Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Wednesday, October 21, 2009]

Is God needed?

I just read this article on how a dozen New York City subway stations will be adorned with ads asking the question: "A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?" on October 26th. The event is being called "a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god", and is being organized by the Big Apple Coalition of Reason.

Michael De Dora Jr., executive director of the New York Center for Inquiry, another of the associated atheist groups had this to say on the objectives of the event:

First, the coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City's secular community. He explained that the coalition also hopes to encourage "talking and thinking about religion and morality," as well as support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers.

I'd like to reply to these in turn --

1. The coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City's secular community.

Basically, to me, this means that atheists want to find and hang out with other atheists. I got no problem with that. We all search for community and acceptance among those who think similarly.

2. The coalition also hopes to encourage "talking and thinking about religion and morality."

I guess mission accomplished, since this is exactly what I'm doing through this blog post...

So lets talk a little about religion and morality... "A million New Yorkers are [morally] good without God," I would agree in one sense but push back a bit in another sense. De Dora mentions later in the article that people "don't need religion to be good people and productive members of society." I'd agree with that... mankind on the whole has an ethical moral system integrated into their being... some call it the moral law. You don't need religion or belief in God to make use of that. We can follow civil code just fine without even bringing God into the mix. However, religion -- true religion is not moralism. It was never intended to be. God does not exist to tell us right from wrong. Now, don't get me wrong, He did tell us what was right and wrong... but that's not His whole purpose nor His main purpose. So to state that religion isn't needed based on moral goodness existing apart from belief in God is reductionist and honestly, a straw man argument.

3. The coalition finally wants to support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers

Again, not much of a problem here. If you seriously have convictions about something, you should live it out. Atheists have as much a right to promote their worldview as Christians do (and I'm not really a fan of the billboards).

A few other thoughts...

I am pretty OK with this demonstration. I think for too long we Christians have lived inside an ivory tower of protection with our Christian music and Christian authors and Christian camps ad nauseaum. What I'd really like to see is more interaction between faiths (including those who claim none). I'd like to see real Christianity emerge to the forefront of what people see and know it to be rather than the caricatures that plague the airwaves now. The mission of God is too important to be degraded and defamed by His own so-called "followers."

If you are a Christian...

Please do not make the same mistakes as some of our predecessors. Hold on to what is good and reject what is evil. Help restore Christianity to its true biblical nature. Be a good steward of the faith you have been given. It is a tall charge, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, honesty about our own faults and humility towards others we can succeed.

If you are not a Christian...

Speaking on behalf of collective Christianity -- I am sorry for our mistakes. We owed you better than how we treated you. I am sorry for my faults and for how I've hurt you personally. I am sorry that for you Christianity has been reduced to a list of do's and don'ts that seem superfluous in today's culture. I am sorry that horrible horrible things done in Jesus' name have blemished your thoughts of who He truly is. Please don't let the mistakes of mere humans posturing themselves with the almighty name of God get in the way of God Himself. He does exist and He seeks to know you and you Him.

The truth is that the biblical story is about a good God who created all that you see in perfect beauty and harmony. Humanity, in the first act of pride wanted more... essentially to be God. This plunged mankind into an enslavement and a separation from their Creator. However, from the beginning God planned a way to fix it all. He sent His Son to us to teach us more about Who God is and ultimately die in our place. This act of sacrifice paid the price of our enslavement, effectively freeing those who would believe He came for them. Not only did Jesus die to free us from bondage, but He was raised from the dead so that no man that believes in Him would ever die again. Instead, this secured for us eternal community with the Creator God of the universe. The story of the bible is one of redemption. It's all about huge screw-ups and how God repairs and restores and even improves upon our failures. Ultimately so that we can enjoy life together with Him.


Anonymous | October 28, 2009 at 10:00 AM

interesting article, i'm not exactly sure how I feel about it :) - more specifically "raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god" I find this compelling and thought provoking. It seems like an anti-pattern of culture in that it (the secular community) is raising awareness... for themselves? So that the secular community is more aware of the secular community? I guess this kind of shows why more and more ministries are focusing their missions in the states now days. Not THE reason but A reason.


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