Ads proclaiming, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake,” will appear on Washington buses starting next week and running through December.

Nice slogan.

Lifting lyrics from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” the American Humanist Association are running the atheist bus campaign in Washington DC during December. full story here

Of course the christian groups have had something to say about it. The American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, had this to say:

“It’s a stupid ad,” he said. “How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.”

What? More crazy than it already is? With hundreds of different religions believing in dozens of different gods; fighting and squabbling amongst themselves, and dragging us innocent non-believers along with them.

‘Good’ can easily be defined as not harming others; pretty simple, no need for god(s).  The bible tells us whats good and bad? Huh? I think Wildmon should read some of the many passages that show otherwise. Lets see what I can find in less than 60 seconds….

22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake. 23 ¶And he went up from thence unto Beth–el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

2 Kings 2:22-24 (King James Version (1769) with Strongs Numbers and Morphology)

Now let me get this straight, if children call you names, or mock your bald head [Sean and Protium please do not send any angry bears my way :razz:   ] you can curse them under Gods name, and God will send bears to rip the kids to shreds. Yep, I can see how you can determine ‘good’ from reading the bible.  *** snerk ***

At least the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority aren’t wimps and are allowing the adverts, unlike the Tasmanian and South Australian transit authorities who have refused some of the slogans the Atheist Foundation of Australia wanted to use.

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41 Comments to “Atheist Bus Campaign comes to America”

  1. followeroftheway1 says:

    What’s the point of being good if you just blip out of existence when you die? As long as you stay out of jail there is no real reason be to a “good” person. Without God and/or an afterlife, life is totally meaningless. Great message of hope for the holidays. Why spend money on telling people life is pointless? I am sure there are plenty of “good” things to spend money that don’t cause lifelong pessimism and hopelessness.

    Go to a seminary and ask someone to explain the 2 Kings verse in context and in relation to other Scripture. Pulling single lines from any letter, book, or story never gives the whole message. Pretty lazy.

  2. [...] (From the AHA campaign in Washington, DC, via the Oz Atheist.) [...]

  3. Orlando says:

    To a Christian the “meaning”of life is some god created us to praise him, and he sends us to eternal suffering or bliss depending on whether or not we believe the right story about him. It makes no sense. Better to face up to the fact we just die and that’s it – no bliss, but no hellfire either, just nothing, like before you were born. In the meantime focus on making the most of the only life we know we have. No one has ever proved, or even given vaguely credible evidence for, something like a “soul” that survives death. Believing comforting stories might help you feel better, but in the long run it is better to just face facts as it helps you to get your priorities right – live now, you don;t get other chances afterwards. Also – live according to your own conscience and experiences, not according to some dusty old laws from an ancient book. Ethics move on and we no longer share many of the views of people living in the centuries BC. We can be good by applying the ordinary sense of empathy and wanting to get on with others that is common to most people of various religions or no religion. Is fearing hellfire really necesary for people to behave decently? That seems a pretty poor view of human nature. Also in any case a Christian can act horribly, but as long as he believes Jesus has saved him he can still hope to go to Heaven, while the kindest atheist apparently will ge to Hell and be tortured eternally. Go God! What a brilliant, caring, logical way to run a universe!

  4. James says:

    Looks like you picked up on this story about the same time I did. I hadn’t seen the AFA’s reaction to this, however. Pretty standard stuff. If we really used the Bible to make moral judgments as Wildmon suggests we should, the world would be a pretty nutty place.

    Nice one pulling out the verses about Elisha’s baldness. I truly and honestly wonder how any more “context” could possibly make this disgusting story any better or more palatable. What “context” could possibly justify the murder of innocent children for mocking a person? Really?

  5. tenquid says:

    What a lame slogan. I’m so disappointed. From a song about another mythical benefactor. Humbug.

  6. StarPerson says:

    I find it amazing, in reference to “follower of the way” comment, that in this day and age, there really are people who do not realize how pathetic they make themselves look with comments like was left there. Does this person not a sense of good and bad, compassion and self preservation?blink out indeed.

  7. Jason says:

    @followerofhteway1 says: What’s the point of being good if you just blip out of existence when you die?

    So, you’re saying the only reason you’re good is because you want a reward in the afterlife? And if it became clear to you tomorrow that the afterlife is in fact bunk, that you would, in fact, no longer make any attempt to be a good person?

    I wonder who’s really more moral here.

    You’re ‘being good’ because god will give you a pat on the head and a biscuit.
    We’re doing it for no biscuit at all.

  8. followeroftheway1 says:

    People will be “good” for no biscuit as long as the price is right. People may disagree with me and say that they are princpled and that all the money, power, and riches of the world wouldn’t compell them to act differently but we all knew that when push comes to shove those left to define their own standards for right and wrong (and sometimes even those who believe in a Higher Power) will move them if the situation calls for it. Situational Ethics is talked about in length at schools all over our country. Human nature, at the end of the day, is self-centered. Some fight it better than others but for the most part people don’t always to the best things to one another. This is a fact of life. If you’re honest with yourself you’ll see that.

    I really don’t understand the “I am good because I’ve made a decision to do so” idea that people have. I am not saying can’t do that, because I’ve met plenty of very nice and compassionate people that do not have strong beliefs in God, but without God there is absolutely no basis for morality. What’s moral to me, is immoral to you, the next guy has no opinion. The entire idea of “good” is completely left to every individual to decide. If I think stealing is ok as long as I don’t hurt anyone physically, and you think stealing is wrong in all situations, how do we decide? If God doesn’t exist then laws are merely rules that exist to keep society in order, not necessarily to stop “wrong” things from happening because, ultimately, no person has the right or ability to tell anyone else that they are “wrong” because there is no basis for it other than mob opinion (law in this case).

    I also like how sometimes people will say things like, “Christians only do good things because their God told them to do it,” or “I don’t need to have a god tell me to be kind to others.” Jason put it as Christians wanting a “pat on the head and a biscuit” from God for following the commandments He gave us to live by. This, at least, is original and somewhat funny. Let me explain that God is clear that we will “get a pat on the head and a bisquit” if we serve Him with our lives but that is only half the story. Every person, as StarPerson pointed out, has a conscience that points out some universal, internalized sense of good and bad, compassion and self preservation that spans humanity. But who or what are we accountable to follow that (God-given) intuition? Just because it’s there doesn’t mean we will follow it. Acknowleging that God placed that in our heart, defined it in His Word, and will hold us accountable to how we respond in this life is just focusing and empowering the “sense of good” that we all have.

    God doesn’t just let Christians “off the hook” either if they live a terrible life. Most likely a person who doesn’t change over time to be more like Christ, isn’t actually saved. For those who grew in their faith but still fall into sin , Jesus’ sacrifice atones for the sins of the Christian’s life and gives salvation but the size of the “bisquit” and the “pat on the head” are drastically reduced relatively upon the judgement of their lives. (see Epistles)

    Absolute Morality without God doesn’t exist. If you REALLY think about it, you’ll find it to be true. Law can exist with human nature’s guidance alone, but not absolute morality.

  9. AV says:

    followeroftheway needs to be kept well clear of children and defenceless people, if his desire to act morally is contingent upon his belief in a magic sky fairy. If the only reason he can think of to be good is because the voice in his head orders him to, what will become of those within arms’ reach when the voice stops speaking.

    “How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God?”

    How do we define ‘good’ if we do believe in God? “God tells us what’s right and wrong” is an insufficient response, because it doesn’t explain why God thinks x is right and y is wrong. For fundies like Wildmon, ethics isn’t about understanding why something might be considered good or bad. It’s purely a matter of blind, unthinking, unquestioning, unreflective obedience. Don’t ask questions. Don’t even attempt to understand. Just shut up and obey like a good little bitch. Nietzsche called this “herd morality.” Bob Altermeyer describes it as authoritarian submissiveness.

    I call it the morality of people who fly planes into buildings.

  10. AV says:

    If you’re honest with yourself you’ll see that.

    And if you’re honest with yourself you’ll find that you’re going to have to do a lot better than making sweeping claims about human nature and why people do good without providing a skerrick of data to support your claims. I suspect this is going to come as a rude shock to you, but people aren’t necessarily going to accept your claims just because you say so.

    With God there is absolutely no basis for morality. All you’ve provided is a consequence for not following a set of rules—God will punish you—and a consequence for following said rules—God will reward you. This doesn’t explain why the rules in themselves are good to follow. It doesn’t explain why God thinks the rules in themselves are good to follow.

    On the matter of conscience, cognitive psychologists such as Marc Hauser, i.e. people who REALLY think about this—and moreover, pull their arses out of their armchairs and do actual research—are coming to the tentative conclusion that certain of our moral ideas are hardwired . . . that we evolved with the belief, for example, that lying is wrong, and that being creatures in possession of such a belief gave us a reproductive advantage. But you know what? Simply being in possession of the belief that lying is wrong is not proof that lying is wrong.

  11. AV says:

    God doesn’t just let Christians “off the hook” either if they live a terrible life.

    Except if they repent on their deathbeds, right? Adolf Hitler could have accepted Jesus Christ as his lord and saviour in the final moments of his life in the bunker, and if he really meant it, he would now be enjoying eternity in Heaven while his six million Jewish victims—not having accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and personal saviour—are burning in Hell.

    That’s all that really needs to be said about Christian morality.

  12. followeroftheway1 says:


    1) Crazy “majic sky fairy” worshipers like me have done more to aid children and denfencless people than any other group of people in recent history. Don’t bring up the crusades and inquisition to tell me that Christians have murdered thousands and that the millions we feed, cloth, and minister to every day don’t count as a result of two mistakes in the church’s past.

    2) If God is God then a full explanation of Why is not particularly necessary. What explanation does He really owe us? When you were growing up and your father told you to do something, you did it. Why? Because he said so. God goes one further, however, and actually does give us the why through the teachings of Jesus and letters of the apostles if you care to read them. Pretty nice of him.

    3) As far as “hardwired” moral ideas go, I think that is quite a Biblically supported finding. We are made in His image so His moral code would be hardwired into us, wouldn’t it. I tried to actually make that point in the last comment but I guess it fell short. The classic novel “Mere Christianity” actually opens with this argument.

    4) Yes, if Adolf Hitler truely repented of his sins and accepted Jesus as his savior, he would be saved. Yes, the sins of his life were were many but the grace of God far surpasses any amount of sin. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Who are we to say that God should forgive some but not others. God offers salvation to all people and judges justly with all who leave this world.

  13. sv says:

    A yardstick is needed to measure everything, be it weight , height, money and so is the same for virtues.Each person shapes up his belief based upon -
    -the experiences he would had as he /she grew up ,
    -the way he was raised up i.e what his parents or guardians/teachers etc taught him and how much of it he/she saw it being practised in their individual lives
    - the influences he/she had on him/her by other people and circumstances.

    We can use all kinds of reasoning and will power , logic, rational thinking to justify our beliefs in conditions where our mind permits it, in situations where we are only an onlooker, but its when the knife is cutting your skin, when u are on your deathbed, or your near and dear own in enduring unbearable pain it is then that all ourreasoning fails.

    what we long for is just healing be it by divine or non divine means.
    One needs to be taught the alphabets to start reading, without that standard structure we cannot have a standard form to communicate.
    So is the same with goodness, it is made imperative , the world will be full of chaos , each human being from birth wants first his needs to be fullfilled, if don’t have a manifesto we all will do that which is in my best interest, one may not feel like lifting an old man lying on the street while rushing up for an urgent meeting- if the definition of good is made “relational, “, then each one will just pass by based upon his own beliefs, then who is left to lift that fallen man, may be someone to whom it is taught that “look into the interests of others before your own”.

    If u were healed in a spiritual meeting of some incurable disease u wd say Christ is my healer, if u were not u are highly likely to shrug him off. but what is important to the sick is the healing.

    Logic and reasoning cannot explain everything .Our science is still in many forms theories and hypothesis.If rational thought could explain everything, why is there so much suffering in this world even though the population of people for whom the definition of goodness is highly personal in all the more increasing.

    How much of your hard earned money do u give ot for the poor,
    how much of your energy and time u give to lift the underprivileged,\there is more things tobe done the poor and downtrodden ,the to spend time seating in a comfortful room and writing our convictions .

    If u think u are more priviledged than many around the world are , does it stimulate u to do something to help others ar just be content or just feel “oh iam so lucky”

    If the definition of goodness is highly personal than most of us would just feel lucky, but if u have a manifesto or a code u now what is needed of u in situations where u feel u are blessed.

  14. AV says:


    1) If people need belief in a magic sky fairy in order to aid children and the defenceless, that is a sad reflection on humanity. That isn’t a good thing at all. Fortunately, people don’t require belief in a deity in order to good things. You may, by your own admission. But that’s your problem, not mine.

    2) The claim “If God is God then a full explanation of Why is not particularly necessary” is just a cheap attempt to avoid explanation. You’re the one who is claiming that (i) there is an absolute morality, and (ii) it’s God who makes the rules. You have made no endeavour to provide evidence in favour of these claims, and on these grounds alone we are justified in ignoring you. In fact, all you’ve done is argue in circles, using absolute morality to prove the existence of God, and using God to prove the existence of absolute morality. Do you have anything oustside this circle to support the notion of an absolute morality?

    Your father analogy fails on two counts. (i) I have empricial evidence of my father’s existence. There is no evidence that God exists. (ii) There may be sound evolutionary reasons for children obeying their parents or guardians. A child ought not learn by means of a scientific experiment that boiling water burns the skin. But children as children grow, and learn, and develop the capacity for reason, their tendency to blindly obey their parents decreases. When will fundies grow up?

    And you say God gives us the why through the teachings of Jesus. Really? Do they explain why it is wrong to lie, steal or murder, independent of the stock “Because God said so” response? If so, what do they say? If not, then you haven’t circumvented the original problem: theists are unable to provide an explanation for why it is good to do x and bad to do y . . . the only response they are able to give is “Because God said so.”

    3) The notion that moral ideas are hardwired in no way proves the existence of God, much less that we are made in his image. It is one thing to observe that we have these moral ideas; it is quite another to demonstrate why they are good or bad moral ideas.

    4) According to your belief system, had Adolf Hitler truly repented of his crimes and accepted Jesus as his saviour, he’d be in Heaven, while his six million victims, being Jews—and therefore people who had not accepted Jesus as their personal saviour—would be in Hell. What kind of justice is that?

  15. novparl says:

    These comments are too long.

    Since all atheists are happy, presumably the Soviet Union was a very happy place, second only to Albania; where religion was entirely banned. In 1984′s Newspeak, concentration camps are known as Joycamps.

  16. novparl says:

    P.S. Presumably Mr O’Barmer will be converted to atheism and give orders to burn down all the churches, to stop them making us sooooo unhappy.

  17. Michael says:

    Slogan is quite good. Far better than the proposed Australian one. Short, unambiguous, positive.

    I never quite understand how people can claim only a god can tell them what is right vs what is wrong. Other animals don’t need any ‘god’ to tell them that behaving well within their given social/family structure benefits them overall – so why (the fuck!) should humans? e.g. Nile crocodile which raise their young for a year or more, sometimes in shared nurseries.

    Pre-Christian/Judaic societies got along quite well together, had sophisticated laws and customs, world-wide trade, and successfully survived for at least one hundred thousand years, inhabiting every part of the globe except Antarctica before Christianity came along to tell them how to behave. And you’d have to be of very limited mental faculty to think they could have achieved that without knowing the difference between good and bad. Remember, history is always written by the victors – who turned their defeated foes into crazy monsters – rather than acknowledge they weren’t really any different to themselves (and always used to justify all types of ghastly behaviour – often in the name of their god – missionaries even in the last century were good at that).

    I am not a biologist but we all know that the brain is governed by the same chemistry and physics as the rest of the physical world. Good behaviour tends to make us feel good, and helps make us happy – it’s just chemical reactions making that happen. It’s because being good – even to strangers in a social environment – increases your likely hood of successfully transferring your genes and raising children to a stage they can do the same.

    Using fear and intimidation to force good behaviour is simply abuse – usually rather harmful for the abused and also for the abuser’s state of mind, at the very least (unless they are simply insane).

  18. libhomo says:

    I love watching fundamentalist Christians getting all bent out of shape over Christmas, which is a Pagan Holiday.

  19. arthurvandelay says:

    These comments are too long.

    So go away then.

    Since all atheists are happy

    Please provide a link to the comment in which this claim was advanced. Remember, baby Jesus hates liars.

  20. Pandu says:

    “All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord’s external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?”

    The idea of goodness in an atheist wrongly presumes there is no God. Actually there is no real good at all except in relation to the Personality of Godhead.

  21. novparl says:

    @ arthur daley

    Sorry to upset you.

    Does baby Jesus hate liars.?I’m a non-Christian, but I thought he was supposed to love everyone.

    I thought the bus campain says that once you stop believing in God, you enjoy life. Presumably if you enjoy life (as in the SU), you’re happy?

    Note to Oz Scouser – feel free to delete this. The Sov Union had plenty of censorship, and everyone was happy.

  22. 1minionsopinion says:

    I think people can decide what’s moral and proper human behaviour for a society without needing to add a god into the picture. People can decide on appropriate punishments for breaking the rules of behaviour without resorting to after-life threats. People can live good lives because it benefits the people to do so.

    “Without God and/or an afterlife, life is totally meaningless.”

    You’re entitled to your own opinion, but that doesn’t mean we agree with you. You can add your own meaning to your life. You can devote your life to helping the poor or helping animals or just by promising not to be a pain in the ass around everyone.

    Thinking that meaning requires God takes the onus off the person to come up with something meaninful independently. Using God as the measure is a cop-out. Goodness doesn’t depend on god, and if you think it does, then that says a lot about you.

  23. mindserased says:


    For you to suggest that there is no morality without god is like saying there is no Christmas holiday without Santa Claus. Yeah, nice little fairy tale in which we can all perhaps find some emotional value or even desirability, but in reality doesn’t wash. (Ever heard of wishful thinking?)

    As an atheist, I find comfort (albeit a cold one at times) that I get this ONE chance at life – ONE chance to do the best that I can, ONE chance to be a good person – without the idea of heavenly surveillance. The day I need some selfish reward of an afterlife, some membership in an elitist club, to help out someone in need or just be a good person in general is the day that life is truly empty and shallow and not worth living.

  24. ozatheist says:

    I spent over an hour last night drafting a response to all followeroftheway1′s comments, but with so many other responses I have decided not to bother posting it. I just want to say one thing to follower’s first comment.

    Don’t call me lazy again, that was rather rude of you.

    If you’d read my original post properly you would see that I made a distinct point that I could easily find a passages that proves god is not always loving. I wasn’t being lazy I just don’t’ have time to go through the whole bible to point out every error, omission, violent act, etc etc etc.

    For every one passage you might show me of gods loving message I can probably show you one of his non-loving messages. How can you say then that the book as a whole provides a positive message? Surely if you wanted to provide a book full of love and compassion, that’s what you would have written? There are whole sections of the bible that are morally bankrupt, so how do you justify it provides a positive moral authority?

    You are right that pulling one small section from a book doesn’t convey the whole message, but there are so many examples of god and jesus being angry, vengeful and violent that the overall message is somewhat confusing. Hence pulling one section out was not being lazy, it just demonstrated how easy it was to find one of those many examples of gods violent vengefulness.

    Enough for now, just one more note to follower and anyone else coming here and sprouting the “gods moral authority” message, please read my FAQ 1 first.

  25. followeroftheway1 says:

    First off, I’ll apologize for calling you lazy. I understand that you probably didn’t set out to write at great length about the topic and you were merely making a point. Sorry.

    I took a quick read of FAQ 1 and I disagree wholeheartedly with almost all of it (I am sure you’re surprised) but one area was especially interesting based on your last post.

    “So the first four are all about god and don’t really help at all in living our lives”

    You’re talking about the first four commandments in which God forbids the worship of other gods (idolaltry). Statements like this happen are why you see a “jealous and envious” God in both the Old and New Testaments. God’s people constantly ignored Him, served other gods, and came up with their own shifting codes of morality. The first four commandments are MORE important for living our everyday lives than any of the others. Jesus backs this up with His Greatest Commandment teaching in Matthew 22:36-40. 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    God made sure His commandments made it clear we were to worship Him and not other gods, people, or our own ideas. I used to be a person who thought that God seemed very cold and vengeful in the Old Testament (and refused to believe in Him) until I actually read the whole thing and stepped back and looked at it as a completed work. I changed my perspective completely and wondered why He didn’t just give up on the whole thing. Man choose to rebel over and over again but yet He remained willing to forgive. That doesn’t mean that He never reacted in anger. That doesn’t mean at times He didn’t administer justice. In most cases, He had every right to and there was usually warning and a plead for repentence from His people.

    Today, the same story is being played out again but this time we are even more openly attacking God by denying His very existence and looking to our own thoughts and philosophies to guide us.

    We’ve walked the “Absolute Morality” line long enough but just realize that people’s ignoring of the first four commandments is what caused the scenarios that made some believe that the God of Bible is excessively jealous and vengeful. Ignoring the first four commandments will ultimately be the very thing that causes people to not see the loving and gracious God that created us and is willing to forgive our constant rebellion out His love for us.

    Your Buddy,

  26. ozatheist says:

    Apology graciously accepted.

    Not surprised you wholeheartedly disagree with information in FAQ 1 :) but glad you took time to have a bit of a read of it.

    I am not going to reply to your comments here, in a funny coincidence I’d just decided my next post will deal with the ‘moral authority’/'moral absolute’ arguments (I’m not going to promise exactly when that will be posted, but it should be within the next few days …. maybe). This post will be a precursor to another one I’m working on on the subject of evil (It’s coming, keep your hat on). I’ll briefly touch on your commandments ideas in my new post, but any other readers are free to reply here (you might provide me with a few tips and ideas).

  27. Sammy Jankis says:

    Today…we are even more openly attacking God by denying His very existence…

    Follower, this doesn’t make any sense. Hindus might accuse you of ‘attacking Vishnu’ by ‘denying His very existence’ – what would you say to such a charge? This line of argument is perhaps the laziest and most dishonest to be found in the apologetics playbook. Rather than engage with the arguments presented, assert that atheists in fact do believe in God but they just won’t admit it.

    ‘It’s not that atheists don’t believe in God, it’s that they hate God!’

    It’s a perfect example of a strawman argument – nothing more.

    …and looking to our own thoughts and philosophies to guide us.

    So we should switch our brains off and mindlessly obey? It’s funny you know, because some theists berate atheists for having a ‘low view of humanity’ because they believe that we are the descendants of simpler organisms, rather than being ‘specially created’. Yet it is usually the same theists who assert that we filthy sin-ridden humans are completely and utterly incapable of thinking for ourselves on issues of morality and ethics. We cannot for one second trust our own reason; it’s much safer to just open the Bible and follow the dictates within like good little godbots.

    No thanks.

  28. AV says:

    Statements like this happen are why you see a “jealous and envious” God in both the Old and New Testaments.

    If Abrahamic monotheism is true, then no other Gods exist beside Yahweh. And Yahweh, being, you know, omniscient, would be aware of this. So why would he “jealous and envious” of deities which do not exist. It makes about as much sense and being jealous and envious of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.

    God’s people constantly ignored Him, served other gods, and came up with their own shifting codes of morality.

    What evidence is there that these codes of morality were “shifting?” Presumably worshippers of other deities applied the same faulty argument you’re presenting here: “Without belief in my god(s), there is no basis for morality.” Why should we deem those non-Yahwists to be wrong, and your belief to be right?

    On the other hand, if you want to talk about a shifting code of morality, look no further than the Bible, which in certain parts mandates genocide (on the orders of Yahweh), rape and forcing rape victims to marry their rapists, the stoning to death of adulterers, and of homosexuals, and of children who disobey their parents, and of individuals who perform labour on the Sabbath . . . but then, at some point, according to apologists, changes its mind. It never ceases to condone slavery, however.

    Jesus backs this up with His Greatest Commandment teaching in Matthew 22:36-40. 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b]

    You see . . . just putting a capital G on “Greatest” and a capital C on “Commandment” doesn’t make your claim any more convincing. Why should we consider this to be the greatest commandment, given that Yahweh, as he is depicted in the Old Testament, is a pretty vicious and horrible character, and manifestly unworthy of having his commandments followed.

    And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    So when Elisha cursed those children and the she-bears tore them to shreds, he was “loving his neighbor as himself”, right?

    I used to be a person who thought that God seemed very cold and vengeful in the Old Testament (and refused to believe in Him) until I actually read the whole thing and stepped back and looked at it as a completed work. I changed my perspective completely

    Of course you did. It’s known as “Stockholm syndrome.”

    That doesn’t mean at times He didn’t administer justice.

    If a child—if anyone—calls an old man “baldhead”, and God sends she-bears to tear that child to pieces, please explain how this constitutes justice. Does the punishment, in other words, fit the crime?

  29. AV says:

    I’m a non-Christian,

    What are you, then?

    I thought the bus campain says that once you stop believing in God, you enjoy life.

    No, it doesn’t. It says: “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

  30. tenquid says:

    Maybe we could start with one act that, on the face of it, is always wrong/evil. How about the act of killing another human being?

    Always wrong? Why?

  31. AV says:

    The first four commandments are MORE important for living our everyday lives than any of the others.

    So not worshipping your deity is worse than murder? Being an atheist or an infidel is worse than being a murderer?

    And why is the requirement to abstain from work on the Sabbath (i) important at all, and (ii) more important than the ban on murder?

  32. novparl says:

    @ AV. Like millions of people I believe there’s a god or gods but am vague about the details. Also millions of Brits have doubts about evolution. Shocking, what!?

    Sorry about the confusion – I should have distinguished between the DC campain and the London one, which clearly says that once you stop believing in religion, you’ll enjoy life. This is Dawkins’s constant evangelical theme – if you’re religious you’ll be unhappy, convert to atheism and be happy. I can supply some quotes, if ya like.

  33. AV says:

    Like millions of people I believe there’s a god or gods but am vague about the details. Also millions of Brits have doubts about evolution. Shocking, what!?

    Shocking, no. Absolutely irrelevant to the truth or falsity of theism or evolution, yes.

    The London campaign reads as follows: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” This does not imply a guarantee that once you stop believing in religion, you’ll enjoy life. Rather, it claims that there is no reason to be worried or to enjoy life on account of the existence of a God, given that there is probably no God.

    This is Dawkins’s constant evangelical theme – if you’re religious you’ll be unhappy, convert to atheism and be happy. I can supply some quotes, if ya like.

    Please do, along with references.

  34. novparl says:

    @ AV the PC.

    I wasn’t presenting it as truth. Just saying my views are not UNIQUELY evil.

    You’re right to challenge me on Dawkins’s promise of earthly bliss. I got home and looked at the God Delusion (I’ve only got 1/3 way thru after several months) and can’t yet find where he mentions “the pursoot of happiness”. His usual theme is you’re “dim” if yer not an atheist. Now I’m off to Google “Dawkins happiness” etc. Fingers crossed.

  35. AV says:

    I wasn’t presenting it as truth. Just saying my views are not UNIQUELY evil.

    Who said they were?

    His usual theme is you’re “dim” if yer not an atheist.

    Well, he does use the term “faith-head” (I think by analogy with “acid head” or “pot head”—i.e. a user of drugs), referring to those who believe blindly or without question.

    Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument. Teaching children that unquestioned faith is a virtue primes them—given certain other ingredients that are not hard to come by—to grow up into potentially lethal weapons for future jihads or crusades. Immunized against fear by the promise of a martyr’s paradise, the authentic faith-head deserves a high place in the history of armaments, alongside the longbow, the warhorse, the tank and the cluster bomb. If children were taught to question and think through their beliefs, instead of being taught the superior virtue of faith without question, it is a good bet that there would be no suicide bombers. [p. 308]

    He has also said that “If subtle, nuanced religion predominated, the world would be a better place, and I would have written a different book.” (You’ll have to Google that for a reference . . . WordPress doesn’t like too many hyperlinks.)

  36. novparl says:

    “…uniquely evil” – standard rhetoric.

    Google “Bright” s.v.p. For Dawkins, the opposite is, specifically, “Dim”.

    Wd u accept that to enjoy life is to be happy? Not 100% certain.

  37. novparl says:

    Er – no, visiting fails to prove this. According to one Canadian, this is an Internet legend. Wikipedia, where I thought I’d read it, refers to “dim” as an inference some people have made.

    “God delusion” refers to Dwakins’s scientific life as “wonderful”. Is a wonderful life a happy life? & his book is less evangelical than it seems, taken up as it is with attacks on journalists unknown outside Blighty (eg. Maddy Bunting) and continual defences against accusations of stridency etc. (whatever makes them think that?)

    11.30 a.m.

  38. arthurvandelay says:

    You’re referring to his remarks about “Einsteinian religion.” By wonder I take him to mean “rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience” (the Webster’s definition). This is his, and, he suggests, it was Einstein’s response to the natural world. Dawkins is arguing that one doesn’t need to be religious in order to have such a response, nor is such a response tantamount to religion in the conventional sense of the word.

    Wd u accept that to enjoy life is to be happy?

    Yes. I don’t see why not.

    Is a wonderful life a happy life

    Not sure. They’re not synonyms, but they’re not antonyms either.

    & his book is less evangelical than it seems

    So many have discovered, I am willing to bet, once they actually pick it up and read it. You can always spot the critics who haven’t. They’re the ones who accuse Dawkins of being soft on radical Islam. Indeed, those who fall into this category tend not to have read any of Dawkins’ many writings on religion, especially his September 15, 2001 Guardian op-ed piece, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles,” in which he wrote the following: “Yes, testosterone-sodden young men too unattractive to get a woman in this world might be desperate enough to go for 72 private virgins in the next.”

  39. novparl says:

    I was just thinking on the bus (which had no religious adverts on it) – has any book reviewer ever announced that, having read a Dawkins book, he is now converted from religion and won’t be going to church again? He seemed to be near conceding this (approx.) thing in his recent interview with Decca Aitkenhead.

  40. AV says:

    The Aitkenhead piece which novparl is referring to can be found here. There Richard Dawkins admits that his book’s stated aim to convert readers to atheism was unrealistic. “A worthwhile aim, but unrealistic.”

    I don’t know if any book reviewers have been converted upon reading Dawkins’ books, but then I don’t know what this is supposed to prove, given that book reviewers constitute a miniscule fraction of the set of book readers.

    Then again, if you’re (I mean the general you) the kind of person who is going to “convert” from anything to anything on the spot, merely after having read a particular book or pamphlet, or having attended a church service or lecture or seminar, all that it would show is that you are a very gullible individual.

    If anyone has been “converted” or deconverted because of a Dawkins book, I would hope it is because the book has provoked them to think seriously about its arguments, to read more and to read more widely, and to attend to their own cherished beliefs with more critical distance than they may have been accustomed.

    Of course, the Sally Sensitives will always respond to Dawkins’ “stridency” by clinging ever more tenaciously to the secuirty-blanket of their faith. I don’t see that Dawkins, or anyone else, should be obliged to pander to the Sally Sensitives.

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