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Bloomington Bus Ads Are Up!

August 11th, 2009

Bloomington Transit bus ad

If you rode the buses in Bloomington today, you might have noticed a new ad on the side.  After a long battle with Bloomington Transit, our ads have finally made it up so that everyone around may see our message, ‘You Can Be Good Without God.’

We’re very pleased that we were finally able to accomplish this goal; we are based in Bloomington, and it was the dream of bringing the atheist bus campaign to Bloomington that originally motivated us to begin collecting donations back in February. We are also especially excited that the bus ads will be around when Indiana University students begin returning (or arriving for the first time) later this month for fall classes.

We hope that our continuing efforts to keep atheism in the public sphere will show Hoosiers, Bloomingtonians and IU students that non-belief cannot be ignored, atheists are people too, and that we all live in the same world…even in Indiana!

Press Release (RTF, 3.7 KB)

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nathanael O'Donnell  |  August 13th, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Etymologically speaking, you can’t be “good without god.”

    Sorry to burst your (il)logical bubble! Also, I’d love to talk to you and your group about definitions of “God” and “gods” that lie outside of modern stereotypes; you might find that you relate to (g)(G)od(s) more than you think. I consider myself a freethinker and an educator on this subject, and I would be happy to provide my services to you at no charge!



  • 2. Martin  |  August 14th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    You should correct the the first sentence of the blog entry. I recommend the following: “If you rode the buses in Bloomington today, then you might have noticed a new ad on the side.” That is, you should put a comma after ‘today,’ change ‘and’ to ‘then,’ and change ‘may’ to ‘might’.

  • 3. L. Diong  |  August 16th, 2009 at 5:22 am

    The ad “In the begining, man created god” is interesting. In order to give it even more exposure and generate deeper discussion on this subject, I suggest you put up the ad “In the begining Man created Allah”.

    Now that shows you really mean business.

  • 4. Elise  |  August 17th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Tell me! If GOD does not exist why do you spend so much time trying to prove that he doesn’t. GOD exist wether you believe it or not. Jesus dies on the cross for YOU wether you believe it or not. He loves you even though you deny him. PLEASE do not waist one more day. Accept Jesus today. I will be praying for you and others who have the belief of unbelief.

  • 5. Karin  |  August 25th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    If we were to isolate whom would or, wouldn’t get offended by the banner ads, we would end up pulling all messages. No singular group has a monopoly on what can be seen and/or heard.

    The sign is perfect. What comes to mind when I read the message is I am ok. That I am quite capable of handling my affairs without a god(s). The sign reminds me that I am not alone and that I am a good person.

    Each of us needs acknowledgment. Not just religious groups.

    How foolish to ask why an Atheist would bring the term God into the ad. Considering the absolute only message the term atheist can bring about :) IE; I am good. “God whom?”

  • 6. Em  |  August 26th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I’m just curious to see if you will answer Elise’s question, “If God does not exist, why do you spend so much time trying to prove that He doesn’t?” I guess one could also add “money and energy” after “time.” What is your answer?

  • 7. scott  |  August 26th, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    It is interesting to see this meme about “why are you talking about God if you don’t think he exists” …

    Steve Doocy chose this line of attack on the Fox clip, @ Em wants to know also?

    This isn’t a vexing question at all. It is in the interest of civilization to abandon bad ideas, and live in a truthful and honest world.

    The idea that revelation, authority or tradition are valid basis for your opinions is why atheists want you to change your mind. Faith is simply not something that should be taught as a virtue. Faith is simply the means people use to justify ideas that they can not produce evidence for.

    This is not a discussion about the “existence of god” it is a discussion about where humans derive their ideas about what is “good”. The idea that “good” is something humans know because – of ideas revealed in scripture – or the inverse that people are bad because of schemes of the devil, are backward, and destructive of morality itself.

  • 8. scott  |  August 26th, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Which is a evidence of a higher morality?

    A person who helps another because they are doing what they are told?


    A person who helps another because they are doing the right thing?

    Religion only undermines morality by encouraging people to do things for bad reasons. In deciding right from wrong, or assigning virtue to a person’s character, the reasons matter.

    It is important never to confuse a religious reason with a good reason.

  • 9. scott  |  August 26th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    remember the USA exists in its current form because people refused to accept a particular religious justification.

    Specifically it was the completely biblically correct idea that God himself is involved in the throning of a King, and the Kings rights are God given. The bible is largely the story about how God and his people are interacting, and what God does to and for these people. In the Bible, God clearly chooses leaders. God does not choose leaders in a democracy, the people do.

    This is a core principal of the American system.

    The language in the declaration of a “creator”, is not there to honor God, but to justify the position that the King’s laws are not binding on the colony – in the philosophy of deism, “the creator” was a way to super cede the biblical God, with a higher God.

    Now, whenever it is convenient Christians invoke the idea of a Deist God to defend the Biblical God’s authority – the opposite of the original purpose of the Deist God – the Deist God, who is called “the creator”, is warned against in the 10 commandments.

    Atheists have unfortunately have come to these bus ads, because the followers of the Biblical God, co-opted the Deist God.

    Strategically, it is much more fun to deny the Biblical God. It is even more fun, to follow in the model of the colonial era Deists, and argue that Jesus was a poor moralist.

    Sadly though, the followers of both the new and old testament Gods, have been pretty good at getting people to think that the Deist God IS the Biblical God – and therefore attack the wrong God.

  • 10. Martin  |  August 27th, 2009 at 8:47 am

    So, Scott, you think that your morality is “higher” than that of the religious, excuse me, Christians. Who cares? Does it really matter if a person “helps another” because of obedience or because “they are doing the right thing”? The bottom line is that the person does the “right thing.” According to you, though, the way one conceives of morality, not one’s actions, makes his or her morality superior. If this is the case, then you don’t get very far with your “reasons.” In the form of rhetorical questions, you say that some people, possibly the religious, help others “because they are doing what they are told” while some people, possibly the non-religious, help others “because they are doing the right thing.” The logic underlying your morality is ostensibly tautological: you should do the right thing (e.g., “help others”) because you are doing the right thing. Take your own advice (“It is important never to confuse a religious reason with a good reason”) and give a “good reason” that isn’t tautological. If you want to give a “good reason” for morality, you should clearly define the “right thing” and better explain why a non-religious person should do what you call “the right thing.”

    Finally, I’m not exactly sure what your explanation of the Deist God has to do with anything related to the ad. (If the purpose of the ad is to differentiate the Deist God from the Biblical God, then is does a very poor job.) However, in your last comment I find the following statement concerning the ad interesting: “Strategically, it is much more fun to deny the Biblical God.” What do you mean by “deny the Biblical God”? Are you suggesting a denial of His existence? If so, it seems that you contradict what you said in a previous comment: “This is not a discussion about the ‘existence of god’ it is a discussion about where humans derive their ideas about what is ‘good.’” Could you clearly explain what exactly the “discussion is about” so that other contributors, like myself, will know and formulate our responses appropriately? As you seemingly know, a debate about God’s existence would be very different than one about morality derived from a religious belief.

  • 11. scott  |  August 27th, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I care about the source of morality, and the nature of morality.

    Of course it is important where things come from a the reasons people have for thinking them. Think of morality like a work of art, would you be happy if you produced something wonderful, and someone else attributed it to another artist?

    That is what religion does to ethics. Claims it for its own and worse, claims authorship.

    If the creator of the universe really wrote a book containing authoritative information about what humans should do to be good, it would be important for me to know about – alas, most of the so called “holy books” contain only information that could be known by people who lived thousands of year ago. They are totally un-informed by all the facts we have learned since they were written by ignorant people living in the iron age.

    If any modern person reads the Bible, they have to bring their moral and ethical intuitions to the text in order to make it meaningful. It is fair to say that the Bible as as a source of moral instruction gets more from us, than we do from it. Human kind evolves to newer and more just ways of relating to each other. Currently though, humanity is balkanized into camps who seem to place great importance on the wisdom of a collection of ancient religious texts. We should admit that this is an unnacceptable state of affairs. Charity as it were begins at home, so I’ve done the right thing and stopped pretending that the bible is an authoritative work about the creator of the universe. I’m not trying to pick on the biblical god, only for sport, it is just that “he” is the only god I can menaningfully renounce. Though I’ll gladly renounce and deny any god you care to posit that has any influence on the larger thing, I like to call, reality.

    My apologies for the contradictions in the above notes, I was touching on a whole series of things that came out in the Fox Clip, in other comments, and sharing thoughts on the objective of the campaign, and how the promoters could improve their public messaging and dialog.

    For instance, my comment about the role of Deism in shaping the colonial attitude toward monarchy was in response to that ghastly looking “pastor” (how quickly can I obtain such a title, by the way), and his typical “america is a christian nation” blather.

    My larger point is that for the most part, Christians slide from one set of arguments to another, on one hand it is typical of the religious to promote the bible as an authoritative source of information on god, but they slide into making arguments about “a supreme” being, or the idea of supreme being at will.

    The my point was that we forget that deist line of attack, was that “revealed” religion was injurious to a just and good government – that is why in modern pluralist societies, we see the trend away from an official role for churches who claim authority on the basis of revelation. The Deists didn’t want to take on all arguments about “god” they just wanted to kick out the “church” and the “monarchy” … both of which claim(ed) a special status in relationship to God.

    In Indiana the Atheists are promoting the idea that “Man made God” … clearly a true statement – mankind is very good at making gods, but we are learning how we can live without these archaic habits. That is called “progress” … and man is also very good at that. Keeping your nose stuck in a religious text written in the iron age is not a great indicator of progress these days.

    The second slogan “Good without God” is making the point that the idea of God is now understood to be distinct from the understanding of Good. In the USA, faith in god is optional – we had to legislate that right, in order to get to the point where the religious could not coerce the non religious – it is a slow process – but things are looking better all the time. Wouldn’t you say?

  • 12. scott  |  August 27th, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    or more importantly, the deists saw that reason and science were showing us truths about the universe that were not revealed in scripture, and were more ethically and morally significant than the ones claimed by scripture.

    We see echoes of this in the American “confusion” of human origins – the only reason that some people are uncomfortable with the scientific insight into the evolutionary origin of Homo Sapiens is that they think it contradicts what is in the bible.

    How insane is that?

  • 13. scott  |  August 27th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Martin, to respond to your request to know what this is about, I’d like ask you a question, why should we esteem the preachment, attributed to jesus in Mathew 5 that we should “love our enemies”

    First, it is ethical to encourage people to do such a thing, and second, if someone really could receive love in exchange for enmity, would that improve human affairs?

    Lastly, is the justification Jesus gives for doing these things a moral (ie he says do it because God wants you to, and he is exhorting people with the enticement of something he calls, “a Heavenly Kingdom” ) … that is one place I’d rather not spend eternity, I can tell you.

    My question is, don’t you think we can do better than treating these shaky moral arguments as the inspired reasoning of the creator of the universe?

  • 14. Martin  |  August 28th, 2009 at 8:43 am


    If the essence of your argument is “the source of morality, and the nature of morality,” then try to put aside issues concerning the nature of God (e.g., Deism, evolution, man creating God, etc.). I understand your complaints regarding Christianity; however, restating them gives me no indication as to the nature of your “higher morality” based on “good reasons.” You claim that your morality does what an out-dated, religious morality doesn’t and that “it is important where things come from a the reasons have for thinking them.” We all know the origin and nature of religious moralities; what is the nature and origin of your “higher morality”? When, and if, you answer this question, please explain clearly and use examples to define and defend your “higher morality” rather than to negate religious morality.

    I would like to respond to your “question;” however, I not exactly sure what your question is. (It seems that you ask 4 questions.) I do think that it is ethical to “love your enemies” and that exchanging love for enmity can improve human affairs. My reason is the following: one contradicts him/herself if he or she exchanges enmity for enmity—he or she does what he/she thinks is wrong. The only way out of the contradiction is to “love your enemies.” Also, even though I don’t think a justification is a moral, I will attempt to answer what seems to be your third question: if you believe in God, then yes Jesus’ justification is valid; if not, then no. Regarding your last question, I’m not sure whether or not “we can do better than treating these shaky moral arguments as the inspired reasoning of the creator of the universe.” I’m waiting for you to show me how.

  • 15. scott  |  August 28th, 2009 at 7:45 pm


    To understand human morality, and its origins, you can’t put aside the issues of evolution, human origins, or the fact that humans make gods. The latter, not least because it is asserted, ( i assume by you) that god gives us rules – if for no other reason then we are forced to discuss why thinking this is a bad idea.

    Hence the bus sign and the optimism of those who approve of it, that the God idea rattling around in your head, will go the way of the Roman belief in Zeus.

    Humans evolved, morality evolved. You are thinking with a brain that is evolved. You seem to think that your brain can send off thoughts that are “pleasing” to the creator of the universe. This is, simply put, delusional.

    Evolutionary theory is the framework for thinking about life, and hence, ourselves. Doing otherwise is intellectually forlorn. Just consult any ancient text.

    You make the same infantile mistake that Jesus does when he gives advice about how to think about “enemies”, first, let me say that the use of the word “enemies” is foolish in itself.

    It is important to think why you are at odds with others. Do they wish to hurt you, or is your disagreement over something like politics, etc … in thinking about what is moral, these kinds of details matter. Morality is constant work. You can’t just say, there are the commandments, we’re done here and wash your hands of the agony that life’s choices constantly provide.

    Most religious people I know are invested in the avoidance of the difficult moral questions, using God and or tradition to take shortcut to what they are comfortable is the right answer.

    When my wife and I aborted her first pregnancy, or when my father killed others in combat, it wasn’t because we were bad – it was because we felt had to pick between things we wanted, her career, and when to start a family, the sovereign interests of our country.

    I’m not saying that these things are without moral significance, it is just that feeling like there are bright lines based on the certainty that we know “the will of God”, or that as Jesus says, there is a promise of eternal life in exchange for holding certain opinions. These are primitive ways to approach ethics and think about the choices we make.

    In Matthew, we see Jesus doing the same thing that you do, or perhaps you do it because of Matthew, and accept the premise that there is a dichotomous world. I hope you’ll concede that in between love, and enmity, lie a range of emotions – you (and Jesus) seem to offer the false choice of one or the other.

    Surely it is prudent to consider refusing to take revenge, for obviously, revenge sets us in a vicious cycle – just go look at life in systems that are officially governed by absolute religious systems – but that isn’t what Jesus is saying – he says, plainly, “love your enemies” . That is just bad advice.

    If there were people who really did love those who wronged them, they would in essence offer a premium for the crime – it is incumbent on us to live in such a way that there are real consequences for “hurting others”.

    So what can we do as we come to terms with the fact that the books that religious people call the word of god are, on one hand full of things that repulse us today, and even at their best, poorly constructed and simplistic (eg … mat 5, love your enemies)?

    We can do what have done – as creatures capable of moral and ethical thinking. We can use our abilities of thought, reason, and communication (even ads on buses). We can encourage people like yourself to put down ideas that have been shown to be obsolete and encourage the adoption of new ideas that are better.

    We can except that our emotions are indeed often at odds with reason and our best interests, and we can learn to check our emotions with the tools of science, statistics and critical thinking. We can grow up and stop acting like children, clinging to the howlingly ignorant preachments of men who lived before we understood things like the germ theory of disease.

    In doing this, we have to accept that we live in a web of complex relationships, experienceing a range of affinity and repulsion – this is called “life”.

    But perhaps more importantly, we need to accept that the only source of love we know about in the universe is human empathy – projecting our good qualities on cosmos. Abandoning the argument that we take moral and ethical insights from ignorant pleadings of men from ancient Palestine, or accepting that that their thoughts provide little in the way of important principles on which to base our opinions or habits, should not be difficult.

  • 16. Martin  |  August 28th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Unfortunately, Scott, I will no longer waste my time in a discussion with someone who has yet to formulate a coherent, intelligent argument. All you seem to do is to complain about Christians, beg the question, and refuse to offer a morality contrary to the “primitive morality” of Christians. You have yet to define your “higher,” “better” morality and have yet to provide any logical argument in support of it. I will continue the debate when stop the convoluted sophistry and provide a clear, logical argument in support of a defined morality.

  • 17. James  |  September 2nd, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Ok Martin, See you later. Nobody here wanted you in the first place.

  • 18. ron powell  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Congratulations on winning this fight. It is amazing to me that BT or anybody in the 21st century thinks such a statement is (a) controversial and (b) thought that it was a smart use of money to try to prevent the sign from going on the bus.

  • 19. ron powell  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    After reading some of the attacks against atheists in the comments, I was reminded of this quote from Ambrose Bierce:

    “Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one
    who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.”

  • 20. Angel  |  September 4th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I saw the atheist sign yesterday for the first time. Unfortunately, on the other side of the bus was the sign “You can be good without god, but you can’t be saved without Jesus.” LOL

    First, … who cares? The definition of “saved” is limited to a small subset of christians, so that sign probably offends many mainstream christians, catholics, not to mention jews and muslims.

    It’s important to be “good” and treat other people well because other people on this planet really exist. It doesn’t matter if you’re “saved” because there’s no such thing as god or heaven so it’s just a pointless waste of time.

    And before I get some stupid comment, that’s my real name. Sorry. Ironic, isn’t it?

  • 21. Colin  |  September 18th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Well said indeed Scott. Of course Martin acts like a petulant child when anyone proposes a rationalistic argument which invariably shoots down all the religious crap they spew from their narrow minded, ignorant beliefs.

  • 22. James  |  September 18th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Faith is the surrender of the mind.

  • 23. Andy W.  |  September 23rd, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Has anyone seen the Christian bus ads in response yet? Here’s a picture:

    What’s funny is that they are ignoring their own dogma. If you can’t be saved without Jesus, it seems unlikely that you can, in fact, be good without god. It seems like they are just reacting. How original.

  • 24. ‘Good Without God,&…  |  October 19th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    [...] Are Not Alone.” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Morgantown, W.Va. In Bloomington, Ind., a local group ran ads that read “You can be good without [...]

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