Over at the New Republic Issac Chotiner offers up the following worthy thought:
As a respite from all the talk on cable television yesterday (and today) that the New York plane rescue was in fact a “miracle,” it is nice to see more coverage of the atheist ad campaign currently centered on London buses. (As a side note, and to answer a question asked by Rod Dreher and the great Alex Massie–namely, why are these atheists so “preachy”–the reason might be because every time something like a plane rescue occurs, we are subjected to 48 hours of nonsense and superstition).
Exactly right! See the original for relevant links.
Chotiner was blogging about this article from The Christian Science Monitor describing the recent pro-atheism ads appearing on 800 buses throughout England:
It’s the first mass marketing of atheism in Britain — and many in the community of faith say that’s just fine.
On Jan. 6 some 800 British red “bendy” buses carried the sign: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
The Atheist Bus Campaign organizer, a young comedienne named Ariane Sherine, took exception last June to several London buses swathed with biblical quotes, placed by Christian fundamentalists.
I’m not surprised that many in the British faith community have no problem with the ad campaign. Traditional Christianity is so weak in England that the faith community is already hard to distinguish from the atheist community. I suspect trying the same thing in central Kansas might provoke a less tolerant response.
The article is pretty interesting and worth reading, but it is rather long on the sort of highbrow theological musings so beloved by academics and so ignored by the general public. Here’s a representative sample:
The Lutheran Karl Barth, a leading 20th-century European theologian, wrote the forward to the English language version of Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach’s prominent atheist critique, “The Essence of Christianity.” Barth wasn’t worried about the atheism, says Herman Waetjen, professor emeritus of New Testament studies at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, because Barth felt Feuerbach exposed many fault lines, mistakes, social and collective projections, and other falsifications of Christianity that had arisen around the 19th-century church.
“Barth was happy to write a forward to a book that exposed the kind of Christianity he felt to be so unlike the radical God of the Bible he was reading. He saw the value of Feuerbach. So for a campaign like the bus ads that forces us to think — well, I thank them for it,” Professor Waetjen says.
You’re welcome! But while we’re all patting ourselves on the back for our open-mindedness and our thoughtful approach to religious faith, let us also note the existence of people like this:
Ron Heather, from Southampton, Hampshire, responded with “shock” and “horror” at the message and walked out of his shift on Saturday in protest.
First Bus said it would do everything in its power to ensure Mr Heather does not have to drive the buses.
Buses across Britain started displaying atheist messages in an advertising campaign launched earlier this month.
Mr Heather told BBC Radio Solent: “I was just about to board and there it was staring me in the face, my first reaction was shock horror.
“I felt that I could not drive that bus, I told my managers and they said they haven’t got another one and I thought I better go home, so I did.
“I think it was the starkness of this advert which implied there was no God.”
I suspect the Christian Science Monitor could have found a few more people like that to balance out their coverage.