Thursday, November 06, 2008

Advertising For Atheism



The remarkable Ariane Sherine is organising an atheist bus campaign, which has already generated loads of PR (just try Googling 'atheist bus campaign').

And she has already raised upwards of £50K to fund the execution you see above.

I've offered to help her out with some other ideas.

And I'm asking Scamp readers who are free of the God delusion to help out too.

Are you a Planner? Maybe you could contribute a cool strategy.

Creative? Write us an ad. Do it up in photoshop if you like, but a scamp is fine, or even just a headline. Obviously this isn't a BBH project and there's not going to be any money for anyone at any stage, but you'll get full credit.

You can make a suggestion in the comments on this post, or e-mail me something at simon dot veksner at bbh dot co uk.

Or go to a separate site I've set up called Advertising For Atheism, where I'll be putting up some of my and anyone else's ideas.

If a few of us get involved, I'm hoping the crowdsourcing thing could be really fun. Don't you think?

I've had a go at writing a brief, so here it is below, but if you want to suggest a better one, then feel free.

First presentation is on Wednesday.


Atheism Brief

BACKGROUND
Even in the 21st century, religion still has a big hold on people. Religious fanatics around the world kill thousands every year. Millions of people live in countries with oppressive faith-based regimes. Bishops get an automatic seat in the UK legislature. And state-funded ‘faith schools’ are allowed to discriminate in favour of religious pupils. Meanwhile, churches and evangelist groups (‘The Alpha Course’) are advertising for recruits. Where is the voice promoting rational, science-based atheism?

THE OPPORTUNITY
The British Humanist Association has raised over £50K to fund a campaign promoting atheism. The subject of our ads should probably be religious belief in general, rather than any religion in particular. But if you do mention a particular religion, it would seem to make most sense to reference Christianity, since this is by far the most widespread religion in the UK.

OBJECTIVES
Get PR. The campaign has already had great coverage in the media (try Googling ‘Atheist bus campaign’), and will hopefully get even more when we launch. An ad with real insight and bite will be more likely to get PR.

WHO ARE WE TRYING TO ENGAGE?
We’ll never reach the religious fanatics, and there’s no point talking to existing atheists. We should aim at the (very large) group in the middle – reasonable, intelligent people who were probably brought up with a bit of religion, and haven’t really questioned it since. We need to move their dial.

WHAT IS THE SINGLE THING WE WANT TO SAY?
There is no God.

SUPPORT
Fossils. Empirical science. The presence of ‘evil’ in the world contradicts the Christian notion of God as omnipotent and beneficient… more at RichardDawkins.net, especially the Debate Points section.

TONE
Plain and factual might work. But then again, nothing undermines more effectively than humour. It’s open.

MANDATORIES
1) Idea must be cheap to do
2) In terms of media, it would be good to do bus-sides because bus-sides have already been announced. But we could propose an alternative use of their money if we had a great idea for a different medium.
3) The ASA code says “Marketing communications should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.”

105 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice, I've heard about this initiative. I'm glad you get involved.

Anonymous said...

Typical. They sit on this atheism brief for two thousand years and we get a week to come up with the ads.

Anonymous said...

Some of us don't need more than an afternoon, stop complaining.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHAH 4:01 anon

Anonymous said...

Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of... religion...

Doesn't this defeat the purpose?

Anonymous said...

4:35, nope, not at all. Believing in God is a general attitude, subscribing to a certain religion is an individual choice.

Anonymous said...

Veksner & Sherine the next Brand & Ross?????

Anonymous said...

What a wanky project.
Middle class psuedo intellectual wank.
What next?
There is no tooth fairy campaign.
Gawd.

Anonymous said...

RE: 4:35

But don't you think doing a campaign with the SMP 'There is no God' is not going to get complaints and offend religious folk???

Anonymous said...

4:43 -- Of course it does, but the point is not to adopt a discriminatory attitude by addressing one religion or another. The fact that ALL religious people will have a stone in their stomach is the same thing atheists feel when seeing a church.

Anonymous said...

Headline:
Just ignore him. He'll go away.

Anonymous said...

God is a LIE!

Anonymous said...

So how would one go about doing the research to find the truth in the product and exploit it?

Anonymous said...

there you go

George said...

If David Icke was the second coming, then how can there possibly be a God?

THE LORD GOD said...

SCAMP

YOU HAVE DISAPPOINTED ME, MY CHILD
I GIFTED THEE WITH GREAT INTELLECT AND CHARM
I GUIDED THEE TO A BRACE OF PENCILS FOR THAT NICE VW PRESS WORK
NOW YOU FORSAKE ME WITH YOUR BLOG
I SHALL SMITE THEE WITH RIGHTEOUS VENGEANCE AND FURIOUS ANGER

THE LORD GOD

PS. I WOULD POST A LINK TO EZEKIEL 25:17 BUT MY OMNIPOTENCE DOES NOT STRETCH TO HYPERLINKS

Anonymous said...

What a total waste of time, effort and money. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Didn't an ex adman by the name of Salman Rushdie try the same line a few years back.

And look what happened to him.

Come to think of it, whenever I see him, he's quaffing champagne at some poncey a-list do, with some tart in high-heels hanging off his arm.

Fatwa-tastic.

Anonymous said...

'There's no God' is a gift brief. You'd be hard pressed not come up with some nice ads.

The real admen among us might want to test themselves on the 'There is a God' brief.

Anonymous said...

Think you'll need better support than that.

Anonymous said...

I have a dog complex

Anonymous said...

Did Jesus walk on water, or did he just find a very shallow sand bank?

Did he turn water to wine, or simply find some more wine?

Did he really come back to life, or was his body just nicked?

Now you've thought about it, you feel a bit silly don't you.

Salsa Shark said...

"Because an invisible woman would just be ridiculous."

"God loves you. Unless of course you’re poor and hungry."

"Most loving relationships don’t result in eternal damnation."

"Free Will: The God Loophole."

"An invisible man dictates your decisions. Please explain that."

joebeutel.com

Anonymous said...

Ariane Sherine is hot.

God is not.

Anonymous said...

god is gay. fact!

Anonymous said...

one way or another

Anonymous said...

Lets all get along now and we'll argue about this in the afterlife.

Anonymous said...

Scamp, weren't you wearing that dodgy pink top last time you were in Campaign? I told you before pal, that sort of thing belongs on a Golf course and nowhere else.

Anonymous said...

We need a more positive proposition. So there's no God. Now what? What are we selling? The Humanist Society? How about a link to their website or Facebook group? Religion's strength is in its community, but atheists tend to keep to themselves. So let's unite and do something. Otherwise it's all a bit pointless.

And please don't use words like 'probably'. Makes us sound like wishy-washy agnostics. As an atheist I believe absolutely in the non-existence of God. No probably or maybe about it. Think how definitive the rival brands are: you're going to burn for eternity unless you join us. It's the original problem/solution marketing strategy. What have we got?

Anonymous said...

My solution.

Buy a gun and kill someone. Why the fuck not?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Scamp,

I think the stigma associated with not believing in god has a lot to do with it's name...atheism.
You can see old ladies suck in the breath when you mention the word.
For me, the word atheist is a little too near to words like anarchist or terrorist. It's like you're doing something really wrong, really against the norm.
For instance, if not believing in god was called 'realist' would people still recoil from you in horror. I think not.
Perhaps part of the brief should be to invent a new term/brand that means 'I'm a person that doesn't believe in a lot of old poppycock'.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with rape is fine as lon gas you don't get caught? Surely we are without morality. Animals. Survival of the fittest. Do what you want.

Don't be a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with rape is fine as lon gas you don't get caught? Surely we are without morality. Animals. Survival of the fittest. Do what you want.

Don't be a hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Good point, 10.22. If we called ourselves... free-thinkers, we'd probably receive better feed-back from the ParanoiaForever guys.

Anonymous said...

God loves us all. Except You.

Anonymous said...

The most fanatical group out there are the Atheists. Read the bile they spew up. Maybe there is a God, maybe there isn't. How the fuck do we know? Atheists 'know' as much as bible bashers. Religions, all of them, have their huge flaws. But I bet close to 100% of the twats who go out looking for fights on Saturday nights and the cunts who carry knives and use them, are atheists as opposed to church-goers.

'Let's do an anti-religion campaign' for fuck's sake! Grow up. It's just a sad faddy 2008 thing to say.

Only agnostics have a brain.

The Guy Above said...

Why do you keep fighting something you don't believe.

anon 9:16 said...

Atheism is not a lack of belief, it's an absolute belief in the non-existence of God and the power of life. And you're damn right we're fanatical. I believe life is the beginning and the end. I reject the false promises and threats of what happens after death. I believe in the here and now. No probably, no maybe, but absolutely there is no God. Religion is bullshit used by the strong to subdue the weak. It's the gin of the masses. A smokescreen to distract people from the truth.

Agnostics are the target of this campaign because they have nothing to believe in. We need to offer them something better than simply 'there is no God.'

Anonymous said...

Keep it simple. The sun is a man, the moon is a lady. End of.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10.38

It's not part of the atheist doctrine to kill homosexuals, repress women and start wars based on whose imaginary friend is better. Plenty of violent people believe in God. Hitler was one of them.

It's just the opiate of the masses, like terrorism has been recently. Everyone shut up and be scared or the bogie man will get you.

Fuck that. Live free.

(and of course we don't know if there's a God, any more than we know there's a Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy. It's just that based on any evidence, he appears to have been invented.)

Anonymous said...

RE: Anon 09:16

Ontological argument:

1. God is the most perfect ('the greatest') being conceivable.
2. It is more perfect ('greater') to exist than not to exist.
3. Therefore, God must exist.

Objective Morals argument:

1. If there are objective moral values then God exists.
2. There are objective moral values.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Fear is normal.

Anonymous said...

As has been proven here, I'm not sure advertising is the correct forum for theological debate and I'm positively sure that advertisers aren't the correct people to debate it, if we want the debate to be intelligent.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if we all focused more on the actual subject of this thread. It was about coming up with ideas for this campaign. No one asked us to believe or not to believe in anything. We are creatives and we should act like creatives. Your attitude makes me wonder, do you act the same when you don't like a particular product your brief is about? If this is the case, I'm afraid it is not the most professional kind of involvement. Simon posted a brief for us to make the best of it. (By the way, the fact that he invested time in organising a brief and a separate blog tells me he expected serious reactions...) After pages and pages of negative comments about ANY ad he's ever posted on his blog, I thought you'd just light up like fire flies and amaze us with your stunning ideas. It appears you're just NO-people.

Anonymous said...

i think the brief shouldn't be about convincing believers that they are wrong (even though they clearly are) ads can't overcome faith or deep deep prejudice. they will probably just please existing non believers. Remember the stonewall"campaign "i'm gay get over it". possibly the worst strategy i have ever seen.

i think we should target the agnostic, make them come of the fence and declare their faith in man as the measure of all things. Many know god doesn't exist but like the security of an ambivalent position. we should encourage them to join us not by pointing to the impossibility of a kind god in this evil world (the rather shrill and negative posture of much atheist propaganda) but by convincing them of the importance of declaring faith in man, in each other and in our extraordinary achievements and potential. not anti god but pro man.

Anonymous said...

So. First we take the credit for Obama...'We made a difference'. Then we decide to take on religion armed with 'Humour' and a few bus sides.
Aren't we getting a little carried away with ourselves?

JamesM said...

"BELIEVE IN YOURSELF"


...a little trite?

Anonymous said...

Hey 11.45,

I do indeed decline briefs if I wholeheartedly do not agree with the product (eg: the BNP, Greggs, Delaney Lund Knox Warren). If I am a thick God-botherer I probably won't be sending much stuff in to Scamp.

Anonymous said...

Before creative work and theological debate aside, I think there are a few things that sould be cleared about the brief itself:

- there's quite a big difference between belief in god, religious practice and atheism

- starting from the background I would say the main issue here is the oppression perpetreted in the name of / by religion, which does not have a erligious or moral fundament but has never been anything more than a figth for power

- still if the campaign is to promote the "there is no God" message, thus atheism, there is no room for doubt / "probably" and I'd look for an insight among "real" atheists, not agnostics or scientists (a rational, scientific approach cannot prove, playing by its own rules, the INexistance of God - nor the existance for that matter - see Einstein's view for ex., not that he spent much time trying to prove that God does not exist)

- and last - the target: how many reasonable, intelligent people are there still around that have never questioned religious practice at least, at soe point? none of the readers of this blog as it seems, so we're not the target...who is?

Anonymous said...

12.09 It is your choice to act like this and I do respect it. Nothing about this campaign was compulsory. Actually, it didn't even address the ones not interested in participating. That's why I'm a little bit amazed that the ones not interested chose to invest so much effort in writing so much on this topic. Not being interested means NOT participating in the discussion. Negative reactions like "Why should we talk about this?" are reasonable when it is compulsory to be in, which is obviously not the case. So, posting for the simple sake of seeing our lines flying on the internet is only going to make Simon's job less attractive when trying to select the comments that actually have something to do with the subject.

Anonymous said...

Why would an atheist care?

It's not as if anyone is going to win in the debate.

Waste of time, the main impact of the campaign has been generated by the media interest in its notion

Word said...

"God made rapists"

anon 9:16 said...

I'll tell you why atheists should care. Because religious groups are growing in strength and want to impose their belief systems on others. For example the Mormons are the fastest growing religious group in America. They vote as one. Left unchecked there will eventually be a Mormon president. He will enact an ultra conservative agenda which will impact all of us. Here in the UK the same could be said of the Muslims. There's already talk of adopting some aspects of sharia law. Wake up and start caring.

Anonymous said...

THINK OF THE SINGLE WORST THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU.

it was god's fault

Anonymous said...

Coming soon from the Man who bought you cancer and war:

ETERNAL DAMNATION

Anonymous said...

another draft

Anonymous said...

can't wait to see what wal does...

Anonymous said...

Atheists, stop pretending you care so fucking much about the oppressed of the world. Have you ever got off your ass and actually helped someone who's oppressed? Really helped?

And all that 'Fuck that, live free' shit! Hahaha!

Act your age and don't take your ironic T-shirt slogans so literally. You sound like the fucking fonz.

You're preachier than the preachers you hate so much.

Yours, somebody who genuinely doesn't know whether there's an afterlife or not because he's never been there. (Like all of us.)

Anonymous said...

Will this bus be struck by lightening?

Anonymous said...

2:16

I agree, we should do something about the oppressed peoples of the world.

lets pray for them

Anonymous said...

I'll let you shove god down my throat
if you let me shove this shard of glass down yours...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I never let on.

But I believe in God massively.

And the more philosphy and physics I read the more I find it absurd not to believe. The reason I think people don't believe is their definition of the noun God.

BUT

I'm not a christian. Haven't been christened. And I like fucking girls up the arse.

So go and convince me. I'm the ad the person has to convince.

And "there probably isn't a God" isn't a big enough message for me.

I think the "God is a wanker" approach would be more effective.

Anonymous said...

"umm. all this could be a random coincidence I guess. seems improbable, but there's a chance."

Anonymous said...

'God invented rapists'.

Hmm, good argument. Up there with 'My mate Finchy said 'How can I hate women? My mum's one' for intelligence.

An earlier poster was right. We don't have the intellect to discuss this. We're kids on the whole, judging by most comments. Including mine.

And Scamp, someone talks about shoving glass down my throat, you don't delete it. I offer them out, you delete it.

Integral said...

THERE'S NOTHING UP THERE.
WELL, EXCEPT THE TOP DECK.

(Positioned in the same spot as the current ad.)

Scamp said...

3.07 - his comment was close to the line. Yours used obscenity, so was over it.

Tea said...

Anyone know anything intelligient to say about:

A.) What is the dogma of the atheist?

B.) What does it mean to be an atheist?

c.) How does an atheist behave?

D.) Where does the atheist go to celebrate being an atheist?

e.) Isn't atheism quite similar to hinduism in so far as it claims that we are all gods in our own right?

f.) Vis-a-vis (e) does this not contradict the inherent beingness of an atheist?

g.) How many atheists have read Satre's Being and Nothingness? If not you should - essentially it is your bible.

Anonymous said...

The rules on this blog are odd. Rude words are a no, no, but casual threats of violence are OK.
With this kind of logic, it's not surprising we're struggling to find undisputable proof that there is no god.

Anonymous said...

3:07 PM

There’s really nothing stupid or fatuous about “God invented rapists”. Assuming what the three major monotheistic religions claim about the omnipotence of God, it follows unavoidably - or at least it follows that "God allows rapes to happen".

Theodicy – explaining how evil can exist in a world created by a divine being – is a subject that has troubled great thinkers (both atheist and theist) for millennia and remains a big stumbling point for many ordinary folk as well.

It’s time someone asked God for an explanation of rape.

Anonymous said...

Is there a God?

Do hot women get to do everything they want?

Aaa the eternal questions...

Might have a crack never-the-less. At the brief.

Anonymous said...

by what code is rape wrong?
if you remove any religious predicate then morality is redundant (isn't that right, friedrich?)

If you remove the moral context, rape needs no meaning. What needs a meaning is the absence of rape.

Why rape without morality?

Cos it's fun. That's why.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point. So maybe it's:

Atheists are good people too.

Anonymous said...

'God is a cunt' hardly equates to 'God does not exist'.

Unpleasant occurrences just prove that God isn't very nice:

Major Randolph Churchill on first reading the Bible, having been persuaded to do so by Evelyn Waugh, incredulously said, "Isn't God a shit?"

He certainly seems to be. His only real bugbear seems to be that he wants you to believe in him. How self-centred is that?

Anonymous said...

"Unpleasant occurrences just prove that God isn't very nice"

True, but since 'God is love' and the source of all good, it might lead one to question whether in fact God does exist or whether religion makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

4.24

brilliant.

i think we compete with the necessity for god.

"It's not god that's great. It's us"

Rob Mortimer said...

Let's face it. After getting America to elect a black man president; about the only more difficult task is getting them to take up athiesm. Why not run it there...

Anonymous said...

bored with wine?

Anonymous said...

Really, a initiative like this should be brought to the more radical Islamic countries like Iran or Afghanistan. Waste you're time and money in countries where religion is more of a problem, instead of irritating the (mostly) rational people of the western world.

And it would help to prove that you're not just doing this to piss-off people that have different views on things than yourself.

...And that you have big brass ones for actually taking a risk in those countries, rather than trying to enact change the way protesting college students in Che Guevara shirts do: by complaining.

Anonymous said...

Yet another buzz-killer.

Anonymous said...

"Getting closer to his own last days, even the most confident atheist will hope in God existence after life".

Anonymous said...

Re: 3.07 For the record the glass comment was not in response to your post. I never even read down as far as your post befoe leaving that.

It was just something i heard someone say once, which i thought was odd.

Mike Laurie said...

Just a tiny pedantic point but the line on the bus is agnostic, not atheist. Sheesh, call yourself a copywriter Scamp.

Scamp said...

Mike, you are absolutely correct. And it's more than a tiny pedantic point, I'd say. Indeed it has caused consternation among some supporters of the campaign. Google it and you'll see.

J said...

Hi Scamp,

I wondered if you would consider holding your next poll on the subject of the effort put in by Creatives. We all know you have to put in a great deal of effort to get a job (or do you? Yeah, you do). But the talent/hard work debate has always interested me.
How hard does everyone try? Do they find it easy?

I personally think it's more hard work than anything else. Talent helps, but hard work ensures victory.

What say y'all?

J

kiki said...

GOD
Like taking Calpol for Cancer.

www.DontAdamAndEveIt.com
(available)

Second life is a website, not a religious ideal. Make the most of now.

In the beginning He created Adam... Wait! Where did the dinosaurs and cavemen come from?

Anonymous said...

Can we have a T-Rex as our mascot?

Scamp said...

J, thanks for the suggestion, it's a cracking idea. I will use it for sure.

Anonymous said...

THERE IS ALMOST NO COD. THERE IS DEFINITELY NO GOD.

Anonymous said...

We don't mind you being religious.
So long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

Anonymous said...

Funny prayer sessions, with archaic Bible stuff next to more realistic modern day concerns?

Such as..

Dear Lord,
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for you (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?

Dear Lord,
I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as it suggests in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

Dear Lord,
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

Dear Lord,
Lev. 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to the Welsh but not the Irish. Can you clarify?

Dear Lord,
I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

Dear Lord,
A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 10:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Dear Lord,
Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

kiki said...

anon 3:03 - loved that!

JohnG said...

Dunno if you saw the piece in Marketing magazine last week but a Christian thinktank rather predictably called Theos made a donation to the bus campaign on the grounds that any publicity for God was good publicity. Since most of the population believe in some kind of deity telling them there probably isn't one is a great way to remind them of what they sort of believe - is that the very opposite of what the BHA set out to do? I blogged about it here: http://paab.typepad.com/furtherandfaster/2008/10/probably-no-god-campaign---you-cant-keep-a-good-god-down.html

Anonymous said...

IF there were a God, he wouldn't be bothered if you worshipped in him or not.

Charlie said...

The best thing about atheism is the lack of evangelism. Trying to ram an atheist doctrine down people's throats with an ad campaign, no matter how witty or pretty, will likely turn as many people off the idea as on to it.

The best thing about organised religion is all the good they do as collectives; Christian Aid and wotnot. Atheists don't have that pro-active positive thing going on so I'd take the money and give it to charity. Let journalists do all the hard work.

Anonymous said...

"GOD IS DEAD. ELVIS ON THE OTHER HAND...'

Anonymous said...

Let us pray.

"Dear God... stay out of our f@$king way"

LaiTi said...

Faith schools exist.

That's all the reason anyone needs for this campaign to succeed.

Sharpen your pencils now.

Anonymous said...

@Tea 3.17pm belated reply (had no work this afernoon..!)

A.) What is the dogma of the atheist?

There is no atheist “dogma” because atheism isn’t the kind of belief system that requires a dogma. It is a statement of a position about the existence of God or gods. That’s it. Nothing else is required. There are no churches of atheism, no costumes to wear, no priests, no holy books, no mantras, no enforcement of obedience. Atheism doesn’t tell you how to behave, where to go, or who to hang out with. That’s entirely up to you.

That is a simple thought but clearly a frightening one for a lot of people.

It throws the responsibility for deciding how to behave onto you as an individual. Fortunately there are established sets of laws and ethical principles which do a fair bit of the work for us. One example is the legal system of the British state which most of us subscribe to in that we agree to abide by certain behavioural principles eg rape and murder are wrong. And we have channels through which we can lobby for change if we don’t agree with the status quo.

You clearly think that the word “dogma” just means “what someone happens to believe”. It doesn’t. It refers specifically to sets of tenets which are authoritatively handed down for others to follow and which may not be disputed. The most common usage is in reference to the systems of thought set up and taught by the various churches and other types of cults that attempt to inculcate a pre-defined set of beliefs.

B.) What does it mean to be an atheist?

See above. Technically it means just one thing - that a person has concluded that there is no god.

Certain types of behaviour tend to result from holding that position, of course, but they are not in themselves necessarily atheistic. One of the most important and typical is that a person tends to be sympathetic to the accepted methods of rational, empirical scientific research. Unlike “dogmatic” principles these methods specifically require that nothing is initially presupposed. Scientists, or rather inquisitive cavemen, started with nothing and built up slowly, incrementally, discarding failed explanations, until they reached the level of understanding we have now, using methodological principles such as falsifiability, scepticism and testability (google them). It is because far more scientific theories fail than are accepted, and because scientific theories are continually disputed in a constructive way, that we know for certain that the state of knowledge we have know is as good as it is possible to get. And there is no room in it for theistic explanations of the world – these were failed explanations which were dropped 200 years ago.


c.) How does an atheist behave?

See above. Atheism has no inevitable behavioural implications because it takes no position in that area.

However, what I think what’s behind your question is an age-old anxiety – without a Word from above, how are we to know what is good behaviour and what is bad? It is a hard question and has been occupying ethical philosophers and legislators for centuries. There are many theories. But it is at least arguably true that moral actions performed because they are deemed to be good on their own merits, not because it secures you a comfortable afterlife as a reward, are more noble and have greater integrity.

D.) Where does the atheist go to celebrate being an atheist?

This is a meaningless question for the reasons above - we have no churches, no set worship times. Nor does one “celebrate” having a considered, consistent, well-informed opinion about anything. It’s the wrong vocabulary.

However, personally I agree with Richard Dawkins that any intelligent, engaged person can and should in a sense “celebrate” or take pleasure in the world around us – the beauty of our natural world, of principles such as love and self sacrifice which inspire us etc And that can happen anywhere and at anytime.


e.) Isn't atheism quite similar to hinduism in so far as it claims that we are all gods in our own right?

That’s not what atheism claims. You have framed the question as if you are unable to conceive of a world without a spiritual realm, re-wording the atheist emphasis on personal responsibility in a way which twists its meaning.

f.) Vis-a-vis (e) does this not contradict the inherent beingness of an atheist?

Like a medieval cleric attempting to baffle your peasant audience you have concocted a contradiction which doesn’t exist. No atheist has ever said he or she feels that we are all gods! We are all potentially the centres of our own lives, and are responsible for how we live, but we are not divine.

g.) How many atheists have read Satre's Being and Nothingness? If not you should - essentially it is your bible.

Probably not enough. But Sartre is an existentialist philosopher, and atheism doesn’t presume which philosophy of life you will follow. Existentialism is one of many options. And again with the “bible” jibe, you yearn to introduce/impose religious vocabulary into where none is needed. Free your mind, dude. Read some more philosophy if you are genuinely interested in how the world works.

Anonymous said...

I love it when smart people let themselves off the leash a little.

Superb post.

justin.billingsley said...

check out God's Facebook page...
http://www.collegehumor.com/article:1764710

b said...

I think the war aspect could be a good angle.

God is responsible for every war in history.

Couldn't be arsed writing an ad but there's your angle.

Tufty said...

How about some positive PR for atheism - for instance "Atheists - good people working for no reward"

Tufty
(see my blog against atheophobia)