This slogan has been found on the placards of the British public transportation system since October of last year. It has naturally caught the attention and protest of many Christian groups, from those working to refute it's message, to those attempting to censor it's message.
Let me go on record here to say that speaking for myself I endorse the ad campaign and the wonderful conversation it brings to the dinner table, to the coffee shop, and to the pub (that's my English reference... I'd say bar if it were an American campaign... but this is cultural awareness at work)
Naturally, to any of you who know me, I am not saying I AGREE that there is no God. If you do not know me take a quick perusal through the content of my previous posts and you will see I am radically convinced of God's existence and equally celebratory of his incarnational entrance into the story of man.
I am most impressed with the wording of their ad as well, because if we allow it to it brings not one but three important questions to the forefront for our discussion. First, and most obviously the ad's question is the existence of God. Rather than getting baited by the first question, let's look at the other two questions.
The second question I see is, "Does the Biblical narrative encourage fear and worry the way the modern church does? The story of God is that HE came to be a part of the story of man, and the reason for that coming was his desire to end the fear and worry. Jesus tell Nicodemus that he did not come to condemn the world. Jesus repeats this idea when he tells the adulterous woman that he does not condemn. Jesus' life and ministry had an abundance of condemnation for the morally superior and religiously self righteous, yet never did one hear any words of reproof against the broken, rejected, smoldering reeds of his culture. Those who wish to use the power of religion for the own control repeat the same sins of the religious elite of Jesus' day when they paint God as an angry and loathsome, and themselves as the brokers of mediation with him. Jesus' own words are meant to tell the world, to stop worrying because they are already alright with God. In order to prove his words, he as God himself took on the entirety of sin in his own selfless life surrendering action, so that no man or woman ever need worry again about where they stand with God.
This of course leads us to the third question posed by the ad, "Do you enjoy your life?" So much of the Christian world's rhetoric seems to have a deep seated hatred of what it means to be human. Humanity is God's creation! God loves mankind! Yes, he is troubled by the destructive nature of many pursuits that mankind has endeavored to pursue. This is not because he rejects man, but instead because he embraces us the crown of his creativity. I remember being taught in my late teen years that God must hate humanist, then later realizing that God himself is the ultimate humanist. God's humanism goes so far he has perpetually engaged with man, to help him discover the fullness of what he created to be. I am reminded of the scene in Little Mermaid when the seagull uses a fork as a comb. I love this because a fork makes and effective comb, but not nearly as effectively as it makes a fork. Mankind can find enjoyment, but the nature of God is that He desires his creation to have abundant life, and that takes knowing the only power in the universe that can direct you to knowing what it means to be a fork that functions as a fork, rather than as a comb.
This post does not begin to do these ideas justice. I feel like everything I have written is painfully incomplete to express myself to either side. I post it anyway, not because I think I have definitive answers which will change to humanist to believers, and propel believers into God's better plan where Love drives out fear. I post it because I think the conversation is important. I post it because I think we need to be present in diverse communities where we can wrestle with these, and many other ideas about what it means to be human, and to be that to the fullest. I post it because I hope some people who are not yet part of the conversation might see that dialog is better than debate, and be inspired to think about these issues.
On a final note, to the people at Atheist Bus I say great job, way to facilitate a dialog. When you're ready to bring the campaign to America, I'm definitely on board for the ride!
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