The Loch Ness Monster’s Moustache

(or: The Terrible Consequences of Really Bad Arguments)

What follows is a sample first chapter of my book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist. If you enjoyed it, please do consider buying the full book, which is available both as a paperback and an ebook. It’s available online, or from all good bookstores. (You can also download a PDF of this sample chapter).

I remember the first time that I saw the bus. An old friend of mine had telephoned me out of the blue a few days before, and in a conspiratorial whisper had hissed: “You need to get down to London. There are atheist buses here”.

“Atheist buses?” I replied, bleary eyed. It was long past midnight. “How much have you drunk, Tom?”

“Only four pints,” Tom indignantly replied.

“Well, I’ve always personally thought that the slightly devil-may-care attitude to road safety of many London bus drivers tends to bring people closer to God, rather than drive them away.”

“This bus didn’t try to drive me away, it tried to drive over me. Admittedly I was lying semi-comatose in the road at the time—”

“I knew it!”

“—at Hammersmith and the atheist bus almost ran me over.”

“You do realise,” I explained, in the patient tone I reserve for small children and airline check in agents, “that just because a London bus almost flattens a liberal Anglican lying on a zebra crossing, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Richard Dawkins is resorting to hit-and-run attempts to keep the religious affiliation statistics favourable.”

“I’m used to being nearly run over, I’ve holidayed in France many times,”[1] snapped Tom. “But this was an atheist bus I tell you.”

“You’re sure about this?”

“Yes! Now come down to London and see. Besides, you owe me a beer from that time when you lost the bet about the Archbishop’s beard.”[2]

And so it was that I found myself, a few weeks later on a rainy July afternoon, standing among a crowd of damp tourists outside Oxford Circus tube station. We watched the traffic as cars, taxis, lorries, and the occasional sodden cyclist trundled past. And, then, at last, a bus rounded the corner. A big, red London bus sporting a huge advertisement on the side which announced in large, friendly letters: “There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life”.