Friday, January 09, 2009

Definitely Not The Advertising Standards They Want

Christian organization notes that Richard Dawkins can't prove nonexistence of god

As 800 buses carrying a Richard Dawkins-backed advertising campaign prepare to roll out across Britain, Stephen Green, the national director of Christian Voice, has submitted a complaint about the ads to the British Adverstising Standards Authority.

Green is complaining that the ads, which read “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”, cannot be effectively proven.

“It is given as a statement of fact and that means it must be capable of substantiation if it is not to break the rules," Green complains. "There is plenty of evidence for God, from people’s personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world.”

While many of those who oppose the anti-religious zealotry of Dawkins and his supporters may be tempted to back Green on his bid to have the atheist ads declared in violation of advertising standards. But they need to think twice before they do.

It doesn't take genius to recognize that "there's probably no god" isn't really a statement of fact. It's a statement of probability, which when applied to issues such as religion can only help but be a matter of opinion.

And while Green could argue that "people's personal experience" is evidence of God's existence, atheists could just as easily argue that their personal experiences prove God's non-existence.

Furthermore, to suggest that the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world” is evidence of God's existence is a specious argument. It suffers from the same integral weakness as those that argue that seeming evidence of engineering principles in biological cells is proof of God's existence.

After all, many of the principles used in engineering are based on phenomenae originally observed in nature. To claim that the existence in nature of principles discovered only because they were observed in nature to begin with is proof that an intelligent designer (in this case, God) exists is to try to lean on only one half of a circular argument.

Green -- and many religious believers, both Christian and otherwise -- need to admit that there is no physical, objective evidence for the existence of God. As such, God's existence can't realistically be considered any more probable than God's non-existence.

That's why a belief in God requires so much faith.

To top it all off, Green's complaint would have very serious implications for the ability of Christian organizations -- both Churches and otherwise -- to advertise based on their belief that God exists, which generally isn't called into question in Christian advertisements.

But more important is this: what makes individuals such as Dawkins and his cohorts so objectionable to begin with is that they begrudge the religious for their beliefs.

For individuals such as Stephen Green to in turn begrudge atheists for what they believe is, frankly, hypocritical.

To entrench that hypocrisy into advertising standards is absolutely not what Green should want to do.

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