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Old 03-16-2009, 05:05 PM   #1
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Atheist bus ads, atheist signs, and atheist views

Shouldn't they have the same consideration and tolerance as any other viewpoint?

http://www.examiner.com/x-2044-Athei...n-Ottawa-buses

In Ottawa, Canada, the city council overturned 13-7 the previous decision to restrict ads purchased for city buses by a local freethought and humanist organization which read, "Thereís probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Sound words to live by.

Recent months have seen the same ads run in Great Britain, Washington DC, and elsewhere. Also there have been billboards erected around the country in places like Minnesota, Arizona, and Tennessee. The latter stated, "Praise Darwin. Evolve Beyond Belief," and was erected near the town of Dayton, TN where the Scopes Trial took place 80 years ago and it was in conjunction with the recent Darwin Day.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/arti...ss-mostpopular


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Old 03-16-2009, 05:08 PM   #2
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Didn't the atheists argue it was religious discrimination, you know if a Christian group put ads on a bus the atheist groups would be the first ones screaming they should be taken down. And if atheists are so superior, why do have a higher incident rate of depression?
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:17 PM   #3
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Christian groups have put ads on buses. Do you have evidence of "atheist groups" calling for their removal? It looks like you're spouting rhetoric to me. Have you actually thought this through yet?


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Old 03-16-2009, 05:40 PM   #4
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Christian groups have put ads on buses. Do you have evidence of "atheist groups" calling for their removal? It looks like you're spouting rhetoric to me. Have you actually thought this through yet?
I have thought it through, also there is the nativity scenes that people get sued over having up, the lawsuits over Christmas Tree lights, do I need to call up specific incidents?
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:48 PM   #5
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I don't know about you, Garfield, but I saw at least three billboards advertising Christian messages. Number of atheist billboards: zero.

So really, I don't see any massive, atheist conspiracy to overthrow Christianity.
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:02 PM   #6
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Shouldn't they have the same consideration and tolerance as any other viewpoint?
Most definitely.

I do think "Praise Darwin. Evolve Beyond Belief," may be sending out a false message though. "Praise Darwin" seems to lend credibility to the belief some fundamentalists seem to have that 'evolutionism' is a religion. "Evolve beyond belief" sounds like a false dichotomy between evolution and religious belief.
Ultimately I don't think this is even a pro-atheist message at all, but rather pro-reason. I just don't think it will be very effective at getting the message across.

"There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." is definitely a message I can get behind though.


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... And if atheists are so superior,
These ads aren't claiming atheists are superiour to others at all.
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why do have a higher incident rate of depression?
Being a persecuted minority (at least in the United States) may have something to do with it. Regardless, I imagine that in such an overwhelmingly religious country an atheist might feel lonely and misunderstood.

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I have thought it through, also there is the nativity scenes that people get sued over having up, the lawsuits over Christmas Tree lights, do I need to call up specific incidents?
Were these nativity scenes and Christmas tree lights on private or on public property? Because if it's the latter, isn't it just in the interest of secularism to have them removed? I can't imagine someone being sued for putting a Christmas tree in his own backyard, so if that actually happened I would love to hear it.

Edit: After some careful reading I must admit that "evolve beyond belief" does sound like it claims atheists to be superiour to theists. Like I said, I don't think it's sending out a very good message and it gets "belief" involved when it's unnecissary. If anything it may only harm the public opinion on atheists, unlike the bus ads, which send out a positive message.

Last edited by Doomie; 03-16-2009 at 06:06 PM. Reason: Added some stuff
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:15 PM   #7
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I have thought it through, also there is the nativity scenes that people get sued over having up, the lawsuits over Christmas Tree lights, do I need to call up specific incidents?
You do if these were atheists groups threatening lawsuits in reference to Nativities on private property.

There shouldn't be any particular bias toward any one religion on public property. Period. This is not a Christian nation, its a multi-cultural and religiously diverse nation. If a government body wants to allow religious messages, they, therefore, must be willing to entertain messages that counter religious claims as well as those messages by other religions.


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Old 03-16-2009, 06:21 PM   #8
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do I need to call up specific incidents?
Umm..... yes.

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Old 03-16-2009, 06:24 PM   #9
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I do think "Praise Darwin. Evolve Beyond Belief," may be sending out a false message though. "Praise Darwin" seems to lend credibility to the belief some fundamentalists seem to have that 'evolutionism' is a religion. "Evolve beyond belief" sounds like a false dichotomy between evolution and religious belief.
I initially had the same criticism, but then I heard it argued that "praise" refers to commendation, approval and honor and doesn't imply "worship." Part of what religionists do is "worship" their gods by heaping praise, but praising imaginary beings is pointless. Praising a real, actual person who is responsible for much learning and understanding of the world around us is both logical and rational.

I didn't, however, have any problem with "evolve beyond belief" since I've always viewed belief as an evolutionary advantage that may no longer be necessary. It might have been useful at one time to the early hominid or aboriginal walking alone at night to believe demons were lurking to steal him away since there really were jaguars and predators that hunted at night. And there might have existed great utility in believing that one shouldn't give up on agriculture because it was hard and that there existed a god or goddess to appease since such belief contributed ultimately to better food production.

Such beliefs are no longer necessary in modern society. We know how weather works; that lightening isn't a wrath of Chak; that were-jaguars don't lie in wait behind shadows. We can use our knowledge to better our lives and we should allow ourselves to evolve beyond belief.


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Old 03-16-2009, 06:33 PM   #10
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You make some good points Skinwalker. However, even if it's not sending out the wrong message, due to its wording, people could still receive the wrong message. Hence why I think it's not a very effective statement.
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:52 PM   #11
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Shouldn't they have the same consideration and tolerance as any other viewpoint?
If it were the US, I'd say yes. I don't know about Canadian laws on freedom of speech/religion, so I can't say for certainty if there's some legal precedent I don't know about that they're looking at that would change how this got considered. If Canadian laws on freedom of religion are essentially the same as the US laws, then there's no good legal reason to prevent the secular group from advertising.

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

Sound words to live by.
I think it's rather silly to say "there's probably no God" because it comes across as so wishy-washy. However, even the Bible acknowledges that worry doesn't add anything to our lives, and certainly medical studies and psych/social studies acknowledge the negative impact of worry on our health, so the comment 'stop worrying and enjoy your life' is not inappropriate. At least it's generally positive rather than the die-hard 'this is why everyone should hate religion and by extension, all those who practice it' attitude that I see all too often in atheist/anti-theist books and websites (and just for clarification, while you clearly have no love for religion, at least you take people of faith on their own terms, so I've not considered you as part of that subset of intolerant atheists, fwiw.)


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Old 03-16-2009, 06:55 PM   #12
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I agree. And that actually concerns me. I would have worded it differently, but it was their money...

Still, it *has* got people talking and anytime that rational discourse takes place, there is a gain.


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Old 03-16-2009, 07:08 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=Jae Onasi;2602670]I think it's rather silly to say "there's probably no God" because it comes across as so wishy-washy.

There really is only three other statements if we are to consider this among a set of choices: 1) there probably is a god; 2) this is no god; 3) there is a god.

Numbers 2 and 3 are irrational since empirical evidence one way or the other are not forthcoming. Number 1 is less irrational but no more logical since there is no established good reason to accept such a probability. All philosophical arguments that attempt to do so fail for one reason or another; no evidence exists; etc.

That leaves the original probability from the bus sign since the universe behaves just as expected if there were no gods in it. Physicist Victor Stenger is a good reference for this -his book didn't seem so much "anti-religion" and "angry atheist" as it seemed an honest scientific look at the universe in which religious thought dominates a tiny, relatively insignificant corner.

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At least it's generally positive rather than the die-hard 'this is why everyone should hate religion and by extension, all those who practice it' attitude that I see all too often in atheist/anti-theist books and websites (and just for clarification, while you clearly have no love for religion, at least you take people of faith on their own terms, so I've not considered you as part of that subset of intolerant atheists, fwiw.)
While I have no love for religion, I have much love for many who consider themselves religious. And, while I view religion as superstition, I'm not angry at those who are superstitious (unless their superstitions unfairly affect others).

But I am curious which "atheist/anti-theist" books you're referring to and which passages in them you would deem as promoting the sentiment that "everyone should hate religion." Even the most vile of them (according to religionists I know), Dawkins, doesn't advocate any 'hatred' of religion and makes his purpose in writing very clear, which is to provide a counter argument to the claims of religionists and to question the validity of their doctrines.


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Old 03-16-2009, 07:38 PM   #14
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I think it's rather silly to say "there's probably no God" because it comes across as so wishy-washy.
There really is only three other statements if we are to consider this among a set of choices: 1) there probably is a god; 2) this is no god; 3) there is a god.

Numbers 2 and 3 are irrational since empirical evidence one way or the other are not forthcoming. Number 1 is less irrational but no more logical since there is no established good reason to accept such a probability. All philosophical arguments that attempt to do so fail for one reason or another; no evidence exists; etc.

That leaves the original probability from the bus sign since the universe behaves just as expected if there were no gods in it. Physicist Victor Stenger is a good reference for this -his book didn't seem so much "anti-religion" and "angry atheist" as it seemed an honest scientific look at the universe in which religious thought dominates a tiny, relatively insignificant corner.
I totally understand what you're saying, though I'd say 'there's either a God or there's not, regardless of any proof we have'. I think it's the idea of people so devoted to reason being so devoted to fence-sitting on this that I find a little odd, but they paid for the ad, as you said, so they can word it how they want.

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While I have no love for religion, I have much love for many who consider themselves religious. And, while I view religion as superstition, I'm not angry at those who are superstitious (unless their superstitions unfairly affect others).
I know--I could tell from your Salvation Army story, and how much their support meant to you and how important you felt it was to give back to them so they could keep helping others the way they helped you.

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But I am curious which "atheist/anti-theist" books you're referring to and which passages in them you would deem as promoting the sentiment that "everyone should hate religion." Even the most vile of them (according to religionists I know), Dawkins, doesn't advocate any 'hatred' of religion and makes his purpose in writing very clear, which is to provide a counter argument to the claims of religionists and to question the validity of their doctrines.
Oh goodness, it's been a good couple of years since I looked at Dawkin's stuff and some of the other writers in that category. I can't remember if I PMd the quotes to someone or posted them--I'll have to search again, but it was pretty clear to me that Dawkins felt a. religion was Very Bad and b. it is wrong to inflict the religion virus on others. Atheist.org is not very friendly at all to people of faith in some of their sections (particularly the religion section), but I can hardly blame them for being defensive given the attacks they receive on a regular basis. I can't promise to find it in the next day or two but I'll look through the books again so you know how I got to that point, even if you might not agree.


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Old 03-16-2009, 10:38 PM   #15
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There really is only three other statements if we are to consider this among a set of choices: 1) there probably is a god; 2) this is no god; 3) there is a god.
Sorry to interrupt, but I think your list is too limited. Why should it be the case that the cultural concept of God requires something that exists (or does not exist) at all? It's certainly true that Christians often consider some things and situations as miracles, acts of God, visions, prophecy, etc. They sometimes even attribute weather patterns to God, like rains in a time of drought. Hey, it's their God, they should know. Why shouldn't we believe them?


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Old 03-16-2009, 10:40 PM   #16
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I'm not angry at those who are superstitious (unless their superstitions unfairly affect others).
First off I am a Christian, but I do not believe in the institution of religion. Until I came to this forum I never understood why Atheist had a problem with religious people. I figured they should just set back and laugh at those of us that believe in a “superstition”. However, your fellow moderator here in the Senate ET Warrior and Achilles showed me where Religion can unfairly affect others, in the voting booth. While I don’t vote the way the Religious right would want, I do allow my faith to steer my vote towards the party I believe will help people more. So my superstition does affect others.

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Old 03-17-2009, 12:21 AM   #17
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Sorry to interrupt, but I think your list is too limited. Why should it be the case that the cultural concept of God requires something that exists (or does not exist) at all?
Your interruptions are always welcome! The concept of god by most religions (both extant and extinct) includes beings that directly influence or affect the physical world. They create and destroy; stop planetary rotation and flood the planet; turn people to stone and raise the dead; etc.

To have an affect on physical reality, a being must have physical attributes. To affect things in the universe, a being must exist in the universe. I know of no cultural concepts of a god that isn't required to exist except for deistic beliefs and even then the deity is assumed to have actually existed at one point in the past.

Perhaps I'm missing what you're getting at. If so, please feel free to correct me or fill in the gaps

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They sometimes even attribute weather patterns to God, like rains in a time of drought. Hey, it's their God, they should know. Why shouldn't we believe them?
These are physical reactions that require physical causes. If they're alleging a deity, then this is a being that must exist or not exist. I agree with Jae, ultimately its a question of whether a god either exists or doesn't exist, but I decline to say with certainty one way or the other. I lean toward probably does not exist, I suspect she like others leans to probably does exist. There are those that will state, unequivocally that a god does exist or a god does not exist, but neither of these statements can be made with empirical certainty in the same way I can say my computer exists.

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(unless their superstitions unfairly affect others).
While I donít vote the way the Religious right would want, I do allow my faith to steer my vote towards the party I believe will help people more. So my superstition does affect others.
I would say that if you allow your faith to steer your vote, regardless of whether you vote republican or democrat, your faith fairly affects others. I only object to those that use their faith to unfairly affect others, such as with applying unfair standards of their own brand of god or religion to those of other religions or non-religion. Teacher/faculty led prayer in public schools; refusal to fill prescriptions; displays of cult dogma on public property; stoning to death victims of rape; stoning to death those accused of being witches; insisting that their own dogma's view on marriage is the only and right view; oppression of science education in favor of mythology; etc.


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Old 03-17-2009, 01:26 AM   #18
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Your interruptions are always welcome! The concept of god by most religions (both extant and extinct) includes beings that directly influence or affect the physical world. They create and destroy; stop planetary rotation and flood the planet; turn people to stone and raise the dead; etc.

To have an affect on physical reality, a being must have physical attributes. To affect things in the universe, a being must exist in the universe. I know of no cultural concepts of a god that isn't required to exist except for deistic beliefs and even then the deity is assumed to have actually existed at one point in the past.

These are physical reactions that require physical causes. If they're alleging a deity, then this is a being that must exist or not exist. I agree with Jae, ultimately its a question of whether a god either exists or doesn't exist, but I decline to say with certainty one way or the other. I lean toward probably does not exist, I suspect she like others leans to probably does exist. There are those that will state, unequivocally that a god does exist or a god does not exist, but neither of these statements can be made with empirical certainty in the same way I can say my computer exists.
Of course, I don't deny that people talk about their beliefs in a certain way, i.e., "God affects x" - but I am also interested in how that belief is manifested in their lives. I consider it part of the concept of God that believers refer to God as "being able to do X" or even "having done X". I don't think there's anything wrong with this.

However, just because a group talks like this does not necessitate the existence of something actually able to do X, or that the believers expect anything metaphysical to actually happen (or use it as proof of their belief) - and this expectation, too, I consider part of their concept of God. Biblical miracles, for example, might be accepted as "given" supernatural events in a religion, but that does not mean that what is called "evidence of God" in a religion will be necessarily supernatural. As I said, believers might consider a perfectly "natural" (aka scientific explanations for it are readily available) rain to be divine providence - and why is that not legitimate? From my point of view, it would just be another way of talking, albeit a highly confusing one given that it appears so similar to talking about a physical interaction.

A similar example would be how people talk about objects in fiction. Take this statement:

"Tatooine exists."

Are we to say this statement is any of the following?

True (So we've named a planet Tatooine?)
False (Nah, we'd never name a planet something so geeky)
Probably True (This despite the fact that we're the ones naming the planets? Why don't we know?)
Probably False (same as above)

I'd suggest that instead of any of the above, it is contextually true; i.e., in arguments or explanations about Star Wars it might make sense to say this sentence. However, if someone took it as a statement about empirical reality, that would show they mistook the place of this sentence in our discourse; they'd have taken it out of the context in which it can make sense. Similarly with religious language: I don't think it's true, but it's not false either. It's just religious language.

Because of this, I don't think that there should be a debate about whether God exists any more than there is reason to debate whether Tatooine exists or not: it's obvious within a religion that you can see God's handiwork - only don't take that for being a statement about there being some sort of metaphysical entity causing things to happen; if the believers' practice itself clearly shows they don't follow through on this idea, how much less do we need to worry about it? Time would be much better spent, in my opinion, over disagreements on morals or consequences where arguments can be made, e.g. "Does X religion promote moral choices?" or "Does X god exhibit moral qualities?" We share moral concepts; we don't share the God-concept.

Edit: Oddly enough, taking a religious person's commentary on what God does or does not do at face value appears to be understanding it even more literally than the religious person himself does: you act on that commentary differently than they do, and this difference in action could constitute evidence that you misunderstand the belief (given that "understanding it correctly" would necessarily involve that the believer agrees with you on the words and in how you act on them; they're the authority on what they believe, after all).


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