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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 13-Jan-12


Friday 13-January-12

Obviously, you must believe me

I saw a great sign posted up on a notice board outside a church, recently:

Obviously there is a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.

What a brilliant bit of persuasion! Let's look at how it works.

The first word, 'obviously' is a powerful bit of persuasion by itself. It says 'If you do not agree with me, then you must be stupid'. It is like saying 'of course', which has the same message. Most people do not want to appear stupid so they accept the linked statement without further question.

'...there is a God' is interesting in that it says 'a God'. 'A' is the indefinite article. It implies that there may be more than one god, which for a Christian church would be anathema. But perhaps they are not pushing the point. And there are probably too few pantheists to make it a worry. The main point of this part of the sentence is to get it over and done with quickly, after the tacit acceptance forced by the first word. We are hence impelled forward.

And then comes the turning of the key in the lock: a nice friendly admonition with which nobody could disagree. Who would not want to stop worrying and start enjoying life instead? We all have plenty to worry us and are often too busy just staying alive to pause and smell the roses. Such a nice statement invites us to dwell there and not on any question of deity.

So there you go. If the church is all about not worrying and enjoying life, then it seems like a nice place to go. And obviously the God thing is a given, so no need to argue there. See you on Sunday!

Your comments

I think you might be overreading this: perhaps you missed the Atheist Bus Campaign, whose slogan was "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." It's attracted many parodies and counter-advertisements, of which this is one.

For more info, see: 

I'll agree that the use of "Obviously" is very good, but the "a God" is probably just to make the sentence fit the structure imposed by the original advertisement (as opposed to, for example, "Obviously there is God" or "Obviously God exists").

-- Dan Q

Dave replies:
Good rider, Dan and indeed I did miss the Atheist Buses. I'm in the UK -- were they about here? I don't think we have as sharp a religious divide as in the USA (and maybe elsewhere). For example we don't get to hear much about the religious views of our political candidates, nor their position on Creationism.

I guess the effect the sign will have depends on whether you saw the buses or not. If you did, then maybe you will think less of the church for lack of originality. Maybe alternatively you'll be impressed at how they've done a reversal on the tactics of their 'enemies'. And the winner is? God knows.

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