The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Atheists prepare to spread holiday cheer

posted by jmcgee

Just in time for the holidays, atheists and humanists are out to spread their message of non-belief:

Four separate and competing national organizations representing various streams of atheists, humanists and freethinkers will soon be spreading their gospel through advertisements on billboards, buses and trains, and in newspapers and magazines.

The latest, announced on Tuesday in Washington, is the first to include spots on television and cable. This campaign juxtaposes particularly primitive — even barbaric — passages from the Bible and the Koran with quotations from nonbelievers and humanists like Albert Einstein and Katharine Hepburn.

The godless groups say they are mounting this surge because they are aware that they have a large, untapped army of potential troops. The percentage of American adults who say they have no religion has doubled in the last two decades, to 15 percent, according to the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College in Hartford and released in 2008. But the ranks of the various atheist organizations number only in the tens of thousands.

That is one reason for the multiple campaigns: the groups are competing with one another to gain market share, said Mark Silk, founding director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, which is also at Trinity College.

“There’s a competitive environment for ‘no religion,’ and they’re grabbing for all the constituents they can get,” Mr. Silk said.

Relying on the largess of a few wealthy atheists, these groups are now capable of bankrolling efforts to recruit and organize a population that mostly has been quiet and closeted.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., one of the groups running advertisements, said, “We feel the only way to fight the stigma toward atheists and agnostics is for people to feel like they know them, and they’re your neighbors and your friends. It’s the same idea as the out-of-the-closet campaign for gay rights.”

Read on.

Personally, I think it might be a hard sell over the holidays. But it will be interesting to see how the American public — which overwhelmingly professes some religious belief — responds to the campaigns, particularly when it comes to ads like the one below, which will soon adorn a large billboard by the Lincoln Tunnel.

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romancrusader

posted November 11, 2010 at 9:32 am


All these groups know how to do is attack. That’s the only ammo they’ve got left.



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Steve P

posted November 11, 2010 at 10:15 am


Amazing how much these non-religious zealots sound a lot like, well… organized religion.
By the way, maybe we can get Bill Donahue or someone to copyright the entire Bible, the whole scope of salvation history, and all cultural and artistic representations appertaining thereto, and then it will be illegal for atheists to use any such intellectual property in their advertising… ;)



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Gerard Nadal

posted November 11, 2010 at 10:32 am


“This Season, Celebrate Reason”
We are. It’s called “Faith seeking Understanding”.
Reason dictates that there are subatomic particles, which we have yet to visualize. Yet reason tells us that they are there.
Reason gives us one of science’s VERY FEW Laws: The first law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can neither be created, nor destroyed. It is therefore eternal.
Now where have we heard something like that before?
Is that not an act of faith, as well as reason, to speak thus of energy? And if energy could have existed from all time, why not a dynamic Source of First Principles?
Don’t believe in atheism, it’s a myth.



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Regina Faighes

posted November 11, 2010 at 10:43 am


Whether these people like it or not, I am praying for them. May God open their eyes be opened to see the Light of Christ and may their heart and soul be opened to receive His saving love!



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John

posted November 11, 2010 at 11:30 am


I love how they think they cornered the market on “Reason”. As if Christians don’t base their faith on reason. I really wish people like William Lane Craig was more well know in the world – if people would read his aptly named “Reasonable Faith”, people will see that Christianity IS based on reason and atheism is no more or less based on faith than any other religion. I also like Norman Geisler and his aptly named work “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist” – again, chock full of “reason” for the Christian to base his/her faith on.



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John

posted November 11, 2010 at 11:41 am


Oh and btw: that image with the three wise men going to the manger scene to try to claim we “know its a myth” – um, these atheists don’t even know the real story in the Bible – they don’t even know the basics of the beliefs of Christianity! The Bible doesn’t claim the three wise men showed up at the manger the night Jesus was born! In fact, they probably showed up around the time Jesus was about 2 years old or older.
Matthew 2:11 (NIV)
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
Notice – “house” (not a barn! not a manger!). “child” – not a baby, not a newborn – child implies toddler or older! In fact, the older KJV translation uses the phrase “young child”, again, implying not a baby but a toddler or older.
So, uh, yeah, what the atheists think we believe IS a myth – they just got it all wrong! They should first learn what it is that Christian’s believe before trying to argue against it!



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Your Name

posted November 11, 2010 at 12:21 pm


I love it: equating the Bible with (ahem) “intellectual property”.
Sorry, but virgins do not give birth, snakes and donkeys do not talk, and people do not rise from the dead.



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kenneth

posted November 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm


The real religion of the holidays is retail. Christians haven’t dented that, what makes the atheists think they have a shot?



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Mike R

posted November 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm


Deacon, I don’t think the ads are necessarily designed to go over well with the “general” public. As a former believer, it would have been wonderful to see that ad when I was questioning my faith, knowing that there were other people out there like me and that I wasn’t alone or being unreasonable. I bet there will be a significant number of people who will find comfort in seeing the ad, just like I would have at a certain time in my life.



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Emily

posted November 11, 2010 at 12:53 pm


As a humanist, I don’t really like the way they have gone about this advertising campaign. I know I don’t appreciate it when someone tells me that my beliefs are all wrong and that I must be a lost, confused soul. I am sure that Christians feel the same way. I have thought long and hard about my beliefs, as I know many/most religious people do. I wish we could live in a world of tolerance rather than trying to convince one another that they have it wrong.
C’est la vie…..



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Mr Flapatap

posted November 11, 2010 at 1:27 pm


Your Name,
We are Roman Catholics, not fundamentalists. BTW, you need to do better research, it was not a snake, it was the serpent.



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Your Name

posted November 11, 2010 at 2:08 pm


Gee, let me see… In the beginning there was nothing, and nothing created everything. Yeah, that makes sense! Real intelligent! No reasonable person could believe that! Prove to me there is no God!



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thebigdomboski

posted November 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm


“Emily’s” 12:53pm and “Your Name’s” 2:08pm posts make great points!



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Kenny R

posted November 11, 2010 at 2:31 pm


Katherine Hepburn? Now, there’s someone whose philosophy I want to base my life’s important decisions on- an anorexic adulteress.



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foxfan6

posted November 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm


yourname:
In response to your “Prove to me there is no God!”
I don’t think even you can do that, but no one has the capability of proving anything to you for you already know it all!



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Dan Lower

posted November 11, 2010 at 2:56 pm


My big question stemming from that ad: were the American Atheists unreasonable before 1963?



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Your Name

posted November 11, 2010 at 2:58 pm


foxfan6, My point is it’s hard to try to prove/argue that there is no God. It’s just illogical when you look at the design and science of life.



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Ruth Ann

posted November 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm


My responses to the poster:
1) Myths are an expression of truth.
2) Faith and reason are complementary and compatible.
3) I have no difficulty celebrating both the birth of Christ AND reason.



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Rudy

posted November 11, 2010 at 3:26 pm


“The fool says in his heart, there is no God” Psalm 14:1



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Marcus

posted November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm


@YourName:
1. Wouldn’t it be up to you and the rest of the atheist community to prove that there is no God? You are the one that is trying to convince the rest of us.
2. I like to think that I am here because of God and His plan rather than by some accidental freak of nature.
3. The more you research ways to disprove God, the more you will find that it leads you towards Him.



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Your Name

posted November 11, 2010 at 4:20 pm


Marcus, I agree with you totally. Great points!



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Mike

posted November 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm


Since I believe in Zeus, lord of lightning and God of gods, you need to prove he doesn’t exist. The burden of proof is on you, since you’re trying to convince me otherwise!
P.S. And while you’re at it, prove that the 1,000s of other gods/deities/magical-beings that crazy people believe in aren’t real either, good luck with that! HA!



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Meggan

posted November 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm


The atheists behind this ad don’t really know what a myth is. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it this way: “a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon”
The bible IS full of myths (as well as facts) -but that doesn’t mean the myths don’t speak the truth.
By the way… such atheists sure do spend a lot of time thinking about God. So they aren’t really A-theists. They are ANTI-theists.



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Geoff

posted November 11, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Some of my closest friends are fairly religious people from different faiths. I would consider myself a free thinker. I do not belong to an atheistic organization. I do not spread my PERSONAL beliefs to others to make them believe as I do. I do not believe in any god. It is not of logic for me. I do however practice being a good person for the sake of humanity not because I want to look good to any god. And I have no doubt Jesus walked this earth, created a cult following, and maybe did some perhaps misunderstood things for the time period because of the lack of scientific reasoning.
I think people need to find their own way, whatever it may be. If you want to believe in the supernatural and superstition, be my guest… Just be kind to the living things around you and let them choose what their own way. Atheists too… There is no reason to recruit people, just as a church would. It makes those groups no better. Put the truth, in all it’s forms out there, and let people decide on their own.
In addition, I always get a kick out of people that think christmas was around forever and that is why there are other copied holidays around it. When in reality it was the celebration of winter solstice by many cultures that was the celebration. It’s not even scientifically thought to be around the actual anniversary of the birth of Jesus. But christians needed a way to compete, and help prevent their followers from taking part in a, what was thought to be, pagan celebration or ritual at that time by many christians.



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Your Name

posted November 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm


Would American Atheists put up a billboard stating that Islamic holidays are a myth? What do they say about Islam?



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Mike R

posted November 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm


“Would American Atheists put up a billboard stating that Islamic holidays are a myth? What do they say about Islam?”
Islam is as unreasonable as Christianity. But by far Christianity is the dominant religion in this country , a fact that becomes especially visible at Christmas time. Why would an atheist group spend money on a billboard about Islam when Islamic culture and religion has such little impact on our lives?



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Your Name

posted November 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm


Mike R, it’s because atheists are scared to death of Muslims.



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thebigdomboski

posted November 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm


Atheism is the only myth. Atheism is totally unreasonable.



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salthescienceguy

posted November 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm


Know God, know peace. No God, no peace.



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Sad little Sheep

posted November 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm


Know God, no thanks. Have a great pagan festival.



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Brian Westley

posted November 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm


Gerard Nadal writes:
“Reason dictates that there are subatomic particles, which we have yet to visualize. Yet reason tells us that they are there.”
Yes, but not because a bunch of iron-age sheepherders said we should believe that subatomic particles exist. Quite a lot of theorizing and expensive scientific investigation are what lead to modern subatomic theories, and their success at explaining and predicting how matter behaves is why belief in subatomic particles is well justified.
The same can’t be said of gods.



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Gerard Nadal

posted November 12, 2010 at 1:10 am


Actually Brian, it was some pretty crude equipment between one and two hundred years ago that led to the theorizing of subatomic particles on the part of Dalton, Franklin, Thompson, and Rutherford.
You conveniently ignore the part about the first law of thermodynamics.



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Klaire

posted November 12, 2010 at 6:56 am


Well, nothing sounds more “unreasonable” to me than a bunch of self proclaimed athiests putting so much time and energy into something that doesn’t exist. As least we believers actually “believe” what you think to be our delusion.
I would think in this PC culture of ours, you athiests who are apparantly so much smarter than we believers, would have some tolerence for our belief. Instead, you feel the need to have a campaign against us? That’s just plain “stupid as stupid goes.”
At least let’s agree based totally on logic, that there is nothing logical about your campaign, subsequently, your campaign is more illogical than our belief is unreasonable.
I say peace, break out the eggnog and let’s just all agree to love one another.



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petieqwop

posted November 12, 2010 at 8:17 am


The atheist’s world view is simply illogical. This billboard campaign is offensive and immature.



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Geoff

posted November 12, 2010 at 11:14 am


RE: “Sorry, but virgins do not give birth, snakes and donkeys do not talk, and people do not rise from the dead.”
* People that rise from the dead are called zombies. Though I have not actually seen or heard of one of them, nor do I know anyone that has, outside of peoples’ writings and movies. So that makes Jesus a zombie, right? I’m glad there’s only one book of fiction that people widely believe as fact. I’d hate to live in a world where most people believed in zombies, ghosts and other superstitions; rather than science. Oh wait, I do.



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Mark Hartman

posted November 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm


Geoff,
I’d hate to live in a world where people – sometimes purposely – confuse faith and reason, two domains of truth that do not overlap.
It is no contradiction to believe in Christianity and evolution. “God created all things in their forms inseminate, and they evolved to what we see today.” –St Augustine (353-430)
A true scientist knows that science is only a method of evaluating data; it is not in and of itself truth.



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Merry Christmas!

posted November 12, 2010 at 1:37 pm


We do celebrate reason, the reason for the season – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ!



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Mordred08

posted November 13, 2010 at 12:08 am


I don’t understand why you guys are so mad. I mean, Christians don’t seem to be happy unless they think they’re being attacked for their beliefs in some way. So clearly this ad was meant as a Christmas gift to all those poor un-persecuted Christians out there. Maybe instead of complaining, you should be polite and say thank you.



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Emily

posted November 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm


It’s true. Christians constantly feel compelled to tell me that my beleifs are a myth, but somehow can’t stand it when others say it about their beliefs. Double standard?



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Quint_Quidley

posted November 22, 2010 at 12:24 am


Hmm…
“juxtaposes particularly primitive — even barbaric — passages from the Bible and the Koran with quotations from nonbelievers and humanists”
Hmm…
Hey, I’ve got a good some for them! Juxtapose:
“Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained by man’s own will.”
from St. Thomas Aquinas.
with:
“Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem.”
and
“The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”
and
“The only real power comes out of a long rifle.”
All of these are from known atheist and humanist Joseph Stalin who- oh -was also responsible for the deaths of BILLIONS.
That’s all I’m saying.



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Donald Johnson

posted November 22, 2010 at 2:08 am


Just some observations from everyday life:
– atheists spend more time than religious individuals, speaking about God and Religion. Ironic?
– I don’t understand the anger I see from atheists. If you simply don’t believe in a higher power, then why the anger?
– It seems odd to see so many atheists on a site called ‘beliefnet’, yes? Nonbeliefnet would seem more likely.



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Kevin

posted November 22, 2010 at 4:15 am


Ads like these won’t convince people to give up their faith. If you want to convert people to atheism, teach them Physics, Biology and the history of religion.



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Stan

posted November 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm


The subjects of Physics and Biology, when properly understood, only deepen the appreciation of the incredible creation that God has brought about – the God that I serve has no problem with these subjects – it is the godless person who twists the conclusions to their own purpose and therein fails to see the majesty involved. They wouldn’t know ‘majesty’ if it jumped up and bit them.
Regarding the article here, there is no reason for Christians to be upset when anti-believers post themes at Christmas that contradict or question the divine event that took place when the Creator of the universe took on flesh and entered time and space. If your faith is not well-founded on God’s Word, anger is understandable as your faith is easily shaken – as the never-famous pastor Steve Brown has noted numerous times, “Once you have seen the truth, you can NEVER unsee it.” Have a very merry CHRISTmas.



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noclearvision

posted December 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm


It’s not likely that either party is sure about their respective views otherwise they would not be concerned about the opposing one. Once they get enlightened — and there is no telling how long it will take — they will realise that the best thing to do is to live in peace, side by side, because neither side can prove anything beyond reasonable doubt.



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a saxon

posted December 6, 2010 at 2:39 am


Albert Einstein was NOT an atheist:
“In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.” Prinz Hubertus zu Lowenstein, Towards the Further Shore: An Autobiography (Victor Gollancz, London, 1968), p. 156.
“I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangements of the books, but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.” G. S. Viereck, Glimpses of the Great (Macauley, New York, 1930), quoted by D. Brian, Einstein: A Life , p. 186.



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