Sunday, February 1, 2009

There's probably no God...

Buses with the slogan 'There's probably no God' could soon be running on the streets of Britain. (October 22, 2008)

A Toronto-based group that's promoting atheism says Calgary is the next Canadian city on its radar.
The Freethought Association of Canada wants to put ads that question the existence of God on the side of Calgary city buses, said president Justin Trottier.
The ads would carry a simple message: There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.
(January 27, 2009)

And the Christians get all up in arms, and complain—when we would do something similar, and likely have in the past.
It's called free speech, coupled with truth in advertising. You can't make claims you can't prove (like this product will make your hair grow, or make you taller, or better looking, or whatever). Although some of the internet ads kind of make you wonder. No, I won't get specific here!
I think the knee-jerk Christian reaction is typical and to be expected. We want total freedom to say what we believe, but don't like it when someone else does the same thing.
It ties in with something my friend Comrade posted on Facebook very recently. Here is his post, unedited: (used by permission)

So today I was on my way to work and came across a bigot holding religious signs against homosexuality. I can not say I acted fully rationally...
I tried to talk to him which quickly turned into me yelling and practically threatening him, eventually after about 15 minutes I spit in his face and began to leave. A guy getting gas at the near by gas station thanked me for standing up to the guy and told me I should have knocked him out.
The bigot hid behind the law, claiming he would call the pigs on me, which he never did, and I don't think would actually have done. He also claimed they had already been there today and left. If this is true than it shows the pigs obviously don't care.
I think that when confronted with this kinda shit there are things we can do. the main one is make it impossible for him to spread his hate, I should have ripped the signs out of his fucking hands and disposed of tem...
This also makes me think of the s.h.a.r.p.s. and how they removed organized white power groups by simply using force, obviously this strategy does not change the person mind, but it stops them from spreading their messages of hate of minorities to kids and other people in the community.

So, what's the connection with the 'There's probably no God' ad campaign? And why do I think it is important that you hear what Comrade has to say?
Christians can be very arrogant. We think we have a corner on truth, understand it at all levels, and have the right to blast anyone in our way with it.
Guess what? People who don't agree with us often don't like our attitude. (I am being overly generalistic here, and painting all Christians with the same brush for a moment.) For example: lots of people may not agree with the fairly general Christian view that homosexuality is wrong. Some Christians will be quite obnoxious about that point of view, and their presentation of their view antagonizes people like Comrade. He has as much right to his view as the 'bigot' he refers to has to his view. Perhaps neither of them handled the discussion well.
But, from the point of view of Christians, how effective was the guy with his signs? Did they change Comrade's mind?
Did they even start to convince him that the God this fellow would say he worships is a loving, compassionate God?
Definitely no.
Is Comrade more likely to be interested in discussing any thoughts on any aspect of life with this guy?
Not if I know Comrade!
All he succeeded in doing was adding one more experience, one more layer, one more nail in the coffin of Comrade's conviction that Christians are bigots, closed-minded, and even worse—haters of people different than themselves. On top of that, Comrade probably would expect the God Christians claim to believe in is at least as bad as the people who are claiming to be His followers.
Leaving the whole issue of homosexuality aside, what is gained by the kind of approach of this guy with his signs? Whether his anti-homosexual rhetoric is right or wrong, I doubt if anyone he is trying to convince is likely to change because of it. More likely, others will have a similar response to Comrade—maybe not outwardly, but inwardly they are being progressively driven farther away from the God we want them to get to know.
I have had several great conversations with Comrade. He has helped me grow in my understanding of things I don't know much about. I could try to be dogmatic, pick a scripture of two, preach at him, and then wonder why he doesn't want to talk to me. Or I can sit down, listen, ask questions, offer my opinions, and most importantly, try to act like the gracious God I say I follow.
If we believe He is a loving God, accepting and forgiving, we better start acting like Him.
People in London and Calgary might be wondering if:
--there is a God,
--He wants them to spend all their life worrying about Him, and
--thinking He might want them to never enjoy life.
We have probably already given them more reasons to ask those questions than that bus ad campaign will. It's time to forget about complaining about what the atheists are doing, and start living out what Jesus taught. Love, justice, mercy, peace, joy and a whole bunch of other great ideas.

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