The Null Device
Today was the launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign, a project to put advertisements on buses in London telling people that there is probably no god and no reason to worry. (The project was inspired by Christian groups' ads on public transport, which inform the reader that they are doomed to eternal torment unless they submit to the advertiser's particular beliefs, an altogether less friendly message.)
The campaign opened this morning, with a goal of attracting £5,500; half the amount required to run such an ad on 30 buses over four weeks. (Outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins had offered to provide the other half.) It reached its goal just after 10am, and kept snowballing like Craig Shergold's postcards; shortly before 11:30pm, it had passed the £45,000 mark, and was still rising. That's a lot of non-faith.
Looking at the donations and their comments is interesting; a lot of people have an issue with the phrasing containing the qualifying "probably" (which was there to keep from falling foul of truth-in-advertising regulations), finding it insufficiently strident, or likely to lead people into the fallacy of Pascal's Wager. More donors, buoyed by the success of the drive, have called for the ads to be run elsewhere in the UK (Manchester, for some reason, has a lot of demand). There are also a lot of calls for similar ads to be run in the United States; I wonder whether anyone will start such a campaign over there, or whether anyone would agree to run the ads.
The response from Christian groups (who seem to be the only theists interviewed; couldn't they get a rabbi or imam to weigh in?) has been mixed; one pressure group named Christian Voice has equated atheism and bendy buses as "dangers to the public" and predicted that they would be attacked with graffiti, whilst the Methodist Church has taken the view that publicity is good and thanked Professor Dawkins for encouraging a "continued interest in God".
It's not clear what will be done with the surplus £41,000 or so; putting ads inside the buses was one suggestion.