Friday, 9 January 2009

There's Probably No God: Now prove it!

Stephen Law reports that a complaint has been raised to the Advertising Standards Authority about a current bus advertising slogan: "There's Probably No God."

Law is hoping for "fun". As a contributor to the campaign, which was mostly funded by private donations, I'm hoping my £10 will pay for a new bit of philosophy.

If the ASA decides the complaint may have legs, the question will settle around whether the sponsors of the advert, the British Humanist Association, can substantiate the "probably no god" claim with evidence, and so prove its truthfulness. Unfortunately for the BHA, philosophers have long argued that you cannot produce evidence to prove that something doesn't exist. In this case the BHA may need to go just one step further and provide evidence on the probability of something not existing.

In a wonderful inversion of Bertrand Russell's Flying Teapot problem, Stephen Green of Christian Voice's complaint about the ads has challenged humanists to prove to the ASA that a purported non-existent thing not existing is more likely than it actually existing. In doing so, he has unleashed the invisible pink unicorn, let his dragon out of the garage and is preparing to monster the humanists with spaghetti.

In my last post:

I sloganised that:
God is 5 per cent do-good-ism, and 95 per cent comfort blanket.
and I have previously mentioned that I have a problem with the BHA on the grounds that it pre-judges its own activities as "good":

So I suppose I can modify my slogan thus:
Humanism is 5 per cent do-good-ism, and 95 per cent comfort blanket.
How rude am I about people who claim to be doing good as a pre-condition for their own activities? I'm almost saying that humanists are just as misguided in their thinking as religionists.

If the ASA calls for it, in order to save the campaign, what will be needed from the BHA is an advanced piece of technical philosophy on why in fact there could be evidence for the non-existence of god, and then of course the evidence itself. Good luck humanists, I think you are going to need it.

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