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← Atheists claim bias over rejection of 'No God' ads

Gibbon's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Gibbon


Well I'm glad for you that you live in a vacuum and 2000 yrs of religious stupidity has never sullied your life.

It’s not a vacuum. Religion is present in NZ, but what is NOT occurring here is religious conflict. There is no organised religious political movement trying to force its views on national politics and the general public, with the possible exception of the extreme minority of fundamentalists that are represented by likes of Brian Tamaki and his Destiny Church, but they are barely even tolerated. The majority of Kiwis, including a lot of pious Christians, have nothing but disdain for Tamaki and his church. Fundamentalism hardly even has a foothold in this country.

Repeat. New Zealand doesn’t have the problems that are occurring in other parts of the world like the United States or Britain. Sure, there are people who don’t accept evolution or are opposed to homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage, but there is nothing comparable to the Religious Right in my country; locally there is nothing that has provoked atheists to start this campaign.

For the general public religion is barely even noticeable on a day by day basis, and there is hardly even any discussion of it, (unless you’re like me and are taking Religious Studies courses at university). Roughly two thirds of Kiwis may be religious, but they tend to keep their religion to themselves. In fact, the last piece of local news here that involved religion in any meaningful way had to do with a Presbyterian church putting up a billboard with a provocative theological message for Christmas, hardly the sort of thing to justify the conversation the atheist bus adverts.

There is nothing for atheists to fight against in New Zealand. That they are starting this campaign here strongly indicates that the problem resides with them and not with religion. Hence, I reiterate what I have already said, that they’re bringing a problem and culture war to New Zealand that is not already here.

And you talk of reason, yet your every words drips of superficial thought and avoidance.

And your words smack of hostility and personal bias towards religion, with a hint of arrogance and myopia.

Except that the Human Rights Act outlaws discrimination on the grounds of religion in the provision of services. Which it is doing, unless it also won't run advertisements saying "There's probably a God so stop getting on with your life and start worrying" or words to that effect, such as "For God so loved the world...."

Actually, it is not clear cut if it was discrimination. For it to be so NZ Bus would had to have dropped the ads on the grounds of religion, but if the news is to be believed and it was in fact because of consumer objections to the ads then it would simply mean that they were responding to market forces. The consumers may have objected to the ads on the grounds of religion, but the bus company responding by dropping the ads has nothing directly to do with religion. What NZ Bus has done is no different to a television broadcaster dropping a programme because of low ratings.

There are currently a hundred other issues that are far more important to New Zealanders than religion, so as to why we should be having a conversation on religion, especially of the sort the New Atheists want defies reason. Not only that, but the sort of debate that the atheists want is exactly that which deepens divisions and closes minds; put another way it’s the sort that tends to create fundamentalists. That Kiwis by and large are tolerant of their neighbours believing differently is actually encouraging, and not to be messed with. It’s unfortunate that the same can’t be said about Simon Fisher, who made it clear in a television interview yesterday that he was concerned with the personal beliefs of other people; he’s not following the great Kiwi tradition of turning the other cheek.

I don’t know if anyone here realises it, but the message of that advert, “There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy life,” is fallacious to a certain extent. It falsely assumes that anyone who believes in a deity is in fact not enjoying life and is instead worried. On that note it is easy to understand why it might be considered controversial or offensive to religious people.

Thu, 25 Feb 2010 12:18:00 UTC | #444047