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 ExChristians.net 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: http://www.considerhumanism.org
"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 (www.americanhumanist.org) 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.