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Ravi Zacharias said...

A recent ad campaign in London has launched a thousand ships--or, well, buses. Written across the London tube as well as hundreds of buses moving throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Barcelona, the slogan reads, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”(1) Sponsored by thousands of individual donors, including author Richard Dawkins, the £140,000 multi-media advertising campaign was designed to bring comfort in the probability that God does not exist. In response and in contrast to religious advertisements that warned of torment for non-believers in eternity, the Atheist Bus Campaign planners sought to be positive and reassuring about life today. The campaign also uses quotes from influential voices who have shown that embracing atheism, or at least expressing skepticism about the existence of God, is freeing. One quote reads, “An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” Another, written by nineteenth century
American humanist Robert Ingersoll, notes, “The time to be happy is now!”

Reactions to the Atheist Bus Campaign have been mixed. Similar campaigns were almost immediately inspired in the United States, Italy, and Canada. The slogan provoked strong reactions in Barcelona, however, where critics branded the ads as “an attack on all religions.”(2) Christians in London have been on all sides of the debate, with some offended--one bus driver refused to drive his bus--and others optimistic at the opportunity for discussion. “The posters will encourage people to consider the most important question we will ever face in our lives,” said director Paul Woolley of the theology think tank Theos. “The slogan itself is a great discussion starter.”(3)

Christianity has long been indicted as an emotional crutch for those unable to accept life’s difficult realities, those in need of an escape vehicle to take them to another world. To be fair, it is not an entirely undue critique. The Christian
is indeed someone marked by an inability to accept the cruelties of this world as status quo. Like the prophets, Christians are well aware that this life marred by cancer, injustice, poverty, corruption, tears, and death is not the way it is supposed to be. We live alert with the distinct notion that humanity was created for something more. Of course, the temptation, then, and one of the most severe misapplications of the faith, is to checkout of this world, content in our Christian circles, and ever-looking upward to better life. In such a scenario, one’s Christianity is nothing more than wishful thinking, a philosophy wrenched from its founder and marched down an illogical road.

But do Dawkins and the growing numbers of atheists who insist life without God is “freeing” not succumb to a similar temptation, making life and even death sound better than their own philosophy imparts? If God is a farce and life is but rapidly moving time and the unapologetic force of chance, is
“reassured” a viable option? If there is no divine being, no creator of time, no one hearing prayers or answering the cries of injustice, can we really be comforted, unworried, even lighthearted about life as we know it? MacBeth was far more honest:

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

We can attempt to dress such a philosophy in beautiful robes, but in the end we will find it was all an act. Whatever our philosophies, we do well to follow them to their logical ends.

Thus, whether in the eyes of Christians or atheists, it is more than lamentable that belief in Christ has come to be seen as something for another world, a philosophy for another time, a religion that merely attempts to frighten us in the present for the sake of the future. We do not make our pilgrimage through the kingdom of
God by way of escape vehicles, sounding our sirens along the way. Quite the contrary, we look for signs of this kingdom as if searching for precious lost coins, we live as people who have entered the kingdom in all its fullness here and now, and we look to invite others to join us in all that we have found. Faith in God is not a source of worry, as the buses (and perhaps some Christians) suggest, nor is faith in Christ an obstacle for enjoying life. Far from this, we find ourselves as we have found Christ--truly human, truly alive--and we must take care not to live in ways that suggest otherwise.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Ariane Sherine, “The Atheist Bus Journey,” January 6 2009, guardian.co.uk, accessed January 12, 2009.
(2) Giles Tremlett, “Atheist Bus Ad Campaign Provokes Bitterness in Barcelona,” January 7, 2009, guardian.co.uk, accessed January 12, 2009.
(3) Maria Mackay,
“Atheist Bus Ads Say ‘Probably No God’”
January 6, 2009, christiantoday.com, accessed January 12, 2009.

According to Richard Dawkins, there’s no difference between God and the Easter Bunny. Is God really just a trick or a deception like the Tooth Fairy? Join RZIM for a thought provoking evening featuring Ravi Zacharias as he addresses the intellectual assumptions surrounding atheism while contrasting the validity of the Christian faith in his special message, “Is Faith Delusional?”

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Adrian Monk said...

One cold night my furnace died, so I went to my parents'
house. In the morning, a neighbor called to tell me that
my water pipes had burst and flooded my town house and
hers. I raced home—and on the way got a speeding ticket.

Then the furnace repairman arrived and told me he didn't
think he had the proper fuse but would check in his truck.
Meanwhile, the plumber cut holes in my bathroom wall to
locate the leak.

When the furnace repairman returned, he held aloft a fuse.
"I had the right one after all," he said triumphantly.
"This must be your lucky day."

Professor Howdy said...

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. - John 20:29-31

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