There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy life

On Tuesday this week the British Humanist Association launched a campaign to raise £5,500 to put this very polite, very British, very measured slogan on the side of 30 London buses for four weeks.

They reached their target by 10.06am, just 10 hours after the launch.

By the end of the day they’d raised £47,900.  

Wednesday was more of the same, and the success of the campaign was in the news and the blogosphere.  

On Thursday morning, when I donated, it was in the high £70,000s.  By the time I clicked “submit” it was over £80k.  Now on Thursday evening it’s nearer £90,000.  I spent much of the day relishing the joyful good-humour of the comments in the donations thread on Just Giving.  It is as if atheists have been given permission to say their piece and be heard.

What is fascinating about these events is the pent-up rationalism that it implies.  We tread so carefully around religious sensibilty that we ignore the sensibilities of atheists.   And now it is clear that atheists are willing to put their money where their mouths are, if doing so means that the voice of rationality is heard.

What is also fascinating is the slow start.  The idea originally came from a blog post in June by Guardian Journalist Ariane Sherine.  Her idea was taken up by political blogger Jon Worth who set up a PledgeBank and a Facebook Group.  Four months ago Ariane had little faith (ha!) that they would raise the necessary money.  The attempt on PledgeBank was earnest but unsucessful.  In August it was an idea looking for an organisational sponsor.  What made the difference was when the British Humanist Association undertook to administer the campaign and Richard Dawkins offered to match the first £5,500.  

So warm the cockles of your heart – support the Atheist Bus.


PS – I’ve just found the graph of the giving figures from Just Giving’s very own blog right here on WordPress.  They like graphs, and so do I, so here it is:



Atheist Bus - Donation figures

Atheist Bus - Donation figures

And here is the more recent version – note that both axes have been adjusted.


Atheist Bus keeps rolling along

Atheist Bus keeps rolling along

PPS – I have had “If god was one of us” in my head all day.  “what if god was one of us … just a stranger on a bus”.  And because I am an evil person, here is a link to it: 


17 responses to “There is probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy life

  1. The link doesn’t work, Aphra. Has the Spanish Inquisition been around?

    I like the idea of this campaign. Hopefully something that will be spread outside the British Isles.

  2. Fixed. Thanks Dragonqueen.

    One of the things that touched me greatly reading the donations thread was how many of the donations were from outside the UK.

  3. Hi Aphra, glad you like the graph – we’ll be doing a bit more of that next week, which I thought I’d mention since you said you liked graphs too 🙂

  4. A pity they didn’t choose a better slogan. There are plenty of things to worry about whether or not there is a God. And it’s easy meat for religious folk to say “look how irresponsible these atheists are!”

    That’s why I didn’t donate. Glad they’e raised so much money, though, and hope the BHA uses it effectively.

  5. Pingback: Atheist Bus rides again « The Justgiving Blog

  6. Just why is that damn Joan Osborn song such an earworm …… is it something to do with the chord structure? In a way, it reminds me of a hymn tune. Can someone who understands theory of music explain why it works so well?

  7. This was mentioned in a friend’s journal over at the other place, and I said there what I’m saying here – I am an evangelical Christian and I can’t understand why some Christians have got so worked up (knickers twisting in all sorts of unexpected directions about this). Frankly, this potential ad is a heck of a lot more eye-catching and smile-inducing than any Christian ads I’ve seen recently (on the tube, never noticed any on a bus). A faith that gets threatened by someone suggesting an alternative point of view is surely not very strong, anyway?

    Incidentally, the trite Christian ‘answer’ to that song’s title, is of course “he was”! But I try to avoid being trite… It is a great, irritatingly catchy, song, I agree.

    The most ironic thing about the campaign is that the God of Christianity (or at least my flavour of it) is certainly in favour of enjoying life, something which many Christians seem to forget from time to time. The world could really do with more bus ads that make you smile, whether I happen to agree with them or not.

    [Please rearrange sentences to create a logical flow of thought there – it all seemed to come out in a random order.]

  8. One thought: Religion (or the lack of it) defines a person – or so I reckon we all think. And thus people find it awfully hard to take any criticisms objectively. It’s as if you’re attacking some personal defect – like a blobby nose, or something.

    Also, the hardest thing as with politics is to espouse an idea for decades and then have to consider the possibility that you might be wrong. So any comment that possibly echoes in a way we find uncomfortable (because it might be right) will be met with a disproportionate reaction. Same thing true of politics, I guess.

  9. How very sad that all of this money is not going to transform lives the way that so many worthwhile charities do. As someone who works in a charity with disabled kids i would love to have over £100k to help them overcome the actue pain they go through every day. However people would rather give it to a campaign that achieves nothing but a vain attempt to ‘rock the boat’ and cause a stir. With so much talk of ‘Public Benefit’ in the charity sector at present i really doubt what this money will achieve – surely people’d generosity could be better spent elsewhere.

  10. Hi JWaddingham – I do like the graph very much, so much so I’ve added your second one. 🙂

    Anticant – I rather like the slogan though it’s clear that many feel it’s too wimpish. The religious folk seem to attack it on the grounds that if we way “probably” then we doubt our beliefs – thereby both missing the point and illustrating it. I also like it’s lack of stridency.

    Daft Old Bat – sorry about the song.

    Singing Librarian – thanks for dropping by. I’m astonished that any believer could feel threatened by these ads. Saddened, annoyed, irritated, yes. But threatened?

    Hi Omega Mum. Yes, you are right of course. Our beliefs are very central to who and what we are and how we define ourselves. Which is why discussions about them get so highly inflamed.

    Paul. You work with disabled children and mention their pain. How about those people whose ability to think logically has been disabled by their own religious indoctrination or that of their parents? Not to mention the pain that religious extremism causes all over the world. Or doesn’t that count? I am sorry to be discourteous to you – but you seem to make some rather startling assumptions about the charitable giving of those concerned. Disabled Kids have Terry Wogan and the BBC on their side. Philosophical positions – not so much. I’m sorry to give you such short shrift, but I don’t take kindly to being patronised.

    Thanks all for dropping by and commenting.

  11. “How very sad that all of this money is not going to transform lives”

    Who are you, or anyone for that matter, to say that this will not transform lives? I hope that just one person, as a result of this campaign, rejects the bronze age death cult nonsense they’ve probably been inculcated with since birth. That they realise that hell is a nasty, disgusting idea made up by sexually frustrated old men to terrify children and illiterates, and that it’s a load of cobblers. And, more importantly, that there is no heaven, no seventy two virgins, no strumming a harp with little wings etc. etc., so if you want your reward for your life you’d better actually get on with living your life instead of trying to store up favours with your imaginary friend(s). Just one person rescued from this pernicious garbage and set free to live their one short life here and now instead of in thrall to fairy tales, is money well spent.

  12. “How very sad that all of this money is not going to transform lives”

    Hmmm, I have always wondered how the Vatican got to look like it was without using the money of us plebs on it’s own beautification.

    I have yet to see a building built purely to worship there not being any supernatural beings. When I look around toans and cities what buildings stand out and above all the rest? Religious and mainly, in this country, CotE or Catholic. Lots of ‘believers’ money tied up in stone to worship one of the thousands of gods that have been invented.

    I look at cathedrals and wonder how many people died bulding them while living in poverty while the church people lived in relative luxury. I wonder how better thmoney that was spent comsrtucting a building just to worship some go could have been better spent improving the living conditions and lives of the people building those churches. And please don’t say the church gave them jobs. They could have had jobs building something useful rather than a folly to a pernicious, sadistic being.

    How much money has been spent in Africa and China persuading the populace that condoms are evil or that the whay of the white man is better than 1000’s of years of indigenous history in China?

    How much money has been spent on Alpha courses? On the signs outside churches saying ‘Jesus saves’ etc.

    The money spent on the dresses vicars and priests wear?

  13. Standing up and cheering Alfster for putting into words the nebulous emotions that filled me as I stood in the Cathedral in Seville. In spite of the wondrous art that surrounded me, I had to get out of there before the weight of all the negative energy in there crushed me. Plus I could hear the screams of the tortured and raped and killed echoing around the rafters and vaults.

  14. My pleasure, healingmagichands. I have to say I do actually like going round churches and cathedrals because I find them impressive but less so when that thought hit me walking around Gloucester cathedral a few years ago having seen the stonemasons marks on the stones that the buidling consists of. I now feel rather uncomfortable with them.


    Yup that is my photo of one of the bus ads in Manchester city centre (the one with the advert quite large)
    For the original photo

  16. OOoo! Cool. Thanks Phil!

    I thought of going on a – um – not exactly a pilgrimage but a bus-spotting trip. We don’t have them where I live in the arse-end of beyond.

  17. You’d have to be careful, people think bus spotters are even weirder than train spotters!

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