The Humanist (Atheist) Advertising Blitz





How many of you remember those black and white roadside signs that had some cute slogans purportedly from God.  "If you must curse, use your own name-God." You can see them here at God Speaks.


Well, the atheists have taken the cue and they are doing it in black and white as well. The humanists are coming and they are miffed. Gone is the quiet curmudgeon who never went to church. Well-versed extroverts, who believe that teaching children about the Bible is tantamount to child abuse, have replaced him.

I have spent the last four years talking with and learning about  atheists and agnostics at I think the average Christian has many misperceptions about nonbelievers. I know that I did. TWW will deal with these tomorrow.

I spent about 1/1/2 years talking with a well-placed Mormon. I had read the typical books on“How to Witness to a Mormon.” My friend told me he was tired of hearing the pat responses to his heartfelt faith. So, I made a promise to him. I would read the Mormon sites and the Book of Mormon and would discuss my cold reading with him. I learned much more about the myriad of beliefs of the Mormons and used this in our give and take conversations. I was actually surprised how much is left out of the typical, simplistic book on Mormon apologetics.


Although we both held strongly to our unique beliefs, Vinny grew to trust me. He came to my church and Sunday school class a few times and even brought young Mormon missionaries to occasional worship services. We went beyond our sloganeering and grew to admire and like one another although we both hoped that the other would convert! In the near future TWW will post an article by Vinnie for our readers to ponder.

I believe that the average Christian fears atheists. This fear limits the ability to hear what the atheists are saying to us. Could it be that we, the "in the trenches," Christians haven’t done a good job in explaining our faith to unbelievers? Could it be that many of us don’t even care about atheists? Do we look at them as despised pagans who are not worth our time and friendship? Do we perceive them as dearly loved by their Creator? Do we leave the witnessing to the "smart" Christian leaders?

The first step in approaching unbelievers is to listen to what they have to say. Have you ever had a long conversation with an atheist?  Have you listened to what he/she had to say? Not what you think he said but actually what he said? We need to seek first to understand before we launch into a “5 Points to Share With an Atheist.”

The largest, atheist ad campaign in the history of the world began last week. I called the American Humanist Association and asked permission to print, verbatim, their ads, their press release and their videos. They graciously gave me permission and I assured them that I would not change one word.

Today, I would ask you read their words and their ads. Tomorrow I will expound on the issue and will post an interesting video that Karlton Kamerait, an atheist commenter on this site, shared with us. It is entitled, “Why I Am an Atheist.”

Let’s start with a few definitions. From the American Humanist Association we learn: 

“a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

From the Meriam Webster Dictionary we learn the following: 

“the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god”


“a disbelief in the existence of deity” or “the doctrine that there is no deity”

As you read and listen to the following, ask yourself a few questions. Do you know how to answer their questions and objections? Do you feel uncomfortable in addressing these concerns? Do you even know an atheist, agnostic, or humanist (which can include atheism and agnosticism)? If not, why not? Also, do you know how to handle the difficult parts of Scripture? They are making these verses, front and center, in their ad campaign.


This campaign blitz is not  targeting just Christianity. It is also going after Islam by quoting from the Quran.

I have highlighted particularly interesting comments by Roy Speckhardt, who is the executive director for the AHA. He elucidates the goals for this campaign.

Finally, I read the following comment at the blog on Belief Net. I felt it give some perspective to this post. I will discuss this more in depth tomorrow.  

“The campaign takes some of the less savory parts of The Bible and the Quran and compares them with reasonable, compassionate quotes from prominent humanists. That's a great advertising technique, of course, but doesn't do much to prove anything one way or another (Christians could create a similar ad, of course, using a "love your neighbor" quote from Jesus and contrasting it with something awful from Stalin).

When you get to pick and choose, you can always pick and choose stuff to support your cause. Christians do that with the Bible all the time, and so do atheists or humanists.”


The Press Release from the American Humanist Association:

Humanists Launch Largest National Advertising Campaign Critical of Religious Scripture


“(Washington, D.C., November 9, 2010)

A national multimedia ad campaign – the largest, most extensive ever by a godless organization – launches today and will include a spot on NBC Dateline on Friday, November 12, as well as other television ads, that directly challenge biblical morality and fundamentalist Christianity. The campaign, sponsored by the American Humanist Association, also features ads in major national and regional newspapers and magazines demonstrating that secular humanist values are consistent with mainstream America and that fundamentalist religion has no right to claim the moral high ground.

The ads juxtapose notable humanist quotes with passages from religious texts, including the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Quran. The ads then ask the audience to "Consider Humanism." One example is the following pairing:

The Bible: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” I Timothy 2 (New International Version)

Humanism: “The rights of men and women should be equal and sacred—marriage should be a perfect partnership.” Robert G. Ingersoll, in a letter dated April 13, 1878.

Another pairing is:

The Bible: “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” God, Hosea 13:16 (New International Version)

Humanism: “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty.” Albert Einstein, column for The New York Times, Nov. 9, 1930.

To see images and videos of the ads and find more information about the campaign please visit:

"Humanist values are mainstream American values, and this campaign will help many people realize that they are already humanists and just did not know the term," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "Humanists believe in and value love, equality, peace, freedom and reason – values that are comparable to those of moderate and liberal religious people."

In addition to the television ad on NBC, ads will also be displayed on cable channels. Print ads will appear in major newspapers, including USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Village Voice, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Independent Triangle, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and magazines, including Reason and The Progressive. Ads will also appear on Metro trains in Washington, D.C., on billboards on I-95 near Philadelphia and in Moscow, Idaho, and on buses in select cities.

"We want to reach people in every corner of the U.S., from all walks of life, to raise the flag for humanists and show others that they have more in common with us than with biblical literalists," said Speckhardt.


"It's important that people recognize that a literal reading of religious texts is completely out of touch with mainstream America," Speckhardt added. "Although religious texts can teach good lessons, they also advocate fear, intolerance, hate and ignorance. It's time for all moderate people to stand up against conservative religion's claim on a moral monopoly."


All quotes from religious texts were checked by scripture scholars to ensure accuracy, context and proper translation.


The Stiefel Freethought Foundation was the primary sponsor of the Consider Humanism campaign with a $150,000 donation. Another $50,000 was raised from supporters of the American Humanist Association for the launch of this campaign, bringing the total ad buy to $200,000 so far.


The American Humanist Association ( advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through over 140 local chapters and affiliates across America. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God."


Please go to this link to see the Bible verses that this group is targeting. They quote the verse and then give the humanist perspective.


Consider Humanism – Robert Ingersoll from American Humanist Association on Vimeo.


Lydia's Corner:Genesis 50:1 – Exodus 2:10 Matthew 16:13-17:9 Psalm 21:1-13 Proverbs 5:1-6


The Humanist (Atheist) Advertising Blitz — 56 Comments

  1. Dee,

    One of my favorite God speaks billboards is:

    “It’s a small world. I know. I made it. – God”

    Thanks for writing this important article on the humanist perspective.

    May we who are Christians demonstrate the compassion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we engage those who do not know Him.

  2. Dee,

    If you wouldn’t mind, the definitions of atheist and agnostic are commonly understood the way you printed them, but in fact they are inaccurate.

    Atheism – refers to a belief, or lack thereof, it does not address our ability to “know” one way or the other.

    Agnosticism – refers to our knowledge but not what we believe. In other words do I claim to know for certain that God exists (gnostic) or am I uncertain of His existence (agnostic). Agnosticism is not a lower rung on the ladder of certainty between theism and atheism, they are unrelated.

    For example, I may be a Christian (theist) and “believe” in God, but if someone were to ask me if I was absolutely certain that He exists, I might, conceivably say “no, I’m not positive, but I choose to believe just in case” which would make me an agnostic/theist.

    An atheist on the other hand, chooses not to believe in God, maybe because he doesn’t consider there to be sufficient evidence to command his belief, but again, when questioned about “does he know for certain there is no God”, he may very well reply “No, I’m not certain, maybe he could exist” He is therefore an agnostic/atheist

    Of course the other two possibilities would be gnostic/theist and strangely a gnostic/atheist (someone who claims to know for certain that God exists but refuses to believe in Him anyways, maybe for perceived moral issues)

    Sometimes you will also find references to weak atheism vs. strong atheism, in this case weak & strong are simply being substituted for gnostic/agnostic.

    One more note, we are talking about gnosticism with a little “g” not the religious movement of Gnosticism.


    I don’t think you didn’t mean it this way, but your last statement, is exactly the kind of thing that separates atheists from believers. There is nothing I detest more than someone who offers “friendship”, but there only “goal” is to witness and convert me, get me to come to their church and be saved. It is arrogant and condescending at best and deceitful at worst.

    I have had in my past more Christian than I can count who wanted to “come by my house and get to know me better”, but as soon as I said that’s wonderful, but I have one rule…no evangelizing, there were never to be heard from again.

    If you want to have a debate or discussion about beliefs, that’s fine, but please don’t use “friendship” as a cover for evangelism tactics.

    Again, Deb, I don’t think you meant it that way, but speaking for atheists everywhere (wow, what a responsibility lol), I wanted to let you know how it could be viewed.

  3. Karl

    I will incorporate your thoughts into today’s post.

    I can also speak for Deb. She is a genuinely friendly person who loves people just because… Both of us truly enjoy getting to know those who have different life experiences from our own.

    Also, I think she was saying that we Christians, in our interactions with those who do not believe as we do, should demonstrate that we actually care about the other person beyond our debates. i think that many of us, Christians and atheists alike, get wrapped up in the interesting debate without considering the person with whom we are debating. Sometimes it becomes just a debate. It should be two people trying to understand and appreciate each other. Once the debate is over, can we really say that we connected?

    In our interactions, Karl, I hope you will get a sense that I am actually interested in what Karl says and who Karl is (along with his snowy backyard). This is not some game to see who is the better debater. I am actually glad that you have decided to interact on this blog. We all learn from you.

  4. Karl,

    I’m saddened that you misunderstood me. Dee has explained my position very well. We have extended friendship to you here in our little corner of the blogosphere with no unterior motives.

    From the time I was a student at Duke, I learned to dialogue with people of diverse backgrounds. I had friends there who were agnostics, Jewish, Christian, etc. I respected them and appreciated them for who they were.

    I have maintained an open-minded attitude, although I am firmly grounded in my faith. Can we still be blogging buddies?

  5. Don’t be sad, as I said I didn’t think you meant it that way, I just wanted to point out for the benefit of others that with many people, it does come across as condescending…” poor lost atheist..let me help”.

    I wasn’t offended in the least …. but you might be amazed at just how many people think they can be “friends” only as long as they see hope for promulgating their agenda.

  6. You said:

    “There is nothing I detest more than someone who offers “friendship”, but there only “goal” is to witness and convert me, get me to come to their church and be saved. It is arrogant and condescending at best and deceitful at worst.”

    About 15 years ago I had a friend who was Jewish and I remember pondering this very issue. Am I his friend because I want him to become a Christian, or am I his friend. It made me think long and hard about my motivations. In the end I determined not to let the idea we are to share our faith define who or how I interact with other people.

    But I understand how you feel. There is this semi-pyramid sales group called AmWay. If one has ever known an avid amway person, one knows how you feel as regards Christians whose only goal is to convert you. I do not know how many friendly folk have tried to buddy up to me to get me to start selling amway products. But as soon as I let them know I’ll be glad to be their friend, but have no interest in amway, they scoot and are never seen or heard from again!

    I think as Christians it is a bit hard to separate caring for someone with wanting them to eventually find Christ. We believe that is what is best. And if we care for someone, we want what is best for them. But we also need to realize that if we actually, genuinely care for someone (not some pretend affection whose only purpose is to get someone to see things our way) then we will not base our friendship or our actions long terms on whether or not they accept what we believe to be true about Christ.


  7. I agree, although to explain this behavior I would indict religious teaching on separating yourselves from unbelievers and not being part of this world.

    That mentality is not only in the minds of most believers but it is preached fairly regularly from more than a few pulpits and bible studies on a regular basis. It is one of the things which atheists point to when we talk about religion being divisive and creating deep rifts in society.

    It also makes it difficult to believe Christians when they talk about building a better society or place to live…it is very difficult to believe the offer of help is genuine when by their own admissions they are called to not be part of this word and not gather together with unbelievers.

    It’s why I won’t support missionary groups, even though they do good things (provide food, build houses), it’s simply a vehicle for preaching and evangelizing to the recipients of that assistance.

  8. Karl

    Separation is part of the human lot. I served on the Community Panel of our local newspaper. The people who worked for the paper could not understand why they were perceived a liberal by many. They felt they were middle of the road. The problem was rooted in their closed circle at the paper. Since they only talked with people who believed as they did, they perceived themselves through the eyes of their buddies.

    People have an innate fear of those who are different than them. This is not just relegated to the religious-we see this in all segments of society. We segregate due to social status, race,politics, sexuality,gender, age, etc. We want to feel like we belong so we join groups so we can feel secure and comfortable.

    The intent of that passage of Scripture was not for believers to divorce themselves from the world. In fact, the early Christians got into a mess of trouble with the Roman authorities because they were all too involved in the world. The passage meant we were not supposed to act like the rest of the world. We are to show love when despised, patience when things do not go our way, etc., etc. I am not saying we are good examples of this but it is what is intended.

    As for the “not gathering with unbelievers” thing…Christians were not to participate in things like Roman orgies, etc.However, they were always encouraged to by part of the world by interacting with all people. Indications are that they did precisely that since the Roman empire was Christianized in fairly short order.

    Karl, I love to meet people, especially those who think differently from me. I enjoy the dialog, even when people don’t agree with me. My friendship is not based on who believes what or whether or not I can change them. I enjoy finding the uniqueness in everyone I meet and find much joy in relationships.

    I understand your hesitation with missionary groups using food as a vehicle for witness. We all use charity, at times, for many reason other than pure love.For example, sometimes I will feed a homeless man because I feel guilty and want to assuage that guilt.Maybe I do it to make me feel like I am a good person. As someone I know says “Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.”

    But there are those in ministry who feed others because of a deep rooted sense of compassion.Sometimes that compassion comes first. Of course all Christians wish that everyone would become Christians. I’m sure all atheists would wish Christians would stop believing. But that does not mean that the primary intent in the relationship is conversion, on either part.

    For example, my mother is a nonbeliever and she married an atheist after my dad died. I have made him a part of my life. My mother hates crowds but her husband loves the Trans Siberian Orchestra (as do I-I am listening to their music as I write). We are taking him to a live concert in a couple of weeks. We are not doing it to “try to convert” him. We are doing it because we want to make him happy. Do I wish he was a Christian? Yes. But that is not the reason we are taking him to the concert.

  9. Yes, Dee and I served together on the Community Panel of our regional newspaper (part of McClatchy) for six months. Our one-year terms overlapped for half the time. It was a rewarding experience for both of us. Dee was in rare form at one of the meetings, and I will never forget it!

    What still amazes me is the newspaper editors with whom we met monthly actually wanted our input. I wish I could say the same about some leaders in the Christian community.

  10. Karl,

    As far as I understand the Christian faith, separation from the world for the most part involves separation from the participation in sinful practices – as Dee noted. Not creating segregated societies with Christians over here and everybody else over there. Christ himself got in all sorts of trouble for hanging out with those regarded as ‘sinners’ in His day. So I’m not so sure the idea of separating ourselves from ‘unbelievers’ matches the example our Lord gave us.

    So then ideally, at least as far as the Christians are concerned, Christians and non-Christians should be able to live in the same community in peace. The only issue that could perhaps cause offense would be that the Christians would have to excuse themselves from participating in behaviors they believe are sinful, and are likely to try to protect themselves and their children from the forced intrusion of practices they regard as sinful into their own lives. This could, and often does, become an offense to those around them. And unless people of all beliefs take an attitude of tolerance, kindness, and respect to those of differing opinions and beliefs, that will continue to happen anytime and anywhere people with differing sets of morals are together in the same community. (IOW, it’s not just a Christian vs non-Christian thing)

    So Karl, not to put too fine a point on it – are you willing to respect the Christians and Muslims and so forth around you if their morals seem silly to you and take the time to understand them and avoid offending them? Or is it their own fault for being so silly as to have such a faith and you should not be bothered with having to attempt to avoid offending them?

    In the end, it seems to me that what most people really want is for the world around them to change so they don’t have to. But that is why we have wars and rumors of wars, and segregated groups, and so on, and so on.

    What Christ tells us is that we should not worry so much about the world around us changing, but rather make sure our attitude and actions are right. Hence:

    “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”


    “First take the log out of your own eye, then worry about the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

    So backing away from the tit-for tat nasty moments people of all ideologies can find in the other, can humanist atheists find a reason to encourage each other to balance the nasty to the extreme represented by the above? Or to “love you neighbor as yourself”, or even “turn the other cheek”?

    I know few of us, Christian or otherwise, fully live up to those ideals – but in a Christian community we are taught these ideals are not only good, but models of what our best behavior should be.

    Can we find in the atheistic thought process a reason to try to live up to those ideals? In any community, if those ideals are taught, at least some subset of the community will try to do it. And THAT will benefit the entire community immensely. Without them, the entire range of behavior within the community is shifted towards the harsh, the selfish.

    So where does the atheist find a reason to behave this way?


  11. As I’ve commented here at this blog before, in addition to being a Christian (although there are those who would contest this claim); I am also a humanist. Please let me qualify that with a few well placed caveats:

    The humanism I refer to would be a form of renaissance humanism (Erasmus et al.) in which humankind works together in partnership with God in hopes of bringing about a better world in the here and now as opposed to singing “Amazing Grace“ for 10,000 yrs. in the sweet by and by. It can also be conflated with the post-modern humanism of say Bertrand Russell minus the atheism. (and no this does not mean I am in lock-step with everything Russell wrote)

    As I’ve written here before, many Christians believe that one cannot be a humanist and a Christian at the same time, and that by necessity, one must exclude the other. There was a time when I too believed this, a time when I bought into the present-day form of fundamentalism espoused by Calvary Chapel.

    Make no mistake, I still have great respect & admiration for Chuck Smith the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, but we part ways on several issues of faith & practice in the Church. I have gone back to my roots in Lutheranism and the bedrock tenets of the Nicene Creed because it offers me a wide latitude of human freedom rather than absolutist dogma.

  12. HI Muff

    Here is the definition of humanism as written by the American Humanist Association.

    “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

    It seems to negate the possibility of a theistic belief. Can you expand a bit on your perspective?

  13. Both Dee and Zeta have done a great job about the concept of ‘separation’ with the world. So many do teach this wrong! They think they are protecting themselves by totally seperating themselves when in reality, it only shows how weak their faith.

    First, Jesus tells us to be salt and light to the world. How can we do that when we are in hiding from the world? I saw this a lot..many thought their problems would be over if they could just get a job at the mega church. they had no clue there was a lot of evil there done in the Name of Jesus which is worse!

    Secondly, Paul addresses this very problem in 1 Corin 5. And surprisingly enough, he tells us to seperate from the one who calls themself a Christian but who does evil. He says we cannot seperate from the world or we would have to leave the world. So we are IN the world but not OF the world, any longer if saved.

    It is one of my pet peeves when pastors go on and on about the evil in our culture. DUH.

    What about those who do evil who call themselves a brother or sister?

  14. But I would suggest that Paul wasn’t advocating hanging around with unbelievers just for the sake of having some friends…but rather that it was for the purpose of evangelizing.

    I would wager that Paul did not have any unbelieving “friends” that he just hung around with because they got along well. I think if you were to ask any NT character what the “purpose” of making friends or associating with unbelievers was, the answer would be “evangelism”.

  15. Karl,

    There is a big difference between ‘evangelizing’ as in the AmWay example, where the person evangelizing is using friendship as a means to an end that serves themselves, and ‘evangelizing’ in the sense of a person who goes into a country where the people are starving and he teaches them how to rotate crops and build aquaducts etc so as to allow them to meet their basic needs.

    From the Christian perspective, a person who dies in their sins, separated from God, spends eternity at the hands of the most evil being in the universe. To desire then that a person understand the danger they face is the compassionate, loving response to that belief. If one truly believes what the Bible teaches on this issue, one cannot just turn a blind eye and never mention Christ to the unbeliever.

    So if I am your friend as a believer, and you are not a believer, my compassion for you the person will cause me to share the gospel with you. Not so I can say I converted you, but because I do not want you to face an eternity separated from God. And why do I care? Because I am your friend. That same compassion will lead me to look after you if you are sick, or offer you my help fixing your car, or invite you over for dinner. I will be your friend, no strings attached. And it is not ‘so that I can convert you’. It is because you and I are friends. My desire for you to recognize Christ as Lord and Savior is not what makes me pretend to be your friend, rather, it is my compassion and affection for you as a friend that cases me to desire you would recognize Christ as Lord and Savior.

    But if you said “Speak to me no more of Christ”, I would still help you fix your car, and I would still invite you over for dinner. Because you are my friend.

    Do you understand?


  16. “But I would suggest that Paul wasn’t advocating hanging around with unbelievers just for the sake of having some friends…but rather that it was for the purpose of evangelizing.”

    Just think about daily life 1st Century. How could they carry on with trading, business, etc., without interacting with unbelievers all the time? My goodness, some even bathed together in the public baths.

    I think it is a huge mistake to equate our social/leisure/business activites with those of the 1st century. This is one thing Peter got in trouble for with Paul. Peter was refusing to eat with Gentiles because the Jewish believers were still thinking “unclean”.

  17. Zeta,

    Sorry, maybe it’s my jaded nature but I was a Christian for way too long, and an atheist for way to long to believe that 99% of the Christians I have met in my life would spend more than a token visit or two with me after learning that there isn’t a chance in hell (pardon the expression) of converting me. I’m too old and have seen it way to many times to believe otherwise.

    I am sure that the 1% out there who hear this will be outraged or maybe feel slighted in some way, but the vast majority of Christians I have known simply would move on to a more fertile pasture so to speak.

    That has been my experience with those who are publicly visible within Christianity as well as those in the local churches and it was as true in the US as it was in Africa, Hong Kong, Australia, Mexico, Colombia and everywhere else I’ve lived.

    On a second note Zeta, why would you waste the time, if you truly believe that people without Christ are destined to a life of torture in hell, and it seems obvious that the person you are friends with will never be converted (i.e. me), why waste your time when you could use it to save other souls who were in equal danger. To use a different metaphor…it’s like medical triage, you focus your attention on the ones you are most likely to be able to save and even though there are others more critically ill, you must operate in a “greatest good for the greatest number” mentality. If I saw 50 people in a trance walking toward a cliff I would not waste my time with one stubborn individual, I would leave him in a heartbeat and try to save those that I could.

    So while you may criticize Christians that behave that way, let me be their advocate…they are behaving logically and in line with their belief system. The problem from my perspective isn’t that they won’t spend time with me once they learn I can’t be converted, it’s that I hate to see them wasting their lives on a silly fantasy. (please, do not take offense at that last sentence, I am just stating how I view view it)

  18. Hi Karl

    I like you. Isn’t that enough reason to “waste my time?” This seems to have boiled down to a utilitarian model of kindness and friendship. I am not one for “using” people. I still remember someone asking me to get involved with multilevel marketing years ago. I refused to do so for this reason. I said that I wanted people to know that I liked being with them simply because I cared about them. I did not want the possibility of an ulterior motive to be in the back of anyone’s mind when I spent time with them.

    I love to hike (when I am not having surgeries, darn it), raft, and drive through the mountains because nature is beautiful. I have great joy as I see beautiful sites. I enjoy what I believe are part of God’s creation simply for its beauty. There is no ulterior motive except joy.

    I feel the same way about people. I see beauty, humor, kindness, depth and uniqueness as I explore people just as I explore nature. There is great joy as I discover the uniqueness of each person who crosses my path. I still remember how you made me laugh by offering to send me wine and books to help me recuperate. It was the first real laugh I had after my surgery.

    You have reason to be suspicious. I know that there are lots of users out there. But, I hope you will learn that this is not the case with some of us. So dismiss me as one of those who doesn’t “logically” follow through with certain expected behaviors. I can assure you. there are a few people out there who find me most unpredictable and that makes them nervous!

  19. Hi Dee,

    In answer to your question about my humanism, I am not in lock-step with any hard and fast definition. For instance, I believe in the virgin birth, the literal accounts of Jesus’ miracles, and a host of other things along lines of theology, but I’ve also come to reject some things in the Christian (fundamentalist) belief system. Point being, I pretty much pick and choose what I sign on to after careful thought and critical consideration.

  20. Hi Karl

    I loved that simple presentation of the DNA evidence in the hierarchy of the family tree. I always enjoy the look on people’s faces when I tell them they share 47% (or at least around that number) with a banana.DNA is the most simple and elegant basis of life.

    I am most frustrated that YE ideologues have co-opted the term creationism. I am a creationist and have no problem with the idea of an ancient universe and earth and evolution.Most Christian scientists (over 85%, probably 95+%) agree with me.

    I always hate it when I get you tube videos such as this one because, when I visit the site, there are so many interesting videos on the same subject and I get sucked in like this morning.I also watched the one with Dawkins speaking with a self-styled creationist chemistry teacher who believes the earth is young. I was most frustrated with the teacher’s responses. He uses a tactic which is common in this subgroup. He throws out “scientific evidence” sounding “smart” and there are a fair number of people who will fall for this, never investigating the supposed evidence which, as you know, is weak and easily dispatched.

    You are right, Karl. It is battle. I fear for the children who are indoctrinated in easily disproven nonsense. They go onto college and lose their faith. WAIT! Shouldn’t you atheist guys encourage this teaching of YE? Then, you could be there to reap the results. Hmmmmm……

    Did you ever stop to think of the irony of this? An atheist helping an evangelical on anti-YE evidence whilst agreeing on an issue of science? Surely we will both be called heretics within our respective camps!

  21. Karl,

    A literal Adam and Eve need not necessarily fly in the face of that genetic evidence. There are (at least) two possibilities. One that incorporates the miraculous would be that Adam represents a single small jump from a pre-existing hominid and Eve a supernaturally created clone. Genetically, this could not be distinguished from a natural evolutionary progression, but would likely create a noticable genetic bottleneck around the time of the event (which would place it several hundred thousand years ago). Another possibility would be that Adam and Eve are literal but representative, not physically unique. This is the more uncomfortable option for the more literal among us, but still presents a possibility concordant with the physical evidence. A third possibility is that Adam and Eve are literal, but substantially older than we realize, perhaps not even homo-sapiens (this view is originally proposed by Glenn Morton)

    Again, it seems your overly literal evangelistic background seems to exclude the kinds of subtle concordances that could exist. This is more typical of the YEC mindset which I assume you reject, but it is not really a typical historical approach to the scripture, in either the Christian or Hebrew traditions.


  22. Hey OB

    I saw evidence at the Smithsonian which seemed to indicate that (Homo) Neanderthal held burial services, brought flowers, may have played a type of flute, etc. Thoughts? Relationship to Homo Sapien. Is this what Morton s proposing?

  23. Karl
    OB said what I was thinking so much better than I could. I promise this is not a cop-out. I just kept saying “Amen” as I read OB’s comment.

    By the way, Karl, I know that I am incorrigible. But, I do listen and put myself on the line-hence, this infamous blog.

  24. Muff
    Could you please explain theistic humanism, as I have defined what you believe? It sound intriguing.

  25. Hi Dee,

    Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) was probably the exponent of Renaissance Humanism. He held to a high view of Scripture while at the same time extolling the God given virtues of humankind, and had this to say:

    “…The first place must indeed be given to the authority of the Scriptures; but, nevertheless, I sometimes find some things said or written by the ancients, nay, even by the heathens, nay, by the poets themselves, so chastely, so holily, and so divinely, that I cannot persuade myself but that, when they wrote them, they were divinely inspired, and perhaps the spirit of Christ diffuses itself farther than we imagine; and that there are more saints than we have in our catalogue…”

    As you can see, this stands in stark opposition to the reformed thought of Calvin and Luther who maintained that since humans are hopelessly depraved, only evil and filthy rags can be birthed out of them. Luther himself held Erasmus in high regard until it became clear that he could not enlist him in his jihad against the Catholic Church, at which point he turned on him like a rabid pit-bull.

    Scholars will generally agree that Renaissance Humanism gave rise to the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason which in turn midwifed the atheistic humanism of the 19th century (Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, et al.). Erasmus’ piety morphed into Jefferson’s Deism which in turn evolved into the post-modern (20th cent.) rejection of God and the supernatural in what we now refer to as Secular Humanism (Hitchens, Dawkins, Singer, et al.).

    For me, it is as entirely possible as it was for Erasmus to entertain a form of Theistic Humanism. For lack of a better label, let’s call it Theistic Humanism then, much in the same way that many scientists of faith hold to a form of Theistic Evolution.

  26. Karl

    You are just as I pictured you! You have a kind face tempered by humor. I love the picture! Somehow it seems to suit you. I particularly love the quote about looking in mirrors. You are anything but boring.
    Luther, Calvin and me???? There are some Calvinistas out there who have lost their cookies!

  27. Dee,

    Yes, from Muff’s post

    “…reformed thought of Calvin and Luther who maintained that since humans are hopelessly depraved, only evil and filthy rags can be birthed out of them.”


  28. Karl
    Its like Animal Farm. Some of these Calvinista types enjoy being in control. All are filthy but some are less filthy than others!

  29. Karl,

    I enjoyed looking at your blog. Very professional looking…

    When Dee and I first started blogging, we had a black background with light colored letters. Now I miss that look!

  30. Dee,

    I stumbled on this video this morning, it’s a group of people just expressing to Christopher Hitchens what he has meant in their lives and their well wishes for his recovery. I thought you might find it interesting, it is the only time I recall being able to see atheists express their wishes and what would be prayers for a theist to someone with cancer. The video is on the front page of this site.

  31. “When Dee and I first started blogging, we had a black background with light colored letters. Now I miss that look!”

    We can go back to it. But it’s harder to read for most people. Especially if you have much to read. While the light on dark is visually appealing it is harder to read. I don’t know if it’s the way our brains are wired or if we’re just used to reading black ink on white paper but most people get strained less reading dark letters on a light background.

    Go back to his blog and read the post under software on users designing the user interface. 🙂

  32. GuyBehindtheCurtain,

    I know it was difficult for some to read the light print on a dark background, and that’s why we changed to our current format . If we went back to it, they’d probably still have a problem reading our posts. Thanks for all you do, Guy!

  33. Deb,

    So far it hasn’t been a problem for me, but that’s probably because I don’t have any readers! 🙂

    Once I get some I’ll put up a poll. I can see your point though, in the end I may need to change back to something more traditional.

    Thanks for the input!

  34. Dee,

    Another aside, I just found these…have a beer or glass of wine with you … they are the annual Crock-A-Duck Award nominee videos!

    Can I ask another favor of you .. sort of a selfish one, would you mind clicking the become a follower link on my page … trying to get the visible number of readers up a bit…have compassion on the competition 🙂

  35. Hi Karl,

    As regards the video equating God’s relationship to the church with that of a battered women and her abusive husband:

    This reflects two at least two major misunderstandings:

    1) The relationship between God and individuals is not the equivalent of the relationship between a husband and a wife. For example, it is compared in scripture to the relationship between a father and a child. There are many interactions we have with our children that would be considered abusive if they were happening between husband and wife. Specifically, the parent/child relationship includes the necessity of discipline, something our culture rejects in the husband/spouse relationship.

    2) The cultures in which these comparisons were made were very different than our own. The comparison then must be made relative to the culture in which they are made. You can’t draw a standard from today’s culture and willy nilly apply it to the near east and roman cultures of 2000 years ago.

    God, if He is indeed the God of the universe – is a being so far beyond us as to be barely understandable in many ways, and he functions on levels that are only partially mappable to the kinds of cultural constructs we can understand. So taking any one analogy and apply it to the entire picture of who God is is to grossly misrepresent Him, and us.

    Now I looked at a good many of those videos. And basically what they boil down to is trying to judge God’s actions by human standards. And if God is God, we can’t really do that. That is used as an excuse for all kinds of crazy things, but it is true nevertheless.

    That said, if God tells us He is a just God, then we should expect Him to in some way conform to what we understand as justice. Likewise Love or mercy etc. So in that sense I can understand some of the points made – yet at the same time I can also see that the presenter is looking at this in a very, very narrow fashion, and for the most part in the context of current culture. They are not allowing for the fact that a God who is truly God is NOT going to be able to be fully comprehended by us. And His actions will not always make sense by our standards. Indeed, a good bit of the Christian walk with God is learning to understand who God is and allowing that relationship to change our own way of thinking so that it conforms to His way (which, by definition, is the correct way).

    If one approaches all this believing the Bible is just the ramblings of ancient men, then it devolves into nothing more that a particular human way of living, no more right than any other, and possibly quite wrong. But if what the scripture bring are indeed the revelation of God, then it is a wholly different matter.

    The key then is what do we believe these words to be. Clearly we do not, and may never, see eye to eye on that point. But when we discuss different aspects of Christian faith, we need to at least try to see what the other fellow sees.

    These videos are an interesting window into what your side perceives, but they also appear to me to be essentially straw-man like representations of the God the scriptures present. IOW, they appear to me to present more of an Atheists misunderstanding of God or Christian faith than anything else. They aren’t understanding or even based on the entire picture as it is actually presented in Scripture.


  36. Zeta,

    Three quick comments…

    #1. I completely disagree with your point #2. The psychological effects of an abusive relationship are the same and there is no reason to believe that they vary significantly by culture. The effects of abuse in western culture are the same effects seen in abuse in the orient or middle east. The fact that older cultures are involved in this case is irrelevant.

    #2. I am not clear what you mean by “atheist’s misunderstanding of God”. You cannot escape or dismiss evidence that paint God as evil or bad or inept simply by saying we can’t understand his ways. Once you do that you permit any and all behavior no matter how terrible under that umbrella. Our understand is all we have and our actions, to be sane, must be based on our understanding of a situation.

    #3. Would you mind terribly doing me a favor. Would you copy your post and add as a comment on my blog as well. I will continue our discussion here, but I’d like some content on mine to stimulate discussions with others who might read it.

    #4 Yes, I know I said three 🙂 I have more comments but lunch is ready!

  37. Karl,

    You said:

    “The psychological effects of an abusive relationship are the same and there is no reason to believe that they vary significantly by culture. The effects of abuse in western culture are the same effects seen in abuse in the orient or middle east. The fact that older cultures are involved in this case is irrelevant.”

    You are correct, but you have misunderstood my application of that point. If God is compared to a King, then one must understand what Kings were like in the culture where the comparison is made. Otherwise one might think he is a fellow that rides around in fancy cars, shows up at big golf outings, and gets lots of media attention when he finally decides who he will marry.

    Likewise if God is compared to a husband. God being God has the responsibility for discipline. That is why He is also compared to a father. BUT, in the culture the comparison was made, discipline was also part of the relationship between husband and wife, and so no special point needed to be made to clarify that discipline was also part of Gods relationship with us as distinct from his role as husband. Relative to OUR culture, the idea of God as husband would NOT include the concept of discipline, and so we would need to explain that aspects of God’s place as being different from the role of husband.

    In either case, God does have the responsibility for and administer discipline when it is necessary.

    Now, I do hope that you understand that discipline by the one in authority if the one under authority is not necessarily abuse. It can be, but if properly administered it is not abuse. It may even be harsh. Consider having to scrub the entire mess hall floor with a toothbrush. Discipline. Not abuse.

    So ‘abusive’ has a context. And you must be specific what the context is before we can determine if it is truly abusive. A little pain now to save us a great deal of pain later is the role of discipline. And a life lived without it is a wasted one. And likely the harsher of the two. No parent does their child a favor by pampering them. Nor does an army drill sergeant serve his troops by letting them skip the 15 mile march with full gear.

    You also said: “I am not clear what you mean by “atheist’s misunderstanding of God”. You cannot escape or dismiss evidence that paint God as evil or bad or inept simply by saying we can’t understand his ways. Once you do that you permit any and all behavior no matter how terrible under that umbrella. Our understand is all we have and our actions, to be sane, must be based on our understanding of a situation.”

    I am not suggesting that we allow any and all behavior no matter how terrible under that umbrella. I am especially not suggesting we follow men to horrible deeds under that umbrella. But when something like the Tsunami of 2005 strikes, I am suggesting that does not mean God is not a God of mercy and grace. And that is too often the kind of thing used as an example of why the God of the Bible is either corrupt or does not exist. I am also saying that one can’t necessarily point to some of the more difficult passages of the OT as similar proof.

    If God actually lowered Himself to the point of becoming a man, and if He lived in that form and suffered in it all manner of abuse for our sake, then He has proved Himself a God of Mercy. We know from experience that in life some horrible things are necessary. If a man is intent on slaughtering my children, and the only thing I have to stop him is a chain saw, then his death will be a most horrible thing. But not nearly so horrible as if I put the chain saw down and allowed him to slaughter my children.

    So the fact there are some horrible things in the OT is hard to swallow, but without knowing all the facts and all the circumstances, I can’t necessarily say “God should not have done that”. (But neither can I say, “God did that because …”). I do know that many of the practices in the cultures the Israelites where commanded to destroy were at least as horrible as the commands to destroy themselves. Perhaps there is then indeed more to that story than we can glean just reading the accounts we have.

    As for the current covenant between Christ and the church, at this point I know Christ in mercy and in love. The only area where I would fear would be the physical consequences in the here and now of what I might do in foolishness, or perhaps in an environment where people hated and persecuted Christians, what I might suffer to retain my faith. I do not perceive of Hell as punishment so much as consequence. That is, if one violates the laws of the universe, one will likely reap a negative consequence. If one jumps off a building, one hits the ground hard. One could view hitting the ground hard as punishment for breaking the law of gravity, but I view it as consequence. God created us to be a certain way. When we go against His intent for us, things don’t work out so good. But God gives us the freedom to chose to go our own way if that is what we want to do.

    You said: “Would you mind terribly doing me a favor. Would you copy your post and add as a comment on my blog as well. I will continue our discussion here, but I’d like some content on mine to stimulate discussions with others who might read it.”

    Interesting – where is your blog? I do not mind to a certain extent, but I would want the opportunity to clarify any subtleties that might be misunderstood. This is not a topic one can write a few paragraphs on and come away with clarity. And I would not want my comments used out of context as justification for some kind of simplistic view of Christian God.


  38. Ooops – I left out a critical piece of one of my points: having to scrub the entire mess hall with a toothbrush in the context of Military boot camp: discipline, in the context of husband and wife: abuse. (unless perhaps it is the husband doing the scrubbing 😉

    So abuse has a context …


  39. My blog is where you saw the video of the comparison between abused women and the church…or maybe you haven’t had a chance yet to see it ….

    God ordering the slaughter of nursing children, no matter the reason, cannot in my book qualify as merciful, moral or just. There are no circumstances where that is acceptable and say “His ways are higher than our ways” is simply an excuse, a justification for ignoring what is clearly immoral.

    What’s worse, this wasn’t a single isolated event, this was common practice in the Old Testament and unless you are suggesting we now break apart the trinity, Jesus IS the God of the Old Testament. He can preach goodness and love all day long, it doesn’t change the fact that God acted in a way that, if I believed he really existed, I would be morally obligated to reject Him.

    There is simply no way to look at all the atrocities ordered or committed by the God of the Old Testament and come to any other conclusion than He is a deranged deity, who is clearly immoral at best and intentionally evil and sadistic at worst.

    You also place Hell into the category of consequence and not punishment. What is the difference between the two? I’d say the difference is “control”. If I tell my daughter to look both ways before crossing the street and she doesn’t and gets hit by a car, that’s consequence, I had no control over what happened to her. If I tell my daughter to wipe her feet before she comes into the house and she fails to do it, then I give her spanking…that’s punishment, not consequence…I had control of what happened. You cannot let God off the hook, Hell is punishment, by definition God is can do whatever He likes. If you find yourself in Hell, believe me God could have arranged otherwise or He’s not God.

  40. Hi Karl,

    I’ll address your second comment on consequence vs. punishment and give myself a little time on the first issue 😉 It is not as if that little bugaboo has not stumped greater minds than my own!

    But as for consequence vs. punishment: I think one of the basic theological principles in scripture is that God has created a universe in which we are given free moral agency. He does not sit around and force us to do what is good or what is right. (Well, at least if you are not Calvinist that is one of the basic principles of scripture … but I digress)

    However, without consequence, there is no real way for good or bad to even have meaning – or even to exist! Why is it wrong for me to kill someone? If as in a video game they just instantly came back to life, it would NOT be wrong. Likewise, why is it wrong to commit adultery, why is wrong to lie, why is it wrong to steal. All of these have consequences that are destructive to society in one way or another. So if God is going to give us free moral agency, and the universe is structured so as to have a good choice and a bad choice, then bad must necessarily have a negative consequence, likewise good must have positive consequence. Otherwise what is good? What is bad?

    But God being God, whatever He allows He can also be accused of doing. He is, after all God and nothing happens unless He at least allows it. And so rather than the accusitory, punishment tack, I take the tack of viewing Hell as the consequence, not of what I did wrong (although it is that too), but of God choosing to allow me free moral agency. Ultimately I see Hell as necessary for God to be able to offer us the gift of becoming an eternal free moral agent. And it is a great gift, but as with all great gifts, it has a cost. Why did God decide to give us a gift with the potential for such a great cost? I don’t know.

    But God did us one better than merely offering the gift. Seeing as how the cost must exist, and that we did indeed choose evil and that by choosing evil we incur the negative consequence, He took on Himself the negative consequence so we don’t have to.

    See – you look at this as God being this nasty, evil guy slamming everyone around that doesn’t act like He wants them to. And I look at God as a nurturing parent trying to produce Children worthy of eternity. Beings that will not become clones of Satan given infinite time.


  41. Karl

    You said:

    “God ordering the slaughter of nursing children, no matter the reason, cannot in my book qualify as merciful, moral or just. There are no circumstances where that is acceptable and say “His ways are higher than our ways” is simply an excuse, a justification for ignoring what is clearly immoral.”

    So Karl, in the context of that assessment of God’s command, are you for or against abortion?


  42. A good question for which I do not have a comprehensive answer. My thinking in terms of abortion is actually in transition. I have not previously given it much in depth analysis as it is not a situation I am likely to find myself in.

    I will say that I do not believe it is a matter of having “life” or the “potential” for human life…if either of those conditions qualified, then killing sperm cells should be a crime.

    It may have more to do with how we differentiate our behavior with regards to say a rock, an insect and a puppy. Why do we show more concern or empathy toward an insect being crushed than we do a rock and why do we react more violently when we see a puppy being mistreated than we do when it is a fruit fly?

    I believe it has to do with our perception of these things having the capacity to suffer and feel pain. We believe that the puppy experiences pain and suffering more acutely than either the insect or the rock therefore it receives our greatest protection.

    I tend to think, and this is provisional, that the rights of the woman carrying the baby should supersede the embryo inside her. I do not think this is a decision to be taken lightly, so I think that a young mother who rashly says she wants an abortion without any real reason other than selfishness is making a mistake, but I also think that a young woman who realizes that she is unprepared, unable or unwilling to raise the child should be able to make that decision without running into a legal roadblock.

    The real question is when does the embryo inside reach a state where it experiences pain and suffering on the same level as the mother? I do not think this is easy to answer. I do not think an emotional response is the correct one…showing pictures of babies in the womb to illicit an emotional reaction to abortion is just wrong. It should be a reasoned, well thought out decision.

    As I said I am in transition in regards to my opinion and open to changing my mind.

  43. Karl,

    Thanks for your response, though it puzzles me that you would think abortion requires careful thought to determine its justifiability, yet you respond to the idea God commanded the Israelites to kill women and children with: “There are no circumstances where that is acceptable”?!?! Surely there ARE circumstances in your mind where the slaughter of innocent children is ok. Certainly 3rd trimester abortions represent the slaughter of an innocent child – 3rd trimester babies are viable in our world. From the 2nd trimester they think, they feel. And the methods of abortion used on 2rd and 3rd trimester abortions are indeed horrific! One 2nd trimester method involves nothing less than the slicing of the fetus into parts and removing it piece by piece out of the mother! 3rd trimester abortions are eerily reminiscent of the ‘slicing open the belly of the pregnant women’ – the women has a Caesarean and the baby is set aside to die!

    Anyway – my point really is not to launch into an abortion debate, though it might be something we could discuss at a later date. My point really is that if you can find a reason where it is ok to brutally kill innocent children over the general welfare of the mother, then certainly it is at least possible there just might be some valid reason it was necessary for God to command the same on Israel’s behalf.

    Now, don’t misunderstand me. Those commands present a conundrum I find very difficult to reconcile with the revelation of Christ. And indeed, many Christians deal with those commands by believing this was some kind of necessary accommodation to culture and purpose, not that it was God’s actual desire for such apparent atrocities to be committed in His name. But if one is to say such things as there is no way such a command from God could be justified, or that such a God should be rejected on moral grounds, then certainly one must take such a stand as regards ANY slaughter of the innocent.

    And if you make an exception for abortion (and make no mistake, the number of innocent children killed by abortion in the last 40 years represents likely in the neighborhood of 1000 times the number killed by the Israelite campaign – perhaps more) – then your argument languishes in apparent hypocrisy.


  44. You misunderstood my original comment. It was not about God killing embryos it was about God ordering the slaughter of nursing infants… obviously already born and breast feeding.

  45. Karl,

    Do you really think there is a significant difference between the innocence or humanity of a baby of 8months gestation+ and a baby that is nursing?


  46. I don’t know what the difference is, it may be great or it may be virtually none at all, it does not matter. I do know that ordering the slaughter of children is the action of a malevolent and evil being. Are there times when killing a child might be the right thing to do, I suppose there might be, but I would suspect that those circumstances would be very, very rare. Certainly nothing that could excuse the wholesale slaughter of women and children as described in the Old Testament.

  47. In the end you are using a double standard relative to what you will allow for in terms of abortion and what you will accept as possible from a just God, unless you perhaps do not view yourself as a just person? Really Karl, can you excuse yourself on the abortion issue when you know many if not most of them are for convenience, and then try to hold God accountable in circumstances where you don’t really know the details or if these commands may well have been justified?

    That said – your point that the slaughter of entire villages or towns or countries appears the act of a malevolent being is not a point that can easily be dismissed. The only way to show those actions could be justified would be to show the people in question represented some kind of cataclysmic threat, or that they had somehow earned such a punishment. And that is something impossible for me to do.

    However, it is clear in scripture that there are times God visits judgment upon an entire people or culture. Sometimes through natural events, sometimes through human action like war. It would seem to me that to a certain extent, you take exception with God’s right to execute that judgment period. And I am not sure I get that. We can’t judge God Karl. He’s God. The minute you point a finger at Him, you’ll find a thousand pointing right back at you. Job tried it sort of. It just doesn’t work. If God is God, If He is Just and Right and True, then He us uniquely qualified to determine when it is time to end a civilization, and you and I are not going to be able to second guess it.

    But a discussion like this is difficult for several reasons. One is that I could never be in a position to know that an entire culture, men, women and children, should be wiped out – though it is conceivable to me there might be cases when that is necessary. One would be an all out attack from say China. To respond in kind is to wipe out many innocent Chinese and likely many innocent people around the world. But to not respond is to subject ourselves and the rest of the world to tyranny.

    My guess is that the situation was a lot like that as regards the context of the commands that trouble you so much. They were at war Karl. It may well have been kill or be killed. When you look at this simplified summary of the situation in the Bible, you and I don’t have all the facts or all the details.

    One thing I do know, if God commanded those actions, then there was a real and necessary reason they take place. But I am not in a capacity to provide you with those reasons. And to a great extent, the Scripture itself does not really give us reasons, except that the people were themselves evil, against Israel, and therefore, as per that particular time and covenant, against God.

    But in the end, I think I have provided some fairly clear examples of when fairly horrible action is required, is the right and just thing to do. And I have also pointed out that even you allow for some pretty horrible actions as being justifiable – even knowing in many cases those actions are taken for marginal or even frivolous reasons. That being the case, I really don’t think either of us is in a position to be passing judgment on God over these commands as they are recorded in scripture.


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