Thursday 15 October 2009

Ariane Sherine at TAM London

If any one person is likely to dispel the notion that atheists are all heartless nihilists, that person must be the lovely Ariane Sherine, who graced the Mermaid stage after lunch on Saturday, to give us the full story of the Atheist Bus Campaign.

It's a heartwarming tale that began with her initial reaction to a Christian bus advertisement and the uncompromising website it linked to (with its dire warning of Hell), and her subsequent suggestion in the Guardian that atheists might like to club together and pay for an ad with a less intimidating message. After a couple of false starts — gleefully snickered at by the press — the campaign suddenly took off, reaching its funding target within hours of its formal launch. The final sum raised was in excess of £150,000 — about 14 times the initial target of £11,000.

News of the campaign's overwhelming success quickly travelled around the globe, prompting similar efforts in many other countries. Atheism, it seemed, had arrived. By bus.

The campaign did have its detractors, many of whom showed up in Ariane Sherine's email, and she treated us to a sad selection of these. They were, however, vastly outnumbered by messages of support, and she thanked those who had been vocal in their encouragement.

Now there's a book. The Atheist's Guide to Christmas is an anthology of contributions from many well known people of the godless persuasion, with all royalties going to the Terrence Higgins Trust. Not bad, for a bunch of nihilistic heathens with nary a moral amongst them.

Ariane Sherine seemed to spend a good deal of her time during the two days of TAM London tirelessly signing copies of the book she edited. No quick-scrawl-and-on-to-the-next for her — each book was patiently inscribed while chatting pleasantly to the recipient. If Richard Dawkins is Britain's most prominent atheist, whom the atheist community might (or might not) like to name as some kind of figurehead, Ariane Sherine is the atheist many of the younger generation must surely aspire to be.


  1. Thanks Paul for this pleasant post! I was at TAM London and can only echo your opinion of Ariane. She must have had writer's cramp by the end! Not only did she write half a page of text in my copy, but it was also relevant to our conversation and quite charming. What a lovely woman!

    The book is great, too! I'm half-way through it now.

  2. Thanks Mike. The book will likely do well; it's the perfect Christmas present — inoffensive, yet clearly stating a point of view.

  3. Ariane Sherine is the atheist many of the younger generation must surely aspire to be *with*.

  4. I'm Eduardo from peru and i'm atheist and i'd like tell you that I've been in talking with religious leaders (Evangelical Christians) and they do not know any science theory (big bang, evolution,...) I true believe that even if haven't arguments, is enough with look how they live and it's been very important for me...

    well my friends, (disculpen la gramatica todavia aprendo) aaaaaaaaa ariane sherine is the most beautiful atheist woman that I'd like meet, she's lovely!!!