The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has concluded that the “There’s probably no God” bus ad campaign by the British Humanist Association is not in breach of the advertising code. The ASA will therefore not launch an investigation and the case is now closed.So that's the end of that - there's probably no god and it's OK to say it.
The ASA carefully assessed the 326 complaints it received. Some complained that the ad was offensive and denigratory to people of faith. Others challenged whether the ad was misleading because the advertiser would not be able to substantiate its claim that God “probably” does not exist.
The ASA Council concluded that the ad was an expression of the advertiser’s opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation. Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.
But believers are already extrapolating the ASA's requirement for "demonstrable facts" interpreting this in a manner to suit. Following is an extract from an email I received today from an Australian author:
"First, this issue is not one of 'faith vs science'. It's 'faith' vs 'faith' and 'science vs science'. Atheists have faith too. In fact, that is why Dawkins and the other atheists in the UK worded the sign on the London busses the way they did. They did not say 'There is no God' but they said 'There PROBABLY is no God.' In other words, they are not sure. So they have chosen to have faith in spite of the overwhelming evidence for the existence of God."The writer has already received a reply which I'll not post here, but essentially this is the sort of thing we can expect. Despite Stephen Green and other idiots like him taking offence, others refusing to their jobs or just missing the point (see here) the ASA was happy to pass the advert.
Critical to this writer is his opinion that we have faith when in reality we're just complying with rigorous and completely fair advertising regulation that requires honesty; ironically precisely the same rules that Stephen Green has fallen foul of himself.
The interesting thing with people of faith is that so much of what they take for granted it based on highly suspect evidence or complete red-herrings - like this one. If you managed to grow a mighty oak in a sandy soil, it would still fall down with the slightest push.