The Atheist Buses Are Leaving the Station!

Well I think it’s high time we had some good news, and if you’re an atheist like me, this certainly is that. :-) The atheist bus campaign I wrote about last year has now been officially launched, after raising over £135,000—breaking the original target by over 2400%! This means that instead of having only 30 atheist buses as originally planned, there will now be 800 of them rolling across the UK! There will also be 1000 tube cards running on the London Underground featuring four famous atheist quotations from Douglas Adams, Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson and Katharine Hepburn. They are now even seeking suggestions for the slogan for a second wave of atheist buses in April.

Even better, the campaign has now gone global! Spain, Italy and France will be launching buses with their own translations of the original slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”, and even buses in Washington DC have been carrying the slogan “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness’ sake” for well over a month now. Canada and Ireland will be running the campaign as well. However, I must now reveal what is for me some very sad and shameful news: The Atheist Foundation of Australia‘s attempts to run the slogan “Atheism—celebrate reason!” on buses here in Australia have been refused by the company responsible for public metropolitan transport advertising across most of Australia (APN Outdoors). However, they are taking their case to the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner, as their bus advertising company (Metro Tasmania) is state owned. This is truly a shameful situation for a country as free and progressive as Australia.

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Great Sachiko! I saw something on the Canadian National news and was going to write to you about it, as I knew that you would appreciate it. Actually, I am a little surprised to hear that Einstein was an athiest, since he made some remark about “God doesn’t play dice” or something. I inferred from that that he was an agnostic verging on deism, but I suppose he was just speaking metaphorically–”God” standing for the physical laws of the Universe.

A number of good books contra religion in the past few years, e.g. the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins…

By the way, I think that you are very beautiful, and curious and intelligent to boot. Why would God be so unfair as to bestow such an endowment on just a few of his children? What has he got against the rest of us? Unfairness is totally consistent with the theory of natural selection….

  
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It certainly is, but if you had to deal with my temper every day, you might think God is fair after all. ;-)

  
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i think that this is great! too bad we have so very many fundies in this country. but we are making headway- and folks like me are continuing to hammer away every day :) so perhaps change will come. traditions are difficult to dislodge in culture though- especially the puritanical ones. american culture is bizarre and i have lived here my entire life.

  
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I am happy that this advertising campaign has been received, accepted, supported and being launced in such a grand fashion.

Unfortunately, religion is so much of a social-community- networking-monetary-hegemonic & tradition based issue that advertising will have very little effect.

Religion is a little like drug addiction for new members of a church. Generally these people are actively searching for religion to mask/give release/meaning to their hardships while doing so in a safe group environment. They tend to group together, giving each other validation for their actions, and they have instant social networking “ins” if they go to another area where their church is active.

Unlike drug addiction, though, there are the issues of familial teaching, patriarchal & heirarchical structures and the moral clarity in issues that when followed may actually may help in most instances keep a society from utter chaos. Then there is the issue of the legal system, which is highly derived from the Judeo-Christian-Muslim (King David, Hummarabi, Jesus’s teachings, Mohammed’s Teachings, King Charlemagne’s) traditions.

Of course, if we could just start over, and focus on every aspect of Western society that happened after the signing of the Magna Carta as a basis for our social, cultural, ethical and intellectual development (as we do in our economic evolution, beginning with Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes and such) then we could retain the original components that help our societies, without the threat of afterlife repraisal and judgement from something that doesn’t exist.

However, the addiction to religion, like that of the addiction to drugs, is something that: high taxes, threat of imprisonment, ridicule from society, removal from society, torture, poverty, execution, war, social strife, economic advantage, academic training, logical explaination and other methods of argument; have already failed to eradicate religion from societies worldwide.

The good news is that smaller proportions of the world population are choosing to be part of a religion. The bad news it is such a slow decline that it will take another 1500 years at the current rate for it to fall to 1% of the population. 5.7 of 6.5 Billion people believe in a religious aspect of humanity’s existence to one level or another. 4.6 Billion believe in the teachings of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim faiths to some degree or another.

Overall though, when you think that these religions started out as small as the Atheist movement 5,000, 2000 and 1400 years ago, the possibility exists of having success. The only problem is, that if the atheist movement becomes evangelical in nature, does atheism become just another social movement in the progression of other “isms” that have struck out and fallen flat over the 19th and 20th centuries?

My biggest hope is that the world doesn’t follow the track the movie “Idiocracy” depicts America to be in 2075. Atheism can be a tool to avoid this, so I wish great success upon this movement.

- Akacra

  
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I am so happy to hear this! Isn’t it amazing that these busses will be in countries that actually have an official state religion…yet not in America where we claim to separate Church and State.

@Akacra: I’ve never heard of the film you named. I’m guess it was an indie film, is it available on DVD?

  
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@Aspasia
here is the link to the 2006 film (released to a limited number of theatres in 2007 “Idiocracy” made by Mike Judge
(Beavis & Butthead, King of the Hill) It is live action, however the scenes and the over the topness of the stupidity may seem cartoonish.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/
It is available on DVD, so I am sure netflix has it, but it is also available on E-Bay

It is set in 2500 AD as opposed to my previous statement of 2075, but the idea is still relevant.

  
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Originally Posted By Aspasia
I am so happy to hear this! Isn’t it amazing that these busses will be in countries that actually have an official state religion…yet not in America where we claim to separate Church and State.

Hi Aspasia,

Actually, as my article mentions they are running in Washington DC, although nowhere else in the US as far as I know. However, down here in Australia they aren’t running anywhere – shame on us!

Regarding Akacra’s comments (welcome back!), I suspect the end of religion is inevitable, but it’s going to be a very long and very hard road, and it won’t happen at all if we sit back and do nothing.

  
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Well I guess this response to the atheist bus campaign was inevitable too. ;-)

  
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There is music in my ears surrounding the image of that bus in my mind’s eye. Yes, this bus is bound for glory, and the riders are partying and singing along. The impression is very strong, and I’m thinking I’m about to join in. But whoa, my friends — that’s a religious song, isn’t it?! Oh, my!

And did somebody say “launch”? That brings to mind, also very strongly, a revival-era short story called “A Celestial Omnibus”, and that was about a vehicle that did indeed leave from a humble little old station displaying a very earthy-country road sign “to heaven”. But, of course this random-thought free-association with such American-Gothic style “old family religion” symbols is so totally preposterous that any self-respecting half-intellectual perhaps shouldn’t even think of it, let alone write it down in the public view in somebody’s blog.

But since space programs around the world in general seem to have been lagging of late, some Grandma Moses audacity might soon be in order (or could be). Sachiko’s candor about “temper” is an intriguing bit of unexpected inspiration to me, in this case. Though I make little sense of my reaction to it as yet, I voluntarily jump quite rashly (yet gratefully) upon the urge to type a blurb, perhaps as though I would afterall make a last-minute run for that bus…

  
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I was just about to mention this when I happened upon your new blog: I actually got to ride in one of the buses w/ said slogan on the side! I honestly felt like a missionary, so to speak, in one of those things, spreading the word. Interestingly enough, it was on a Sunday, and we passed a great many churches along the route! Too bad church wasn’t letting out at that time, it would’ve been quite interesting to see the reactions on people’s faces as they just left service to see that message!

  
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Hi sagredo – good to see you back too! Whereabouts are you now? Obviously not middle America. ;-)

  
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I’ve been living in London for the last 6mo, due to my wife’s job & my schooling. I haven’t actually lived in middle america for 8.5 yrs, unless you count that short stint in Alabama last year!

  
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