Let the atheist bus ads proceed
By RICHARD RANDERSON - THE DOMINION POST
Added: Mon, 01 Mar 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Paul for the link.
In a free and democratic society it is surprising that there are those who want to close down robust debate about religion and atheism. Responding to complaints from the public and staff, New Zealand Bus has declined to run pro- atheism advertisements on their buses.
The wording of the ads is a good basis for debate: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." The use of the word "probably" suggests a subtle hedging of bets - with a degree of uncertainty introduced, "agnostic" might be a better descriptor than "atheist" for the ads.
And what sort of God probably does not exist? Probably the same kind of God as Oxford don Richard Dawkins likes to contest. Soon to visit New Zealand as part of festival events, Dawkins' 2006 book The God Delusion chooses as his target a God who is no more than a caricature.
He cites Bertrand Russell's concept of a "china teapot revolving around the sun in an elliptical orbit" as a parallel to believing in God. One could not say definitively there was not such a teapot, any more than one could say there was certainly no God, but applying the common sense test one would have to say that probably no such entity existed. Is a similar God concept the basis of the atheist bus ads?
Professor Dawkins is a good scientist but a poor theologian. His book quotes exclusively the views of fundamentalist preachers, many from the United States.
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