Arian Sherine raised the issue back in June with her Guardian article Atheists – gimme five:
“Yesterday I walked to work and saw not one, but two London buses with the question: “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It seems you wait ages for a bus with an unsettling Bible quote, then two come along at once.
The errant capital letters weren’t the only disturbing thing about this (Faith Hill or Faith Evans?). There was also a web address on the ad, and when I visited the site, hoping for a straight answer to their rather pressing question, I received the following warning for anyone who doesn’t “accept the word of Jesus on the cross”: “You will be condemned to everlasting separation from God and then you spend all eternity in torment in hell. Jesus spoke about this as a lake of fire which was prepared for the devil and all his angels (demonic spirits)” (Matthew 25:41). Lots to look forward to, then.”
She went on suggest:“that if there are 4,680 atheists reading this and we all contribute £5, it’s possible that we can fund a much-needed atheist London bus ad with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.””
Well, the idea flew and beginning January some London buses will carry the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Originally planned to run on 30 buses for four weeks the donations have been far greater than the appeal target (see atheist bus campaign). So the campaign may run longer, extend outside London and/or also include advertisements placed inside the buses.
Commenting on the success of the campaign Sherine said: “I was just keen to counter the religious ads running on public transport, which featured a URL to a website telling non-Christians they would spend “all eternity in torment in hell”, burning in “a lake of fire”.” (See Evangelical Atheism)
The campaign has been welcomed by humanists and atheists throughout the world and also by some Christian groups (including in New Zealand – see for God’s sake, let people think) who believe it will fuel a “continued interest in God.”
Some other Christians have reacted negatively – even warning that “people don’t like to be preached to and that it wouldn’t be surprising if the public retaliated.” I agree – people don’t like to be preached at – but who has being doing the preaching? “I should be surprised if a quasi-religious advertising campaign like this did not attract graffiti,” said Stephen Green of U.K.-based Christian Voice(from ‘No God’ Ads to Hit London Buses)
And how is this from an offended blogger: “missionary work by the followers of atheism should be expected.” But: “insulting most of humankind is arrogant and disrespectful. It’s one thing to disagree with your neighbor and make your points. It’s an entirely different thing to call your neighbor a moron.” Paul Woolley, director of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said: “Stunts like this demonstrate how militant atheists are often great adverts for Christianity.”
Well – we know how Christian apologists bandy around the word ‘militant’, don’t we?
Atheists accept probably
The ‘probably’ in the slogan has caused some Christians to ridicule the campaign some describing it as “wishy washy.” Some atheists have also objected to the word ‘probably.’ However, it’s interesting that many atheists are actually happy with this qualification – because nothing is completely certain in science. Richard Dawkins (who contributed £5,500 to the campaign) is one of these – as he makes clear in The God Delusion.
A poll carried out on the Truth Is a Woman blog indicates the ‘probably’ qualifier may be acceptable to most atheists. It’s not very scientific but the results (see Our Labels versus Our Beliefs) indicate that atheists may be happier to say that God ‘probably doesn’t exist (66%) than believers are to say the she ‘probably’ does exist (12%). Believers seem to go in for certainty with 66% saying they are 100% certain of God’s existence. Only 28% of non-believers are certain of her non-existence.
I guess that’s the difference between science and faith.