November 12, 2008

Why believe in a god?

The American Humanist Association has launched an ad campaign for the Christmas season.
Here's a quote from their press release concerning the ad campaign,

"Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," proclaims a new holiday ad from the American Humanist Association. Already appearing today in the New York Times and Washington Post, the message will soon be blazoned on the sides, taillights, and interiors of over 200 Washington DC Metro buses.

It's the first ad campaign of its kind in the United States, and the American Humanist Association predicts it will raise public awareness of humanism as well as controversy over humanist ideas.

"Humanists have always understood that you don't need a god to be good," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "So that's the point we're making with this advertising campaign. Morality doesn't come from religion. It's a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience."

Now I know many of my brethren will respond in angry tones about the sorry state of our nation that such a question would even be asked, and, in all fairness, they have a point. However, I think this to be a singular opportunity for the church to speak up in a 1 Peter 3:15-16 kind of way. "Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..."

Unless I'm missing something here, they are, in fact, asking. I propose we offer an answer. Looking for an open door to discuss matters of faith? The American Humanist Association just gave you one. Mention the ad and get a response. I encourage any of you who blog, as well as others who may drop by from time to time, to make it a point to engage others on this topic.

Might I suggest a Christmas series of blog posts? If you are among the willing just leave a note and I will get back with you. If you happen to be in a city where this ad campaign in actually running I'd love to hear about reactions to it!

Watch this space for more...

8 comments:

sojourner said...

it's not about goodness it's about grace - we don't need God to do good works - the humanist's are correct in saying we can be "good" people without God - that is not the message we proclaim - we need the healing balm of His Grace - Christ Jesus who came to bring healing to a broken world - He is the hope that connects the dots between the humanist message and God's message - He did it with arms spread wide upon a tree atop Calvery. As you say we must "speak up in a 1 Peter 3:15-16 kind of way." Great post to direct our thoughts toward Advent!

John said...

Sojourner,

What do you make of the Isaiah passage that speaks of all our goodness/righteousness being filthy rags? Or what of the Psalmists claim that "there is none who does good not even one." (Ps 14:3)?

It seems to me that God is saying even our best deeds are done in rebellion. Is it possible that, in God's eyes, we are incapable of "doing good" apart from a right relationship with Him? Just asking...

Paul Thompson said...

John,
Sign me up for the idea of blogging on this topic. This is an interesting find you have found. Thanks. I'll be writing about it soon too.

Twin Falls Paul

Scotty Davis said...

The main reason I believe is that God is real and Loves me. When I try to be good I somehow keep messing up from time to time and in Our Lord find forgiveness and love and mercy and Hope and promise of eternity. There is an option for those like the humanist who make themselves into gods.

Mike said...

Hmmmmm. So just what is "goodness"?

sojourner said...

John, I am not in disagreement with you. Like Mike infers, we need to be on the same page when we speak about "goodness." Christians define goodness differently than humanists. My point about what the humanists are saying is that we can do good deeds and care for one another but it is not the same as living a life in relationship with God. It would be like wearing "filthy rags" in God's eyes. In order to live spirit filled lives we need to pull Him into the equation through relationship - through grace. If we do not "connect the dots" between humanity (flesh) and God (spirit) through Christ we miss the mark in God's eyes because we do not invite Him into the process. We remain flesh and blood human beings doing flesh and blood good deeds for other flesh and blood human beings. Just saying....

John said...

Sojourner,

Well said (has anyone told you that you have a way with words?). Just wanted to be sure we weren't devolving into some notion of goodness apart from a right relationship with God. I used to think that people would be judged on the merits of their lives. Thankfully I discovered grace.

magx01 said...

If you discovered tomorrow that god did not exist, would you modulate the behaviours you enact against those around you?

See, I suspect that you would not, because you seem like a good person, as most likely are, and good people are good for reasons other than the presence of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient deity....at least in my view.

My view posits that it's social instruction, empathy and sympathy, evolutionary advantages confered by reciprocal altrusim and working together, and the good feelings engendered in people (and the self) by good acts.

If, however, you, or any other believe truly believe that they would not be 'good' in the absence of a god, then I implore them to never stop beleiving!