It's a miracle! – Resurrected atheist bus campaign takes off like a rocket

It's a miracle! – Resurrected atheist bus campaign takes off like a rocket October 21, 2008

The push for UK’s first ever atheist advertising campaign began in earnest today with a post by Ariane Sherine at the Guardian’s Comment is Free. Remarkably, the donation target was reached within hours of the launch.

What the atheist bus will look like, inshalla
What the atheist bus will look like, inshalla
You can add to the advertising budget here. Richard Dawkins has pledged to match all contributions up to a maximum of £5,500. This makes the total £11,000 – enough to fund two sets of atheist adverts on 30 London buses for four weeks.
Ariane writes:

Your donations will give atheism a more visible presence in the UK, generate debate, brighten people’s day on the way to work, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists. As Richard Dawkins says: “This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think – and thinking is anathema to religion.”

When the campaign was first mooted back in June, The Freethinker helped raise awareness with an article which was picked up by and Pharyngula. We are delighted to see it taking off so successfully.
Congratulations to all concerned! And for your delectation, here’s Stephen “Birdshit” Green’s take on the campaign. He’s probably green with envy that his appeal for funds to pay his legal bills did not fire the public’s imagination to the same degree as the atheist bus poster.
And here’s how the story was reported in the Daily Mash.
UPDATE: (10.05 pm) As I write, 12 hours since the campaign reached its target of £5,500, the total donations have just exceeded £40,000. And the first day is not yet over. Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing a phenomenon.

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  • This is great! But…
    Why the “probably”? Seems like a bit of a cop-out to me.

  • Jon Massey

    As of now (12.22), they’re nearly at 11k, add in RD’s 5.5k and that’s 16.5k in 5 hrs! Now if only I could earn that much for 5 hrs work…

  • valdemar

    The ‘probably’ makes sense. You can’t prove a negative, especially about a fantasy figure that stands outside reality as we know it. But it is odd that, such is the stridency of religious minorities, the reality-based community has to remind most people of what they actually think.
    I note that Stephen Green is already predicting outrage and vandal attacks because – wait for it – people don’t like being preached at… There is something almost Olympian in these people’s lack of self-awareness, not to mention their absurdity.

  • Adam Tjaavk

    It would be far more dismissive and effective if it were to read “More than probably there are no gods. So stop worrying…”.
    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 that should always be kept in mind. Just a little less effective on Hindus, I would imagine!

  • Tim S

    As of 4.50pm the total is over £26k (not including Dawkins 5.5k?) and counting. It seems like a great success. More buses please!

  • The inclusion of the word ‘probably’ was, I’m afraid, necessary for the advert to be accepted. However, the huge success of the campaign means that there could now be a follow-up that takes a slightly stronger tone…

  • Wow! In the time it took me to make my (modest) donation at about 7 pm, the total went up by over £2,000.

  • Marc

    I love it! I wish I was able to be in London to see it!

  • Chloe

    The Christian Voice issued a ludicrous press release in response to this. I suspect they were wrong in saying it is “doomed to failure”.

  • Michael C Smith

    I cant understand the “probably “either. The obvious religious argument to this is even the Atheists aren’t really sure.
    If its illegal to say There Is No God then surely “We Arent Allowed To Say There Is No God But This Is More Likley” and include a picture of pigs flying.

  • Newspaniard

    I agree with Adam Tjaavk

  • Adam Tjaavk

    I’m amazed, with growing irritation, that so many fail to appreciate the subtlety and force of the proposed understated advertising copy.* Father Christmas is just as probable! As Bergen Evans once wrote: The common mind is intensely literal.
    *Though this would be improved by, following Genesis, introducing the plural form – (see 4 above).

  • David Markwell

    The bus campaign is a good start but it needs to keep rolling and the suggestion or plurals is excellent. As in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Small Gods’ gods only become powerful and dangerous when lots of people believe in them.
    Monotheisist have got it nearly right … they don’t believe in most gods but sadly and foolishly they still choose (against all the evidence) to believe in the one of their choice (of more often their parents choice!).

  • @Graham Nunn —
    Interesting. Could you elaborate?
    (Congrats on the artwork, BTW ;0)

  • Pingback: Atheist Campaign » Thanks to the bloggers()

  • Philip James

    This campaign has caught my imagination, and is great fun, but some of the associated comment is neither rational nor charitable. It is always easy to find religious over-reaction that can be ridiculed, but Richard Dawkins’ “thinking is anathema to religion” (quoted above) is no better. Failure to believe there is no God is not the same as complicity in the failings of organised religion. Where is truly “free” thinking?

  • This bus campaign is simply the best idea ever to come out of the atheist crowd in Britain. Follow the logic:
    In order to stimulate people to consider the position of atheism let’s tell people,
    “God does not exist, therefore screw the world – Eat – Drink and be Merry.”
    It’s priceless really.
    I encourage atheists everywhere to donate as much as they can afford to keep this campaign going for as long as possible.
    Actually, the only stunt that was even close to the genius of this one was Dawkins’ advising his followers to go up to people and say to them,
    “I’m a Bright and you’re not. Would you like to become an atheist like me?”

  • Dan

    Oh, there’s no point fighting over the slogan. It is what it is.
    Me. I’d have preferred a “No more faith schools” message, or something a bit more practical. Because apart from saying “atheists exist and are willing to call themselves atheists”, which itself is something of a step for many people, this slogan doesn’t really *do* anything either to advance a cause or change minds.
    I think it’s a shame to reflect that it would be very hard to get a similar level of donations in support of a more practical campaigning objective.
    I thought the “stop worrying” bit meant “stop worrying about the existence of God”, rather than “stop worrying about the environment/pensions/the banking system/whatever”.
    But I’m not *against* it, and it’s not without some value.

  • Adam Tjaavk

    Over £90,000!
    Ariane for Secularist of the Year!
    – outstanding achievement!

  • benjamin chase

    Makarios’s comment – screw the world – eat, drink &bemerry is just so wrong.
    Just look to the National Secular Society: human effort should be directed toward inproving the world

  • Couldn’t help noticing that The Freethinker is no fan of the smarmy Theos. Theos got oodles of publicity for their £50 donation to the Atheist Bus. However they seem less keen to own up to altering their press release after the campaign took off.

  • Harry

    This news is surprice me
    I though iam just the minority for being atheist
    I dont believed god do exist and religions are the reasons for power seeking to the creators.

  • Dave

    Isn’t it funny how atheism can only grow if it is forced upon people by a totalitarian government or in the mist of affluence and greed as in the west. It is a dead belief, who got off drugs because they found atheism? No one! Who found a new meaning in their life because of atheism? No one! ‘I don’t need God because I have all the food I need, a warm home, free healthcare etc’. Everything good comes from God! Most atheists I know are not free thinkers, they have never truly looked into the Good News. True, some of them may have read it, but not with an open heart and mind but with hearts of stone. You want proof God exists, you’ll get it one day-every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD! Until then it is by faith that we are commended. I’ll continue to pray for all atheists, I hope that some of you will listen to the doubts that God will place in your hearts and you may be saved. Until then, the only beneficiary from atheist or theist bus posters is the bus company-no atheist will be converted to Christ because of a poster, and no Christian will have his faith shattered by one. Everyone in between is to apathetic to care either way.
    God bless you all!