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Probably No God

Entry 876, on 2008-10-25 at 21:40:13 (Rating 3, Religion)

You can usually tell when an interest group has an idea with some genuine merit and you can also usually tell when a group has an idea of dubious realism. The people who have the more fake ideas and who are trying to compensate usually phrase their ideas in absolute terms whereas those who are being more honest are generally more cautious.

If someone says their god is great or their god definitely performs miracles for them then you can be fairly sure that isn't true. If someone says god probably doesn't exist then there's a good chance they are right. Making such a tentative statement usually indicates a greater degree of honesty.

What I am leading up to here is the latest idea of the British Humanist Society which is to place advertising on London buses which reads: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The initial target was for two sets of 30 buses but the fund raising has been so successful that they now want to extend it to other cities and to more buses. Richard Dawkins has also got involved with a substantial donation and publicity, so its all looking quite high profile.

Of course the people who take their religion seriously (in other words the ones who disguise their uncertainty with absolutes) are against the idea. A spokesman for a Christian pressure group has said: "Bendy-buses, like atheism, are a danger to the public at large." But religion has never been enthusiastic about debate. When you are so uncertain about your beliefs the last thing you want is discussion, I guess.

Other, less extreme, organisations have been a bit more reasonable. The Methodist Church said it thanked Professor Dawkins for encouraging a "continued interest in God". Rev Jenny Ellis said: "This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life", and "Christianity is for people who aren't afraid to think about life and meaning."

I think a lot of people would disagree with that last idea. How can Christianity be about thinking when it emphasises faith so much? Its all very well to say they want to think about these ideas but that is never followed up with a real assessment of the facts.

Very few Christians I have debated with know much about the debate around the historicity of Jesus, for example. If Christians are interested in the facts why don't they know any? I'm not saying Jesus didn't exist (remember that honest people don't tend to make absolute statements) but I am saying there is no good evidence he did and substantial evidence to support the idea that he didn't.

So its good to see this campaign happening in London. Atheism has received a lot of publicity recently with the books, lectures, and articles from well known atheists like Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. If a similar campaign is ever started in the US I will know things are really starting to change!

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