Posted by: Brian Robinette | February 9, 2009

Has It Come to This?


An article in this week’s Time magazine features the London “bus wars,” revealing once again how continuously we must struggle to bring dignity to the phenomenon we are studying. When our “atheism” or “theism” become brands, or when our affirmations and/or denials of “God” become subject to rank sloganism, it is easy to lose touch with the depth and nuance that the question of God entails.

An important part of our study, therefore, is the propagandic character of the phenomenon, understanding how the flurry of images, soundbytes, and heated rhetoric constitute an essential aspect of the debates inspired by the New Atheism, and thus how important (if sometimes difficult) it is for people of faith to recognize this in a non-rivalrous way while restoring to the question its true dignity



  1. This article cracks me up. As if advertisements on the sides of buses were not absurd enough, now one can witness the battle between theists and atheists on a bright, somewhat aesthetically pleasing billboard as it whizzes past you while simply walking down the street. There seems to be a battle between beliefs taking place with both sides shelling out a fat chunk of change to do it. I have to wonder, instead of putting those funds toward cheesy advertisements in an attempt to reach people, why don’t they invest in their communities and show by example the message they are trying to portray? But then again, people can be irrational and competitive so the need to show up the other ‘team’ should come as no surprise.

    Both messages are basically surrounding the idea that either you can believe in God and enjoy life or breathe easy because there probably is no God and enjoy life. Why don’t they both just stop the battle of the buses and let everyone enjoy life?

    Ariane Sherine, the main coordinator of the atheist bus campaign, is a London-based comedian who apparently thought of the idea only after seeing one of the Christian bus advertisements. Not to say that comedians can not be serious, but I can only imagine the comic relief she, and the others involved in the atheist bus campaign, are having watching their rivals squirm as they counter the counter-campaign trying to reel people to their side. If placing signs on the panels of buses is the best way to make people think or spark dialogue, we have bigger problems.

  2. This picture makes me think of the most ridiculous vehicle I have ever seen. It was a minivan (not a bus, but still interesting) that I saw in the parking lot at the grocery store, and every available inch of space was COVERED in shiny gold lettering of various sizes and fonts. The doors, the hood, the window, everything was covered with phrases like “JESUS” and “the God/Man came to save us” and “believe and you will be saved.” Whoever was driving this thing (and I wish I had had my camera with me to take a picture) had to pose a serious threat to other drivers because there is no way his (or her) vision was not obstructed.

    I think the new atheists would find it to be a good example of how (fundamentalist) religion can be dangerous…

    What I don’t understand is – are people actually taking this seriously? Are we so easily swayed as to adopt a belief (or lack of belief) in God because of something that we saw written on a bus (or a minivan)? And do these people really have nothing better to do with $50,000?

    Is there a way to get the common people involved in an intelligent dialogue without resorting to playground slap-fights and “brand wars”?

  3. I’m not particularly sure how I found this, but at there was a picture spoofing this which made me giggle:

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