Friday, 16 January 2009

On the Buses

I am impressed by their missionary zeal, their rapid response, their colourful collection of words clinging to the sides of buses up and down and across the country. The people behind the Humanist Advertising campaign which splashes a moving message across our towns and cities simply reads: 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.' I don't see the problem myself. The campaign was began in response to various Christian advertising campaigns that have appeared in the same place (and whose webistes promised 'non-Christians an eternity of torment in a lake of fire.' Ouch!) I'm not sure what worrying or lack of enjoyment I experience as a result of actually believing that there is a God, mind, but the Atheist advertisers have, in my mind, every right to spread their message. 'There's no God.' 'Probably' Or as Richard Dawkins says, 'Almost certainly.'

Since I gave up my car a couple of years ago I have spent much time on buses and trains and have rather enjoyed the experience. There have been a few occasions of frustration caused by late arrivals, non arrivals, delays and missed buses but apart from that I quite like travelling by public transport. For the most part things work well. The journey gives me time to think or read or grapple with the crossword or catch up with some work or watch the world go by or, rather, watching the world watching me go by. Criss crossing through each other's lives, all going somewhere, anywhere, moving on, moving away. I wonder how many of my fellow travellers worry about the existence of God or if their lives are only half enjoyed because they just don't know what or who is out there or up there or if there is anything or anyone anywhere that makes it all worthwhile.

A Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus that carries the campaign. I see his point but I won't be waving the next bus on because of what message it carries. Rather, I shall see the irony of being carried along by a bus that proclaims that there probably isn't a God. After all, I shall be planning my school assembly (to be delivered to a mixed bag of Christians, atheists, agnostics or 'couldn't care lessers') or writing a homily or grappling with the crossword or watching the world watching me go by: making my way through my day, through my life, trying to get somewhere. Like everyone else on the bus. Or maybe, just maybe, I shall be on a bus telling me that 'Every little helps' or one that entices me to try the new Flame Grill Burger from McDonalds. Either way, I hope I shall arrive safely.

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