Australian Atheist Bus Ad Says God Better Have ‘a Good Excuse’

In anticipation of next month’s 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, the Atheist Foundation of Australia has purchased bus ads that raise a great point: “If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.”

David Nicholls, president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, had this to say about the adverts: “Woody Allen’s words encapsulate the thoughts of the freethinking community and the sneaking suspicions of a growing number of religious people as well. Considering the immensity of the unnecessary death, pain and suffering on the planet, an alleged all-powerful and all-loving god certainly has a lot to answer for.”

Incidentally, APN Outdoor (the company placing these ads) must have had a change of heart. It was only a few years ago when they rejected other ad submissions from the AFA (e.g. “Atheism: Celebrate reason”) for being “too political.”

Tickets are still available for the Global Atheist Convention, though with the impressive roster of speakers as it is, I’ll bet those won’t last very long…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a decent counterpoint to those that would think they’re clever for rehashing Pascal’s Wager.

    • Moribund Cadaver

      It has always seemed that Pascal’s Wager hinges on one very big assumption that often goes unexamined.

      That assumption is that the individual actually desires the comfort of believing there is an all-knowing god, and that the concept of an all-knowing god is required for an individual to be “happier”.

      In short, the famous wager is an attempt to appeal to a presumed secret, repressed desire in the non-believer. It’s predicated on the notion that while one does not believe in god, one would naturally *want* to believe in god if only there were a way to justify it. Thus the wager is a gesture of friendly assistance – to “help” the non-believer overcome their limitation.

      Naturally, this comes from the perspective of the believer who can’t construct a framework in which god simply isn’t necessary to be satisfied with human existence.

      Where the wager fails is when pressed against someone who has no desire to live in a universe controlled by an omnipotent god. This person gains nothing by believing in god as a default position, *even if* as the wager says, they have nothing to lose anyway since it won’t matter if they’re wrong when they die.

      God is a non-factor in the equation. Belief or disbelief is irrelevant, and if any omnipotent god does exist, it will take care of itself regardless of whether anyone believes in god or not.

  • the captain

    Oh, SNAP

  • http://www.facebook.com/zapkvr Kevin V. Russell

    Woody Allen is jewish. The God of the old testament was crazy as a loon.

    • S Robson1

      He might of BEEN Jewish, but he is now an Atheist …

      • Dallascowboys1561

        All have the right to believe as they choose without being attacked for those beliefs. I happen to believe in God and the bible. I simply believe that ALL (good and bad) things work together for the good if the Lord. I believe that the righteous shall be redeemed and live forever. If I die and find this to be untrue, what have I suffered for my belief? If you are a mon believer and live the life of a non believer, and you die and find out that Jesus is in fact the son if God, what then shall you suffer?

        • Anon

          ‘All have the right to believe as they choose without being attacked for those beliefs.’

          And I agree with that but that doesn’t mean that just because you happen to be the majority your belief system should be the default one or should be pushed on to anyone.

          ‘If I die and find this to be untrue, what have I suffered for my belief?’

          You’ve lost your skepticism, your sense of judgement and your free will. If all answers are ‘God’; if all judgements are made by a 2000 year old book transcribed from oral stories, heavily edited, translated and re-translated; if all actions are caused by or for your god then where is your choice in the world?

          Where is your pride in looking at something good that you have done and saying ‘I did that. I made a difference’. Not ‘a giant invisible being did something through me’ but that you conciously chose to do something good.

          ‘If you are a mon believer and live the life of a non believer, and you die and find out that Jesus is in fact the son if God, what then shall you suffer?’

          Well firstly, if the christian god/Jesus exists, I have some serious questions for him and secondly, because I don’t believe that I will live again after I die I try to make a difference with every day of my life.

          And frankly, who deserves eternal paradise more. Somebody who has done good things and helped people because they were good things and they helped people or somebody who happens to have been born into a place where they are able to choose what turns out to be the correct religion through sheer chance and does good things because they were told to on pain of being tortured for eternity. 

          You’d think a truly loving god wouldn’t give a damn whether you believed in the Christian God, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or little green men from Mars so long as you had been a good person.

          • Nan

            “… just because you happen to be the majority…..”?  There are many more unbelievers than christians in Australia!

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          Ah, Pascal’s Wager. One of the single dumbest apologetic arguments there is. Watch – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZpJ7yUPwdU - this video. It beautifully illustrates the flaws in Pascal’s Wager.

          I don’t believe in god, and if I’m wrong, I hope the god that meets me in the afterlife is one that is truly benevolent. A benevolent god would know that I don’t disbelieve because of some form of hatred or petty rebellion. This god would know my disbelief comes from retrospection, from following evidence, and from seeing the world as it is. This god would know that I came to this conclusion with a lot of turmoil – losing my religion threw me into the anxiety I have right now.

          This god, knowing all these things, and being benevolent, would hopefully reward me for not only my honest interpretation of the world, but also my humanist ideals to decrease suffering and increase happiness for everyone.

          If this god decides to punish me for all eternity merely because I don’t believe, where is its benevolence?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Ridealgh/100003547620710 Matthew Ridealgh

            “where is its benevolence?”
            There is none! Just as that god does not exist.
            Of course one cannot be sure that “something powerful” that one might call a god does not exist, but that god?, the belevolent one, is a figment of the imagination in Pascal’s wager which is based on the off chance that there’s a god but the certainty of the god’s will to punish.

            The wager is saying I should follow a god i do not know about in case it exists because if it exists I know he punishes non-believers?
            This is completely illogical. If we can’t know if there’s a god, we can’t know its behviour towards anyone or anything.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Ridealgh/100003547620710 Matthew Ridealgh

           Dallas. That’s silly.
          You say “If” a god exists and quite rightly, becasue you have no knowledge of this god. But then you state you know it punishes those who don’t believe as you do.

          Do you know there is a god? No.
          So how can you know it punishes those who don’t believe as you do? Which, by the way, includes the majority of Xtians who will all have different favourite stories and ingnore the bits that are disproven, silly, violent, or just plain crazy.

          Let’s face it, the wager you pose  has very bad odds.
          If we assume that a god would have immense power, what are the chances that it has any interest in the petty, violent, jealous babbling it is accused of in a book of stories by ignorant jewish goat herders approximately 13.8 billion years after the start of the universe?

          So, yes you have the right to believe whatever you like, but you also have a duty to protect others from your belief as they protect you from theirs.

          In other words, go ahead, spend your 1 brief conscious moment (within 14bn years of a universe) pretending to follow a fictional book about magic and at the end hope that god is not a Harry Potter fan instead. But do not expect anyone else to accept your belief should affect them in any way.

  • katy

    Can’t wait to see one of these around town!

  • Ndonnan

    Ha,for those who would hold God responsable for not stopping other people from doing evil and wrong actions,you all must be angels.God gives man free will to choose,imagine if He struck you down for lying,stealing,adultury ect,we would all be dead.Try taking personal responsability instead of passing the buck,or what about satan,,,oh,no evidence for him either eh

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      poe?

      • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

        If so he / she is very, very good – there’s even the spelling errors and bad grammar representative of many ‘true believers’. Either way, how ironic the ‘take responsibility instead of passing the buck’ line… :^)

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

           I noticed the irony, that’s why I wondered if it was poe.

    • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

      Who said that all evil in the world is caused by the wrong actions of people? Unless you’re arguing that natural disasters and “acts of God” are the result of Adam and Eve (which of course lots of Christians do argue, irrelevantly), then there’s a lot of stuff which God would be solely responsible for that cause suffering. People don’t get malaria because they’re sinners.

      • Nan

        Actually, they do! Before sin came into the world it was perfect and there was no illness. Illness and disease only came about after the first two people sinned. Just sayin’! and yes, I do feel incredibly sorry for those people because they didn’t choose the illness, it came about as a result of someone else’s actions.  :-(
         

        • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

          Even if you buy that (which is still absolute bullshit, on par with Pandora’s “box” but less creative), you can’t blame sin on “personal responsibility.” In fact, the Fall is the exact opposite of personal responsibility: it’s the sins of the fathers visited on the children to the nth generation. That’s not exactly a great theodicy you’ve got going there.

          And I have a lot more respect for KMR’s response above than I do for yours. At least I sense sincerity and genuine empathy there – not so much in yours.

    • Elliot

      Nice logic.

    • jm56

      so what about poverty, diseases/illnesses, inequality. all these things people are born with before they have ‘sinned’. and yeah theres no evidence of satan…pretty sure atheists believe he doesnt exist as well, after all we believe there is no god, and he part of gods existance.

    • Anonymous

       This is what concerns me about the idea that this god is benevolent, omniscient and omnipotent, but it’s the free will of humanity that causes all the evil in the world: Allowing someone to choose to do evil to those who are not evil, is evil. If this god were truly benevolent, all knowing, and all powerful, he would not only have the ability, but the responsibility to stop these evil folks from doing evil to those who are ‘good’ or innocent.

      To use an example going around the internet right now, this god stops a person from being able to start their car because someone else decided to drive their car while drunk, stopping that person from being killed by the drunk driver. Sounds alright on the surface, but why didn’t this god just stop the drunks car from starting? Why endanger everybody else on the road and save this one guy who’s faith is so weak that everyday inconveniences make him question this god? If this god only saves the faithful and good, this man obviously isn’t, so why save him while ignoring others?

      I don’t hold your god responsible for not stopping another persons choices, I hold them responsible for not helping those who are harmed by the poor choices of others. Until somebody can give evidence of how a good, loving, all powerful deity can let this happen without fallacy or contradiction, I cannot put my belief in them.

  • rupi capra

    American Atheists should take lessons from this group.  This is one sign I can get behind.

  • Anonymous

    I do like this.  It puts the theists on the defence.

    • KMR

      Meh.  I’m a theist and I love the billboard.  Just because I believe in a God of some sort doesn’t mean I’m pleased with how things play out in the real world.  Exactly like the billboard states, I’m hoping He has a good excuse.   

      • Anonymous-Sam

        You deserve a Like for this post, so you get one from me. It is a valid question, regardless of your faith. Even if you buy into the idea that God has an infinitely complex equation balancing out the good and evil in the world, it definitely seems like that equation is tipped to favor the wrong side, doesn’t it?

        It also doesn’t help that even when you can find the silver lining in the cloud, the cloud is often so dark that the silver lining is all the more flimsy for it. A few years ago, a lamp post which had eroded at the base snapped in half and killed an infant, so the facility was held accountable to ensure that lamp posts would be inspected for rust and whatnot. Couldn’t God have simply given safety inspectors a bit of inspiration to go out of their daily routine and have a peek at it, rather than killing a baby? Yes, good came of it… sort of… but no one’s ever going to argue that the newly established safety inspection routine in any way makes up for such a senseless death.

        Actually, I take that back. I’ve argued with theists who would argue that it was justified. “The baby didn’t suffer, and his parents should be happy that he’s in Heaven with Jesus now. And because of his sacrifice, a potential danger has been removed!” … and at that point I start crying on the inside.

        • KMR

          I do, too.  I cry for the mother near my hometown who lost both of her children and husband to a housefire just a week ago.  I cry for the eight year old child I know who has cancer and has been through so much chemotherapy that her kidneys are now failing.  I cry at the three year old child I saw on-line who weighed twelve pounds when her parents finally brought her to a clinic for help.  I cry because I think it’s all just as awful as you do and I have no more answers than you do for it.  

          God or no God, it sucks.  I do hope that one day He’ll fix it, but since He’s given no indication when that day will happen (and also since I have no real proof it ever will happen),  I’ll do what I can this side of life to help people in anyway I can.  To be honest, that’s personally why I read this blog.  You remind me that faith is not the answer.  For those of us who have it, it provides hope, a balm of sorts, but it does nothing tangible for the hurting.  I have to be the answer.  

          • Ben

            KMR, you sound like the kind of theist I have absolutely no problem with.

            I’m assuming you are the sort of theist who believes everything that science has come up with, but thinks that there may be a deity behind the curtain, in the sort of position that the fundamentalists cant even comprehend because they haven’t opened a science book.

            This is where the debate will probably never end completely, but as long as secular values are instilled into society and scientific fact is always put above faith, I have no problem putting out my hand to shake yours as human beings should.

            • KMR

              Yes I would say that describes my beliefs perfectly.  And thank you. 

  • LutherW

    APN Outdoor (the company placing these ads) must have had a change of heart.

    More likely they realized they were not God, yet also had no good excuse.

    • http://twitter.com/dartigen Dartigen

       Could also be that many Australians would see this as more…humorous. We tend to be pretty irreverent to begin with, so many of the religious would just see this as a laugh (we’re pretty terrible at the ‘religion’ thing, although there are the odd pearl-clutching reactionaries out there that would be offended) and not see it as an atheist call-to-arms.
      Though Australia tends to be pretty relaxed about religion in general…or it was, anyway. (Here’s to hoping Tony Abbott stays the heck out of the PM’s office or that will definitely change…the media didn’t nickname him ‘the Mad Monk’ for nothing.)

  • http://rosalarian.com Rosalarian

    I think this is the best atheist ad I’ve ever seen, both in message and design. Classy, clean, and thought provoking.

  • Alex

    Now, that’s how you design billboards :)

  • Bbeingphilled

    Atheist: What’s this fly doing in my soup?
    Waiter: Praying.
    Atheist: Very funny. I can’t eat this. Take it back.
    Waiter: You see? The fly’s prayers were answered.

  • Anonymous

    I actually like this design…

  • Moribund Cadaver

    Generally, it seems that the triad of Judiasm, Islam, and Christianity, are based around a very specific kind of deity. Not all “gods” are created equal – across human history, many (perhaps most) are not the sort that are exactly hypocritical about allowing suffering in the world.

    Many gods are simply not literally omnipotent, or responsible for every event in the earthly realm. Thus, they wouldn’t be expected to be responsible for creating or combating all ills and evils.

    But it is the fully omnipotent god concept that causes problems. When a god is supposed to be all knowing, and everywhere at once, extra layers of rationalization are required to explain the messiness of life.

  • Frecklefacedkilla

    i already knew the Austrailians were freakin awesome, this only amplified my adoration of them!!! I love this! wouldnt mind seeing more of this in the U.S.

  • ano

    I saw one of these in the CBD today and smiled. I came here to share :)


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