Atheist Bus Campaign Probably Not a Breach

ASA ruling yesterday, after 326 complaints against the atheistic ads on English buses. HT Cybersoc (by Twitter)

“The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has concluded that the “There’s probably no God” bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association is not in breach of the advertising code. The ASA will therefore not launch an investigation and the case is now closed. . . Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.”


Fair enough. We have freedom to put cheesy messages about the existence of God on buses and so atheists should enjoy the same freedom. If they lose their freedom, we stand in danger of losing ours.

And its quite clever, really. There is “probably” no God, or, according to scientific probability, their evidence points to the absence of God and therefore you should do what you like because there is no judgement. Quite a reasonable argument, unless there really is a God . . in which case you are stuffed. Al Mohler says that the Australian ad campaign failed due to lack of support but their ads would have said “Atheism: Sleep in on Sunday mornings.” Also quite funny.

Mark Berry, who spent a day hard at work with us yesterday in Sheffield, pointed out a response by bass player Steve Lawson.

probably no god atheist

Not very subtle, Steve, but I like the idea of the bus message to get your point across.

Before you move off to read The Skinny on the New Atheism, assuming you will, take a look at a few other gospel billboards that I quite like on this animated GIF.


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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • John L says:

    Based on the sheer number of popular religious books, people must spend a lot of time “conceptualizing” God. I’m not sure there’s much benefit in that. Perhaps the atheists have it half-right? We might re-write the bus ad “your concepts of God are not God. Now stop leaning on your own understanding and bask the freedom of the cross.”

  • JanA says:

    God says: I think there is no atheist.
    So there is no atheist

  • JohnFOM says:

    I was worried about the complaints campaigns backfiring and just serving to further prove we christians are numpties.
    I like the ads, for pretty much the same reason. They are prone to backfire and do the hardest part of my job (for me): that of getting people to wonder if there is a god so I can introduce Him to them.
    With the word ‘probably’ only serves to raise the question ‘how probably?’

  • becky says:

    Whenever one side acts like a jerk, it gives the other side ammo that they can and will use against the opposing team. I propose that we (meaning followers of Jesus Christ) stop contextualizing our faith and other navel gazing nonsense – rather than talk about whether or not God exists, let’s show it with our arms by loving the unloved, with our feet by walking in the other’s shoes and you get the body metaphor. LIke St. Francis, we should strive to preach the Gospel, and use words when necessary (says the one who readily admits she fails to live up to this ideal).

  • billq says:

    There’s probably no God
    Is that not what some of us think on a bad day.

  • I’ve just written about a clever response to this campaign, plus a similar campaign run in Australia.

  • Steve Hayes says:

    It’s not the first part of the ad that is problematic (“There is probably no god”).
    It’s the second part “enjoy your life”. Cool, if you’re being bombed in Gaza, or locked in a burning church in Congo. Really enjoyable, that.

  • andrew says:

    Ah yes. But doesn’t atheism thrive primarily in countries where health, safety and riches are easy to come by?

  • Jeremy says:

    Did the Christians who demanded that the ASA make the atheists substantiate their claims consider that they might be asked to do the same thing next time they wanted a bus ad? Hmm. I guess not.

  • infidel says:

    Atheism thrives primarily in countries of higher education, not just health safety and riches are easy to come by. IQ level and educational background, as well as exposure to other religions and opposing views seems to support atheism. 93% of the Medical/Professional community are atheist. Coincidence? I think it’s safe to say they have more knowledge about existence and the way things work, as well as an open-mindedness to conclude their religious view. Especially since most of them deal with death on a regular basis.

  • andrew says:

    More knowledge than who? religious workers and ministers who conduct funerals?
    i would be curious to know how many medical practitioners in non-western countries (who of course are not in any way less intelligent than westerners) are atheist compared with their counterparts in the western countries where religion is often institutionalized and void of power.

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