You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Plane Crashes, Ad Campaigns, And "preachy" Atheists

As a respite from all the talk on cable television yesterday (and today) that the New York plane rescue was in fact a "miracle," it is nice to see more coverage of the atheist ad campaign currently centered on London buses. (As a side note, and to answer a question asked by Rod Dreher and the great Alex Massie--namely, why are these atheists so "preachy"--the reason might be because every time something like a plane rescue occurs, we are subjected to 48 hours of nonsense and superstition).

Anyway, via Ross Douthat comes a comprehensive article in The Christian Science Monitor on the ads:

It's the first mass marketing of atheism in Britain – and many in the community of faith say that's just fine.

On Jan. 6 some 800 British red "bendy" buses carried the sign: "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

This, however, was slightly irksome:

Some organizers wanted a flat "there is no God" statement. Dawkins favored an "almost certainly no God" wording. But Ms. Sherine says that British advertising officials advised that a phrase less absolute and not subject to proof would ensure the ad did not run afoul of the advertising standards authority.

This led to amusement by atheists and believers alike that a statement pro or con about that which has been known through the ages as Creator, First Cause, Deity, divine Love, the laws and powers of the universe, the "Christ consciousness" of Teilhard de Chardin, the Great Shepherd, that which answered Job out of the whirlwind and guided "Arcturus with his sons" – could be adjudicated by mid-level British civil servants.

Presumably, then, an ad campaign that claimed there were no unicorns would also run afoul of the advertising standards "authority." Ross ends his post with a quote from the Pope about how all of us--believers and non-believers--are united in our doubt. 

Neither can quite escape doubt and belief; for the one, faith is present against doubt; for the other through doubt and in the form of doubt. It is the basic pattern of man's destiny only to be allowed to find the finality of his existence in this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and uncertainty.

Yes, yes, we have heard it all before. Perhaps deep and profound doubt about the existence of both God and unicorns can sustain us in this time of hardship and miracles.

--Isaac Chotiner