Saturday, January 10, 2009

God Is Dead. Drink Sierra Mist.

While Fosco is indeed an atheist, he's not too big on the recent trend of public advertisements for atheism. Here is the new bus campaign in England:

I guess I just find it hard to believe that a person's religious belief will be adequately shaken enough by such glibness to produce any change. For most people in society (i.e., those of us raised in a religious tradition of some sort), atheism tends to be the fruit of a long scholarly path and a period of serious intellectual honesty, not something that one adopts because of a bus ad.

Now if the ads were aimed more at questioning the role of religion in public discourse, I think they might be more useful and have more clear effects. Something like: "God Shouldn't Be Our Prime Minister" or "Jesus and I Should Stay Out of Your Personal Life" (oh dear, those are terrible, aren't they?). I think people's attitudes about what is appropriate in public discourse are more easily swayed, mainly because I think the norms of appropriate public discourse are currently in transition.

That being said, I do like the part about "Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life." That's good advice for atheists and nonatheists alike.


todd said...

I liken the recent advertising campaigns as a step towards mainstreaming atheism. It's still relatively socially acceptable to be biased against those lacking faith. If these campaigns encourage more "in the closet" atheists to come forward, or cause any religious people to realize we aren't (all) morally depraved perverts looking to brainwash their children, then they will have done a great service.

Word verification: sallyou. That's right. It is all you.

Anonymous said...

Your belief that there is no God is, by definition, a faith. So now you qualify for faith-based initiative programs! Yay! So suck it, agnostics!

The BeeMaster

Word Verification: watomen -- plural of whatta man.

todd said...

@BeeMaster: This is my second crack at this, now in a length that someone might actually read. I'd be happy to expand on it if anyone really wants me to, but I don't want to spam Fosco's blog.


I have to dispute the notion that atheism is a "faith."

It's is a very common argument: Theists cannot prove that god exists, but atheists also cannot prove that god does not exist. This leads to the argument that there is no objective means for determining which option is superior, as neither has any logical or empirical advantage over the other.

Claiming that atheists “cannot prove that God does not exist” most often relies on the misunderstanding that atheists claim “God does not exist” and should prove this. In reality, atheists only fail to accept a theists' claim “God exists.” The initial burden of proof lies with the believer.

Anonymous said...

Atheism is a faith, not lack thereof. Jainism, Buddhism, and Scientology are all nontheistic religions. To call them faithless is both inaccurate and disrespectful.

The Burden of proof (Latin: onus probandi) is the obligation to shift the assumed conclusion away from an oppositional opinion to one's own position (this may be either a negative or positive claim).

Under the Latin maxim necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit, the general rule is that "the necessity of proof lies with he who complains." The burden of proof, therefore, usually lies with the party making the new claim.

Since humans are naturally inclined to believe in a creator, atheism qualifies as a "new claim." Therefore, the burden of proof should lie with the atheist!

The BeeMaster

todd said...

Unless you're using some definition of faith I am unfamiliar with I can't see any way to even come close to your statements being right.

Atheism comes from the Greek, "a-theos." This means "without god." Atheism, literally, means the lack of belief.

Before I spend more time on this, I guess I'm going to need to know how you're defining "faith."