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City of Brass

City of Brass

The God Bus

An atheist group has taken out ads on buses in the UK with catchy slogans poking some good-natured fun at believers. While these have predictably generated some anger and tension, I am entranced by the free speech and market ingenuity of it all. As I keep saying, the best answer to speech you disagree with is not to shut that speech down, but to counter with your own speech. Which is why this virtual bus slogan generator is so brilliant; now anyone can craft a message for the masses!

In the spirit of free speech and healthy debate, then, here is my bus slogan response.

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The God Bus

My Beliefnet colleague Steven Waldman is collecting more. Also we are having fun with this at Talk Islam.

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Thelemite

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:22 pm


So atheism’s a religion, huh? Then so are vegetarianism, republicanism, athleticism, mathematicianism, alcoholism, Mets fan-ism or and other idea that can be classified/made to end with ism. When you can classify a single DISbelief that doesn’t involve gods, rituals, temples or holidays as a religion, EVERYTHING becomes a religion. Good call, genius.



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Kevin D.

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm


All those examples you list do not enter the realm of religion, however some do try to take them to that level.
Atheism, OTOH, is a religion in that it asks for faith on behalf of its adherents. It’s the very definition of an article of faith to say, “There is no god.” One really has no way of knowing. So, it’s something that requires faith to believe. Additionally, because of that core doctrinal belief, a certain philosophical/moral code is derived. Again, something religion does. And atheism certainly has its list of commandments (evolution, global warming, embryonic stem cell research)! But there is debate between different atheist denominations as to how serious the transgression of them really are.
As atheists say theists have no way of knowing there’s a god, that we’re all playing pretend, the accusation cuts the other way.
Sorry to tell you the truth, but ‘dems the bricks.



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Thelemite

posted February 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm


I’ve probably only known one or two atheists in my lifetime who think they can say “There is no god” as a statement of fact, and they are wrong. As your billboard says, you can’t prove a negative, so that’s not really a defensible position. That is why the majority of atheists don’t make that claim – they prefer a position to the effect of “The evidence for the existence of god provided by believers is highly unconvinicing.” There is no statement of faith involved; rather, just the statement that we don’t share your faith.
If you are claiming that the ability to shape a person’s morality or philosphical code is what makes something a religion, then every example I listed (in addition to everything else in life) qualifies. I imagine it would be more accurate to say that a religion is something that gives you a specific set of morals or philosophies to adhere to, which atheism does not.
As for the evolution, stem cell research, etc. remark, I shouldn’t have to tell you that those subjects are 100% unrelated to atheism. There are atheists on both sides of the board on each one of those issues, just as there are among the religious. Do tell – exactly what is it about the disbelief in gods that is supposed to tell someone what to think about global warming?



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Arnold Harris

posted February 11, 2009 at 6:32 pm


If you can’t prove a negative, neither can you disprove it.
Arnold Harris
Mount Horeb WI



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Simon

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:26 pm


Ironic that you can advertise atheism on the side of a bus in the UK, but the law would then prevent a faith group from being able to advertise God.



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Simon

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm


Doh. I realise now that the comment above makes me look like a butt. Sorry folks. I should read slower :-)



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pagansister

posted February 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm


What a great idea! And as for the L A Christian tourist not liking it? Who really cares? She doesn’t even live there so she needed to “just get over it”, IMO. London is a great place. If I had see that during my trips to London, on one of the buses, I would have thought it was a neat campaign. England isn’t as up tight as the USA.
Washington DC ran some bus atheist ads over Christmas, with Santa in the picture. Not a big deal.



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