ASA To Assess Accuracy Of Atheist Adverts

Dave Haste
By Dave Haste Last edited 111 months ago
ASA To Assess Accuracy Of Atheist Adverts

Atheist Bus

And Lo... actually, scrap that, it’s far too predictable a way to start a report on the latest events surrounding the Atheist Bus.

Less predictable however, is the complaint that has recently been lodged with the advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Sure, we all knew that someone would raise a complaint over the “There’s probably no God” adverts sooner or later, but what’s surprising is the grounds for this specific grievance. Instead of complaining that the adverts are offensive or unfair in some way, which would be the most predictable approach to take, the Christian Voice organisation has chosen to complain that the adverts break the ASA’s code by being impossible to substantiate. Stephen Green, the organisation’s director, had this to say:

There is plenty of evidence for God, from people's 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.

This would seem to put the ASA in the unenviable position of having to address the complaint by investigating, and then ruling on, the definitive existence (or nonexistence) of God. They’re bound to be relishing that particular challenge.

It’s hard not to think that this is all a bit pointless. People tend to believe (or disbelieve) what they want to - no amount of advertising, pseudo-intellectual ridicule, shouting in Oxford Street or official complaints is going to change that. Still, it’s clear that some people just like an argument, and this one could trundle on for longer than a 25 bus in the rush hour.

Picture taken from jonworth-eu’s Flickr photostream under the Creative Commons Attribution licence.

Last Updated 09 January 2009

cobo04

What a load of rubbish, back to the wall stuff from the christian society. Of course they'd moan about something that goes against their brainwashed minds but to say that there is evidance of a god, NO. Basically no one can prove the existance of a god and keep the faith, for proof denys belief.

Dave

Well, it's pretty clear that both sides of this argument are as bad as each other.

Those behind this advert seem to think that they can push their views on everyone else, much the same as some evangelicals do. Both sides seem to miss the point that people are free to believe whatever they want, and tend to do so.

As far as 'proof' is concerned, no-one can prove the absence of a deity any more then they can prove the presence. So who's to say that that atheists aren't as 'brainwashed' as the God-believers? Ultimately this sort of comment boils down to little more than intolerant name-calling.

Frankly, this whole argument is incongruous with the spirit of London itself. London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and thrives on its cultural and religious (and non-religious) diversity. Pointless arguments and name-calling about people who happen to have different beliefs from you belongs in the dark ages or an inbred narrow-minded hick town, not in 21st-century London.

cobo04

I understand your points Dave and quite true, there is no good or bad side to this argument.

I would never condone anyone for believing in a 'god', that is their business and as long as they don't try and ram it down my throat, then fine.

I was brought up Church of Scotland, sunday school et al. Yet it was experience, learning and just plain logical thinking that put me firmly in the athiest spot now. Check this out.

craigie_b

With London a melting pot of so many different communities and faiths, it's no surprise that religion pops up everywhere you look across London - probably more than anywhere else. The extraordinary thing about London is that we all co-exist is such harmony! Perhaps that's what makes London special.

So when you see those Alpha Course adverts and other religious advertising across London's poster boards, this is actually a great corrective. Aethism is also a belief and so either you let everyone advertise or none, surely?

There's also absolutely nothing wrong with starting a Londonist article on this with 'And Lo'. The only problem would be plagiarism of someone else's excellent idea...

cobo04

Should the ASA check out the religious advertising as well?

I can't see aethism as being a belief. Faith is believing in something you know to be untrue for proof denys belief.

Yes London is special in many ways, none more so than the diversity of peoples. Long may this rest in harmony.

Dave

@craigie: "So when you see those Alpha Course adverts and other religious advertising across London's poster boards, this is actually a great corrective. Aethism is also a belief and so either you let everyone advertise or none, surely?"

Absolutely, yes. And in my opinion, these atheist adverts themselves are fairly reasonable, based on that premise.

However, I find the bickering and cheap rhetoric that surrounds the issue of these adverts rather disappointing. The Christian Voice organisation must surely know that attacking these adverts on the basis of 'proof' is not going to achieve much, other than making them look petty. I can imagine that a significant number of Christians would not be happy being associated with this silly attack. But is this any worse than the rhetoric of ridicule spouted by some (and only some) supporters of the British Humanist Association in the lead-up to this campaign?

The way I see it, much of the opinionated commentary on either side of this issue is at best pointless, at worst intolerant. It's all rather unedifying (pun definitely intended ;-).

craigie_b

I'd much more have this debate out in the open than not at all. Freedom of speech is good, no matter what you think of the quality of speech that comes forth as a result.

Compare this to the US where the debate on Prop 8 has led to a huge stand-off, violence, intimidation and a poisonous atmosphere between certain churches and certain godless groups, and I think we in London do rather well.

I reckon no discussion at all would make us dull.

cobo04

Everyone believes that their faith is the only true one.

So in the words of Dave Allen, good night and may your god go with you.

cobo04

The saga continues...