Today the buses, tomorrow…the world!

The atheist bus campaign has been a great success, and now it’s about to expand, with godless signs going up all over. This is good news for reason — so many people are appalled at the blind faith of their neighbors, but since they don’t know anyone who shares their views, they are reluctant to speak up. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes more rationalists aware that they are not alone, and that they can speak out.


  1. Alex says

    How about:

    1. You don’t need to believe in deities to be a good person.
    2. Having trouble choosing a deity? Pick none.
    3. Zeus used to be a very popular.
    4. It’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’.

    I just think their choice is tame and sounds superficial. Perhaps there are more talented people than me already working on it.

  2. says

    lets hope that everyone can keep up the good work and let people know that atheists do exist, in they are within our own backyards (in most cases).

  3. BobC says

    “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”

    The sign would be more accurate without the word “probably”. People don’t say there’s probably no Easter Bunny. A magic god fairy is equally childish.

    I like their message which means people who are not slaves of imaginary monsters are likely to have a much happier life.

  4. SC, OM says

    They should have had this guy come up with the slogans.

    As Charlie Brooker – one of the first people to donate to the Atheist Bus Campaign – says: “Public transport in Britain suggests there isn’t a God anyway, but in case anyone hasn’t noticed, or feels isolated for thinking such a thing, this campaign should help.”

  5. Alex says

    BobC @ #6

    I agree, and great idea.

    “God probably does not exist, just like the Easter Bunny”


  6. says

    Wait, Easter isn’t for another 3 months, yet the War on Easter has begun with the atheists firing the first salvo. When will you atheists stop persecuting christians and let them force their religion down everyone’s throats without distraction!

  7. Bob of QF says

    How about:


    The Tooth Fairy
    Santa Claus

    A nice subtle suggestion that as a person matures, s/he grows out of childish superstitions.

  8. Alex says

    freelunch #12,

    Except, IMO, not many know of Cthulhu. Perhaps a more widely recognized deity claim would be more effective.

  9. ggab says

    My understanding is that ‘probably’ was added to get it approved by the bus company.
    Y’know, censorship and all.
    We have to whisper a while before they let us shout.

  10. says

    but bob, for me it didn’t work like that, it was more along the lines of:

    -rabbit egg layer
    -tooth fairy

    I figured out that santa wasn’t real at five, but he still came before the fairy.

  11. freelunch says

    We could also make sure that every eighth-grader has read Small Gods by Sir* Terry Pratchett and Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. Those two books can undo a lot of propaganda damage.

    * As of the newest list.

  12. varlo says

    I am pessimistic about it converting anyone. It’s chief virtue is that it may make it easier for closet unbelievers to come out. But then I am a cynic as well as an atheist.

  13. says

    The “probably” was originally going to be “almost certainly” (Like in the God Delusion chapter) but it was too long. It’s good to have in there I think, so people don’t go straight to “You can’t prove that. That’s just a faith-based position blah blah blah”.

    How about “God: not impossible as such, but a pretty fucking stupid thing to believe in, just of like the Easter bunny”

  14. Ben says

    I don’t know how to do HTML coding, so forgive the crude substitutes, but here’s my ad concept:

    Zeus (with a line through it)
    Apollo (with a line through it)
    Ba’al (with a line through it)

    Then, beneath that, it says:
    It’s only a matter of time.

  15. thatwasnifty says

    There’s been a bit of a backlash here in DC, ad-wise. I’ve seen more “I Believe and you should too” BS ads on the sides of buses than the atheist ads. I did however see a “just be good for goodness sake” ad in the Metro a couple weeks ago and now that’s the wallpaper for my cell phone.

  16. BobC says

    There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

    The sign could influence brainwashed children who are terrified of the hell myth, and save them from wasted lives.

  17. Mercator says

    IIRC they had to use the word “probably” to comply with Britain’s advertising rules, which state that if you make an assertion you have to have the data to back it up.

  18. mayhempix says


    Our atheist conspiracy of moral chaos and world domination is working!
    The embattled and besieged victimized Christians are on the run!
    Soon there will be inter-species orgies in the streets and calamari for everyone!

    Evolve or die! (Or least slowly follow a branch to extinction.)

  19. says

    Instead of believing things, why not try finding things out?

    There is no way of knowing anything that can’t sometimes be wrong. Embrace your doubt.

    Think why you reject other religions. That’s why people reject yours.

    You are probably a good person; you don’t need a God telling you to be good.

    Read the Bible; God’s kind of a dick.

  20. says

    Matt Heath wrote:

    “God: not impossible as such, but a pretty fucking stupid thing to believe in, just of like the Easter bunny”

    But the thing is, God _as such_ is impossible. The only possibility lies in a useless, undefined wishy-washy concept of ‘God.’

    The Christian concept of God in particular can be proven to be logically impossible (contradictory), as can almost any other specifically defined god.

    God as a nebulous, undefined concept isn’t impossible, but if a theist ever makes the mistake of actually describing what they believe in (all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, etc.), then it pops into the realm of logic and becomes subject to the law of non-contradiction.

  21. says

    To make your day…

    Howard Kurtz is reporting that Sanjay Gupta has been offered the position of Surgeon General.

  22. says

    IIRC they had to use the word “probably” to comply with Britain’s advertising rules, which state that if you make an assertion you have to have the data to back it up.

    I’m calling bollocks on that. You can always make unsupportable claims in advertising and religious bodies in Britain do all the time; You don’t get billboards saying “God may very well have so loved mankind that he gave his only begotten son”.

    The “probably” was an honest admission of the impossibility of proof.

  23. Alyson says

    @thatwasnifty #23:

    Sure there are more religious ads than atheist ones; there are more believers to pay for the religious ads. That we’re allowed to see “Just be good for goodness’ sake” in DC buses and subway cars at all is a step in the right direction.

  24. Scott from Oregon says


    What a weak bit of signage.

    How ’bout…
    “Do you tell your children you know God
    even though it is immoral to lie to children?”

    “I believe therefore it is true”
    is not true and can never be true
    whether you believe it or not…


  25. Ben says

    How about:

    “Zeus save the Queen. (How is that any sillier than the original version?)”

  26. John Phillips, FCD says

    Ben, you mean like this;


    It’s only a matter of time.

  27. Alex says

    For Ben:


    It’s only a matter of time and reason.

    I took the liberty of adding a bit. Google “HTML strike-through tag”. That should help you.


  28. Ben says

    Thanks, Alex. I did find a page that told me how to do a strike-through tag, but I guess I did it wrong.

  29. ggab says

    “Okay, it doesn’t rhyme, but it rhymes-ish.”

    My father was one third Rhymesish.
    An ugly people, but a beautiful native language.

    I don’t care if you don’t think it’s funny. I’m already drunk.

  30. says

    But the thing is, God _as such_ is impossible. The only possibility lies in a useless, undefined wishy-washy concept of ‘God.’

    Eh, I’m actually pretty liberal about what I’d be prepared to call “God”. If someone convinced me that I lived in a universe where the Earth and life had been made by the dickhead sky-tyrant of Genesis (even if it was just a physical being that lived on a far off part of space) I’d be happy that name “God” referred to it.

    Equally if the pantheist hypothesis held and somehow the universe as a whole was somehow person-like, I’d be prepared to call that God.

    Of course both of those are fucking stupid things to believe, just like the tooth fairy

  31. Marc Abian says


    That’s a quote you see. You can quote John 3:16 all you want. Technically, you’re not making a claim.

  32. Alex says


    Keep trying, it’s pretty straight forward once you learn how. Use the “Preview” button to experiment – it shows you a render of your post without actually posting it, and lets you modify at will.

    Open tag = [s]Zeus[/s] – Except substitute shift-comma for left-brace ([) and shift-period for right-brace (]).

    Good luck.

  33. John Phillips, FCD says

    Ben as Alex says, here you need to place the required HTML between < and >

    strikethrough would be


  34. John Phillips, FCD says

    Just noticed I had the / to the right of the s instead of the left, doh :)

  35. Alex says

    John, you mean:

    Ben as Alex says, here you need to place the required HTML between < and >

    strikethrough would be

    text< /s>

  36. John Phillips, FCD says

    It should be HTML between < and >

    which should then display text to strikethrough and HTML code for strikethrough as


  37. says

    HTML-issue-havers: There’s always the preview function you can experiment with.

    There used to be a billboard south of Seattle that said, IIRC:

    “Atheism: it’s not what you believe”

    How about some schmuck with a white (milk?) moustache forking over dough to a smarmy very-satisfied looking cleric: “Got bilked?” The cleric could be zipping his pants up or something.

    Or: “Prayer: it’s just like writing letters to Santa, but without the writing”

  38. strangest brew says

    Could this campaign have been waged say 10 years ago…on public buses?
    Not likely methinks…
    It is a step forward for rationality…the encouragement it might offer to closet non-believers or even the weakly religious could be invaluable to let them know they are not alone…

    A Christian think tank donated 50 quid in the early days…because they felt sorry for the poor atheists who seemed to be having trouble drumming up donations for the campaign…being true Christians they thought it a good wheeze to display their pity…pompousness and glee at the pathetic attempt to display the atheist ‘religion’ and obviously failing!
    comments were along the lines of….

    ‘It just shows that Britain is a strong Christian country and this sort of propaganda is doomed to failure…we felt sorry for them’

    Now they are spluttering fit to bust….so the new tactic is now they are criticizing the word ‘probably’..

    ‘Where did that ‘probably’ come from?..Dawkins does not probably believe there is no god he actively promotes that is very weak’ etc etc.

    So now it has seemingly become successful they are getting worried…and so they bloody well should the creepy arseholes!
    Serves them right for being arrogant dickheads!

  39. Alex says


    Post for post, I think I’m 180 degrees out of phase with you. Too funny. I’m gonna wait a few posts before opining again ;-).

  40. anon says

    Or, following through as an individual ages both physically and mentally —

    Tooth Fairy
    Easter Bunny
    Santa Claus

    Time to raise the bar:


  41. says

    Whatever the reason was, I like the addition of “probably”. It lightens it up, and goes well with the “quit worrying” message. Makes it friendly rather than potentially confrontational to fence-sitters.

  42. John Phillips, FCD says

    Cannabinaceae, the problem is that < and > will not work properly if you use preview as you have to spell out the codes for < and > back in this window. Which is where I was messing up :) Of course, when actually striking through or otherwise formtatting text for a post, rather than trying to print the < and > to show which ones to use, there is no problem with using preview.

  43. John Phillips, FCD says

    Alex, I was enjoying a bit of light entertainment, though not intentionally :) I just hope we haven’t confused too many people :)

  44. John Phillips, FCD says

    With the number of cockups I made, showing off was the last thing I was doing :)

  45. says

    John Phillips, FCD:

    You are both correct and potentially incorrect. If you use the codes &lt; and &gt; it previews correctly. However it also changes the text you have entered to the encoded symbol rather than preserving the encoding. I was not aware of that.

    The “potentially” of course refers to the “work properly” clause in your normative statement!

    Workaround: 1. Select all your comment text and copy it to your clipboard; 2. Choose preview; 3. If further editing is needed, select all then paste your clipboard, replacing the (now munged) original text, then edit further; 4. Goto 1 as until time to stop; 5. DON’T POST YET! remember you have to paste the correct text from the clipboard, as what you are about to post (after previewing) has become munged.

    It is extremely easy to get out of synch and copy the munged text to your clipboard. Shitfuckdam.

    If this were software from, say, Apple or Microsoft, it would no doubt be classified as “by design”

  46. dNorrisM says


    Or: “Prayer: it’s just like writing letters to Santa, but you don’t have to be literate”

  47. John Phillips, FCD says

    Cannabinaceae, Yep, that is what I meant. Like you I use the clipboard. Unfortunately, I have been up 36 hours so I am not as sharp as I could be :) and ‘munged’ (I like that word :) ) it a few times. Though fortunately, I don’t have to spell them out too often and I have just now added the codes to my Phraseexpress auto insert list so it will be easy in future.

  48. says


    I like your revision. However, some people advise using strong, positive statements rather than having negations or passive language. Such as:

    “Prayer: it’s just like writing letters to Santa, but illiterates can do it too!”

  49. says

    What’s scary to me, as a Canadian, is living next to a country where this is even a debate, ie that “creationism” (that it even is an ism) is a serious enough attack on serious study to warrant comment. What’s even scarier is that our own PM’s supporters could bring that kind of weird ideology here.

  50. Alex says

    I have now assimilated shitfuckdamn into my vernacular. Thank you for the enrichment Cannabinaceae.

  51. Tim H says

    I dunno. All the suggestions don’t seem sufficiently pretentious or elitist enough to maintain the reputation of atheists as overeducated snobs with superiority complexes. At the very least, the slogan should be in Latin. How about

    Ubi dubium ibi libertas.

    Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

  52. Louis says

    @Tim H in #78:

    That’s always been a favourite slogan of mine. However, the translation was unnecessary, all we atheist elitists speak Latin like natives dontcherknow.



  53. Kat says

    I live in London and saw one of the atheist buses yesterday. I actually found it strangely comforting and have now donated to the campaign.

    As a scientist (and an ex-christian), I’m actually agnostic, leaning atheist – I’m prepared to be convinced by evidence for God, but still waiting for it. But I do find the grandstanding by Christian organisations personally offensive. If they can have adverts, why can’t I have some too?

  54. Ferrous Patella says

    Sign in link says, “There’s probably no God.”

    “Probably”? As a skeptic, I want to see your math.

  55. Frederik Rosenkjær says

    I have no problem with the “probably”. I think it may lure more people into thinking about it instead of dismissing the whole thing but maybe, since they’ve managed to get it on so many busses, they should’ve made several different ones that could tackle the issue from different angles. You never know which one might trigger something in a persons brain. Like Dennett said: Nancy Drew!? (when talking about what ended up being the drop that deconverted Ayaan Hirsi Ali)

  56. Am I Evil? says

    Don’t know what all the fuss is over the ‘probably’ bit. It’s simply an honest position to take. You can’t absolutely disprove any deity, much like you can’t disprove Russell’s Teapot. I dislike the comforting, unverified certainties… they’re for the fundies. It’s enough to say that there’s overwhelming evidence against any deity that has ever been proposed, therefore I shall lead a life based on the assumption that they do not exist.

    And try to be as (genuinely) happy as possible to boot.

  57. jsmizzle says

    I didn’t know the girl who got this whole Bus Campaign going was so hot. Score one for the atheists!

  58. Spinoza says

    I always thought that internet-meme picture of the homeless man holding a sign that says “God is a Sock” was a good slogan for atheism.

  59. Crudely Wrott says

    Here’s the real, ahem, money line for me. From the link to Ariane Sherine:

    And, to thank all donors and show the strength of atheism in the UK, every ABC advertisement will contain the line “This advert was funded by public donations”.

    Yeah. Let it be known that it was individual, unaffiliated donors who, of their own desire and free choice, gave an amount many times greater than the request. For signs on buses that upset some people so much they could just shit only strike out in blind panic.

    Boy. Talk about bang for the buck! But think about it. These ads will not only speak the unspeakable but will inflict upon the easily offended an extra barb that will make them wonder anew, “Ohmighd! How many of those heathen suckers are there?”

    Yeah. That’s the part I like best.

  60. Patricia, OM says

    Alex – You also need to absorb ‘fuck, fuckity, fuck, fuck’ into your vocabulary. It flows well if you decide to throw tools when working on your Harley.

    When the men start roaring this chant I tend to head into the house, ice up more beer, and make bacon sandwiches. It makes the *transmission* go better…. my transmission, flows at about Warp 92.

  61. says

    I think that the bus co. wouldn’t run the ads without the “probably”.

    * Tooth Fairy
    * Easter Bunny
    * Santa Claus

    * God?

    It’s time to stop treating Jesus like a sacred cow.

  62. says

    Just saw my first Atheist Bus in Hitchin (north of London) yesterday. Really brightened up my day. Makes a hell of a good talking point too.

  63. says

    That’s a quote you see. You can quote John 3:16 all you want. Technically, you’re not making a claim.

    OK, it might not have been an ideal example, but it’s also not “Gillette, probably the best a man a can get” or “A Mars a day has good chance of helping you work rest and play”. The only standard for advertising claims is that they are not demonstrably false.

  64. csrster says

    I approve of the “probably”. The subtext is surely “This is what we think but we’re not going to be as aggressively dogmatic about ramming it down your throats as certain other people we could mention”. The part I dislike is “Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. Couldn’t they have come up with something more challenging like “So the ball’s in your court when it comes to making the world a better place”.

  65. ajay says

    93: Gillette’s claim is one of opinion or judgement, so it’s OK to use in advertising – similar to the libel laws, which allow a newspaper to write “Matt Damon is a terrible actor” but not “Matt Damon burgles houses”.
    But if Gillette actually said “Gillette’s blades are sharper than any other razor”, they’d need to be able to back that up.

  66. says

    95; Ugh! Are you claiming that “There is no God” would legally treated more like an easily testable claim that maligns competitors such as “Gillette’s blades are sharper than any other razor” let alone a harmful libel against Matt Damon? Anyway if Gillette did say it had sharper blades I suspect the competitors would have to show it false for there to be a problem.

    It just isn’t the case that you can’t make statements which you hold to be true, but which you couldn’t prove, on a billboard in England, as was asserted. Nobody’s given a shred of evidence that it is, and in any case I remeber the original blog entry discussing the idea, it had “almost certainly” in it then.

    How about “God is Love” or “Jesus lives”. I’ve seen those not as quotes.

  67. mh says

    I was reading The Metro on the train this morning and they covered this story. According to them Atheist Alliance only needed £50k but managed to raise £150k from donations in the same amount of time. So instead of the ad just being on London buses, they are being rolled out country-wide. Which I think is pretty cool.

    And mildly OT, I’m currently working in the glamourous field of charity fundraising and right now I’m working on a Christian Aid campaign (I didn’t get to choose). I’ve found that the people who are the arsiest rudest, least generous people are frequent churchgoers who simultaneously proclaim their Christianity while telling me they give enough already and don’t want to donate to us. Pft.

    Rant over.

  68. Mercator says

    Regarding the use of the word “probably”, from the NY Times (

    An interesting element of the bus slogan is the word “probably,” which would seem to be more suited to an Agnostic Bus Campaign than to an atheist one. Mr. Dawkins, for one, argued that the word should not be there at all.

    But the element of doubt was necessary to meet British advertising guidelines, said Tim Bleakley, managing director for sales and marketing at CBS Outdoor in London, which handles advertising for the bus system.

    For religious people, advertisements saying there is no God “would have been misleading,” Mr. Bleakley said.

    “So as not to fall foul of the code, you have to acknowledge that there is a gray area,” he said.

  69. Marc Abian says

    Mr. Dawkins, for one, argued that the word (probably) should not be there at all.


  70. llewelly says


    I don’t know how to do HTML coding, so forgive the crude substitutes, but here’s my ad concept:

    Zeus (with a line through it)
    Apollo (with a line through it)
    Ba’al (with a line through it)

    Then, beneath that, it says:
    It’s only a matter of time.

    The code:
    It’s only a matter of time.

    The result:
    It’s only a matter of time.