Wednesday, 7 January 2009

There's probably no God....

I'm a lifelong (or for-as-long-as-I-can-remember) atheist but I really cringe at the idea of these adverts on buses. Not only are they incredibly smug, but surely there are better ways to spend £140,000? I can see the point of them in America though. It needs saying there. By which I mean I think it's no doubt regarded as rather controversial, and unacceptable, and you could never have an atheist President, whereas here I think most people just get on with whatever they think and let other people get on with what they think too. (Most people, I said. Before you start).


Remember Remember said...

Nonsense. Us atheists are constantly bombarded with god propaganda, time to distribute the same medicine.

Simon said...

I suppose they can spend their £140,000 as they wish, if you don't like it don't donate. The adverts seem fairly innocuous to me. The sort of adverts I do find offensive are those from organisations such as the BBC and DVLA which threaten me if I don't pay various taxes. Also the never ending bombardment of Government ads on virtually anything you can think of from how to barbecue chicken to putting out a chip pan fire, smoking, driving, drinking, eating etc etc. The taxpayer must be keeping half the commercial radio stations in the country afloat with this deluge of assorted advice and threats. It must be costing countless millions which could be better spent elsewhere. Why not put a stop to it and use the money for something sensible like helping the homeless and elderly during this cold weather?

Ben said...

Personally, I love the adverts. There are better ways to spend money, yes, but it doesn't follow that if the campaign didn't exist the money would have been donated to some other cause.

They don't sound smug to me; in fact, I think they got the tone right. It's to the point but cheerful and inoffensive.

Ian B said...

Propaganda is primarily about normalisation- as I'm sure as part of the spintastic progressive movement you would be aware. Advertising, being a mild form of propaganda, is primarily about normalisation too. The key tactic by extremists on the left is "denormalisation", as used by tobaccophobics, alcoholophobics, havingalaughophobics, pornophobics and the erotophobics trying to drive through anti-sex legislation at the moment with sister Harriet leading astride the mighty charger clutched between her nutcracker thighs.

Human beings evolved to live in small tribal communities with only simple guttural language with which to communicate (see Scotland for a modern example). They thus learned to "fit in" by observing the group behaviour of their tribemates- so for instance if they see others drinking twenty pints and then vomiting all over a big girl with blotchy legs, they will presume that this is "normal" and incorporate it into their own behaviour. Propaganda applies this to the wider societies in which we live now; by careful manipulation of images and messages individuals will come to perceive them as normal, and thus adopt those values themselves. Thus widespread religious messaging in advertising normalises religion; the counterhegemonic group fight a war of position by presenting their counterhegemonic message ("God is silly, don't believe in him") to shift the normal in their direction.

This shifting of the normal is the essence of modern politics. By eradicating those few retaining some small joi de vivre despite 11 years of New Labour (drinkers, smokers, chubby people, people who like to wear funny hats) out of the public view- "denormalising" them- the normal is shifted towards the prune-faced puritanical ideal beloved of social reformers everywhere. As an atheist myself, I am nonetheless disturbed by this latest war of position, largely because Polly Toynbee, who possibly isn't even human, is involved. I sometimes pass by my local church (on the other side) and see the warm glow of spiritual togetherness emanating from within; the smiling vicar, his flock who for a short while have experienced something a trifle beyond the mundane, and old ladies with cakes. This is their tobacco, their beer, their hour of lust with a lady of the evening, their moment of pleasure, and so it too must be snatched from them to ensure that their faces are rubbed in the unbearable shiteness of being for their every waking hour.

O, gray new world!

Dave H said...

It's Dawkins being a bit too enthusiastic about poking religion in the eye.

Linda Smith, another great British Humanist, would have written a much wittier line.

Glenn Vowles said...

You may well have a point here Kerry. Like you I'm not a believer in God (I believe in the natural not the supernatural) but my first reaction to the ads was not that positive. Mind you I prefer them to such 'adverts for God' as Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor who when interviewed on Radio 4 in 2008 warned of the dangers of reason!

DaveA said...

Kerry, Pandoras' box lid is ajar I feel, perhaps on religion we will be having our own Intifada and internecine war.

The problem we have as homo sapien we cannot comprehend infinite time, negative and positive and infinite space. While through quantum physics we can comprehend Hawkin's expanding universe (and possibly ultimately contracting universe) we do have the 4th dimension to our minds on time and space.

The best way we can understand this is that time and space are not lines but a constant loop. Hence anywhere in the universe is its centre. We also have to assume Einstein's Theory Of Relativity to be correct and E = MC2.

So if all the tripe I have written is correct then God exists as a minimum in mathematics. If you believe more it is a matter of faith.

Polly Toynbee is wrong yet again. Perhaps while she is curing global warming while on the plane to her Tuscan villa she can give it a bit more thought.

Kerry said...

"People who wear funny hats"? Must have missed that one. I bought a hat at 6pm on 29th December. Had lost it by same time on New Year's Eve, without even leaving the cottage in Dorset. Maybe there was a police raid and I missed it.

I passed a church at some point over the New Year period, which had a sign outside saying 'Jesus is God's X Factor'. So long as he doesn't cover Hallelujah too...

Dick the Prick said...

They had a comp for slogans outside churches but I lost track of it (boo). Some of them were brilliant.

westcoast2 said...

"There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life"

I am confused by this.

How does it follow that someone is worrying or not enjoying their life if there is probably no god?

If someone's is promoting an idea then they advertise it. What is being promoted here - a negative?

There's is probably no unicorn. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Still it does bring to mind Pascal's wager or the precautionary principle. In which case it probably sows doubt and so does exactly the opposite to what it may intend.

In order to understand "No God" you have to first think of god, hmm.

I'm not sure what is 'smug' about this, though I agree most people are live and let live - if only.

timbone said...

Kerry, may I pick you up on some of your points? (and please correct me if I get any facts wrong).
"...surely there are better ways to spend £140,000?"
It is not taxpayers money, and we can all spemd money on things which other people would think was a waste, like your Government for example.
"I can see the point of them in America though. It needs saying there...and you could never have an atheist President".
Oh I see, and we still have a Monarchy where the King or Queen is the head of the church. We still have a constitution where a Bishop is automatically a memeber of the House of Lords. This same constitution which is built on Christendom, where the Church and power of prayer are still an integral part of parliamentary process.

Kerry, I assume you are standing for election next time around, and you will probably retain your seat. Not because of your party however, but because of who you are. (Sorry, that last paragraph just slipped out).

Kerry said...

Doesn't have to be taxpayers' money for me to regard it as a waste.

I agree there's an issue about the Church being part of the establishment here, but that's part of our historical legacy rather than part of electoral politics. The religious right in the USA is far more powerful than any faith-based group here.

Bristol Dave said...

I don't think it was a waste of money at all - people donated it willingly rather than it being spent from a pot of tax payer's money, as many have commented.

If you want waste-of-money advertising campaigns, why don't you look closer to home, Kerry?

£265 MILLION on a campaign telling people it's unhealthy to be fat?

I assume this year we can await the exciting introduction of a multi-million pound campaign informing us the sky is blue?

Kerry said...

I just think it's a bit disappointing that people are more motivated to dig into their pocket to fund this, than many other causes where the money would actually make a difference to people's lives.

Are you saying we don't have an obesity problem in this country?

Emerald said...

"obesity problem" ?
Ban cars and central heating.
Problem solved.

timbone said...

"Ban cars and central heating."

Emerald, I think that would sort the asthma epidemic out as well.

Ian B said...

Actually Kerry, we don't have an obesity problem in this country. Firstly, because there is no actual evidence of an obesity problem. There has been a small average increase in average body mass, of a few pounds. What has changed significantly is medical definitions of obesity- a term which once meant grossly overweight but which now means "more than the approved weight", a figure which is constantly revised downwards to drag more people into the definition of obesity; not dissimilar to how "binge" once meant gross excess of consumption, but which now has been redefined by the medical activists as "more than a couple of drinks".

Secondly, there is no evidence that all but the most extreme (old fashioned definition) obesity is medically harmful. For instance, heavier old people live longer than skinny ones.

Thirdly, even if we were all turning into Two Ton Tony Tubbs, it would be no business of the government, and I would ask you to ask yourself why you think it is the business of the government. If people are fat, that is their problem (if they feel it is a problem). Hardly anyone wants to be fat, but some people make the choice to accept their natural heavier body mass than to subject themselves to a constant starvation diet in order to reduce it.

Everyone is different. There isn't a standard ideal body mass for everyone; that's a consequence of the mistake of thinking that statistics have some deep Platonic reality. You only have to look at different ethnic types and the stereotypically different body weight distributions thereof to see how strong the genetic component is (for instance west africans tend to be heavier than indigenous Brits, saharan africans are taller and slimmer, and so on).

It's not the job of government to victimise** fat people. It's sheer madness to think that it is.

**Even if you call victimisation "helping".

Terry said...

Kerry wrote

Maybe there was a police raid and I missed it.

Ask Damian Green he didn't. A soory day for Labour. whi was King of the leaks in the past? Yep Gordy.

timbone said...

"The religious right in the USA is far more powerful than any faith-based group here."

Yes, I take your point Kerry. However, didn't Tony Blair himself admit that he sought 'God's' guidance on major decisions? Does that mean that things like Iraq, Afghanistan and the blanket smoking ban are the 'Word of God'?