There’s Probably No God?
Posted by spritzophrenia on December 22, 2009
I guess it had to happen. “There’s probably no God” has been appearing on buses overseas and now someone is hoping to fund an advertising campaign here in New Zealand. I think this is a good thing. If I wasn’t so dirt poor at the moment I’d give them money.
I don’t know what they’re trying to achieve (I’m working on an interview about that), but I think religion, or lack thereof, should be a public domain discussion. It’s like sex or politics, if we don’t talk about it, it goes wrong.
Because they’re controversial and possibly unanswerable topics our social mores dictate we avoid these conversations. Nobody likes the awkward silence when Jack makes a statement about his religious beliefs. Notable in this industrialised post-enlightenment and post 9-11 world is what we don’t talk about. And We.Don’t.Talk.About.Religion.
In many other societies, I have the impression that discussion about religion is commonplace. Contemporary North Africa for example, as in Tahir Shah’s excellent The Caliph’s House: A Year In Morocco It may just be me, but I get the feeling that atheism is a dirty word in post-Christian societies like New Zealand.
The current sad state of religious dialogue is not helped by the fact that various evangelistic religions – including some passionate atheists – like to hijack conversations like these. Online newspaper “Stuff” relegates their news piece to the “Odd Stuff” section. Because religion is odd. Isn’t it? Like most newspapers, Stuff doesn’t have a religion correspondent in spite of spiritual things being really significant in peoples’ lives. Stuff simply hosts an opinion poll asking whether God exists.
Many years ago, before this thing called the intarwebz was around, I ordered Bridging the Gap: Religion and the News Media, a study from a respected US media watch organisation asking about attitudes to religion in the media. Their study concluded that there wasn’t intentional anti-religious bias in journalism as such, but that many reporters simply didn’t know enough about current religious matters to write effectively about it. It alerted me to the fact many media organisations no longer have reporters dedicated to the religion beat in the same way they do with sports or business. (One such reporter is US News’ Dan Gilgoff but he unfortunately sticks to US news, mainly dealing with Christianity and occasionally Judaism.)
So what option did I choose in Stuff’s opinion poll? I chose “I’m not sure”.
What would you answer in the opinion poll? What religious topics should we talk about – or not talk about?
Today’s unrelated fun link is an interview with iconic film director David Lynch about why he turned down the opportunity to direct Return of the Jedi.
listening to John Lennon | Mind Games
 I apologise for including atheism as a religion. I am using the term ‘religion’ here very broadly as “that which describes our core beliefs”. The ‘atheism-as-religion’ debate is probably deserving of a post of its own sometime.