“You asked for it. You anticipated it. You waited for it!” And now, thank Go — er, nobody, it’s here: Advertising for Atheists. The NYC Atheists have gotten propaganda for godlessness on city buses. (They ask for donations to keep it up, as there is no Supreme Being to provide for them.) And, starting today next Monday, in subway stations, where the questioning sort is known to congregate, a separate campaign out of the Big Apple Coalition of Reason (not from NYCA as we originally wrote) suggests that you may be “good without God” — that is, motivated to behave admirably without threat of hellfire. (Update: see more here.)
A Center for Inquiry spokesman tells the Times‘ Jennifer 8. Lee that the time is ripe for such a campaign, as irreligiousness in America has nearly doubled since 1990, according to a recent survey. Some non-believers have even friendlied-up the message to make it more palatable — at least Beliefnet, admittedly not necessarily a sympathetic source, suggests so: “the new ‘New Atheists’ — call it Atheism 3.0 — say there’s still no God, but maybe religion isn’t all that bad“…
In fact Greg Epstein — the theme and launch of whose book, Good without God, coincides with that of the ads — tells Beliefnet atheists should “not try to tear down those with whom we disagree,” and even agrees with Purpose Driven Life promulgator Rick Warren (!) that “you have to have a purpose in life bigger than yourself.”
Who knows what that is, though — maybe to make your garden grow, as Voltaire suggested, or feelin’ good all the time, as Cosmo Kramer did. We thought the purpose of atheism was to get in humorous arguments with Jesus freaks; now that it’s getting all touchy-feely, we’ll have to find a new high. Is Satanism still cool? No? Alright, we’re going in for idol worship.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 19, 2009