Starting this morning adds begin appearing in New York City subways which tell us that for millions of people, the answer is ‘yes’. Following past campaigns in Dallas, Chicago and other locations around the nation this advertising campaign for Greg Epstein‘s book of the same name, is clearly meant to provoke, not educate. That may be good for book sales, but renders this initiative far less interesting than it otherwise might be. In fact, it looks and sounds remarkably similar to the kinds of pro-God campaigns which annoy those who sponsored this one!
The add campaign is mounted by the “New York City Coalition for Reason“, whose name alone is problematic. It suggests, in precisely the way that pro-God groups with names like “union for decency” and “coalition for American values” suggest that atheists are amoral, un-American, or indecent, that atheists are reasonable and theists are not.
What do you think? Can be people be good without God? I ask in two senses and eagerly await the discussion that follows. First, can people be good, in the moral and ethical sense, without being grounded in some kind of faith in some kind of being greater than themselves? Second, can people be truly happy, as in “I’m good with that”, without believing in something they call God?
It’s clear to me that the answer is ‘no’ to the first question, but that in which someone believes may be far different from the standard personal “Guy-In-The-Sky” which many people think of when talking about God. As to the second, I am really not sure. I think it depends upon the circumstances of one’s life and how seriously they take the concept of gratitude. Ultimately, it is gratitude which is the key to happiness and although I feel deeply grateful to God, I think the gratitude part is more connected to my being happy than the being to whom it is directed.