Atheist Bus Campaign in… Italy! January 14, 2009

Atheist Bus Campaign in… Italy!

As Richard Wade mentioned earlier, they’re popping up everywhere:


The sign reads:

La cattiva notizia è che Dio non esiste. Quella buona, è che non ne hai bisogno

Rough translation?

The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is that you do not need him.

Definitely a change from the “probably” qualifier on the British buses.

Intellectually dishonest? Yep. But powerful nevertheless.

The campaign comes from the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR)— the ads will be seen only on two buses in Genoa beginning on February 4th. Hopefully, it’ll spread from there.

(Thanks to Raffaele for the link!)

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  • Ahahahah!!!! You can figure how shocking seem to be here in Italy!
    Newspaper and TVs says “Someone calls them anticlerical bus”… but that’s not true.
    Someon calls them Ateobus (instead of Autobus). That’s funny… and true.

  • Oh my! I love that message.

  • Is saying “Santa Claus doesn’t exist” intellectually dishonest?

    Or is the dishonest part the “you don’t need him”?

  • I can’t *bleep* believe it. The Italins beat us in the Soccer and they can get anti- religious bus adds when we can’t in Australia.

  • Max

    i don’t understand. how could u say God didn’t exist? then who create and control this world? weird.

  • Daniele

    @Sean the Blogonaut
    Well, it’s not sure…

    As soon as first enraged comments on the bus campaign popped out, the advertising agency claimed they didn’t know what the message would have been and that it has to be evaluated to decide whether or not to run it.


  • I would have preferred them to keep the ‘probably’ qualifier in there, just to avoid raising the temperature of any discussion. It is intellectually dishonest to say it like they did as we just don’t know whether or not god exists although I do not believe he does and it seems massively improbable that he does.

    Still, glad the Italians are in on the act. Prego!

  • Jeff Satterley

    Dishonest advertising? No way!!! In the words of Tim Minchin: “Surely the adjective is implied by the noun.”

  • Why is it bad news that God does not exist?

  • Much prefer the british version. Firstly, although I get that it’s idiomatic, I still resent the idea that it should be “bad news” that god doesn’t exist.

    Secondly, I actually really like the “probably” qualifier – not because of the intellectual honesty, but because of the way it makes it sound like god doesn’t really matter anyway. “God probably doesn’t exist” to me sounds like it continues “and really, who cares?”, which is a delightfully flippant way of handling the subject.

  • Paul R

    Would be kinda fun to see one of those parked just outside the Vatican. 🙂

  • RobL

    Was the picture a mock up? It looks like the lettering was added to the picture.

  • Bill

    Is saying “Santa Claus doesn’t exist” intellectually dishonest?

    Exactly. I know the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. I know fire breathing dragons don’t exist. I know Zeus doesn’t exist. Same with Thor. Christian myth are no different.

  • I don’t think it’s intellectually dishonest. No more dishonest than a sign saying “God wants/needs/demands [insert some random statement here]”.

    I think it’s also entirely appropriate for the culture it’s placed in. You could run the same ad in Mexico City, for instance – also a very religious place. Although I wouldn’t suggest running it in Jerusalem…

    Good for them!
    Carolyn Ann

  • Rieux

    Have to chime in with Luke and Bill. The notion that the statement “God does not exist” is intellectually dishonest is ridiculous.

    Luke and Bill’s comparison of that statement to “The tooth fairy [etc.] doesn’t exist” is well put, but there’s more: since when is every declarative statement of fact required to be proven to a logical certainty in order to be “intellectually honest”? Is it intellectually dishonest to say “the Ravens are going to beat the Steelers this weekend”? Or “the sun will rise tomorrow”? How about “I am not a brain in a vat being fed fake sensations”? (You can’t prove that.)

    The St. Louis blog linked to in the original post adds an additional error; the blogger daringly trots out the “you can’t prove a negative” fallacy (ahem: I can prove that there exists no highest prime number, no married bachelor and no square circle, so Ms. Hoaks is refuted)–although, as noted above, airtight disproof is not a moral or rational prerequisite for merely saying (or provisionally concluding) “God does not exist.”

    C’mon, Hemant. “Friendly” is fine, but adopting the absurd canards of people who neither understand nor respect atheists is taking it a bit far, no?

  • Flavio

    Oh c’mon, “dishonest”? So is writing that dragons and witches do not exist!

    The message is meant provocative!

    Of course the photo is a mockup, the campaign will start in a month.

  • W UAAR!

    Thanks to Raffaele!!!

  • @Paul R
    Absolutely!! XD

    I don’t know the right meaning of “mock up” (my english sucks, sorry) but if you mean that’s just a proposal for the advertising agency, not yet published…. you’re right.
    It’s just a photomontage. But we hope that it will be approved.

  • Leaving “probably” is intellectually dishonest? Perhaps, but I don’t see why many fuss about it. As Bill noted above with the tooth fairy and fire dragons, I certainly don’t say “probably” when I talk about the tooth fairy. The message is intended to provoke thought in a theist target and most theists are accustomed to dealing with absolutes. The probability factor can be discussed at the website for the ad.

    Now, if someone asked me where my car is right now, I would say it’s out in the parking lot, but I really don’t know, it could have been stolen. I don’t say “probably” and I think most atheists wouldn’t in every day speech, why is the ad any different?

  • RobL

    Sandro – sorry I was being dense and didnt notice the Feb 4 roll out date. Your english is great – “mock up” is a common term for a model or proposed design. Love the design.

  • Love it!

    I just thought of a “qualified” version for areas with oversensitive religious majorities/hypersensitive advertisers:

    “What if God didn’t really exist?…

    What if you didn’t really need him?”

    (Speaking as a copywriter with ample experience watering down copy for client’s sake)

  • Giordano

    I’m Italian and I live not far from Genova, the city of the “Ateobus”…I can confirm that the compaign started and that is not a mock up…
    In Italy newspaper are talking a lot about it.

    About the “probably” present in the English version and cancelled from the italian one…don’t forget, as someone else already said, the context.
    In Italy the religious presence in the public life (especially in the newspaper, TV show, ecc.) is quite heavy and Vatican is always interfering in the governement activities regarding “ethic” regoulation (we are one of the last country in Europe without a regolation about omosexual couples or euthanasia, for example) and not only and there are also a lot public money payed by Italy to the church in various ways. People start finally to be tired and this is a normal reaction, I think.

  • Rieux

    Thank you for the report, Giordano!

    Molte grazie!

  • Perfect!

    The Italians are showing us how to do it. Stop being a wuss and say it like you frailin’ mean it.

    They’ve got baaalls. Big brass ones!


  • Szass Tam

    Hi Giordano, hi all ,

    I also live in Italy and I can confirm, vatican is really oppressive!. Politically and administratively it represent another State, it is not Italy but is like if it was keeping unbelievable benefits.

    I wish to start here an “If only we could have it dislocated in another country” campaign… who wants ? any volunteers or any ideas?

  • Giordano, I’m from Italy too: the image is really a mock up, in the sense that it’s been made with Photoshop to show how the campaign is intended to be, since no bus carries that ad yet.
    UAAR wants the campaign to start on February 4th.
    As Daniele writes in another comment, “As soon as first enraged comments on the bus campaign popped out, the advertising agency claimed they didn’t know what the message would have been and that it has to be evaluated to decide whether or not to run it.”
    And there’s a lot of pressures against the ad by priests, politicians (one of them called the ad “deceitful”), even a bus riders’ trade union, so it’s possible that the agency will opt for not accepting the ad.

    Let’s see what happens, I think that we italian atheists will have to fight a lot to get those ad showing.

  • Somebody has been playing in Photoshop… sorry everyone but this isn’t real.

  • Flavio

    eric, again, the campaign hasn’t started yet. The image is simulated and it was clearly stated.

    And if things go on like this, the campaign will never start: the ad agency has rejected UAAR’s proposal, motivations still “unknown”…

  • The motivations of ad agency are now available.

    My english is not good enough to express my feelings about it… let just say that I’m a bit angry but not surprised of the outcome.

  • Kitty

    This campaign was quashed by the roman catholic church before it even began. Anyone who claims they aren’t the true power in italy, is a fool.

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