Pharyngula

Godless advertising

Hello, Seattle! Look what just went up on Denny, near the Stewart Street intersection:

i-9b172120285b85acf5abcadd5a364c62-seattle_billboard.jpg

Everyone might want to donate to this cause, too: a group is trying to buy ad space on London buses, saying “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and get on with your life.”

Whew. We’re getting uppity.

Comments

  1. #1 Lord Zero
    July 8, 2008

    Mmm, i kinda inclined to put my money on it… the 1%
    if nescesary…

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    July 8, 2008

    Trouble is, it looks like a bumper sticker, and will probably have about as much effect as one.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 Nick
    July 8, 2008

    Awesome signs!!

    You should definetly check out my website, God Riddance.

    http://www.godriddance.com

    -Nick

  4. #4 Phill
    July 8, 2008

    Likely the target of more ire and bile than any stupid “I’m watching you – God” billboard. Nice, though.

  5. #5 Bryn
    July 8, 2008

    Oh, dear. Wasn’t that one supposed to go up across the street from DI? Those really are very attractive signs (in more ways than one). I may have to trek north’ards and take a look at it in person.

  6. #6 Curt Cameron
    July 8, 2008

    About the “probably no God” thing, I get uncomfortable when anyone, including Dawkins, starts assigning probabilities to the supernatural. If I were on the other team, I would demand to see the math. It’s good that the other team is on the other team because they don’t understand science or math.

  7. #7 Larry
    July 8, 2008

    Oh, my! That ought to make a few fundie heads spin around like the exorcist.

  8. #8 Holbach
    July 8, 2008

    The FFRF ia a worthwhile sign and makes one, if at least truly intelligent, think about it. It makes me remark that before religion there were no humans, and religion only came about because of humans. Doesn’t this say anything to people that are religious? Think, damn it! And the London bus would be a little more obvious with indication if a small “g” were used! I wish avowed atheists would use the lower case; makes all the difference to what your non-belief represents. Christopher Hitchens’s book “god Is Not Great” obviates that point. Of course every time a reviewer or some other religious clown panned his book, that pernicious word was capitalized. Morons.

  9. #9 Dirk
    July 8, 2008

    I’d like to see one of these FFRF billboards that says “Thou shalt obey the First Amendment.”

  10. #10 Joanna
    July 8, 2008

    I want to see these signs everywhere!

  11. #11 andyo
    July 8, 2008

    Curt Cameron #6,

    Do you need actual numbers to realize that a natural explanation, especially when one or some are already available (like evolution), even if not 100% proven (like any natural explanation for any “miracle”) is more probable than a ludicrous supernatural one?

    There may not be actual numbers, but there is common sense and experience. True, it’s not “quantum mechanics” accurate, but still, it’s obviously not 50-50, as most agnostics seem to think.

  12. #12 Moggie
    July 8, 2008

    As a Londoner, I have to say that the bus idea is probably a waste of money. We’re mostly a pretty godless lot already. 23 grand for two weeks? Imagine the genuine secular good you could achieve with that.

    I’ve often wondered what the point is with those biblical quote ads. When you see a bus bearing the words “When the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?“, are you expected to think “hey, you have a point there, I must find out more about this Jesus dude. Thanks for that URL, because otherwise I’d have had no idea how to”?

  13. #13 Rey Fox
    July 8, 2008

    I love that London one. It’s so British. Except for maybe that request to stop worrying. ;)

  14. #14 Danley
    July 8, 2008

    Don’t get too uppity and smart or you’ll end up like Ray Comfort–the greatest mind of the 21st Century.

  15. #15 Ben Abbott
    July 8, 2008

    Curt Cameron: About the “probably no God” thing, I get uncomfortable when anyone, including Dawkins, starts assigning probabilities to the supernatural.

    Me too :-)

    Why is it so many assume a probability of 100%? :-(

    No only is there no evidence of the supernatural, since it is beyond nature there can be no evidence. Such is the realm of imagination ;-)

  16. #16 Turdus
    July 8, 2008

    I actually liked the “All Religions Are Fairy Tales” billboard you posted about a few weeks ago even better. I would certainly send money to see some more like that go up! It emphasizes the fact that none of the many different beliefs in the supernatural have any more merit than any other. “Fairly Tales” makes religions sound silly and childish too.

  17. #17 syntyche
    July 8, 2008

    hmmmm
    I first read that as “Imagine Ho Religion”, which made me seriously reconsider my atheism for a few seconds…

  18. #18 marc buhler
    July 8, 2008

    Well, since there [probably?} is no God, perhaps it is time for you and I, PZ, to put together a research grant proposal to investigate creating one in the lab.

    I mean, selection can do wonders, can’t it?

    My suspicion is that God would be viral, so we should start with anti-god monoclonals to ensure we don’t infect ourselves and we could use the anti-anti-god idiotype network (note the inadvertant relationship with the term “idiot”) as a kind of positive “godless control”.

    Having evolution assist the creating of God next year would fit well with the celebrations of Darwin’s work.

  19. #19 Jon D
    July 8, 2008

    Heh this is great! I see the blimmin religious messages pasted on the buses here in London lately and I get a nasty taste of bile in my mouth.
    Be nice to see something sensible that’ll make people think a little for a change!

    Londoners may be a godless bunch to start with, but it’ll probably give em a chuckle :)

  20. #20 craig
    July 8, 2008

    Before I lost all my money on a Florida condo, In as looking at properties in Buffalo where you can get nice historic brick commercial buildings on busy streets near downtown.

    One that was like $20k (but needed some moderate roof work) had a huge, very visible billboard on top. I was daydreaming about owning my own building with a huge billboard on it. Cancel the contract with the ad company, I’m sure they’re not going to bother to spend the thousands it would take to remove a 1940s era billboard… and then make your own.

    Man, I coulda pissed people off real good!

  21. #21 Helioprogenus
    July 8, 2008

    Too bad “Take your religion and shove it up your ass” for some odd reason is never found on billboards.

  22. #22 craig
    July 8, 2008

    Just thinking… it should be fairly easy with a color laser printer to print your OWN ads for buses – the ones that just clip into those overhead curved places. Most are full of empty spots as it is.

    Just print ‘em, ride the buses and put them up. Can’t be vandalism, you’re not destroying anything. Maybe littering if you’re caught.

  23. #23 Nix
    July 8, 2008

    marc@#16, Greg Egan has done exactly that, in his decidedly disturbing _The Moral Virologist_.

    … Well, he doesn’t put God in a virus: it’s more a virus which kills you horribly if you’re unfaithful or have homosexual sex, with mechanisms all nicely described. The last paragraph is wonderful.

    (I’m quite glad fundiegelical religious loonies generally are anti-knowledge, anti-science, anti-biology types. Imagine what damage they might do with enough knowledge.)

  24. #24 truth machine
    July 8, 2008

    I were on the other team, I would demand to see the math.

    Special pleading. Abraham Lincoln was probably shot by John Wilkes Booth, and you’re probably a human being rather than a cleverly programmed chatbot, but no math is needed to justify such claims.

    In any case, see Victor Stenger’s “The God Hypothesis” for some calculations.

  25. #25 LisaJ
    July 8, 2008

    Oh, it’s so beautiful! I want one near my house.

  26. #26 Kenny P
    July 8, 2008

    I am sure Ben Stein will accuse Yoko Ono of being a hypocrite if she doesn’t sue the people who paid for this billboard for infringing on her deceased husband’s work.

  27. #27 Jim Lippard
    July 8, 2008

    The Phoenix Atheists Meetup group is currently raising funds to put up one of these FFRF billboards in Phoenix for a month, and then run another month with an ad for a website that will advertise a variety of local atheist, freethought, humanist, and skeptical groups. If you’d like to help with that effort, you can make a tax-deductible donation to FFRF at their website and designate it for “Phoenix billboard,” or donate for the local billboard as suggested here:

    http://atheists.meetup.com/157/messages/boards/thread/4964050

  28. #28 cousinavi
    July 8, 2008

    If there is no God, who buried all those dinosaur bones?

  29. #29 ChrisKG
    July 8, 2008

    I sent FFRF $25 for the Billboard Fund and $25 for the Legal Fund. I think if a few dozen people from this board do the same, we may start seeing more of these going up!

  30. #30 CalGeorge
    July 8, 2008

    “Imagine Ao Religion”?

    WTF?

  31. #31 Jack
    July 8, 2008

    The Christians who post their “God Billboards” probably think that they will get people to think more deeply about God. The atheists who post their “No God Billboards” probably think they will get people to think more deeply about the possibility that there is no God.

    What’s funny is that most atheists think the “God Billboards” are stupid and tacky (they are!) but most here don’t seem to think the “No God Billboards” are stupid and tacky (they are!). I do appreciate good irony though!

    Any other atheists think the “No God Billboards” aren’t really serving any purpose?

  32. #32 mjfgates
    July 8, 2008

    The “No God Billboards” serve the purpose of amusing atheists. And, really, given the lack of god what higher purpose could there be?

  33. #33 Carlie
    July 8, 2008

    Any other atheists think the “No God Billboards” aren’t really serving any purpose?

    Overton Window. Shifting.

  34. #34 Tim
    July 8, 2008

    Religion has been baked into society so deeply it might require a SF scenario such as James P. Hogan’s “Voyage from yesteryear”, or Arthur C. Clarke’s “The songs of distant earth” to have a religion – free society. Which would be great for most of the folks reading this, less so for the type of person who enjoys faith. It might turn out that the folks that really get religion have a divergent brain chemistry, fine for them, but they try to share their hallucinations.

  35. #35 defaithed
    July 8, 2008

    I’m actually a wee disappointed by the billboard. I’m all for the “Imagine No Religion” tag, of course, but what’s the visual imagery? Artful calligraphy, beautiful stained glass… these are benign things associated with religion. No one rational is going to think “Ah, those atheists hate art!”, but the billboard’s target is by definition not rational.

    Why not make a sign that shows up the ugly, bigoted aspects of religion, and then asks us to “Imagine”? I tossed out an example earlier:
    http://www.defaithed.com/blog/defaithed/2008/02/imagine_no_religion_billboard

    Still, it’s all better than nothing, so my hat’s off to the billboard backers.

  36. #36 Rey Fox
    July 8, 2008

    “I’m all for the “Imagine No Religion” tag, of course, but what’s the visual imagery?”

    Yeah, like all the peoples of the world gathered on a grassy hilltop holding hands with one another, a la Lionel Hutz’s imagining of a world without lawyers on The Simpsons.

  37. #37 watercat
    July 8, 2008

    Somewhere recently I saw this slogan on a poster, superimposed on the infamous picture of the plane crashing into the twin towers. It was pretty effective.

    #33 FTW

  38. #38 shane
    July 8, 2008

    When I was at school, Catholic school, we’d occasionally have church services and they’d play Lenon’s “Imagine” and Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” during the service as hymns. I don’t think they actually got it.

  39. #39 lauram
    July 8, 2008

    Speaking as a Unitarian in Seattle, I love the IDEA of the billboards; but with other posters I think they could have done a better job on the imagery that goes along with the quote. Stained glass is NOT a problem that immediately comes to mind when I think of all the reasons that religion can be a bad idea. Veiled women, forced exorcisms, old midwives (aka “witches”) burned at the stake – these come to mind.

    Anyway, good start.

    Imagine no hypothetical directives…

  40. #40 Michael Faltesek
    July 8, 2008

    That is on the same block as my old place and only a few from my new. I apparently don’t look upwards a lot when biking around the city. I am surprised that I had to read about it on Pharyngula. Then again, with how often you post, maybe I’m not so surprised. :P

  41. #41 lithopithecus
    July 8, 2008

    wow.
    on a clearchannel billboard, no less.

  42. #42 BetentacledBrad
    July 8, 2008

    andyo @11:

    There may not be actual numbers, but there is common sense and experience. True, it’s not “quantum mechanics” accurate, but still, it’s obviously not 50-50, as most agnostics seem to think.

    I agree with you on the lack of actual numbers business, but I think you might be misusing the term agnostic there. All it means is that you don’t believe certain knowledge is available (strong agnosticism) or that a compelling rational argument either way has yet been formulated (weak agnosticism). I’m an agnostic (atheist). Most of the people on here are agnostic (atheists). Hell, most non-evangelical protestants are agnostic (err… theists…). I move that we should all resolve to call a spade a spade and label the 50/50ers as “apathetics“. It’s much more accurate.

    Oh, and for cousinavi @28:

    If there is no God, who buried all those dinosaur bones?

    I believe this question was addressed in a previous post.

  43. #43 Brad D.
    July 9, 2008

    Sometimes I really love this city.

  44. #44 themadlolscientist
    July 9, 2008

    I am sure Ben Stein will accuse Yoko Ono of being a hypocrite if she doesn’t sue the people who paid for this billboard for infringing on her deceased husband’s work.

    Wotthehell, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find she’s a major supporter of FFRF. Stick that in your smoke and pipe it, BS!

    If there is no God, who buried all those dinosaur bones?

    The Devil made me do it.

  45. #45 K.A.
    July 9, 2008

    Personally, I find the billboard offensive. The “N” looks like an “A” and that is an affront to my alphabet.

  46. #46 andyo
    July 9, 2008

    BetentacleBrad:

    I think all self-labeled agnostics that I’ve met without exception are the 50-50 kind (and the “inherently unknowable” kind), but that’s probably people in my environment. I’ll agree with you if those 50-50 agnostics would agree to call themselves apathetics.

  47. #47 Dirty Bones
    July 9, 2008

    Wow, that’s great.
    I love the London bus adds for truth.

  48. #48 Barry Pearson
    July 9, 2008

    Holbach #9: “I wish avowed atheists would use the lower case; makes all the difference to what your non-belief represents.”

    I prefer god(s), where possible, to emphasise that lots of gods are worshipped, even in the 21st Century. (See my website by clicking on my name).

  49. #49 Ron Hager
    July 9, 2008

    Now I hope they will creat a department to provide the public services endorsed by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) and get funding for their activities from OFBCI. After all we have faith in the absence of a god so our faith should entitle us to public funds also.

  50. #50 Richard Eis
    July 9, 2008

    I think in America it would have been better to have some kind of “You don’t actually HAVE to be religious if you don’t want and there are many places and people where it’s fine to think like that” message with a link to the cause. (obviouly someone could make my message a bit snappier)

    You want to talk to the people that are wondering, not just give a slap in the face to people who are perfectly happy with their choices.

    So actually, no, i don’t think much to it. It’s pretty though.

  51. #51 Andreas Johansson
    July 9, 2008

    Any other atheists think the “No God Billboards” aren’t really serving any purpose?

    I imagine they serve the same purpose that most non-commercial, non-political billboards serve – making those paying for them feel good about themselves.

    Which, I submit, is a perfectly rational way to spend your money once you’ve paid for life’s necessities. Certainly no worse than collecting stamps.

  52. #52 Dana Hunter
    July 9, 2008

    I’m going to have to make a pilgrimage to see this thing.

    As for its usefulness, well. Seems perfectly useful to have a counter-ad against all of those vapid “believe or else!!11!!1!!” ads out there. Not to mention, gives the wavering faithful some reinforcement as they deconvert. Announces our presence and tenacity. Draws a line in the sand. Yes, I can imagine a lot of uses for such a billboard.

    And I think the stained glass is a sneaky way to get people to look up, go “Aw, how pretty!” and develop warm fuzzy feelings before they read the message. Clever, that.

  53. #53 Michelle
    July 9, 2008

    Well if they can make pilgrimage on billboards, why can’t we uh?!

    Makes me giggle. I like it.

  54. #54 secularguy
    July 9, 2008

    Holbach(#8) wrote:

    the London bus would be a little more obvious with indication if a small “g” were used! I wish avowed atheists would use the lower case; makes all the difference to what your non-belief represents.

    Yes, if we’re talking about non-belief in lesser gods such as Loki and Dionysos, rather than a supreme-being God such as Yahweh/Allah, Brahman/Vishnu/Ishvara/Bhagwan or Ahura Mazda.

    Hitchens’s book “god Is Not Great” obviates that point. Of course every time a reviewer or some other religious clown panned his book, that pernicious word was capitalized. Morons.

    According to conventional grammar and the publisher’s records (and also on the UK book cover), the name of the book is spelled with a capital G. The lower-case g is merely a typographical styling. Moron ;-)

  55. #55 Clan:Rewired
    July 9, 2008

    Clear Channel clears this?

  56. #56 Evolving Squid
    July 9, 2008

    >>Any other atheists think the “No God Billboards” aren’t
    >>really serving any purpose?

    I think all billboards are ugly, even atheist ones.

    However, since I’ve seen lots of Christian billboards, I have to assume that whatever purpose they serve is equally served by an atheist billboard, even if that purpose is only to enrich the billboard owner.

  57. #57 dwarf zebu
    July 9, 2008

    @22:

    You could actually be prosecuted for theft since the occupied spaces are paid for by the advertisees. The funds generated also help to subsidize the bus service.

    But what would probably happen is that they’d just be removed at the end of the day.

  58. #58 DLC
    July 9, 2008

    Imagine No Religion: Hmm… A world without religion.
    What would the world be like had there been rationalists
    leading early man who did not accept the idea that the Storm God blew down that tree because he was angry ?

  59. #59 Dave Haaz-Baroque
    July 9, 2008

    “Any other atheists think the “No God Billboards” aren’t really serving any purpose?”

    The ‘Imagine No Religion’ billboard probably isn’t doing a whole lot. I’m much more partial to the billboard that said ‘Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.’ Aside from being diplomatic, the billboard seemed more like a way to give support to the atheist minority.

  60. #60 John Phillips, FCD
    July 9, 2008

    Ben Abbott said “Why is it so many assume a probability of 100%? :-(”

    But Dawkins, like most atheists I know, doesn’t assign no god(s) a P=1. If you bother to listen to him or read his book he classes himself as 6 on a scale of 7, where 7 is P=1 for no god(s). Though he has modified that in later interviewers as being closer to 7 without actually being 7. I.e. like many atheists he leaves open the infinitesimally small possibility that someone one day may provide evidence for god/s but we are not holding our breath.

  61. #61 Marcus Ranum
    July 9, 2008

    Next up “Imagine No Government.”

  62. #62 Sven DiMilo
    July 9, 2008

    Imagine No Stoopid

    (yeah, me neither)

  63. #63 Mike in Seattle
    July 9, 2008

    Wheeeee!
    Hallerfreakinlululuya.

  64. #64 Nova
    July 9, 2008

    I would prefer “There is no God”, is the “probably” just conceding something to agnostics? I know we technically can’t know, but we technically can’t technically know for certain anything other than our own existence (“I think, therefore I am”), but that means nothing when god’s nonexistence is beyond reasonable doubt, when children run out of their rooms to their parents bedrooms scared of the monster under the bed, the parents don’t say the monster under the bed “probably” doesn’t exist.

  65. #65 Nova
    July 9, 2008

    My last post (immediately before this one) in reference to the quip on London buses, not the billboard in Seattle obviously.

  66. #66 Charon
    July 9, 2008

    #6 “About the “probably no God” thing, I get uncomfortable when anyone, including Dawkins, starts assigning probabilities to the supernatural. If I were on the other team, I would demand to see the math.”

    Okay. The prior (probability) for god existing is some finite number (not 0, not 1). A vast amount of exploration of the world has gone on, none of it revealing god. Bayes’ theorem thus multiplies the prior by a very small number, resulting in a very small probability. The problem with most religious people is they start with a prior of 1 for god, and thus no amount of information can change their minds.

    (Yes, if you try to plug in actual numbers that’s a bit silly, but the point is the probability is very small, and that’s rigorous if you assume god interacts with the world in any way.)

  67. #67 Charon
    July 9, 2008

    On a tangent (related to Bayes’ theorem), a professor I once had for an astrophysical statistics course pointed out that the maxim “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t work, because if you start with a prior p(guilty)=0, no amount of evidence can increase p(guilty).

    Moral: never use 0 or 1 for priors.

  68. #68 PatrickHenry
    July 10, 2008

    These ads are all wrong! You gotta go with the flow. Here’s an ad from a vanity press illustrating a brilliant marketing strategy: The Creator’s Guide to Better Health: The Science Behind Intelligent Design, by R.E. Wynter. I’ve already blogged about the possibility of ID weight-loss books, sex-manuals, etc. The opportunities are endless.

  69. #69 Azkyroth
    July 11, 2008

    You could actually be prosecuted for theft since the occupied spaces are paid for by the advertisees.

    I love how “theft” has become a buzzword for anything that reduces the amount of money an entity might hypothetically have made, and/or anything that entity simply doesn’t like (see “bandwidth ‘theft’”). I blame reactionary attempts to control the internet for this.

    I can see a case for “trespassing” or something similar there, perhaps…

  70. #70 Azkyroth
    July 11, 2008

    On a tangent (related to Bayes’ theorem), a professor I once had for an astrophysical statistics course pointed out that the maxim “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t work, because if you start with a prior p(guilty)=0, no amount of evidence can increase p(guilty).

    The obvious solution would be an arbitrary starting P and the definition “P < 0.98 = ‘innocent’” or some such.

  71. #71 Azkyroth
    July 11, 2008

    Let’s try again: “The obvious solution would be an arbitrary starting P and the definition “P < 0.98 = ‘innocent’” or some such.”

  72. #72 Pawe? Piasecki
    November 5, 2008

    Good news! I reposted the photo on my blog with a link to an earlier post about the London bus campaign. Thanks.

  73. #73 Matt Veasey
    December 10, 2008

    I’d be more than happy to donate to the cause…..of tearing this assinine piece of garbage down. Merry Christmas to all of you atheists, secularists, humanists, etc out there, and may God bless you all.

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