Saturday, 10 January 2009

Saturday 10/01/09

Aptly named vocal fundamentalist Christian group, Christian Voice, has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about a bus advertising campaign that states: 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life'. The National Director of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, maintains the ad breaks the ASA code on substantiation and truthfulness (I wonder if the code covers transubstantiation?). If substantiation is a valid criterion, then how does Carlsberg substantiate the truth of their advert: ‘Carlsberg, probably the best lager in the world’?

Now as far as I’m concerned there probably isn’t a god. I say probably because while emotionally I’m atheist, I’m agnostic from the intellectual perspective, as it’s logically impossible to prove something doesn’t exist – well not unless you’re omniscient, in which case you ARE god and you’re on a hiding to nothing if you’re trying to disprove your own existence.

Given it’s impossible to prove something doesn’t exist, the ad creators should first get the theists to prove that god does exist. Only when they see the proofs of god’s existence should they set about disproving these proofs, be that on the basis of probability or logic. Until then it’s possible to say that the existence of god is as relevant as the existence of the Spaghetti Monster or the unicorn.

The theists should therefore be encouraged to more fully describe god’s attributes; unfortunately any description of god instantly collapses through its own internal inconsistencies. On this basis any atheist therefore has a very strong case for suggesting, on the balance of probabilities, that theism is false. The clever theists will then come up with their standard get-out clause; god is ineffable. The even cleverer atheist will then point to the Bible and say, “Well, he’s described in there.” Game, set and congregation.

Of course another tack is to question how anyone can know that god is ineffable.

Green is not worried about atheists reporting Christian adverts to the ASA as he maintains that most Christian advertising starts by saying, ‘The Bible says …….’. That’s where the problem starts – a justification through the Bible is a synthetic argument as it contains no external reference against which it can be judged true. We’ve all heard the argument that so-and-so is true because the Bible says so. Then when asked how they know the Bible is true, the answer is that, “God wrote it.” The next logical question is how do we know god wrote it, to which the standard answer is, “Because the Bible says so.” A fully circular argument.

The fact that the Bible is littered with internal inconsistencies and palpable falsehoods illustrates that the proposition ‘the Bible is true because the Bible says it’s is true’ is false on the grounds of observable fact and faulty logic (the premise and the conclusion being self-referential). ‘Bible = Truth because Bible = Truth’ has no more validity than ‘2+2=Test Match Special because 2+2=Test Match Special’.

I’d have thought Christain Voice would have more self-important and holier-than-thou matters to attend to than reporting an agnostic ad to the ASA, wasting the ASA’s time and giving us all a chance to have a good giggle at their moral indignation and outrage. If you look at their website you’ll see they’re already far too busy spreading their particularly hideous brand of bigotry.

Here’s something I heard playing in a deli of all places in Malmesbury last weekend. It rather took my fancy.


  1. pavocavalry,

    Many thanks. Just had a quick look at your profile and look forward to reading some of your interesting looking material.

    I note you are in Kabul