Pacific Jewish Center | Rabbi

The Rabbi on the Beach @ The Shul on the Beach

Seen On A Bus Ad In London: “There’s Probably No God…” and Humanists

I live in Los Angeles where we are famous for our billboards. I grew up near New York City famous for its Madison Avenue and advertising. Normally the danger of these advertisements is the images they supply. The images are designed to be salacious and titillating. Apparently London has another whole set of issues they need to deal with on their bus advertisements.

I have a problem with the tone of the advertisement. “There’s probably no God.  Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. There are 2 problems with this. First of all how is it that “you” are qualified to tell me the “probability” of the existence of God? Have you done the research? Have you even read the Bible? Seriously, you are telling me that there is probably no God? I guess I was wondering about that but now that you mention it – you’re right, there’s probably no God. Really? Second of all there is a flaw in the logic here. A logical fallacy that cannot be ignored is evident. The argument assumes that if one believes in God then they are worrying and if there is no God then you have no worries. This is false on both accounts. In fact I would say that if there is a God then you don’t need to worry as God must have some sort of plan using Godly wisdom which we cannot fathom. If there is no God then your worries are real. You are part of a random universe subject to the randomness of time. Now that is something to worry about!

The concept for the ads comes from, ironically enough, a blog post. The blogger is upset that London buses were promoting Biblical scriptures. Not everyone believes in God so she found the ads offensive. This is agree with. Scripture on buses reminds me of one of Pacific Jewish Center community member Milton Simon’s favorite ideas. “I have the truth, and you must obey”. Meaning plastering scripture on the side of a bus tells the non-believer that he is a) a bad person and b) going to hell. I find this offensive as well.

The good news is that a blog post can have a big impact!

The upshot of all this is the surging movement of Humanists. They are behind these ads as well as some others which are not as offensive. The ads which are running on Washington D.C. buses read “Why believe in God? Be good for goodness’ sake”. Interesting concept. The truth is that this would be nice. People actually being good for goodness’ sake. But again another fallacy exists in this ad. Belief in God is not so that we should be “good”. We believe that goodness does exist without God. I gave a lecture about this and you can hear / download it on this blog. God is just there to give us a hand so that we know what good is in a given situation. Sometimes it’s too hard for us to know what “good” is. Yes, most of time we have an intuition as to what it is right and what is good. We need God’s higher wisdom to help us out when we don’t know what to do! It happens. Also, sometimes we want to grow. Sometimes we want to be better than good. How can we work on ourselves to be better? We are given instructions in this regard from God as well. So it is nice for the world to be good for goodness’s sake but we want more that just good. We want a life of growth. And we can have it!

Filed under: All Posts, Musings & Observations, My Links, , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. […] Irresponsible Journalism From the New York Times the NY Times has a section in their online newspaper called “The Lede”. It is often chock full of interesting links and thought on the news of the times. I have been inspired to post links to The Lede before in my blog post about “Bus Ads in London proclaiming there is no GD”. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Learn More About Me

January 2009

Photos of PJC

%d bloggers like this: