Friday, 9 January 2009

Christian Voice lauch complaint over Atheist Bus Campaign

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It was no surprise to see it reported on the BBC that Stephen Green has lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency over the Atheist Bus Campaign and its slogan "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Green thinks the slogan breaks ASA guidelines, saying "Advertisements are not allowed to mislead consumers. This means that advertisers must hold evidence to prove the claims they make about their products or services before an ad appears."

Here's Stephen's logic - since you can't provide evidence for there being no God, you're misleading consumers, probably or no probably. But it wouldn't be misleading to say there is a God, as he explains:

"There is plenty of evidence for God, from peoples' personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world. But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it."

Green's complaint has elicited a fantastic response from the British Humanist Association's chief executive Hanne Stinson, who told the BBC:
"I've sought advice from some of our key people here, but I'm afraid all I've got out of them so far is peals of laughter. I am sure that Stephen Green really does think there is a great deal of evidence for a God (though presumably only the one that he believes in), but I pity the ASA if they are going to be expected to rule on the probability of God's existence."
So they're not taking Green seriously then? Which brings me to my usual question on this matter - why is the BBC still taking him seriously?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent! And this publicity is free! I consider my donation to the bus like a magic bean, which has been sown, and watered and is now sprouting and will continue to grow, and make people think and question their actions. Idiotic actions like this one just sprinkle a little plant food to encourage the growth. Ah, this campaign is giving me a lovely warm, fuzzy feeling. A really beauthiful way to start the New Year.

beeline said...

Would Green agree that there are probably no walruses on Venus?

Sorry if that sounds flippant and irrelevant, but it's a logically identical position to claiming that there is 'probably' no God. There is no known way for there to be a God or Venusian walruses, there is no evidence for either, and the existence of either phenomenon would, in any case, raise far more unanswerable questions and render our entire understanding of existence absurd. As far as I can see, typing on this quantum mechanical device over a worldwide information network, out science is actually pretty good.

As has been said above, you can't prove that something doesn't exist, but if you can say that its existence is far, far less likely than its non-existence, judging from all the evidence, mechanism, historical knowledge and rational argument available, then the word 'probably' is entirely justified.

pikeamus Mike said...

This guardian article is much worse in that its horribly misleading about science, the views of certain scientists (and the credibility of some others) and the anthropic principle in general. Thankfully from what I've read its getting crushed in the comments.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2009/jan/08/religion-atheism-longley-advertising

pikeamus Mike said...

Additionally, wouldn't it be really good for this if the ASA had to make a ruling on this? Our position is much more defensible than the "There probably is a god" position AND this would leave us in good stead for questioning the legitimacy of religious advertisments.

Anonymous said...

Yup! Stephen Green has done us a favour. What a fine Christian he is.

Texturbation said...

Perhaps Green has a point?

The ASA's complaint procedure is hardly Socratic dialogue, maybe there's a loophole he'd be able to exploit regardless of how ludicrous his arguments would be in virtually any other forum.

Anonymous said...

"There is no known way for there to be a God or Venusian walruses, there is no evidence for either"

I had a revelation of Venusian walruses. I had been in the desert for forty days, fasting, and the vision came to me. The more I contemplated this vision, the more it made sense of everything: a hitherto baffling song by the Beatles, the poem about the wlarus and the carpenter on the beach...

Many other people have had a similar experience. There are many learned accounts of this, going back centuries.

Errancy said...

I'm not sure that the ASA are competent to rule on this, but at least if they have a go that'll get people thinking about the evidence for and against religion, which has to be a good thing.

Destinct Voice said...

Well done Stephen Green, it is not always easy to carry the cross on issues people don't consider "serious".

Even if your actions have saved just one person to know that the love of God and the existence of Jesus Christ is real and alive- It is so worth it.

Hey at least BBC agrees that it is a serious issue!!