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10/30/08

Atheist Charity - A Huge Success

In one single day a new atheist charity received donations of $80,000 from as many as 3,400 donors—and the donations keep rolling in (apparently from atheists). By day three they raised $113,000.

Who said that there were no atheist charities and or that atheists are not charitable?

And as for those of you who though that Prof. Richard Dawkins was an old fuddy-duddy he is more charitable than thou as he committed to match donations up to $9,300.

To read/Or not to read



But what is this hugely successful charity?
A homeless shelter?

A hospital fund?

A soup kitchen?

An adoption agency?

A disaster relief organization?

A gang intervention unit?

A drug and alcohol treatment center?

Relief for those suffering from the worldwide financial crisis?

Anything that will actually help someone in need?


Nay.

The “charity” is mean to fund a campaign to place ads on buses in London.

I am afraid that this comment will not seem charitable but I think that, at least on rare occasion, atheists should think outside of the box and not simply make statements with which their peers agree and chortle in unison.

The ads will state, “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Ariane Sherine, chimed in with another well-within-the-box statement, “Atheists believe this is the only life we have, and we should enjoy it.”[1] What is the answer of the theist? “Theists believe this is the only life we have, and that it continues beyond the material realm, and we should enjoy it.”

The Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, Hanne Stinson, stated, “We wanted it to be a positive message.” I suppose that sometimes what you “wanted” to do does not turn out to be what you end up doing.

“Do, or do not.
There is no ‘try.’”
—Jedi Master, Yoda


Ariane Sherine, who conceived of the campaign, “said that ‘probably’ was included to ensure that the posters didn't breach transit advertising regulations, which stipulate that ads should not offend religious people.”[2]
Let us do the math here: if we take the sentence “There is probably no God” and we subtract the regulation required qualifying term “probably” we end up with “There is no God.” I guess this atheist does not understand atheism (or does not adhere to the tenets of the New Atheism).

Oddly, and unfortunately without further elucidation, the Associate Press reported that “Dawkins said that as an atheist he ‘wasn't wild’ about the ad's assertion that there was ‘probably’ no God.”[3] Apparently, he would have preferred the “There is no God” reading. His reaction may be again the regulations placed upon ads. However, either way he seems to be opting for the positive affirmation of God’s non-existence position. Although, this is quite odd considering that he titled one of the chapters in his book The God Delusion “Why There Almost Certainly is No God.” And I am not aware of any regulatory restrictions being placed upon his book. A Prof. Richard Dawkins inspired ad may have read thusly, ““There is almost certainly no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Furthermore, note that the ad is pretty mild, at least by New Atheist standards. However, never to be outdone by mild statements, Prof. Richard Dawkins chimed in and stated another atheist myth, “This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think — and thinking is anathema to religion.”

I don’t know what to think about that. Although, Methodist Church Rev. Jenny Ellis stated, “We are grateful to Richard [Dawkins] for his continued interest in God and for encouraging people to think about these issues.”

“The religious think tank Theos said it had donated $82 to the campaign, on the grounds that the ads were so bad they would probably attract people to religion…Theos director Paul Woolley [stated] ‘Stunts like this demonstrate how militant atheists are often great adverts for Christianity.’”[4]

Two donators donated the following statements along with their funds:

“Hoorah for the non-believers!”

“Spread the word, and consign this superstitious nonsense to the dustbin of history! America, are you listening?”

Just what are we supposed to think? “Yes, we heard you loud and clear from across the pond and can see that you are quite please with your quaint British wit but atheist’s urban legends are not the erudition which you claim them to be.”

Should ads be placed on buses responding thusly, “There probably is a God. I am not worried and my life is filled with joy. Please, stop wasting money publicizing your personal prejudice and help someone in need.

[1] Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless, Atheists Plan Ad Campaign On Side Of London Buses
[2] The Associated Press, Atheists Roll Out Message On Sides Of London Buses
[3] Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless, Atheists Plan Ad Campaign On Side Of London Buses
[4] Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless, Atheists Plan Ad Campaign On Side Of London Buses

15 comments:

  1. Small points.

    Richard Dawkins has stated that he would have preferred the phrase "almost certainly" but was thought not catchy enough by the organisers (not that I think the chosen text is a copywriters dream).

    I shall be expecting a comparble reprimand for all advertising by religious groups, on buses or otherwise. There was ceratinly enough money spent promoting the Alpha course in the UK.

    There are many secular charities which religous and non-relgious people give money too. I fail to see what is the problem with supporting promoting a message you think is important. I don't belive this scheme was ever promoted as a charity?

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  2. Well it's hard to argue with this one. Hey atheists do seemingly dumb things at the same rate as theists. Not a big fan of Reginald Finley, not a big fan of the Rational Response Squad. I do love Christopher Hitchens though. Hey, you didn't expect this post to be 100% to your liking did you?

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  3. [joker voice] If tomorrow I put an advertisement on a bus that directs people to a website that tries to scare people into believing by telling them they're condemned to eternal torment, nobody panics, because it's all part of the plan. But when I put one little advertisement on a bus that wants people to be less scared and less worried,...well then everyone loses their minds!!![/joker voice]

    Really, Mariano. There are cases when it's better to just swallow your jealousy and remain silent about something. This is such a case.

    Oh, and about those Theos guys? Why not tell the whole story about how they changed their position on the atheist advertisement continually as donations kept pouring in:

    link

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  4. Taxandrian;
    Inferring jealousy is a non sequitur.
    May I retort: there are cases when it's better to just forgo your loyalty to all things atheistic and state something to the likes of, “Particularly in a time of worldwide financial woes UK atheists should be doing something to actually help people in need rather than attempting to demonstrate how cleaver they are.”
    Just an idea.
    aDios,
    Mariano

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  5. Mariano- would you care to guess how much money is spent worldwide on advertising by Christians? I don't know either, but I'm willing to bet it's a couple orders of magnitude more than what atheists spend. All that money gone to waste, that could have gone to people in need.

    Myself, I spend no money on advertising. I do contribute a fair amount to people in need, and I'm an atheist.

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  6. Scary J, so you are a big fan of Christopher Hitchens?

    Didn't know you like drunken advocates of war so much! LOL!

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  7. Zilch;
    Thanks for the comment. Please do not misunderstand, no one is arguing that atheists do not contribute.
    The vast chasm between religious and non-religious, or even conservative and liberal contribution, notwithstanding.

    Also, while surely large sums Christian advertising money goes to waste it is hyper-hyperbolic to assert that “All that money gone to waste” for two millennia Christian money has gone to people in need.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Mariano- please reread my comment carefully. I said "money spent on advertising", not "all money spent by Christians". Thanks.

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  10. Mariano:

    "...no one is arguing that atheists do not contribute. The vast chasm between religious and non-religious, or even conservative and liberal contribution, notwithstanding.

    ...for two millennia Christian money has gone to people in need."


    What a superficial and self-serving mangling of the truth.

    To the extent that the money really went to those in dire need, that's all well and good – but you are out of touch with reality if you think that this is the way to bring prosperity and welfare to an entire society. Which raises the question of whether this is what you actually want to accomplish, by donating to charity, or whether your motivation derives from something else. (Social status? Looking good in the eyes of God?)

    Among the most egalitarian societies with the highest standards of living as well as the lowest levels of disparity and corruption are the secular welfare states of Scandinavia. In this welfare model, "charity" is compulsory by a high taxation burden followed by a redistribution of wealth[1]. In such a system you wouldn't stand out as any more charitable than the next guy, and you wouldn't be able to beat your chest saying "Admire me! Look how charitable I am!" Yet the system is demonstrably efficient and robust in establishing welfare and prosperity. As a Christian, wouldn't you want this?

    And now the GOPers call this "socialism" as if it were nothing short of Soviet communism. Social democracy has come a long way though, and to hear "socialism" decried by politicians that have made a mockery out of democracy is just laughable. You don't have democracy in the US. Here's some sobering reading: A dystopian vision.

    But aside from all that, I guess the question I want to ask you is: Do you value the admiration and social status that you gain by appearing to be a charitable person, above a system that can raise the standard of living for everybody at the expense of making everybody equally charitable and admirable?

    Here's a BHA article along the same lines.

    [1] And if you don't like this, no one is forcing you to live there; but these countries also rate very high on the "happy planet" and quality of life index, so it would seem that people are actually happy with the system.

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  11. It is a telling statement, to be sure.
    They assume that religious people must always be "worried" and would like an escape from it. Not true.
    They assume that one cannot have joy in one's life if you believe in God, also not true.

    It reveals how warped their thinking is. TO THEM, believing God exists is worrisome, cause, *gulp*, they'd have to change their lifestyles a bit. Unless they have some other reason to worry about God. In fact, the only people who have to worry about God are the people not on his side. They have something to worry about. NOT the people who love Him. They have nothing to worry about, not even death.
    They apparently think THEY would not enjoy life if they believed in God. I guess they just completely ignore the joyful lives of millions of believers everywhere, and assume a love of Jesus and following him only brings unhappiness, which is totally bizarre. I read stories all the time of believers who find joy in the most desperate of situations, family tragedy, persecution, poverty, they find joy in God.

    Do they honestly think that becoming a believer is going to remove joy from your life and make you worry all the time? What a wacky thing to think.
    And for anybody in the faith who IS worried all the time, and is NOT experiencing any kind of joy, I daresay I wonder if they are really in the faith at all then?

    It seems they are trying to put words in people's mouths, and project feelings into believers that may not exist. What is a believer going to think when reading this sign? They'd think "um, I'm not worried at all, and I find much joy in life". But what is the unbeliever going to think? That all believers must be filled with worry and are unhappy, which is a big turnoff. It's unfortunate, but to me, this sign is preaching to the choir, stopping unbelievers from looking into faith because it makes them think it is only to make you unhappy and worried. The sign is NOT so much preaching to believers, because it is simply not true and doesn't speak to them.
    In other words, the sign is not a temptation for me, I don't worry, and the Bible teaches me how to find joy, Atheism doesn't teach me how to find joy.
    A better sign would say "God probably doesn't exist, so quit trying to live morally and go do all the sin you want."
    That sign would probably speak to believers a little stronger.

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  12. Vigilante, you managed to completely miss the point of the atheist bus campaign.

    If you had checked the facts or even followed the link (check 'God's wrath against sin'), you would have known that the atheist bus campaign was started to counter similar christian advertising which tried to scare people into believing.

    Scared people are definately worried.

    The fact though, that both you and Mariano don't even care about this kind of religious advertising, but instead choose to attack the atheist banners which wish to counter it, says a lot.

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  13. The BIG Question now is: What will they do with these funds?
    - Feed the hungry?
    - Clothe the naked?
    - Help the Sick?

    I suspect that these funds will be used ideologically instead of humanely.

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  14. Adonais;
    You are counter arguing against an argument that I never made. No one said anything about “the way to bring prosperity and welfare to an entire society.”

    The question of motivation is a self-serving one raised by atheist who appear to think that they can read minds yet, it one demonstrates prejudice.

    Sorry, no interested in discussing politics or emotive charges of chest beating.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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