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You could ask some of the religious people threatening you with eternal damnation for guidance, I suppose, but since all religious people maintain that their religion is the right religion—the right answer to the big trick question—and all other religions are the wrong answer, you’re not going to get much unbiased guidance from the religious people threatening you with eternal damnation, torment, roasting-on-spits, etc.

Unless you ask a Buddhist, of course.

But I'm sure there are some crazies in that camp, too.

Posted by sw | October 22, 2008 9:02 AM

Once you accept the crazy initial premise that there is a God and he's insanely jealous of anyone who doesn't bow to his might, the logic of their position is flawless.

Posted by Smade | October 22, 2008 9:05 AM

best bus campaign ever with a totally reasonable message..."stop worrying and enjoy your life"...i actually think some of the more thoughtful god fearing folks could get behind this message too.

Posted by uhmmm | October 22, 2008 9:08 AM

Remember, John McCain is a hero for defying the dangerous psychopaths who threatened him with indefinite torture and imprisonment if he didn't bow to their will.

Those of us who choose to defy an even more powerful dangerous psychopath who threatens us with eternal torture and imprisonment (extraordinary rendition to Hell?) are evil and must be thwarted at every opportunity.

Posted by Smade | October 22, 2008 9:12 AM

some BS on buddhism from

Not unlike other religions Buddhism also has “skeletons in its’ closet” which it carefully conceals in the Western world. There are dark aspects in this “philosophy of compassion, non-violence and tolerance”. Zen-Buddhism for example influenced the most sophisticated warrior philosophy of the East: the extremely brutal and suicidal Samurai Ethics. In Tibetan Buddhism one can find believes in spirits and demons, in secret sexual practices, in war gods, in occultism. Lamas search to influence their retinue and the world with all sorts of magical rituals. In Sri Lanka Buddhist violence and Buddhist racism are the order of the day. In Burma and in Kashmir Buddhist armies are fighting. And yet the Dalai Lama has another face that peeks out from behind the mask of goodness, charity and kindness, which gives one pause to think more deeply about the shadow sides of this “man of peace.” Why is Buddhist fundamentalism so dangerous - because it shows a tendency to religious Fascism! It’s not well known that the brain trust of the SS in Nazi Germany was extremely interested in Vedic- and Buddhist- teachings, in the Lamaist culture, and in Zen-Meditation with the goal to construct with elements of these eastern believes its own Nazi-Religion. (See: ) Buddhism - if it will become congruent with western values like democracy, human rights, equality of gender etc. must be “reinvented”. The condition therefore is an open, critical and honest debate.

Posted by max solomon | October 22, 2008 9:13 AM

Religion is an endlessly fascinating human activity.

Posted by Fnarf | October 22, 2008 9:13 AM

I've always like the response, I believe quoted from Bertrand Russell: "The only difference between an atheist and a believer is that the former believes in one less god than the latter."

That's probably a paraphrase, but it DOES tend to stop the proselytizing believer dead in their tracks - at least for a moment or two.

Posted by COMTE | October 22, 2008 9:14 AM

Out here in podunk I am a church secretary and everyday I meet people who make me want to be an aethist.

Posted by Fly-Over Illinois | October 22, 2008 9:15 AM

The bible is a really great book if you read it as a fictional novel about an insane little crybaby who eventually grows the hell up and realizes he doesn't actually exist and needs to die to save humanity from himself.

The epilogue, where everybody misses the point and just uses him killing himself as an excuse to keep on doing the crazy, horrific shit that they were doing before, probably elevates it to one of the finest tragedies ever written.

Posted by Billy Nilly | October 22, 2008 9:19 AM

@9: Have you actually read it? I found it to be mindbendingly boring.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | October 22, 2008 9:22 AM

But then, I don't care much for fiction, generally.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | October 22, 2008 9:23 AM


Oh, don't get me wrong, it is also boring as all hell and completely pointless, like, 80% of the time. I guess you have to treat it like a James Joyce novel where mostly it's like "wha huh? Bnnnggzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...", but occasionally it is actually interesting.

Posted by Billy Nilly | October 22, 2008 9:31 AM

There are assholes of every imaginable stripe. Stalin and Mao were atheists. Judging belief systems by the assholes who used them as excuses to do asshole things condemns all of them. It's best to pick belief systems based on what you believe to be true. Truth should be independently verifiable.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 22, 2008 9:31 AM

Where can I donate to get these ads running on the side of Metro buses here?

Posted by Q*bert H. Humphrey | October 22, 2008 9:35 AM

@13 Let's be honest: there have been way more asshole relig-o-freaks than there have been asshole atheists.

Posted by TVDinner | October 22, 2008 9:36 AM

@13: While I generally agree with what you are saying, I always hate it when people whip out that "Well Stalin and Mao were aetheists and they killed a bunch of people blah blah blah" line of argument. I'd say Stalin and Mao hardly qualify as atheists since, frankly, I'm pretty sure they thought that they themselves were God.

They certainly played the role really well, what with all the demanding absolute loyalty and killing massive numbers of people for no good reason and putting up big pictures of themselves everywhere.

Posted by Billy Nilly | October 22, 2008 9:38 AM

Does anyone else find it ironic that the strongest message they could come up with is "There's Probably No God"? Get some balls.

Posted by gillsans | October 22, 2008 9:40 AM

Why would an atheist care if anyone else believes in god?

Posted by six shooter | October 22, 2008 9:41 AM

@13: "you believe to be true. Truth should be independently verifiable."

Seems you shouldn't trust what you believe then as you aren't independent verification. To be clear, I agree with your last sentence completely.

Posted by Ryan | October 22, 2008 9:43 AM

@7 - I've always liked that quote, and that's always been my attitude as a believer. I take people on their own merits, believer or not. I have great respect for Bertrand Russell and other atheists and agnostics, and like @8, there are a lot of Christians out there who make me ashamed to call myself that (including a certain vice presidential candidate).

Posted by Sheryl | October 22, 2008 9:45 AM

@18. I only care when those who believe in God try to make our world conform to their beliefs (e.g., no abortion, no stem cell research, no gay marriage, must kill the infidels).

I generally don't go around trying to impose my belief system on others, and I don't much appreciate it when my life is impacted by someone else's religious beliefs.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | October 22, 2008 9:46 AM

I'm an atheist who's been flirting with Buddhism. I like the concepts of mindfulness, karma , happiness from within instead of external, meditation etc. I also enjoy ritual and tradition. When it comes to reincarnation, and a multi-life karmic scorecard, I just don't believe, even if part of me wants to. I've also heard Buddhism is not so benign outside of the Western world, although overall it's nowhere near Christianity or Islam for inspiring hate or fundamentalism.

On another note, how can we contribute to get this ad on a metro bus!

Posted by djsauvage | October 22, 2008 9:57 AM

Your best bet is just to ignore such people. Attention just encourages them.

Posted by Greg | October 22, 2008 9:58 AM

I love dan. So. on every block of my neighborhood there are atleast three mccain palin yard signs. Atleast.....
Here I am a gay guy deep in the heart of texas -_-
Do you take foster kids????

Posted by anthony | October 22, 2008 10:00 AM

On the outside chance that some readers of this post may not have seen it, the Colbert Report aired a segment last night on Battle of the Gods. Highly recommended, for those willing to consider these issues without taking them too seriously.

Posted by Joe McCarthy | October 22, 2008 10:21 AM

@15: Let's be honest: You don't have any figures to support that, do you? If there have been more religious assholes than non-religious assholes, I content it is largely due to the fact that there are more religious people in general.

@16: Sorry: "Well Stalin and Mao were aetheists(sic) and they killed a bunch of people blah blah blah" -- is true. And if atheists get to discount these embarrassing examples as "not real atheists" then you'd have to allow the "Mussolini wasn't a real Christian" argument too.

@19: Yeah, that was awkwardly phrased. Or are you making a more metaphysical point about the inseperability of reality from the subjective observer? My point is just that picking a worldview (such as a religion) shouldn't, ideally, be like shopping for shoes. You don't just pick the ones that look best with your outfit.

Most people pick the one that their parents had.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 22, 2008 10:24 AM

@25: There is a difference between unseriousness and humorlessness.

Posted by Greg | October 22, 2008 10:45 AM

@26: Don't get me wrong, I wasn't necessarily disagreeing with you, I'm just irritated by that particular de riguer example that people always whip out.

One could, and I frequently do, make the argument that "real" Christians are people who are inspired by the story of Jesus to base their lives and actions on the values of love, compassion, forgiveness and charity and that "real" atheists are people who also do all of that without the need for a face or name or orthodoxy to stick on that values system (be it Christianity, Buddhism or even Communism, a sick version of which one could easily argue were Stalin and Mao's real religion). By that rationale, I think there are a helluva lot of atheists out there who are better at being "real" Christians than a lot of Christians are.

Posted by Billy Nilly | October 22, 2008 10:50 AM

@28: Indeed. But I also know a lot of Christians who are fundamentally decent people. Also Jews, Muslims and Buddhists (And one Bahai! I don't know any Hindus.) I just think that assholes will seize upon whatever belief system is handy to justify doing what they wanna do anyway. And I bristle at all this knee-jerk "religious people are all crazy/evil" rhetoric. I don't think it's fair or helpful.

Posted by flamingbanjo | October 22, 2008 10:58 AM

Stalin didn't murder millions because he was too rational. It wasn't his atheism—and an attendant believe in evidence—that led him to commit the atrocities he committed.

But the dangerous, violent people who are religious ARE often motivated by their faith.

Posted by Ben | October 22, 2008 11:03 AM

According to the BBC today (picked up on AP wire) Atheists in the UK are running ads saying God is Fake.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 22, 2008 11:09 AM

The Gautama Buddha very wisely asserted that over-concern with the existance or non-existence of gods was an unhelpful distraction on the way to enlightenment. Since there is no way to prove or disprove either proposition, argument on the subject is pointless.

What is to the point is the behavior of believers of any type.

Posted by inkweary | October 22, 2008 11:26 AM

@17: Apparently they had to put in the "might" in order for the ads to be able to run.

Either way, I think it's hilarious. I may donate after the election.

Posted by Original Monique | October 22, 2008 11:31 AM

For the record, some of us religulous folks don't believe the "mine's right, therefore everyone else's is wrong" stuff.

Posted by ecoEclipse | October 22, 2008 11:32 AM

@34: some of you do, and that's a problem.

Posted by max solomon | October 22, 2008 11:55 AM

That ad is more agnostic than atheistic. If it was truly atheistic it would just say there is no god and skip the probably.

Posted by crazycatguy | October 22, 2008 11:55 AM

Encouraging news: The campaign reached its donation goal in just 10 hours.

gillsans @17 and Monique @33, I think the phrasing is perfect.  It's an honest and accurate representation of areligion (as opposed to atheism, which is an assertion of positive faith--the certain non-existance of any god--as surely as any religion).

Which is why I think inkweary @32 has it exactly right.

Posted by lostboy | October 22, 2008 11:56 AM

Cool to see you're thinking about such things. But, I agree, it makes it hard to listen and think about a subject as deep as the nature and quesiton of God if the majority of people representing such a topic are doing so in hate... a contradiction of the very basis of the religion they're representing.

I think it's important to get beyond the people on any issue. Too many decide religion isn't for them simply based upon misinformed outspoken representatives.

Posted by menelaus | October 22, 2008 12:02 PM

@29: Again, TOTALLY agreeing with you. I grew up in Mormon country and, while I find their particular belief system to be utterly loony tunes, there were even quite a few of them who were decent, accepting, good hearted people who never even brought up the subject of religion with my "Cross-kissing Papist!" Catholic family.

I totally don't think that religious people are inherently more prone to idiocy or violence, I don't even consider myself to be entirely atheist - I guess my point is that there's a big chunk of humanity that is nasty, close-minded and vicious, and they are going to use some kind of ideology (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Communist, Anarchist, Americanist, whateverist) to justify their violence and idiocy and I think the people who are reasonable and kind and loving would be so regardless of what specific religion or ideology guides them (within reason). If I have any particular animosity toward the Christian brand of idiocy, it's probably just because that's the version of it I've had the most exposure to during my life.

But, again, I think we're in basic agreement on this.

Posted by Billy Nilly | October 22, 2008 12:09 PM

Religion is probably an evolutionary adaptation. For all the objections raised by Marx, Nietzche, and Dawkins, the number of atheists remains pitifully small. Unfortunately, I don't see much hope of eliminating religion in the future.

Who is more stupid: a man who keeps his religious doubts to himself and under wraps, continuing to reap the full benefits of the church social network;

Or the man who announces his rejection of God to the world, provoking animosity and cutting himself off from friends and family?

Which of these two men would be more evolutionarily successful?

Posted by minty | October 22, 2008 1:33 PM

@34: So there are religious people who believe things like "Jesus is the son of God" while also believing things like "No he isn't"?

I don't get it.

If you believe God functions in this particular way and has laid out these particular rules for proper conduct, etc., how could you NOT believe that beliefs contrary to that are wrong?

Posted by Ben | October 22, 2008 1:38 PM

In as much as our organization exists to teach people of the character of God, we do, of course, disagree with the philosophy that "There probably is no God..."

Never-the-less, so long and they do not demean others as they express their beliefs, atheists have as much right to publicly express themselves as others.

We cling to God's promise that "...he rewards those who EARNESTLY seek him" Hebrews 11:6, and we testify to the fulfillment of that promise.

David Harrison, President
Bus Stop Bible Studies

Posted by David Harrison | October 22, 2008 3:09 PM

In as much as our organization exists to teach people of the character of God, we do, of course, disagree with the philosophy that "There probably is no God..."

Never-the-less, so long and they do not demean others as they express their beliefs, atheists have as much right to publicly express themselves as others.

We cling to God's promise that "...he rewards those who EARNESTLY seek him" Hebrews 11:6, and we testify to the fulfillment of that promise.

David Harrison, President
Bus Stop Bible Studies

Posted by David Harrison | October 22, 2008 3:10 PM

I'm not asking about whether you allow others the right to express themselves publicly. (Although, I must say, I believe atheists have a right to express themselves publicly EVEN WHEN they demean others. The First Amendment doesn't have a niceness clause.)

I'm wondering how religious people can truly believe in the tenets of their religions and NOT believe that the contradictory tenets of other religions are wrong.

Posted by Ben | October 22, 2008 4:10 PM

Thanks! More please! And kudos to the yeligious who make such a statement possible. Without them, we'd probably still be just fine (but maybe a little less annoyed, at times).

Posted by Gustavo | October 22, 2008 4:27 PM

I ask forgiveness, being a believer of Jesus Christ, for all those who've judged you guys demeaningly b/c of their beliefs, especially ppl who say they're "christian", it angers me as much as it does anyone else. Couple of truths:
--Jesus' stance on religion: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God"
--Jesus stance on judging, pretty simple: "Judge not, that ye be not judged"
--Jesus' stance on anyone who would later claim to be His, and ruin the most precious thing that ever happened in human history: "Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?' And then will I profess unto them, 'I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' "
--Jesus' stance on you: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
--There are countless different paths out there, I know that it can seem impossible to know definitely if we have something to look towards past the life in which the only guarantee is it's ending, if there is anything infallibly truth, if there's something more to you than biological and chemical processes. But if there is even a chance, wouldn't you want to know? I know there is. I'm up for talking to anyone who honestly wants to know why I'm so sure, whoever from wherever thinking whatever. It wont be a quick conversation, but your one life (as who you are now if you hold to some other belief) is too important to write off your answers to the most important questions, without really challenging them.

Posted by Manny | October 25, 2008 11:02 PM

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