So everyone's all upset about atheists. I don't know what all the fuss is about. It's as though no one knew atheists existed before. Suddenly, here they are, right in our face. Plastered all over city buses' advertising space, on the side and rear.
Perhaps you haven't heard the latest controversy. Seems that certain cities in Canada, notably Calgary and Toronto, have agreed to allow a certain atheist organization to advertise on the sides of their buses: "There is probably no God, so relax and enjoy life."
All other cities contacted have said, "No thanks. Ain't going there."
Eddy's Cove West and Rose Blanche maintained the only advertisement they would agree to put on their buses would be "Donated by ..."
But what's the problem? Who cares if someone wants to put an atheist sign on our transport system? Doesn't bother me. If they write something maintaining, "There is no Danny Williams," makes no difference to me. I know people who don't believe in Danny Williams, but they're definitely going to hell.
Atheists believe there is no God. Everything that is in and a part of the universe is there by chance. No intelligence behind any of it, something like the federal government.
An atheist would say that he does not believe in God because there is no proof that such a Being exists. That is, he cannot experience God through any of his five senses.
Using the same criteria, I cannot prove that Stephen Harper exists. I have never seen him face-to-face, I have never smelled him (for which I'm grateful), I have never touched him, I have never tasted him (for which I'm even more grateful) and except electronically, I have never heard him.
Therefore, for me, Stephen Harper does not exist. If I could afford it, I'd be quite prepared to plaster that fact on the side of a bus. Thing is, that wouldn't affect the fact of Stephen Harper's existence one bloody bit.
You're probably saying right now, that's really stupid, man. That is so stupid I can't believe you're saying it. God and Stephen Harper have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I'd never make that kind of statement myself, but I'm quite prepared to have you make it.
Nevertheless, I do know what you're saying. Electronic proof should be enough to certify Mr. Harper's presence among us. Apart from that, thousands of people see him up close and personal every day. What more can you need?
Unfortunately, nothing more seems necessary. The man is there. Long live the man. Notice I didn't say, long live the prime minister ...
I didn't mean to get into a defence of atheists here. I once wrote an essay for one of the pre-eminent thinkers of the Western world, Dr. George Grant, who at that time was a philosophy professor at Dalhousie. The essay was called, "Five Arguments for the Existence of God."
Grant was a bit of a wildcat in his youth, but suddenly became a devout Christian and remained so the rest of his life. He said the changeover was like opening a gate and going from one garden to another. Anyway, that's not what I want to talk about. Just showing that he had a tremendous interest in discussing the existence of God.
I put a lot into that essay because I was rather interested in it myself. When he returned the paper to me he had a large D- scrawled on it. My arguments on the subject have not improved significantly since. Just thought you should know.
My goal in discussing this rather deep subject was, being aware of my limitations, not to discuss this subject at all. My interest was solely in the signs Toronto and Calgary are putting on the sides of their buses.
We in Newfoundland and Labrador especially should be aware of how little significance this action has.
Given the way the Calgary Herald and the Toronto Globe and Mail have treated us over the years, they might just as well have printed in large red letters, "There is no Newfoundland and Labrador. Relax and enjoy life without them."
That probably would have irritated us no end. Open Line would have been inundated with irate callers, and there would have been demands for apologies to this great province. We might even have threatened not sending any more workers out West to help Alberta earn its billions.
However, one thing would have been sure. The signs on their buses would not have made one tiny bit of difference as to whether we were here or not. Which is why I couldn't care less about what they do or don't do about God.
Besides, especially in St. John's, there are signs all over the place proclaiming "There is a God, so Relax and Enjoy Life." You see it especially in the church spires that point toward the sky as if to say, "Look, that's where He lives!"
Now you're saying, and not without cause, that I'm getting even stupider. The pope of the day said several years ago that heaven was largely allegorical, and the moderator of the United Church at the time said that it wasn't a physical place.
I don't know if the two of them got together and issued a joint statement or what. I didn't hear of the pope coming to Canada or the moderator going to the Vatican. One other thing is sure, though. Nothing those worthy gentlemen said makes any difference to the fact of God, either.
In short, we can all shout and make signs and even build churches and nothing will change the fact of what is, or is not. As the French philosopher/mathematician Pascal said, "There are as many reasons to believe in God as there are not to believe in God."
You pays your money and you takes your choice.
Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org