Why is there a Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign?
The Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign was created as a response to the multitude of religious advertisements around Canada. The advertisement of secular worldviews is long overdue and we want to to assert that it’s perfectly acceptable not to believe in any god or gods and that there almost certainly isn’t any gods or god, contrary to what religions believe. We want people to know that we can all live morally good, ethically sound, happy, and fulfilling lives without having to be religious or base our lives on the doctrine and theologies of religion, all which have never yet been able to live up to their enthusiastic claims.
How did AtheistBus.ca and the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign begin?
A proud Canadian atheist named Chris Hammond had read about the success of the United Kingdom Atheist Bus campaign and was curious if anything similar had began in Canada. A search on google and facebook didn’t turn in any related results and so Chris decided that he would start his own atheist bus campaign.
Eager to get the campaign rolling, Chris purchased the domain “atheistbus.ca” for $15 and pointed it towards his web hosting. He then quickly built this website alongside creating the “Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign” facebook group. Ariane Sherine, creator of the UK Atheist Campaign, was contacted when Chris asked her if she had any objections to sharing her banner “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Her response was that she’d be happy to share the slogan, banner, and anything else needed.
A day or two after, Chris realized he would need a registered non-profit organization to help manage the campaign donations and so again he turned to google. He came across a blog article from a member at the Freethought Association of Canada. It discussed the FAC’s intentions of attempting to start their own atheist bus campaign and so Chris sent them an email and was invited to a meeting on Skype. During the meeting Chris challenged the board to rethink about their original idea of using a slogan “Atheists have Faith in People”, he convinced them that the original and super cool slogan “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life” was a far better choice. Chris and the FAC began collaborating. A few days later, Chris awoke to discover the Globe and Mail had called him for an interview after discovering his website and facebook group. A front page story was written, national headlines were made, and a huge influx of donations poured in soon after, making this the largest and most successful Canadian Atheist awareness campaign in all of Canadian history.
Why only “probably” no god?
Similar to the UK campaign, we Canadians wanted to ensure that we did not break any rules or advertising codes. The usage of the word “probably” is less offensive and less likely to offend someone far enough to appeal the campaign asking for “proof of non-existence”.
Another reason to say “probably” (as Ariane Sherine has pointed out on her campaign website) is because it’s a matter of accuracy. Although there is no scientific evidence for God’s existence, it is impossible to prove God’s nonexistence. In comparison, it is also impossible to prove that there isn’t a flying teapot in the outer depths of space, a fire breathing dragon on a planet beyond our reach, or a hot cup of water around the corner that turns invisible a second before anyone looks at it. The fact is that we cannot see or test these things and just because someone say it’s true doesn’t mean it really is, especially when no proof can be given. We could have gone with Richard Dawkin’s saying that there “almost certainly” is no God but “probably” seems like a more friendly way to tell someone that their God probably doesn’t exist.
Why say “stop worrying”?
Again, similar to the UK campaign, we are responding to the religious ads we’ve seen on buses, subways, and roadsides. The religious adverts do not directly say that non-religious members will go to hell but all one has to do is turn the page from the book that they’re quoted from to discover such unfortunate news if it were ever true. Our advertisements are a positive response asking people not to worry and to enjoy their lives, the people that make claims that someone is going to hell cannot prove it and have never been able to since the beginning of time, so there really is no need to worry about something with not even the slightest hint of proof.
Why say “enjoy your life”?
Atheists and humanists believe that we all only have one life and that death is the end of our conscious being, so we should make the most of our time. We want to encourage others to stay positive and enjoy their lives.
Why don’t you donate your money to the starving families of Canada and around the world?
It would indeed be a noble cause to launch another campaign among thousands of projects already running that are trying to help those in need of food and the bare necessities, but sometimes a campaign that encourages people mentally and challenges them to think critically can have grander effects.
It’s a long shot but take for example humanities history of religious warfare, crusades and massacres that have divided and segregated people in extreme ways all because someone thought God told them another race, country, or group of people needed to be wiped out. Sadly these things still happen today! There are people in this current day and age that are indoctrinated so strongly to believe in something so false that they are willing to kill for it. It would be nice if people questioned why they believed in something that has no evidence and to also recognize every human is of equal worth no matter what race, colour, or creed. It is a long shot but maybe one day we will all realize that we can love, laugh, be happy, and as the slogan says, stop worrying and enjoy life.
Something else to consider is that we have barely raised $45,000, compare that to the churches of Canada that receive over $100 million in tax credits each year from the Canadian and provincial governments.