Advertising Nothing: London Buses to Sport Atheist Message, “There’s Probably No God”

By Kathleen Gilbert

LONDON, UK, October 23, 2008 ( - In a strangely counter-intuitive use of advertising, the famous atheist professor Richard Dawkins and fellow non-believers have joined forces to plaster messages on London buses that proclaim … nothing. 

"There’s probably no God," the ads will read.  "Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

According to atheist comedienne and campaign organizer, Ariane Sherine, besides the slogans “the adverts will feature the URLs of secular, humanist and atheist websites, so that readers can find out more about atheism as a positive and liberating alternative to religion.”

Dawkins decided to raise money for the 30-bus campaign in retaliation for a number of Christian messages recently displayed on London buses.  The Oxford University biologist contributed $9,000 of his own money to the fast-growing pool of donations. 

Dawkins, the modern atheist poster boy and author of the bestselling book, "The God Delusion," said he wanted atheists to fight the vestiges of religiosity that remain in English culture.  "Bishops sit in the House of Lords automatically," he complained.  "Religious leaders get preferential treatment on all sorts of commissions.

"This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion," he told Fox News.

Prof. Dawkins told Fox that he "wasn’t wild" about the ad’s statement that there is only "probably" not a God. Sherine, however, explained that the word was included in order not to breach transit advertising regulations, which require that messages not be offensive to religious people.

Although atheists have already surpassed the campaign’s goal, with $113,000 in donations, some commentators argue that the ads will do little to change minds, and may even wind up sending the opposite message.

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote that Dawkins "seems to risk becoming a parody of himself" by launching the ads.

Especially considering the ads’ equivocating use of words, he said, "I cannot imagine that these signs would prompt a wholesale resurgence of atheism."

According to Fox, the religious think tank Theos even donated $82, saying that the campaign was so bad it would likely attract people to God.

"It tells people to ‘stop worrying,’ which is hardly going to be a great comfort for those who are concerned about losing jobs or homes in the recession," said Theos director Paul Woolley.

"Stunts like this demonstrate how militant atheists are often great adverts for Christianity."

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