Atheist Billboards Appear in New Zealand

Starting today, three different atheist billboards will be seen in New Zealand:

After all the setbacks they had in getting these billboards up, I’m glad they’re off to a strong start. (A bus company refused to run the ads months ago after receiving complaints.)

If you’d like to help the New Zealand Atheist Bus Campaign put more of these billboards up, you can donate to them here.

(Thanks to Charlotte for the link!)

  • Aaron

    First!!!

    Sorry, it’s the internet.

    These have a more confrontational tone that others that have gotten lots of resistance, especially the first one. I wonder how they will be received in NZ.
    My dad used to say “Man so loved God that he created him in his own image.”

  • Hitch

    In the beginning there was a word, and that word was God. Humans created the word. With that they created a grand superstition about the origins of the heavens and the earth. Humans said ‘Let there be dark,’ and dark it was. Rather than discovering the dry land and seas and plants and trees which grew fruit with seed, he invented that it was all created in one stroke, disrupting inquiry for thousands of years. The humans claimed that God created them in their image, for no other image they had to model it after. On the seventh day humans rests: “So humans shall have one day a weeks rest, and so that the powerful cannot take it away from us, we will claim that God requires it. They can argue with us, but not with God.”

    And humans saw their own creation and thought: “I’ll be all good.”

  • John Vince Johnson

    Umm, doesn’t this go against the definition of being a “friendly atheist”? I’m not sure urban propaganda is the best way to get others to think about their religious beliefs. I follow the views of Einstein, that no one knows for certain, and that the meaning of life is the meaning in your life, what matters most? But these posters are blatantly slamming people with a God based religion. For many people, millions, Christianity is a way of life that works and is beneficial to them, to their families, and to their community. It’s true to them. Truth is relative. These posters will just stir up trouble, and will cause conflict for people of different beliefs. How is that a good thing? To be a friendly atheist, I think your missing one valuable point. You shouldn’t be advertising atheism. What matters most is that people are happy with what they follow, and that it doesn’t harm others who do not. In my 16 years of life, I’ve come to this understanding by myself (with guidance from my parents), and that’s just it. You can’t force people to be atheists, you can’t force people to be Christian, people have to experience life first hand and make their own decisions about religion. Sure, you could tell people atheism is probably correct, but then there are Christians saying Christianity is probably correct. It’s a propaganda war. Why participate?

  • http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com Sarah Trachtenberg

    Oddly, I had a dream about New Zealand the other night. ESP?
    Remember Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, who had all the good lines? “God created dinosaurs, god kills dinosaurs,god created man, man created dinosaurs, man kills god.” I don’t think I got that right, but it’s still interesting.

  • Daniel

    While these are a victory for free speech, I’m afraid they won’t accomplish more than just being inflammatory. Maybe some people will check out the websites, and that’s a good thing, but unless someone’s faith is already fractured, and they are looking for the truth, I just have my doubt.

    I don’t mean to be a pessimist, those are just my thoughts.

  • LeAnne

    these are probably the best atheist billboards i’ve seen yet. we (the U.S.) need more like these.

  • http://spatialdistortion.com/ Jim

    I agree with LeAnne. Drive around the rural areas and smaller towns and it’s almost cult-like. Billboards with misleading information, spraypainted messages on the side of houses and run-down churches designed to attack the emotions of someone pregnant, etc. etc. I can guarantee if one of these went up in our state, there would be quite the controversy (heavily Catholic and Lutheran in our area).

  • CarolAnn :)

    I love the last one. I want a bumper sticker.

  • http://www.celticland.com Al

    PROBABLY? – That really bothers me, it takes away from the meaning. fail.

  • James Lyman III

    I love the idea, however, most theist i know will see the “now stop worrying and enjoy your life” part as do what ever you want. They think that without god man will kill each other, because they do not have to worry about going to hell for it. I want to see a billboard showing an atheist’s good morels. Once the theist see that atheist have good morels as well, they will not be scared or feel evil for converting. I mainly speak of the first and third billboard, the middle dose show good morels.

  • steve

    “”””LeAnne Says:
    July 1st, 2010 at 12:06 pm
    these are probably the best atheist billboards i’ve seen yet. we (the U.S.) need more like these.””””””

    Why?

  • Jerzy Mike

    just as a curiosity, how come they say there is “probably” no G-d rather than a more definitive, there is no G-d?

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, so please don’t flame my post. I really am curious as to the word choice. If there is a backstory that influenced the wording, just let me know as I may be uninformed. Thanks.

  • Hitch

    “Probably” is good. Just planting a seed of doubt is all that it takes to send some people into a raging fit. And by keeping the probable it’s more inclusive to people who are uncertain. And we don’t get the tiring debates whether atheism is dogmatic or not.

  • Jerzy Mike

    Understandable.

    So then what is the main purpose of these billboards? I get that there is probably a milieu of purposes but what would the #1 or #2 reasons be?

  • Tom

    Last one easily my favourite.

  • Jerzy Mike

    ps – the “some of us go one god further” is pretty clever.

  • Pony

    “God created dinosaurs, god kills dinosaurs,god created man, man created dinosaurs, man kills god.”

    Ellie Sattler: “Dinosaurs eat man. Women inherit the earth.”

  • Hitch

    @Jerzy Mike Well for many people atheists are an abstract concept, and a very negative stereotype. The billboards do multiple things. They show the message, but they also show that atheists are not that far from believers.

    Lots of people believe that you cannot be good without god and they have no conception how many people are unbelievers. To have a billboard that brings both the message that one can be good without god and that more people are atheists than many believers think works to counter the false perception.

    I’d say the billboards raise awareness, ultimately, but you’d have to ask the organizers to get a first hand opinion. That’s just mine.

  • Greg

    Jerzy Mike said:

    Understandable.

    So then what is the main purpose of these billboards? I get that there is probably a milieu of purposes but what would the #1 or #2 reasons be?

    Well, probably not the best person to say this as I have nothing to do with the people putting them up, but I would imagine that:

    1) To let atheists (or theists with doubts) know that it is okay to be atheistic. If you come from a very religious community, and fear outing yourself because of the possible reaction, it is okay: you are not alone. And there is nothing wrong with it either!

    2) To let the rest of the country know that there are atheists around them, everywhere, and that these people aren’t baby munching, amoral (or immoral), black magic using Satanists, but rather ordinary people, some of whom you quite probably already know and like, who just can’t believe in a theistic god.

    It’s all consciousness raising. Whilst it would be lovely to trigger a sort of mass introspection in people as regards the reasons they might believe in god, that’s not the goal.

  • Jerzy Mike

    Greg & Hitch – appreciate the explanations.

  • Pedro

    Its all good fun when you are young and carefree. Seemingly far away from your physical end. There is no such thing as an atheist. If you were on a plane crashing to the ground your very soul will cry out to God to save you. Its our make-up. You won’t be able to help it.

    Have a nice day.

  • http://wildmonky.wordpress.com James

    @John Vince Johnson you can’t talk about how there’s no evidence for a god –let alone the Christian God– without the average religionist being offended even if you go the friendly route. You’re saying the fundamental way they see the universe is wrong.

    I don’t see these new billboards as being any more confrontational in that regard.

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    Brilliant! Love the Kiwis!

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com/ pinkocommie

    Its all good fun when you are young and carefree. Seemingly far away from your physical end. There is no such thing as an atheist. If you were on a plane crashing to the ground your very soul will cry out to God to save you. Its our make-up. You won’t be able to help it.

    Have a nice day.

    Wow. That’s ridiculous on multiple levels.

    I have almost died before I never wavered in my disbelief in a god. The thought never entered my mind, actually, I was more concerned with the reality of my situation. But I suppose I didn’t almost die enough, huh? What rubbish.

  • http://hiltont.blogspot.com HiltonT

    How can an Atheist organization run adverts saying “There’s probably no god”? That must be from an Agnostic organization. Atheists do not believe in a god – there’s no proof of one, nothing even close to any scientifically verifiable evidence.

    There is no god – so accept responsibility for your decisions and get on with life! ;)

  • Tegan

    There’s lots of explanations as to why these campaigns use ‘probably’, I think there is a clip of Richard Dawkins talking about it when the British Atheist Bus campaign started.
    Basically, when they say ‘probably’, it is used in a similar way to how they use that word in the study of statistics, as in ‘probably’ means ‘almost certainly’. It is definately an atheistic statement rather than an agnostic one, it’s making a claim about the existence of a god, which agnostics think can’t be made at all.
    On another note, as a New Zealander, I’m really glad that these billboards are going up. There might be some controversy around them, but nothing like the reactions in America (judging from what I’ve read). I think New Zealand has a great separation of church and state, this campaign will just be another way to raise awareness of atheism in NZ.

  • http://holloway.co.nz/ Matthew Holloway

    Hi folks, Matthew from the NZ Campaign here…

    The third one is based on Dawkins who seems to have adapted a quote from Stephen Henry Roberts who said: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    As for why we’re running the campaign, it’s not to convert people. Many people in New Zealand grew up in religious households but are now agnostic (in the popular definition sense) but they feel remnants of those teachings and the threats of hell. Although I was never religious a child I was threatened by religious people about hell. This campaign is about reminding people that it’s ok not to believe and that over 36% of New Zealanders are like them. The other goal of the campaign is to stimulate discussion of religious concepts.

    As for the word “probably” let’s look at the definitions of atheist. The Princeton Dictionary defines Atheism as either (1) the belief that there are no God or gods, or (2) a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. Atheists usually mean the later. In the past decade Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have advocated that Atheism should be defined as a lack of belief in Gods. The “probably” slogan is also Atheist as per the 2nd definition (“lack of belief”).

    The “probably” is also saying that we can’t disprove Zeus, or Faeries, or Unicorns, but we can say there’s no good reason to think they exist so they lack faith in them.

    Personally (and this is not the campaign’s opinion) I believe that Agnosticism has fallen out of favour because people don’t typically say that they are agnostic about unicorns and leprechauns too. They don’t say that they’re sitting on the fence about whether the Loch Ness Monster exists. People do just say that things don’t exist, and that’s why Atheism is a more popular term now. It’s shorthand for “I’ve got no reason to think they exist”.

    I hope this helps explain what we were meaning. Thanks for your support everyone!

  • http://holloway.co.nz/ Matthew Holloway

    Here are photos of the billboards: one, two, and three.

  • Dan W

    Of all the atheist billboards I’ve seen, I like the ones with statements more similar to the second one here- “Good without God? Millions are”, and similar ones to that. The other ones I also like, but they could more easily be considered to be bashing religious people, rather than offering a sensible alternative to religion.

    Then again, some theists will be offended by any statement that points out that there are people who don’t believe in their god.

  • Jan Suchanek

    “If you were on a plane crashing to the ground your very soul will cry out to God to save you.”

    @Pedro

    I was once on a plane where I believed we had a reasonable chance of crashing (it turns out we didn’t, but the only important point is that I *believed* we did)

    I can assure you that at no time did the possibility or hope there was a god ever enter my mind.

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  • GaR

    Awesome to see.

    Or not to see, as the case may be. Get one up in Hamilton! :D

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    Go Kiwis!

    Now if Australia can only follow. We have an atheist PM now!

  • Adam Tjaavk

    The “probably” is also saying that we can’t disprove Zeus,
    or Faeries, or Unicorns, but we can say there’s no good
    reason to think they exist so they lack faith in them.
    Matthew Holloway

    That’s what it should have said – being more inclusive and deflating – but it didn’t. This way of pithily downsizing deity – likening the one to the usually more vigorously dismissed many (Odin, Wakanda, et al) – is an often-missed trick (remedied in the last ad) that should always be kept in mind.

    More than probably there are no gods – the simple addition of a pluralising ‘s’ packing a far heftier punch.

    _____

  • pete

    Hilton T says..”There is no god – so accept responsibility for your decisions and get on with life”

    Hilton this is a much harder statement to defend “There is no God”, many faithful folks would soon have a feild day of poking fun, pointing it out.They could ask atheists to try provide 100% proof and all this type of Bullshite.

    The word “probably” means the position becomes a far more easy position to defend.And strips theists of any silly bragging right to any ammo.

    Its good to see these billboards in NZ.NZ has its own fair share of the abusive religious cults too,and these signs must help some people think more, and create more discussion about this subject.

    For far to long now even here in NZ,any negative type discussion around matters of faith/religion, has often been thought of as a type of very taboo subject.And abusive cults here try and use this tradition of taboo thinking,as a wall from which to try hide behind.To try claiming pesecution,against those who dare discuss faith matters.

    These billboards help slowly tear down those traditional faith barriers.Which in turn in future might also help free some more people from the grip of these very abusive cults.

  • Adam Tjaavk

    Though a convinced and passionate atheist, I much prefer the playfully sniffy litotic “probably” to Hilton T’s clodhopping insistence. And though “probably” was misrelated by Matthew Holloway to plurality, it does take on far greater force when combined with it.

    More than probably there are no gods!

    _____

  • Stephen P

    @Pedro:

    If you were on a plane crashing to the ground your very soul will cry out to God to save you. Its our make-up.

    No, it’s not our make-up. It’s your make-belief.

    If you seriously think that souls exist, then it’s time you read A Ghost in the Machine.

  • Robert Tobin

    We Aussie Atheists are scaring shit out of the Church leaders here. Also we now have an Atheist Prime Minister.

    TwO quotes for you:
    “Relgion Poisons Everything” Christopher Hitchens.

    “Religion is a Mental Health Hazard” Me

  • Gibbon

    I saw one of these while in the CBD in Wellington yesterday, and I must say it is situated in the most appropriate position. It is high up on the side of a building and visible from only one side of the street and only in one direction. And due to the fact that another building is close enough to it so that GOD is the first part visible, most Kiwis who see it are likely to dismiss it as another religious ad and ignore it considering that the vast majority of New Zealanders are not concerned with whatever religion other people may belong to.

    Most Kiwis have a ‘live and let live’ attitude when it comes to religion, we tend to keep it to ourselves, considering that we’re comfortable with electing non-religious people to the office of prime minister: the current PM, John Key and his predecessor Helen Clark, are both agnostics.

    I still object to the statement at the bottom: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Because that is basically implying that if you do believe in god then you are worried and not enjoying life, that is a baseless claim. Just because you believe in god does not mean that you are worried and/or not enjoying life.

    TwO quotes for you:
    “Relgion Poisons Everything” Christopher Hitchens.

    Considering what is happening to him shouldn’t that be cigarettes rather than religion. It’s funny, he’s an atheist yet he can’t be enjoying life at this moment. The life he has been living has just turned on him.

    “Religion is a Mental Health Hazard”

    Can’t be as much of a hazard as smoking and alcohol.

  • echidna

    Gibbon, you really are a nasty piece of work, gloating over the misfortune of others. You are exemplifying how small-minded and horrible Christianity is.

    If that is your idea of enjoying life, then you can keep it.

  • Duff

    Gibbon,
    Perfect! You have demonstrated yourself as a perfect christian; hateful, petty and logically woeful.

    Pedro,
    You are living in a cliche’d world. Not all the silly little things you believe are true. I know that is harsh, but you need to deal with it.

  • Skitter

    Gibbon, what? Your last two statements are bizarre.

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  • http://before-i-sleep.com Dark Horse

    Wonderful collection of bill boards. Keep us informed about how they go please. Wish we could do more like this in Australia.

  • Gibbon

    Echidna and Duff, the joke is on the two of you. I’m not a Christian, and quite frankly I can’t even fathom what nonsense led you to conclude that I am one. I’m not even religious.

    And you bloody well know I’m right. Smoking and alcohol has done damage to Hitchens’ body, and because one of them gave him cancer he now has to go through the torture of having his immune system depressed by chemotherapy. How can that be enjoyable in any way, especially for a group of people who believe that life is more enjoyable if you don’t believe in god?

    What is happening to Christopher Hitchens, and undoubtedly to other people who don’t believe in deities as well, proves that one’s life is not necessarily more enjoyable without religious or theistic beliefs.

    By the way what I’ve said is neither gloating nor a matter of enjoyment, I simply pointed out that there are far more poisonous and hazardous things than religion, a couple of which are now damaging the life of someone who is beloved by so many atheists.

    Also, what I said is a matter of following what so many atheists (something which I’m not) prescribe: telling the truth. If atheists can’t handle the truth then they can’t criticise religious people for doing what they consider to be the distortion of it.

  • Ray

    I think these are great! No, they will not “convert” anyone, but the religious billboards don’t convert anyone either. What they WILL do is make people who share these beliefs feel a little less alone. I’m a truck driver, and I see christian propaganda all day every day – bumper stickers and billboards. I have yet to see an atheist billboard, but the rare sighting of atheist bumper stickers just makes my day.

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