Friday, March 20, 2009

Calgary and the Pro-God Ads

This is the one objection I had to the atheist bus campaign. Religion is on the wane. Belief is down in polls. Church attendance is dropping. Religion, ignored, quietly goes away, quietly becomes less dogmatic. Children don't go to church as often as their parents did. People find the old beliefs quirky and silly. The godless slowly win the long race.

Unless you agitate the believers.

So, fine, they have their own ads now.

God cares for everyone ... even for those who say He doesn't exist!

I'm not sure what religion they're speaking for when they say this. The ads were apparently purchased using the money of a number of people from a number of different faiths ("Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims", the purchaser claims). But I don't believe the statement is accurate.

A cursory reading of the christian bible, for example, states pretty clearly that god doesn't much care for atheists:

Psalm 14:1 Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!

Romans 1:32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.

If this god of theirs "abandoned" us, I have a hard time believing the claim that said entity also "cares for us".

But that's just me, and they'll automatically declare that I'm "interpreting" their bible incorrectly then I point out that it says exactly the opposite of what they want it to say.

What's more to the point is that there will now be a brief agitation of the believers. We can hope that this will leave the fence sitters with more information on the issue so that, the next time a pollster asks, they can say, "No, I don't believe there's a god" and we can start doing away with this notion and god-belief is somehow necessary for moral behaviour.

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KC said...

Maybe I'm too much of a literalist, but few things annoy me like when religious people stretch clear words and deny their obvious meaning.

I happen to like the atheist bus ads but think a better strategy is to attack theistic belief systems. Belief in god is relatively benign and rebutting that belief is hard in light of the limits of human knowledge. Rebutting the historicity and divinity of religious figures and texts is much easier. Besides, true dogmatic theorists are far rarer than than those with an abstract belief in "god". I know many people who say they are christian out of some sort of cultural obligation but don't accept the bible as divinely written or inspired.

Makarios said...

I think you're bang on. Don't poke a hornet's nest. It was only thirty years ago that China announced that Christianity was dead; that there wasn't a missionary or Church left. Today, with an estimated 22,000 new Christians every day, China is just 10 years away from being the largest Christian nation on earth. Complacency and wealth among Christians are the atheists best friends.

KC, rebutting the historicity of Jesus must be really frustrating with there is such a wealth of extra Biblical evidence attesting to His historicity.

KC said...

Makarios - I didnt mean to say that none of the figures in the Bible or other religious texts didnt actually exist. If I did I wouldnt have included the part about divinity. If something isnt historical then clearly is isnt divine either.

Greg said...

Well exactly Makarios. My feeling is that we need to get on with developing a morality for modern times, a morality that doesn't base itself on a book that advocates all sorts of archaic punishments for things we don't even think are crimes anymore.

Every moment humanity spends in a church is a moment that could be better spent elsewhere. We were winning by apathy and gentle persuasion.

I picture it as a bell curve with everyone sliding toward atheism. When you agitate, it's like dropping a wedge down the middle of the curve. Yeah, you should push some toward the atheism end, where they were going anyway. But you push some to regress back to religion too, clinging irrationally to it as a teenage girl would cling to a loser boyfriend just because her parents hate him.

Ian said...

I think, especially in Alberta, that we do need to challenge faith. The religious have a lot of clout in the Stelmach and Harper governments, and left unchallenged will not take Canada in a good direction.