "live and let live" and "everyone is entitled to their beliefs" and so on.

What is the Libertarian Party position on faith schooling?

Martin said...

"FFS, what the fuck is wrong with you silly bastards?"

We've been trying to tell you this for ages, DK, it seems it has taken a proposed ad on a bus to wake people up :0)

Matt Tiller said...

Hi there

I think this is very valuable and now so much has been raised it should support the BHA's anti-faith school campaign. That's my serious point... a more ridulous take on it can be found at http://ww.tillerpop.com

Many Thanks

Matt
x

dr cromarty said...

Grow up, Cromarty. Oh, and whilst you are about it, why don't you go and look up what libertarian actually means?

Why don't keep your proseltysing atheism to yourself? The NSS and BHA seem to want to keep religion out of the public square. Fine by me. Seems it's a different matter if you want to shove your own brand of Dawkinsite fundamentalism down the throats of the public. Do you see the double standard there or is your anti-religious bigotry such that you have a degree of selective blindness?

Sorry you didn't make it into medical school, DK. As Gregory House MD says: "Shoulda worked harder at high school"

Pip, pip!

Laurence Boyce said...

It's probably just as well. I wouldn't want to be operated on by the Devil just after he'd caught Gordon Brown on the news.

Laurence Boyce said...

Seriously though Cromarty, just repeating that Dawkins is a fundamentalist isn't going to make it so. The only reason it even looks a bit like that is because we have been appeasing the insanity of religion for far too long. The Dawk put this quite well in a recent interview:

"We've all been brought up with the view that religion has some kind of special privileged status. You're not allowed to criticise it. And therefore, if you offer even a fairly mild criticism, it really does sound strident, because it violates this expectation that religion is out of bounds."

Devil's Kitchen said...

"Why don't keep your proseltysing atheism to yourself?"

Why should I? Besides, if I indulge in "proseltysing atheism" then, by definition, I won't keep it "to myself".

"The NSS and BHA seem to want to keep religion out of the public square."

Apart from, in the case of the BHA, backing this campaign, you mean?

"Fine by me."

Well, assuming that you aren't an atheist, of course that is fine by you: in that way, you never have to be challenged on your beliefs and you can just blithely sail on, eh? Go for the easy life, Cromarty, why don't you?

"Seems it's a different matter if you want to shove your own brand of Dawkinsite fundamentalism down the throats of the public."

Ah, but it's absolutely fine for Christians or Muslims to shove their own brand of religious theocracy down the throats of the public?

Fucking hell, and you accuse me of double standards...

"Do you see the double standard there or is your anti-religious bigotry such that you have a degree of selective blindness?"

*sigh*

As I tried to convey in a comment above, I am not necessarily anti-religion. I know a number of very nice people who gain great comfort from their faith (I've not noticed them behaving in particularly Christian ways, but we'll leave that aside); if it does that for them, if it makes them happy, then fine.

I do not believe that there is a god of any kind. If religious people can put forward their beliefs, why is it suddenly a big scandal when I put forward mine.

For fuck's sake, Cromarty, this is a fucking blog: I put forward my beliefs to the general public every, single, fucking day!

Seriously, are you a moron or what? Or is it that, as long as I stay off religion, I can say what I like?

Isn't that double standards from you, Cromarty?

If I were to take out bus adverts propounding libertarianism, or urging people to vote for the Libertarian Party, would you be giving me the same shite?

Would you be writing things like, "Why don't keep your proseltysing libertarianism to yourself?"

Because, ultimately, I think that encouraging people to rationalise their beliefs to themselves every now and again is a very good thing: it stops people lazily accepting whatever they are told -- the fact that all too many in this country do precisely that is one of the biggest problems facing this society.

DK

dr cromarty said...

You put forward your views and generously open your blog to comments, this I respect.

Yet when I point out that in backing this campaign you've joined the ranks of evangelising atheists (and you have), you throw a hissy fit. Obviously touched a raw nerve.

I'm just sorry you've become a member of the The League of the Militant Godless. If that's your thing, fine. You and Dick and Pol have a nice time together. I'm sure the Summer Camps will be really good fun.

Laurence Boyce said...

You've got us banged to rights Cromarty. We're just like Stalin and Pol Pot.

dr cromarty said...

Well, Laurence, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck....well, you know the rest.

Martin said...

DK and Laurence, I've had an idea that we should get a sad little pamphlet called "The Truth" printed up and go round knocking on peoples' doors asking them if they would like a copy. Then we can all gather round a golden statue of Polly Tonybee and pray that we were more like her, are you guys in or what? Maybe we could build fuck-off big no-God houses and lure people in off the streets with cash incentives.

Cromarty wouldn't be welcome though cos he don't like being preached at.

dr cromarty said...

You can hardly blame me when I'm surrounded by sanctimonious religious types and then the non-religious types start joining in just for fun

Ha, fucking, ha.

Martin said...

No, don't worry Cromarty, it's not you fault at all. And I was way too harsh on you in my comment above.

Isn't it about time you were at home in bed, it's gone past 11.30 you know?

dr cromarty said...

Sheesh, you people are touchy. Are you Muslims in disguise?

Sandra said...

'probably'? ...meaning that atheists even believe the possibility that God exists...why then are they trying to change other people's beliefs?

what is the meaning of this campaign? wouldn't it be better to give to those in need...especially those in Gaza and make the world a better place?

peace

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