The Atheist Gospel – Is it Good News?

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The Atheist Gospel – Is it Good News?

6 November 2008 Hits:5606

One of last year’s biggest selling books was The God Delusion by prominent British atheist Richard Dawkins. In the preface Professor Dawkins states his purpose – to convert religious people to atheism.

Well, he’s now promoting his atheist gospel again by endorsing an advertising campaign on London Buses declaring the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The slogan started as an aside comment from a comedian in response to a church campaign that pointed people to a website that indicated they’d be going to hell if they didn’t believe in God. The comedian suggested a response to “assure people”, which was picked up by Richard Dawkins and has ultimately generated funding from the general public for about $50,000 in donations.

Professor Dawkins says: “Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned ‘respect’ and the right not to be ‘offended’ … even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side. This campaign – to put alternative slogans on London buses – will make people think; and thinking is anathema to religion.”

I agree with some of Professor Dawkins’ statements especially about the importance of making people think. Being a Christian doesn’t mean a compulsory lobotomy. I also like the honesty of the slogan: “There’s probably no God …” – even atheists aren’t sure if there is one!

The biggest issue is the mistake certain churches have made to run religious ads that “threaten eternal damnation”. When are they going to wake up to the message Jesus came to proclaim? The message (the gospel) is GOOD news. A person being damned is not. The first message Jesus taught was that He had come to proclaim the time of God’s favor; the season when God would accept all people just the way they are (see Luke 4:19). Jesus made it clear that salvation is for the whole world. He also stated that His purpose was not to judge or condemn people (John 3:16-17; 12:47), but to save them.

Why does the church feel it has the freedom to preach another gospel, which is not a gospel at all? If they had been smart the church would now be running a campaign on London buses with the slogan: “There’s probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” But we’re not that smart yet are we?

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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7 replies on “The Atheist Gospel – Is it Good News?”

Carmel Donaldsays:

You will be blessed to know a well respected Melbourne bus driver testified at church (Clayton AOG) that he was not happy to drive a bus with an alcohol advertisement on it so he made an appointment with the Manager of the bus company Ventura and showed him scriptures that supported his view that it was going against God and his faith and said he would resign from his job if the advertising was not taken off his bus. The owner/manager espected the bus driver enough to remove the advertising from his bus.
That was taking a stand for God and more Christians could use this situation to point out their own views in a loving and Christian way and support their views that God wants us to enjoy life after all the word does say ALL things work together for good for those who love the Lord who are called according to his purpose, and why not one of the churches take out an advert on another bus saying there is a God and enjoy life anyway, who said we are not that smart yet?

Hala Lamottsays:

Unfortunately judging from my past, believing in God meant being “religious” as against “having a relationship with our Father”. As I have been stung from my earlier upbringing in the “Catholic and Latin church” and I am sure many others who have had similar experiences, where believing meant being scared, fearing, rather than respecting, unless we find the true meaning of being a Christian and eventually accept Jesus into our life, we continue living in that fear and hate.
I believe there is a lot of restoration, mending, forgiving to be done.
As I have spoken to people in my work place I have heard many of these stories, there certainly is a lot of work to be done to win these lost souls back and the best thing we can do at the moment is accept and love them by doing exactly what Jesus would do.

Davidsays:

I’m an atheist, by way of my interests in technology and science, surely I must be:). Born in the UK into a Church of England family where the norm is the stereo typical attendance pattern of births, marriage and deaths, hardly true to the C of E cause.

I’ve traveled the world, lived in the USA and now Australia and been exposed to various religions. I’ve always had a healthy interest in religion and the good that comes from it despite the war and destruction brought by those that abuse it and ignore it’s core values.

I believe that IF there was a God then this God would see us all as equals under one church. I’ve formed the opinion that the core values mainstream religions teach strive to create compassionate, honest and caring attitudes towards all living things and that these core values are in fact independent of religion.

Richard Dawkins is just tipping the scales the other way and represents an extreme view in the God, no God debate. In the end it doesn’t matter if there is a God or not, whether atheists or any of the 20 odd mainstream religions is right or wrong, what matters is how we behave on a daily basis and how we value life in all it’s forms. My slogan would be;

‘Stop worrying about your God. Value life.’

Petersays:

i too was an atheist many years ago after years of indocrination at secondary school, university and the media, but after seeing a program on intelligent design from Stephen Meyer Phd where he destroyed evolution (was he correct?) i had to investigate further, what i found was evolution was just an unsubstantiated hypothesis, ie the observational data was not there (i needed to see the millions of transitional forms (where all that i saw were a handful of debatable ones which even the experts could not agree on) and we don’t see the predicted accumulation of information all i saw was loss and duplication of genetic information (mutation and natural selection have never once shown the ability to create new, functional genetic information in a creature).
as for Richard Dawkins i quickly realised that i could not take him seriously as he mentions in the movie “expelled, no intelligence required” (a great entertaining movie), he says life was brought here by aliens (didn’t solve any of the questions i had) and when he said “evolution has been observed. it’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening”
comming to God through Jesus (i had to investigate most of the other major religions as well) has now given me meaning, purpose and not always living for myself, i trust God and value life where i couldn’t before as i believed we were just a hunk of primordial oozee.
God bless Peter

Claire Connorssays:

I am also an atheist. I am a female, 20-year-old arts student at the University of Melbourne. I am pleased that this Christian community webpage is open enough to encourage independent thought. With this in mind there are a few issues I have with the analysis of Dawkins’ argument. I am currently reading the book and find him to be a very rigorous, well-researched and articulate author and conveyor of ideas.

The comment ‘even atheists aren’t sure if there is one’ (a God) seems to suggest that the Christian community is not completely aligned to the lore of the Bible. I encourage such Freudian slips.

First of all, I want to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that ‘Jesus’ did not ‘state’ anything directly in the bible – his ‘Word’ was written long after he was said to have died. The Word of the Lord – the Holy Book – the Gospels – are thus the words of men.

The Word of God in the documents used in Christian services is not music to the ears of women. I went to a catholic school and was constantly bombarded by the image of the father, priest, brother, male vice principal as the ultimate authority on God (and thus on the meaning of life, and holder of the moral compass). Of course the God of the Old testament is infamously cruel.

Again, I want to emphasise my appraisal of the Christian community’s encouragement of free thought. I would for instance ask that the church change its stance on contraception, homosexuality, abortion and evolution – just as it has changed its stance on claims such as ‘an eye for an eye’ and the existence of ‘Limbo’ a concept claimed to be false by Pope Benedict XVI.

Dawkins is not trying to ‘convert’ people to atheism. He says his book is about ‘consciousness-raising.’ The misconception that atheism is a new kind of faith is dispelled by Dawkins, who instead promotes atheism as a celebration of independent thought and ‘clear thinking’. I hope that my comments might make a few people open their minds just a little bit to entertain the possibility that life is liveable without a God. I would also encourage anyone angered by my thoughts to indulge in a little session with [i]The God Delusion[/i] to experience the sincerity with which Dawkins imparts his love of science and humanity.

Thanks, Claire.

Jason Ballsays:

I would be interested to know how many in your church community dismiss Dawkins’ critique of religion without having actually read it?

Your suggestions that ‘probably’ insists that atheists ‘admit they’re unsure’ about the existence of God misses the point. There are also ‘probably’ no unicorns, for instance. The statement is therefore not about certainty but about what evidence people present for their own convictions. What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

Anjusays:

I think a better slogan for the church to have responded with would have been “There IS a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” 🙂 If we say the atheists aren’t sure, shouldn’t we be?

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