As atheist ads hit London’s buses on Tuesday, one faith-based think tank says they will only get people thinking more about God.
The ads by the British Humanist Association carry the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” They are to appear on 30 of London’s bendy buses.
The keyword here is “probably” which makes this rather a weak argument. If a theist tells an atheist there is probably a God this certainly would be rather an unconvincing argument. Atheists often pride themselves on relying only on reason and so I am a bit surprised they picked suck a weak slogan.
If you were told there is “probably” a bridge over the canyon you might not exactly stop worrying. If you were told there is “probably” no poison in your soup by the waitress it would certainly give you pause. If you have an eternal soul and can face eternal judgment, “probably” just does not cut it. Though there is no certainty for either atheists or theists.
…both the believer and the unbeliever share, each in his own way, doubt and belief, if they do not hide from themselves and from the truth of their being. Neither can quite escape either doubt or belief; for the one, faith is present against doubt; for the other, through doubt and in the form of doubt. It is the basic pattern of man’s destiny only to be allowed to find the finality of his existence in this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and certainty. Perhaps in precisely this way doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their own worlds, could become the avenue of communication. It prevents both sides from enjoying complete self-satisfaction; it opens up the believer to the doubter and the doubter to the believer; for one, it is this share in the fate of the unbeliever; for the other, the form in which belief remains nevertheless a challenge to him. – then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger “Introduction to Christianity”
The other aspect of the slogan I found interesting was “stop worrying and enjoy your life.” I suspect many atheists think that Christians and others spend a lot of time worrying about judgment and that it cripples them in some way, especially in regards to judgment. This is kind of the Stephen King view of religious followers where religion always distorts them in some neurotic way like the mother in Carrie. There are certainly those who suffer from scrupulosity and worry too much about judgment. If anything too many Christians live their life without thinking about the last things enough.
What the atheists can not understand or explain is the saints who give themselves totally to God and are the most joyful of us. Though they would explain the saints away as deluded. It is joy not fear that marks the true believer.
Atheists like the secularists (which include many believers that often act like atheism is true) often want to cure the symptoms and not the deeper problems. They would eliminate worrying and guilt if they could and forget that the person who has successfully done so is amoral and often a monster. The message on the bus is really about not worrying, but about not feeling guilty. Their focus is not those who worry about the economy and such, but those who feel guilt for what they do and think about judgment. To stop feeling guilt is to perform a consciencectomy. But it flows out of the atheist naturally since if there is no God, there is no sin and certainly no judgment. They can also not tell Stalin why to not act as he did. With no eternal consequences for actions what Stalin did worked for him.
It is not though that atheists can’t be good people, very often they are. Ironically it is despite their atheism when they are good and because of the light they are given by God and the natural virtues. There have been plenty of attempts by atheists to construct a morality without God that mostly amounts to getting along and prudent ways to go about it. It was Friedrich Nietzsche who truly followed the path of atheism and saw such an attempt as folly. But I guess “Beyond good and evil” just does not work as a bus slogan.