When islamispeace.org.uk ran an ad campaign on London buses encouraging Muslims to be proud of their religious background, the Christian community did not react with an advert purporting a Bible a quote on heresy. Yet this is exactly what Christians did when they reacted to the so-called “No God” bus (it’s the “probably No God” if you please). Buses all over london “struck back” at the Dawkins endorsed advert with the quote “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” Psalm 53:1.
Thankfully, the quote didn’t go: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is only Allah”, or they may have seriously offended someone.
In addition to the ‘fool buses’, a few months after the British Humanist Association’s “no God” bus campaign was set loose on the streets on London, the Christians responded with another ad. At first I felt confused, as I had never before seen religious campaigns directly ‘attacking’ each other, but there was no lack of subletly here (or humility either). The campaign showcases the sentence “there definitely is a God” in the same font, colour and format as the original one. Why?
It’s not the supporting a different faith that is unsettling to the theist; it’s the lack thereof that does. And this makes a lot of sense.
The ‘probability’ of there being no God seems to have shaken Christians to their core. And they’ve responded with an unmatched sense of certainty for there ‘definitely’ being a God, betraying a fear of the godless liberal.
In an age where religious organizations are remarketing themselves as enlightened and welcoming institutions – see the unitarian universalists, who are meant for all those “in search of spiritual growth”, regardless of theological source, beliefs or practice system – the scope of their intolerance is receding; gays are now cool, so are people of different skin colours, and even those who give their gods a different name.
… But you must have some sort of faith. Or as Mike Haubrich puts it on his blog, “just believe in something so we can co-exist”.
Certainty about anything in general leaves me profoundly unsatisfied but mostly it makes me feeling nervous and skeptical. Critical thinking and faith are polar opposites, so much so that despotic rulers often discourage the former from the population they are attempting, sometimes successfully, to control. Propaganda, censorship and fear of the ‘reactionary’, are often employed to numb the general population – one that can grow to up to a billion people, in some cases.
Definiteness is blinding, and I don’t believe in being fed ‘truths’. Excepting as a child, when one needs strict rules and orders from our own biological (or adoptive) rulers in order to survive, thinking for yourself is a much useful and necessary tool; and people, organisms, governments, or fields of study that encourage this behaviour have much to gain from it. Past examples of these gains include the realization of the earth being round, of the planet moving around the sun and that we’ve evolved from monkeys.
I’ve heard many reasons why science is flawed, and I agree with some of them. But I am proud to say that the one thing that it is not, is arrogant. In fact, the first thing I learned in essay writing at university was that I could never, ever, conclude any statement – no matter how many experiments I had run, or how confident I felt about my results – with an absolute certainty, and the words, ‘probably’, ‘it seems’, ‘points to’, ‘indicates’, are nowadays so ingrained in my mind that I fear they might have made their way into this non-academish blog somewhere, somehow. I would also be hard-pressed to find any credible scientific paper where these are not present.
Any sane grown-up (an perhaps most insane ones too) would readily agree that the one thing life cannot provide are certainties. No matter how many promises you make (“’till death due us part”?), or even how much you mean them, life is full or surprises, and all we can do is rejoice in the possibilities and the probabilities it offers, whether they be of fateful endings, or ‘unfaithful’ lives.
… So relax, have a drink, have a smoke, make a little naughty love… and enjoy your life.