Saturday, 25 October 2008

Scoop: Theos Upgrade Atheist Bus from Stunt to Campaign

Religious and ethical think-tank Theos have upgraded their assessment of Ariane Sherine's "atheist bus" campaign from "stunt" to "campaign". Initially Paul Woolley, Director of Theos, patronisingly said:
"At first, we almost felt sorry for the campaign, as its difficulties showed that there were not many atheists in Britain, and certainly not many who were willing to put their hands in their pocket. But when we saw the message, we couldn't believe it.

...

"Stunts like this demonstrate how militant atheists are often great adverts for Christianity."
(My emphasis). But without telling anyone, and with the benefit of hindsight, he later changed his statement to a rather more upbeat:
"We've donated the money because we think the campaign is a brilliant way to get people thinking about God.

...

"Campaigns like this demonstrate how active atheists are often great adverts for Christianity."
(Again my emphasis). Furthermore, Theos have dropped their overall view that the campaign "is so bad" in the light of the ££££s raised so far because they have amended from:
The campaign is clearly anti-religious, but its message 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life' is so bad that Theos believes that, like the Alpha posters it attacks, it will benefit the cause of religion.
to:
The campaign is clearly intended to be anti-religious, but its message ('There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life') will, claims Theos, encourage people to think, like the Alpha posters it seeks to attack.
As an aside, Theos have clearly demonstrated they have a role to play in developing campaign techniques. Thanks for your help in sending the atheist bus message all round the world. Atheist bus supporters have been quick to adopt Theos' ethical lead of donating to a rival campaign with a pithy message. Unfortunately the atheist comments sometimes lack the sophisticated qualities of Theos' well-funded PR campaign. (Example from JustGiving Alphaposters: Sir Cliff - 24/10/2008 - £2.00 - C'mon all you Christians! Let's be 'avin' you! What you've contributed so far wouldn't fill a colostomy bag!).

The ethics of changing your press releases is of course quite shady, so who better to ask about this than morality "experts" Theos. I'll drop them an e-mail and I should get a reply before the weekend is out because they are known to work on Sundays. At the time of writing it is not known whether one of the benefits of religion is that you are allowed to re-write history, or whether this is a case of the omnipresent Google catching out the God squad.

7 comments:

Tim said...

Why didn't God warn them about this? Do they not pray that their press releases won't end up looking silly?

There are quite a few smug fundamentalist Christians who have had the pious and superior smiles wiped off their faces by the success of this campaign. The start of a co-ordinated and concerted effort to confront pompous religious nonsense I hope.

Patrick Ross said...

I'm not sure if I'd agree that the change of wording says anything terribly conclusive about the folks at Theos.

If anything, in my view, here's what does: Theos' donation to the campaign comes to about 50 Pounds Sterling. Translates into $77 American.

Not exactly a big contribution. While their contribution has a big symbolic value, in my opinion, it sure won't go very far in putting those ads on the sides of the buses in question.

Then again, it's hard to pretend that the primary goal of the atheist campaign is to get people thinking about religion. Rather, it's to get people thinking about atheism (which, paradoxically, has become a religion, oddly enough).

If I were a proponent of Intelligent Design theory -- I'm not -- I would want to piss Richard Dawkins off by countering these ads with "ambiogenesis probably didn't happen so praise the lord for opposable thumbs".

Catchy, no?

Martin said...

I don't think so Tim, I think they just pray they won't get caught.

Absolutely agree that it's good to see and hear atheists being invited to speak about their views. I'm getting a bit tired of every attack on atheism being based around the pros and cons of Richard Dawkins, as if he invented the idea. It is time the rest of us came out of the shadows, and gave "the Prof" a bit of support.

Patrick, changing the wording of their press release demonstrates they are cheats, which is not great place to be if you call yourself a religious think-tank specialising in ethics.

You are talking out of your arse when you say atheism has become a religion. Atheism is everything which religion is not, but chiefly it's about being able to think for yourself.

If you want to take on anyone over the age of 14 in an argument I suggest the first thing you do is invest in a dictionary.

Catchy no.

Patrick Ross said...

Wrong. Atheism very much has become a religion: it's constructed a belief system around itself, and has begun to proselytize -- promoting that world view to others.

More over, not only is atheism starting to institutionalize itself, but it's also seeking to subvert other institutions, such as the scientific community.

It's even embraced mythology: such as the number of people accepting ambiogenesis -- currently a scientifically-unproven hypothesis -- as scientific fact.

Atheism is not chiefly about being able to think for oneself -- it's about the rejection of a creator. Nothing in the rejection of belief in a creator demonstrates or requires "free thought". We see this in the countless people who have embraced atheism because it's become fashionable within certain political circles.

Furthermore, nothing about belief in a creator rules out the ability to think for oneself.

The facetious subversion of the very notion of "free thought" could certainly be interpreted as promoting thought as religious experience.

It's unfortunate if you don't like it, but atheism has certainly become a religion. Truth hurts, one supposes.

Martin said...

Abiogenesis: note spelling.
Hypothesis: please look up definition and try to use in context in your next essay.
Proselytizing: not clear if you are attempting to redefine this word (it means to spread religious or political ideas), or whether you had a point which is poorly made.

Curiously enough you do have a point if you believe that it is the British Humanist Association that is proselytizing. I don't agree with their ideals and I'm not a member.

Atheists have every right to express their ideas, and in fact you probably aren't even an atheist if you cannot kill a few god myths.

I have long believed that because atheists have been unable to organise it has held them back. In order to influence institutions like governments and schools you need to be institutionalised yourself.

I see you have dropped your rather stupid comments about Theos. I take your point that you were hurt by the truth. Atheism remains the antithesis of a religion, which is why you object to it.

Patrick Ross said...

"Hypothesis: please look up definition and try to use in context in your next essay.
Proselytizing: not clear if you are attempting to redefine this word (it means to spread religious or political ideas), or whether you had a point which is poorly made.
"

Apparently, you have no idea yourself what these words mean. Frankly, I'm not about to waste any time explaining them to you. I'd suggest you are the only one who needs to consult a dictionary here.

As for ambiogenesis - if this is indeed an error, it's a remarkably common one. Likewise, if abiogenesis is an error, it's also quite common.

Now, as for proselytizing: it's certainly true that not all atheists proselytize. Then again, not all Christians actively proselytize either.

Both belief systems have, however, institutionalized themselves. Their respective institutions actively proselytize.

Certainly, Atheists (like members of any religion) have the right to lobby and influence their governments. I would, however, dispute any sense of entitlement they have to demand their beliefs be represented over the beliefs of others.

Secularism is not ecclesiastical atheism.

Heh. And accusing Theos of "cheating" because they issued two different versions of the same press release? Frankly, that's the most insipid thing I've heard in weeks, and I'll remind you that I recently blogged about Richard Dawkins writing a children's book (after crowing about the evils of forcing religion on children, no less).

It may shock you to learn this, but not everyone is so dogmatic in their thinking that they aren't allowed to change their minds about something. Apparently, Theos did.

But cheating? Please. Most people leave that particular mentality behind in the fourth grade, let alone the eighth grade or even adulthood.

Martin said...

As for ambiogenesis - if this is indeed an error, it's a remarkably common one. Likewise, if abiogenesis is an error, it's also quite common.

Wrong spelling - 564 results. Correct spelling - 242,00 results. You associate "remarkably common" to the wrong spelling and "quite common" to the correct spelling. Therefore "remarkably common" is 429 times less likely to happen than "quite common".

Er, you're barking.