Religion in the News: Will Atheism Be Advertised on London Buses?

The Situation

The British Humanist Association has decided to run advertisements on buses that say, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” After raising more money than they expected for this endeavor, they may even get some in-bus ads going. Richard Dawkins, world renowned atheist and author of The God Delusion has supported the group.

The idea, the group claims, is to make people think. Religious posters often adorn the sides of buses, and no one gives it a second thought as these religious groups are given liberties like tax breaks and the right to never be offended and more. This group seeks to put a stop to that free ride. At the very least, they hope to make people smile and think.

Compared to the many advertisements threatening eternal damnation or salvation through Jesus, the BHA hopes that its posters will be a breath of fresh air for commuters and locals. Some local religious figures made appreciative comments about the campaign because it encourages people to engage in deep and important questions about life.

My Thoughts

On the one hand, this seems antagonistic to me – trying to get people riled up about their beliefs. On the other hand, I love riling people up about their beliefs. It’s true, religious people do think they’ve earned the right not to be offended and it’s true that they’re allowed to preach at everyone else all the time and we are subject to their nonsense way too often. Just the other day I couldn’t get through a hoard of Scientologists without taking their stupid and nonsensical flier.

Putting posters up like this could make people think because many do worry too much about the next life and God and salvation and all that jazz to live enjoyable, meaningful lives here. Not all religious people, mind you, but there are enough to make this a valid comment.

Funny enough, England seems like a silly place to do this. England has one of the least religious populations and believers in God of nearly any country in the world. It seems like this is something better suited for a generally devout country (or part of it), like middle America. I’d like to see somebody try that here. But hey, I suppose it’s only a matter of time.

What do you think? Do you like the sentiment behind the posters or do you think it’s unnecessarily antagonistic? Do you think that religion deserves the free ride it’s on?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read more Religion in the News posts.

Cartman Ends Atheism in the Future in “Go God Go XII” South Park Episode 1013

I LOVE this episode – it is the spectacular conclusion to episode 1012, “Go God Go II,” which aired last Wednesday and can be read about HERE. Sassy Doc and I had a great conversation following my post so check it out.

This episode is about an atheist future in which Cartman has found himself and where three atheist factions are at war over what atheists should call themselves. They have learned that it’s not enough to believe something but that you have to be a dick to everyone who doesn’t think like you.

The lesson of the episode is that not having God or religion will not necessarily result in a war-free future. What we need is to stop treating people like crap for not believing as we do and then we won’t have war. But even getting rid of all the -isms, as they call them, isn’t necessarily enough. Maybe we’ll still find things to fight about.

One of the greatest lines comes at the end of the episode, when Cartman is about to be sent back to his own time. He is told, “Tell everyone in the past for us, that no one single answer is ever the answer.” Wonderful.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

“Go God Go XII” is South Park episode 1012 and Cartman’s Headed to the Future

This episode and the one after it, “Go God Go XII” (1013), are incredible.

When Mrs. Garrison refuses to teach evolution to her class, Richard Dawkins, renowned public atheist, is hired to explain evolution to the class. He and Mrs. Garrison, despite their differences, fall in love and decide to bully everyone into atheism.

In the meantime, Cartman, unable to wait for the Nintendo Wii, decides to freeze himself and reawaken in three weeks. However, an avalanche prevents his plan from working and he is awakened five-hundred years in the future – an atheist future! – that has been influenced by Dawkins and Garrison and is at war.

Will Cartman ever play the Wii? Will the future be atheist? Does God cause war or is it religious people who insist that they are right?

What did you think of this episode? Do you think that religion is inherently violent or do you think that people will always find something to fight about?

Don’t forget to come back here right after tonight’s new episode for my thoughts on episode 1209, “Breast Cancer Show Ever.”

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

Six More South Park Episodes of Cartmania Lead Us to the Mid-Season Premier

Yep, Comedy Central is going crazy, throwing South Park episodes at us left and right. I’m really excited for this Wednesday’s mid-season premier and hope you are too. The episodes on tonight, which comprise Cartmania, are:

Ginger Kids (911)

Tonsil Trouble (1201)

Go God Go (1012)

Go God Go XII (1013)

Christian Rock Hard (709)

The Death of Eric Cartman (906)

Such great episodes for someone who loves the religious ones. 1012 and 1013 are all about atheism and how it isn’t the -isms that are the problem but the people who adhere to them so strongly. It’s really an excellent pair of episodes.

Christian Rock Hard is also fantastic as Eric Cartman starts a Christian Rock band to beat Kyle at a bet for who can get a platinum album first. Hilarious, filled with great religious stuff – oh yeah.

The other episodes in this little grouping are great too. Don’t miss them.

Which were your favorites? Why?

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about other South Park episodes.

Andrew Davidson’s Debut Novel, The Gargoyle, is Worth Every Penny of the 1.25 Million He Was Advanced

Now, personally, I have no idea how one gets awarded 1.25 million dollars as an advance on a first book, but when people start bidding, who knows what crazy things can happen. Then again, maybe it’s not so crazy. The book is spectacular. The writing is fresh and interesting, the style engaging and seductive, and the humor edgy and risque. You don’t want to put it down but you’re not annoyingly attached like a crappy Dan Brown novel.

In short, it’s a great read.

One thing I really loved about it was the endless religious imagery and integration of religious concepts, all discussed by the main character, who was, as luck would have it, an atheist. Now, talking about symbolism abstractly in regards to a book you may not have read really seems silly, but I don’t want to ruin anything for you or give any plot spoilers.

I will say, however, that you will be doing yourself a service if you constantly bear the book’s title, The Gargoyle, in mind. It holds beautifully throughout the entire novel.

And the history! Multiple periods, personal characters, a variety of places. You learn so much and from a guy who’s done his homework, too. Great research went into this book, and the author does a wonderful job of integrating and crafting the material, bringing us through times and places beyond our own but that become so very close through the telling of his story.

As you’ll see, Dante’s Inferno has a prominent place in The Gargoyle and as it’s been sitting next to me on my desk for months now, I suppose it’s finally time and only fair that I pick it up. I’ve always wanted to and this provided sufficient impetus.

Have you read The Gargoyle? What’d you think? Will you read Davidson’s next book? Was this one worth the advance he got? Get your own copy of The Gargoyle.

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read more book reviews.

Around the World Pic of the Day: The Vatican & Red Hot Catholic Love

Jay in the Vatican

It’s a crappy picture I know – a little too dark, not centered, etc. – but it’s so appropriate for tonight’s episode of South Park, “Red Hot Catholic Love.” This is absolutely one of my favorite episodes. When the priest-molesting-boy scandal makes the South Park parents fear for their children’s safety, they abandon the Church and become atheists. In the meantime, Father Maxi goes to the Vatican to try to put a stop to the molestation and save Catholicism and the results and closing words of the episode are inspirational and amazing.

Personally, I found the Vatican to be one of the most sensational places I visited in four months of non-stop backpacking around Europe. The Vatican Museum was by far my favorite museum, especially Raphael’s School of Athens painting. It was breathtaking and brought tears to my eyes. The collection aside from that was spectacular, and I can’t even imagine all of the amazing knowledge waiting to be found in the Vatican’s files and libraries. Conceptually, that it’s a country, the place is also fascinating – so small and entirely inside the capital city of another country! St. Peter’s Basilica is unbelievably enormous (though the statues everywhere I found a little weird – kind of pagan and a little too cult worshippy). All in all, though, a sensational place that I recommend to every traveler.

But the issues in the Catholic Church are fascinating and require greater scrutiny – something that South Park gives us in episode 608. Why do the South Park parents go atheist? Are their reasons connected to their concerns about their children? Do you agree that when people don’t have any mythology to try to live their lives by they just start spewing a whole bunch of crap out of their mouths? A fantastic episode – do not miss it!

Get a FREE Bonus Chapter from The Zen of South Park.

Read about and see more Around the World Pic posts.