Dueling Billboards

Recently, an atheist billboard that was moved to a new location was replaced with one reading “The previous sign posted at this location does not reflect the values or morals of our company. Thank you.”

It hasn’t even been a week.

A new billboard is up in the same Chambersburg, Pennsylvania area. It also poses a rhetorical question… one that is loaded with bigotry:

atheistshateamerica.jpg



christianbillboard.jpg

What’s up with that?

Jim Crumley of Trio Strategies, a public relations firm in Northern Virginia, said In God We Trust launched its campaign in response to the original billboard message that was sponsored by Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Bishop Council Nedd, chairman of IGWT’s board of directors, said in a press statement that FFRF has “embarked on a national campaign to denigrate religion and convince Americans that their country’s religious heritage is somehow wrong.”

Nedd said that FFRF’s “offensive billboards insult the millions and millions of Americans of varying faiths who believe that religion has been, and still is, a force for good.”

IGWT’s sign will rotate for the next six months in various places near Chambersburg. So far, only one of the signs is posted, but another one might be posted in another city, according to Nedd.

So, what’s the answer to the question? Why do atheists supposedly “hate America”?

… Nedd gave a quick reply: “That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We don’t know the answer.”

He said his group is not saying the atheists are anti-American. However, they appear to be, he said. Still, he said, “this is a free country and everyone is free to believe what he or she chooses.”

It gets better. Nedd is a goldmine for idiotic quotations.

FFRF is not simply a group of non-believers that wants to be left alone, he said: “They are a collection of organized, well funded zealots who are insulted by the mere existence of people who believe in the Almighty. The are determined to drive religion underground.”

On a list of ways one could describe atheists, “organized” and “well-funded” would never make the cut. Is FFRF zealous? Well, they’re passionate about what they do, but only in the sense that they want legal equality.

So what have we learned about Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising? They are offended by the mere questioning of religion. But they don’t mind a group of Christian fundamentalists making offensive insinuations about a minority group.

***Update***: JimboB makes a great comment:

If that sign said “Why do blacks hate America” or “Why do Jews hate America” that sign would come down in a day, tops.

(Thanks to PA Nonbelievers for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://off-center.tatuskofam.com Drew

    So it went from basically a riff on John Lennon’s “Imagine” to about as offensive a billboard to Christians, atheists, Americans, people of color, and children all at once with a clear ad hominem attack against an entire subset of the population. I know billboards are privately owned, but I wonder what the state’s position is. Doubtfully anything since I will be the first to tell you that diversity is not the forte of Chambersburg and surrounding parts.

  • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/fole0091/epistaxis/ Epistaxis

    To be equally unfair, we already know why Christians hate America.

  • JimboB

    If that sign said “Why do blacks hate America” or “Why do Jews hate America” that sign would come down in a day, tops. But it’s still okay to discriminate against atheists. Thank you, Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising, for your blatent hypocrisy.

  • Xiquivo

    So, atheists hate America? Damn, I wish someone had told me that before I went and signed up in the military to serve my country. Amazing how people found that last billboard offensive, but this one is just fine and dandy.

    And yet we’re the ones with no morals?

  • chancelikely

    When did you stop beating your wife?

  • Pingback: Billboards of Hate « Terahertz - From Physics to Life

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    JimboB

    If it said “Why do racists hate America?” it would be up forever. Why? Because we all hate racist ideology. Atheism is ALSO an ideology. Atheists are CONSTANTLY saying that atheism is a lack of a deeply held religious belief. Thus, there is no religion or re;igious organization that can rightly claim offense at the sign. Atheism is nebulous at best and stands for nothing that approaches the depth of religion. That is why people will always be able to make claims like this without fear of any type of defamation being brought against them. Even more, I’d love to know what standard you’re appealing to when you say it is wrong to say something like this. Are you just offended on a personal level or is it fundamentally wrong? If it IS fundamentally wrong, how is that determined?

  • Fisher

    Xiquivo said

    So, atheists hate America? Damn, I wish someone had told me that before I went and signed up in the military to serve my country.

    Along with our draft-dodging president’s dad telling us that he doesn’t think atheists can be real Americans. A real slap from the then Commander-in-Chief. So much for my service, too.

    Epistaxis, please, please, please, in the interest of sanity – give a warning when linking to that site. Something along the lines of NSFH (Not Safe For Humans)?

  • Rovakur

    In the spirit of offensive, irrational, sweeping rhetoric: “Why do Christians hate the First Amendment?” False logic may be employed to translate “the First Amendment” into “the Constitution”, and further to “America” or “freedom”. By golly, these monsters could be living next door!

    I hope that the FFRF will be taking this to court.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    So this is what intelligent debate has been reduced to in this country? Dueling billboards? :roll:

  • grazatt

    Hey dueling billboards are better than pistols at dawn!

  • I like tea

    Haha, Nedd just doesn’t get it. The original billboard didn’t attack anybody; it hardly attacked anything, though obviously it could be legitimately construed as an attack against religion. But what do you notice about the phrase “Imagine No Religion”? A) No person is attacked, B) no group of people is attacked, and C) no judgments whatsoever are made.

    So Nedd feels an appropriate response is to blatantly attack an entire group of people with a judgmental and patently inaccurate question. I gather he takes after Neil Cavuto.

  • I like tea

    If it said “Why do racists hate America?” it would be up forever.

    Perhaps, but it’d still be wrong. There’s no connection between being racist and hating America. I despise racism and bigotry, but that doesn’t mean I feel any need to lob ridiculous non sequiturs at racists.

    Because we all hate racist ideology. Atheism is ALSO an ideology.

    In the only valid point in your entire post, you correctly point out that there’s a difference between atheism and race. You’ve effectively countered JimboB’s point; if you’d stopped talking right there, you’d have been on solid ground.

    Atheists are CONSTANTLY saying that atheism is a lack of a deeply held religious belief.

    Well yes, that is the dictionary definition of atheism. I can’t imagine what your point is.

    Thus, there is no religion or religious organization that can rightly claim offense at the sign.

    Are religions the only group that are allowed to claim offense suddenly? Atheists are a group of people; that fact is undeniable. You can make a group of people out of anything – “pasta chefs” or “teachers,” for instance. If a billboard said, “Why do teachers hate America?” that would be rightly offensive to teachers. I’m not sure what you think religion has to do with such things.

    Atheism is nebulous at best and stands for nothing that approaches the depth of religion. That is why people will always be able to make claims like this without fear of any type of defamation being brought against them.

    Actually, the reason people can make claims like that without fear of reprisal is because this country is 80% Christian and largely unsympathetic to alternate world views. It has nothing to do with how “deep” you think religion is, another non sequitur which has no bearing on whether or not anyone should be offended by this billboard.

    Even more, I’d love to know what standard you’re appealing to when you say it is wrong to say something like this. Are you just offended on a personal level or is it fundamentally wrong? If it IS fundamentally wrong, how is that determined?

    Of course it’s not wrong. Nedd’s an asshole, no question, but he has a First Amendment right to put up billboards asking silly questions. This billboard doesn’t actually offend me, but even if it did, Nedd would still have a right to do it. If I put up a billboard that said, “Christians believe stupid things,” the billboard company might react much as this one did, but the government wouldn’t step in and stop me. It works both ways.

    Anyway, I don’t remember anyone saying it was wrong, but have fun attacking that strawman.

  • http://blog.dmcleish.id.au Shishberg

    The billboard has a remarkable self-fulfilling quality – if there was an answer to the question, it’d be “because of $#!+ like this.”

  • http://www.cognitivedissident.org cognitive dissident

    In the manner of the classic “Have you stopped beating your wife?” loaded question, this billboard asserts the lie that Christianists wish were true: that patriotism is dependent upon religion. Many of us can testify from personal experience that this is most definitely not the case.

    Atheists do not hate America.

    We do, however, hate liars—particularly the ones who libel us without provocation, without facts, and without honor.

  • Pingback: Well this is fair… « memeplex

  • John Payan

    Not to condemn them all, but the “In God We Trust ” sign, reaction to the relatively bland FFRF billboard, kind of highlights their ignorant, offensive attitude to those who prefer not to delude themselves. Big sign, but small minds.

  • chancelikely

    This is one of those moments where I think, “I wish I was surprised by this.”

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    This is one of those moments when I think: maybe my daughter needs to grow up in a safer society.

  • Elsin Ann Perry

    The Chambersburg, PA, chamber of commerce can be reached at

    chamber@chambersburg.org

  • Pingback: Patriotism is Dependent Upon Being Rightly Religious « The Fake God Blog

  • http://fakegod.wordpress.com Fake God

    thanks for pointing this one out. My take here.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    What’s funny is that whenever I’ve heard “Why do(es) X hate America?” it’s always been as a joking parody of what right wingers say. I never thought that I’d ever see the question be asked in earnest.

  • Renacier

    I don’t hate America, but Americans are starting to annoy me…

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    this billboard asserts the lie that Christianists wish were true: that patriotism is dependent upon religion.

    Personally, as a Christian myself, I think that patriotism is actually antithetical to the Christian religion. These folks from IGWT have it all backwards. As Christians they are the ones who ought not to be sullying their allegiance to Christ by mixing it with allegiance to a nation-state. While Christians maybe don’t need to go so far as “hating” America, we shouldn’t be quite so fond of it as we often are either.

    All just IMHO of course.

  • cautious

    From this quote page, it seems that the group that put up that billboard really, really, really dislikes the leadership of the FFRF.

    And rather than ask the question “Why does the leadership of the FFRF hate America?”, they instead lump all of us together.

    Which is an amazing form of stereotyping, but, hey, we’re a beat-up minority, we should be used to it by now, right?

    If you’d like to talk with In God We Trust.org, their email is info@InGodWeTrustUSA.org and their phone is 703.351.4050.

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    I Like Tea,

    Taking apart what a person says sentence by sentence as if they are all separate arguments unto themselves is a defeatist way of approaching a debate. Claims that my argument makes sense is also not a statement of fact, rather one of opinion.

    For the record, given that “All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” if you are a racist you, in affect HATE America. Now, one could, of course, argue that when the DOI and Constitution were written they were written mainly by and for land-owning white males who did not view other races, especially African-Americans as actual people. We would deem this to be racist. But, since modern Americans (and lawmakers) view these as living, breathing documents, they are often interpreted in light of current understandings and sentiments. Thus, one can make the claim that though racists are protected by the documents, the documents themselves convict them of being anti-American at their core. What could be pointed to, I suppose, in the case of atheists is that they appeal to a document that, at the very least, acknowledged the existence of a god (“Creator”). So, to deny the existence of this god is to deny the one who has endowed you with the unalienable rights spoken of in the document. Thus, to not believe in this god is to, in affect, HATE America. One can claim that some of the Founding Fathers were deistic in their outlook–believing in God, but only as much as they needed to. Still, the fact remains, they DID believe in a god and appealed to him as an authority for the document upon which this nation is founded.

    You said that you could not understand why I would give the dictionary definition of atheism. The reason was given in the very next sentence. If, in fact, atheists and atheism are a nebulous group, then there is no fear of more than annoying protest rather than a real danger of attack. And while you can throw around numbers like “80% Christian” that number does not account for those who have a nominal Christian view, those who only believe twice a year (Christmas & Easter), those who only consider themselves Christian because it is, as you say, the dominant view. Yes, Christianity is the dominant view in the country. But, whether it is TRUE Christianity is up for serious debate. (Barna Research Group is a wonderful resources for statistics on Christians in America and what many of them actually believe practice.) However, I think we could both agree that it might be a combination of the two. On the one hand, atheists are always gathering here and trying to figure out ways they can be more vocal, visibile, and help each other out (kinda like a church without the dogma). So, in that sense, atheism is nebulous. The church obviously isn’t discussing this kind of thing because they’re pretty organized at this point. But, the fact that many people claim Christianity or some belief in a deity certainly must play into the fact that a sign that supposes atheists are anti-American can be displayed with little to no fanfare.

    But, moving to the question of right and wrong. When discussing right and wrong, we’re not discussing someone’s Constitutional rights. That is a matter of legal versus illegal. If we keep it there, certainly what is being done is within their legal rights granted by the American government. But, when what are those laws based upon? You have appealed to an authority, namely American government to decide right or wrong in this matter. Is right and wrong then a culturally constructed and understood event? What happens when two views clash, such as Communism versus democracy? Communism, in world history, has generally been atheistic. So has socialism (for the most part). But, as free democratic Americans we have abhorred this outlook. To what do we appeal when considering right and wrong for this matter. Christians will appeal to God. This, I freely admit, must seem like a pie-in-the-sky trump card to someone who does not believe in God and can lead to a slippery slope for those who want God to say what they want him to say. History is full of these episodes. Be that as it may, it is an authority which nothing else can be behind–it is final. To what can and does an atheist appeal to? Right now, it seems all you have is government and culture. Is this a fair assessment? If not, please clarify for me what authority is appealed to in matters like this to say, “Nedd is an asshole.”

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    All things do not come from authority. The collective defines asshole, not an authority. No one king, monarch of all said “This is what entails being an asshole.”

    Nope. It’s just popular opinion. Based on the popular definition of asshole, Nedd fits it.

    To a T.

  • cautious

    C.E. Moore,

    Your post is fairly long-winded and I am unsure about all the points it is trying to make. Being verbose is good, when it serves a point. This just looked like rambling. You know why I’m going to take one sentence out of your post and reply to it? Because you wrote 150 other ones that are, at best, tangential.

    So, to deny the existence of this god is to deny the one who has endowed you with the unalienable rights spoken of in the document. Thus, to not believe in this god is to, in affect, HATE America.

    Well, the DOI has no bearing, whatsoever, on American law. So, actually, when I deny the existence of the god of the DOI, all I’m doing is saying that I don’t think inalienable rights came from a Creator, and that inalienable rights don’t need to come from a Creator to be inalienable.

    PS. Are you serious?!

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    I disagree. American law is dependent upon the existence of America. America exists because the Founding Generation drafted, ratified, and fought for the DOI. I suppose that is just semantics, though. However, my point is not that the argument is necessarily true, only that it COULD be argued and the argument would make logical sense. However, I notice that you did not disagree with the argument in regards to racism but you did disagree in terms atheism. Why is that? Is this not a false dichotomy?

    As for the feminism thing, Christianity in its TRUE form, understanding the historical backdrop from which it stemmed, it is meant to be extremely liberating for women. Some have gone out of their way to deny this, but historically, for the most part, it has been very liberating for women. So, yes, I AM serious. I guess it might take an understanding of Jewish culture during the time of Christ and the laws drafted in the OT to protect women, especially laws governing divorce and adultery.

    I DO have a problem with being verbose. LOL. Sorry. I get on soapboxes. But, I also like to make sure I’ve explained my rationale thoroughly for people. Make sense?

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    C.E. Moore:

    However, I notice that you did not disagree with the argument in regards to racism but you did disagree in terms atheism. Why is that? Is this not a false dichotomy?

    Cautious didn’t engage that part of the discussion. Are you mistaking Cautious for another poster here, or do you take uninvolvement in portions of a discussion as tacit agreement?

    For example, I notice that you did not disagree with the billboard’s loaded, bigoted question “Why do atheists hate America”? Do you agree that it’s loaded, and/or bigoted? Why have you not stepped up to condemn this attack by a co-religionist on the good name of innocent and patriotic atheists nationwide? Surely this reflects poorly on you. Or do you agree with the tactics and or position of the good Bishop Council?

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    I disagree with the statement to be sure. I thought I had made that clear. Maybe it got lost in my verboseness. There are plenty of atheists who have fought and died for our country. There are plenty of atheists who serve in disaster relief and work to maintain our economy. There are atheists teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, police officers, military personnel, etc. You could hardly make the claim and have it stick. So, yes, it is a loaded, bigoted statement. However, my argument was not the truthfulness of the statement. My argument was that it could be argued logically that atheists hate America if atheists ever appeal to American ideals which are based upon a creative document that acknowledges a Creator they do not believe exists. It is a logical conclusion to draw, albeit incorrect.

    However, my point seems to constantly be avoided when talking about appealing to authority. You, however, finally said it is based on popular opinion. My further question was “What happens when two competing “authorities” are vying for seniority, such as Communism and democracy?” How is right and wrong determined? By whoever has the most guns? The Nazis had more guns than the Jews. We had more guns than the Germans. So, were the Nazis more right than the Jews but Americans more right than the Nazis?

    You are right. Cautious did not engage that part of the discussion. He (I’m just going to assume he to keep things simple) engaged the part he wanted to and said I was rambling in the rest. That’s NOT a good argument. In a debate Hilary doesn’t tell Obama (or vice versa), “You know what, you were just rambling on about all that crap, so I’m only going engage the part I feel equipped to engage you on.” They’d be laughed off stage. What is more, my “verbose rambling” follows a fairly simple logical construct that has yet to be engaged. I’m hoping it will be. But, to be fair, when someone engages only a portion of a larger argument they are not a part of, I generally figure they have read the whole thing and are therefore joining the entirety of the conversation. In the blogopshere this not how it works and I have NO idea why I keep hoping it will be. LOL. Peace. I’m hitting the sack. I’m sure I’ll wake up to tons of responses for which I will have no time to respond. C’est la vie.

  • Ben

    Still, the fact remains, they DID believe in a god and appealed to him as an authority for the document upon which this nation is founded.

    No, they didn’t. The document upon which this nation is founded is the Constitution, which appeals to no authority aside from people. The DoI didn’t found any nation.

  • Ben

    My further question was “What happens when two competing “authorities” are vying for seniority, such as Communism and democracy?” How is right and wrong determined?

    Two different questions. Right and wrong are determined by thinking subjects’ values and how actions affect those values.

    When two competing authorities are vying for seniority, you have a conflict to be resolved. It happens all the time. Sometimes it will be resolved violently.

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    Ben,

    The DOI is the founding document of the United States. With it, we declared our nationhood and independence from England. Historical fact. Also, most of the Founding Generation did, in fact, believe in a personal God and that Jesus is his Son. Here is a great resource to look at this more in depth. The Consitution is the supreme law of the land. You’re wrong. Period.

    However, you are correct on your second post. They are two different questions. But they are directly correlated. They are both appealing to something outside of themselves to claim their view is right and the other person’s/nation’s is wrong. Violence won’t prove which view is superior. It will prove who has more guns. And if right and wrong are determined by ‘thinking subjects’ values and how actions affect those values’ how could we blame the Nazis for what they did? We could no more blame them for what they did than for the fact they had blue eyes. Who care if they impose their will and values on others if their beliefs dictate to them that it is ok. By going to war with them we were making a moral statement based on some ideology or belief outside of ourselves (or the fact that we didn’t like having our shipyard at Pearl Harbor bombed). Either way, we believed something had happened was wrong. Otherwise, we should have just shrugged our shoulders at World War II and 9-11. They’re not wrong. They just hold an opinionr or value we disagree with on a purely personal level.

  • Ben

    The DOI is the founding document of the United States. With it, we declared our nationhood and independence from England.

    No nation was created by the DoI. Even if it were, that nation is no more; a new nation was founded by the Articles of Confederation. That nation is also no more, as a new nation was founded by the U.S. Constitution. Neither the DoI nor the Articles of Confederation have any legal standing.

    Also, most of the Founding Generation did, in fact, believe in a personal God and that Jesus is his Son.

    A moot point. When they drafted the Constitution to found our nation, they cited no such authority.

    The Consitution is the supreme law of the land. You’re wrong. Period.

    The Constitution, together with all treaties which we have signed, are the supreme law of the land. The DoI is the law of nothing.

    how could we blame the Nazis for what they did?

    We don’t share those values. Most of us don’t think of Jews, homosexuals, or gypsies the way Hitler thought of them.

    They’re not wrong. They just hold an opinionr or value we disagree with on a purely personal level.

    And when those opinions or values are ones that we classify right or wrong, that’s what we call them. Morals are subjective, and to the extent we share them, they are inter-subjective. If we value the health and happiness of sentient beings we can arrive at moral systems that maximize this.

    Nothing changes if you add a God to the equation. You still have a thinking subject (god) holding opinions and values. Either we can evaluate those opinions and values as to how much they are in agreement with our opinions and values, or we can say God is right because he is stronger. Morality remains subjective.

  • http://www.thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com C.E. Moore

    I question what was created by the DOI, then? We celebrate every 4th of July as the day America declared its independence from GB and called itself the United States of America. I’m not exactly sure what your definition is. And in fact, so long as we remain a sovereign nation, the DOI is in effect. The nation might not look the same, but it still exists. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, but it is the law of a land created by the DOI.

    You are correct in stating that no Supreme Being is cited in the Constitution. 1) It didn’t NEED to be. They had already done so in the DOI. 2) An absence of a Creator in the Constitution does not suppose the Founding Generation had stopped beleiving in one. In fact, if you look at the exhibit cited earlier, you will find most of the Founding Generation were very vocal about their faith, in both political and personal word and deed.

    And when it comes to the opinion of man versus the decree of God, we are talking about finite belief versus eternal statement. I never supposed there was not some thinking being behind morality. Quite the contrary. The fact is, God is a final authority for morality. It can be appealed to and there need be nothing beyond it because God is final. When you eliminate God from the equation you are left with competing views and no authority to appeal to in order to make a case for right and wrong.

    Basically, I could shoot you in the face and no one could say I was wrong. They could say they weren’t agreeable to it, that it is illegal, that most of the world disagrees with that kind of behavior, but they couldn’t say it was wrong. Obviously, I WON’T shoot you in the face. I have too much going for me to be another African-American behind bars. But, in Nazi Germany in World War II and Rwanda in the 90′s and the Republic of Congo and the Sudan and right now, there is nothing to be rightly condemned–only personally disagreed with. Basically, you have no moral ground to stand on as an atheist. You might act morally and actually BE moral. But, you have nothing you can point to as an authority to say that you must be this way or that it is right to act as you are acting.

  • severalspeciesof

    To C.E. Moore,

    “That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

    That statement isn’t from a founding document of a Nation, but rather “united Colonies”, and that’s a big difference. After the war was won (securing independence from Great Britain and nothing more), it was then encumbent upon the Colonies to create a United States in order to keep their independence from Great Britain. Each Colony was under no obligation to stay united with any other Colony, but they did so knowing that in numbers comes strength. Indeed, looking over the history of the constitution, it almost didn’t quite pan out, which would have left any Colony not signing on, as a separate power against other nations, and other Colonies.

  • Ben

    In fact, if you look at the exhibit cited earlier, you will find most of the Founding Generation were very vocal about their faith, in both political and personal word and deed.

    Oh, please. It’s a load of selective quoting from G.W.’s theocratic wing. I notice they make no mention of the Treaty with Tripoli, signed 1796, passed unanimously, and printed in full in major newspapers without any controversy or angry letters to the editor. “As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” As a signed treaty, it was equal to the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. You would have to modify your position to one where the DoI, being the foundation of the government of the United States, was not in any sense based on the Christian religion – that the God mentioned is not the Christian God.

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/buckner_tripoli.html

    And when it comes to the opinion of man versus the decree of God, we are talking about finite belief versus eternal statement.

    Oh, really? Hypothetical: My son is not listening to me. He is out later than he should be, disobeying my rules. Therefore I pick up some rocks and start striking him in the head with them. He reels and begins screaming. I keep striking him until he is silent and dead. Did I do wrong?

    If you need more details on the hypothetical before you answer, ask.

    The fact is, God is a final authority for morality. It can be appealed to and there need be nothing beyond it because God is final. When you eliminate God from the equation you are left with competing views and no authority to appeal to in order to make a case for right and wrong.

    When you cite an authoritarian basis for morality, you lose any connection with morality being tied to human self-interests like health, life, freedom, or well-being. Another hypothetical:

    Five seconds in the future, God simultaneously appears to every human and every other sentient being in the Universe. He says “I created the Universe, all that is in it, and the Grunjigar race to occupy it. Some other creatures have begun occupying their universe. Any species other than the Grunjigar race is evil and flawed; they should all be exterminated. It is right and proper that all individuals in races other than the Grunjigar should begin killing all non-Grunjigar individuals without delay.”

    God, the supreme authority, has now made his wishes clearly known. Heck, he repeats the message and convinces every sentient being in the universe that he is God, creator and authority over the universe.

    Will you begin slaughtering your neighbors, your family, etc.?

    Basically, you have no moral ground to stand on as an atheist. You might act morally and actually BE moral. But, you have nothing you can point to as an authority to say that you must be this way or that it is right to act as you are acting.

    Conversely, as a subscriber to authoritarian morality, you have completely divorced morality from being tied to any human self-interest. Saying ‘but X would be unnecessarily hurt by this action’ is no argument against an authoritarian based morality. You might act morally and actually be moral, but you are actually amoral, and are just following orders that could just as easily hurt people as help them.

  • cautious

    C.E. Moore,

    And when it comes to the opinion of man versus the decree of God, we are talking about finite belief versus eternal statement.

    So, uh, I take it you were a Huckabee voter? :-)

    If you say that the best basis for morality is a document that has been divinely inspired, you then have to prove that that document has been divinely inspired, or it’s not the best. Since that can not be done, then when you appeal to the Bible as a source of authority, you are making the following appeal to authority:

    Jewish writers, some of whom worked for the early nation of Israel roughly 3000 years ago, and some of whom merely edited the words of earlier tribal leaders, wrote the world’s best moral codes, ever.

    Until Jewish writers 1000 years later wrote slightly better ones.

    Now I’m not going to immediately say that moral codes from 2000 years ago are invalid; the Greek writers who all-but invented European civilization sometimes had good ideas, such as giving citizens the ability to vote.

    But human civilization and society do evolve over time, and different cultures have different values. Your kind of people (by which I mean theocrats) want to ignore that.

    In our humble opinion, morals and values do not exist except in the human mind. They are a construct, and it’s our job, as humans, to build them, agree upon them, and punish people who break them.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ Siamang

    In our humble opinion, morals and values do not exist except in the human mind. They are a construct, and it’s our job, as humans, to build them, agree upon them, and punish people who break them.

    And I would add: and continue to work to improve them, including arguing over whether their validity is justified, and whether or not it has positive and verifyable results in minimizing harm.

  • Fisher

    C.E. Moore: As for the feminism thing, Christianity in its TRUE form, understanding the historical backdrop from which it stemmed, it is meant to be extremely liberating for women. Some have gone out of their way to deny this, but historically, for the most part, it has been very liberating for women.

    I completely lost the thread of the main discussion as I spent the last half-hour trying to wrap my mind around this. Wow, just wow.
    Might we find True Christianity in the same place as True Scotsmen?

  • Karen

    C.E. Moore: As for the feminism thing, Christianity in its TRUE form, understanding the historical backdrop from which it stemmed, it is meant to be extremely liberating for women. Some have gone out of their way to deny this, but historically, for the most part, it has been very liberating for women.

    I completely lost the thread of the main discussion as I spent the last half-hour trying to wrap my mind around this. Wow, just wow.
    Might we find True Christianity in the same place as True Scotsmen?

    Yeah. Interesting that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other founders of the women’s suffrage movement didn’t think so highly of the “liberation” Christianity provided to women. Sheesh.

  • cautious

    And I would add: and continue to work to improve them, including arguing over whether their validity is justified, and whether or not it has positive and verifiable results in minimizing harm.

    And I’ll add that it’s easy to be myopic and pretend that only our modern society has to find answers to amazing new moral quandaries, but every society, ever has to had to (literally) make up the rules as they went along. What changes over time is what authority we point to as the reason for the rules.

    In all honesty, it’d be easier for everyone if we threw away our brains and just used some universally approved edit of the Bible for our morals. …I hope the Muslims and Hindus in America don’t mind, but obviously they picked the wrong religion…

  • Maria

    nice to see bigotry is still allowed……..::sigh::

  • Spurs Fan

    I will agree with the previous posters that that I am baffled by Mr. Moore’s claim that Old Testament laws were to “protect women”. Perhaps a few can be twisted that way, but most seem to make it clear that women are closer to animals than men. I’d like a reference! (In fact, in some of the current gay marriage debates, some detractors say things like “Marriage should be between one man and one woman, just like it ALWAYS has been”….The Old Testament provides clear proof that, at least for many of our biblical heroes, it was “one man, many women”).

    I also agree with Mike…when I used to be a Christian, I used to make the argument that a strict wall between church and state was beneficial for both. I felt like our faith was tainted as we intertwined it with patriotism, etc. For example, as an ex-Christian, I find it hard to be a pure pacifist, but when I was a believer, it was much easier (using doctrine from the Gospels, NOT the Old Testament). My Christian wife agrees with these ideas.

  • ash

    C.E.Moore –

    As for the feminism thing, Christianity in its TRUE form, understanding the historical backdrop from which it stemmed, it is meant to be extremely liberating for women. Some have gone out of their way to deny this, but historically, for the most part, it has been very liberating for women

    this is utterly true – of course, it’s entirely dependant on selective interpretation of vast swathes of the bible, pretending that christian authoritative systems don’t really work they way they actually do, and ignoring the way that christianity has been practically implemented over history. with that in mind, i could legitimately argue that ‘True Islam’ is the religion most likely to support feminism.

    let’s face it, mass organised religions are not places for historical (and mostly even contemporary) equality of sexes. even buddhism, one of the least objectionable mainstream religions, has it’s dirty little secrets when it comes to treating woman as the ‘lesser’ sex. by all means, try to change this status with your denomination, but you are doing everyone, including yourself, a disservice by pretending it’s not so.

    Basically, you have no moral ground to stand on as an atheist. You might act morally and actually BE moral. But, you have nothing you can point to as an authority to say that you must be this way or that it is right to act as you are acting.

    is it worth pointing out that unless you can prove absolutely that there really is a god, and that further, you can prove absolutely that such a god is definitely the god of your chosen religion, any and all moral values stemming from that belong in a box marked wishful thinking/majority interpretation of the time? hmmm.

  • Ben

    is it worth pointing out that unless you can prove absolutely that there really is a god, and that further, you can prove absolutely that such a god is definitely the god of your chosen religion, any and all moral values stemming from that belong in a box marked wishful thinking/majority interpretation of the time?

    I don’t see why it would be worth pointing that out. Even if a God appeared, clearly identified itself, and laid out its morality, would that be sufficient for you to adopt the morality also? It wouldn’t be for me. A God would just be another ‘asshole with an opinion’ (just a particularly powerful one.)

  • ash

    Ben, i was thinking more of a god showing up and proving that my existing moral structure was entirely derived from him/her/it, not changing mine to fit. the reason for my ponderance on the worthiness of pointing it out was that until a theist can prove that such a being exists, they’re in exactly the same boat as a non-theist in matters of morality…as a deity cannot be proved either way, i’m not convinced that an argument of holding the moral high ground because you believe you have an invisible friend necessarily deserved an answer…

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Open Letter to In God We Trust

  • Fisher

    C.E. Moore: But, you have nothing you can point to as an authority to say that you must be this way or that it is right to act as you are acting.

    I am my own authority. Sure it’s a circular argument, but just a shorter one than the one you use. And if I’m not living up to my standards, well, I have to look my authority in the face everyday.
    Seriously – If you need to rely on an outside authority for your morals, then you have none.

  • infideljoe

    I wrote the Bishop Nedd and informed him that I don’t hate my country and in fact I served my country in the Air Force for 7 years. I also told him he might want to get to know an Atheist, before he makes statements like this. I’ll let you know if he replies.

  • JimboB

    C. E. Moore,

    Where exactly did I say it is “wrong” to put up a billboard like this? Please refrain from putting words in my mouth.
    Am I offended? You bet I am. Just because I don’t profess a religious belief doesn’t mean I can’t take offense.

  • koz

    Holy crap. That’s my home town. Reason I hate central Pennsylvania #2,492.

  • http://mypantstheatre.blogspot.com bullet

    Anyone who still honestly thinks that the Declaration and Constitution are or have within them statements of belief need to take a look at the Iraqi and Afghani constitutions. THOSE documents illustrate how to explicitly express faith in a god and their deliberate desire to create a legal system based on religious dogma.

    Christian Nation, my ass.

  • http://formsmostbeautiful.blogspot.com/ Peter

    Utterly deranged. Thanx for the update.

  • Pingback: STR : THE FREEDOM BLOG ® : Your donations at work

  • Cate

    My favorite part of this whole ordeal is that, on their website, the evidence they provide as proof that atheists hate America is mostly pretty patriotic. Nothing says anything negative about America, though there is one really spectacular one about how “true Americans” should follow Native American polytheistic beliefs because they were the true founders of America.
    I don’t think criticizing America’s history is the same thing as screaming “Down with America!”

  • Jaime

    I have one thing to say..if I could create a billboard and stick it up right next to an atheist billboard it would read…

    PLEASE DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO AN ANIMAL. ANIMALS ARE SMARTER. THEY BELIEVE IN GOD.

    by the way, when you face him one day and try to explain to him that you are too “intellectual”to believe in him…you will too.

    The best intellect is wisdom. Wisdom is intellect that speaks from truth. Truth is truth, not opinion or theory. Truth is truth. And the TRUTH IS that GOD IS. PERIOD.!

  • Anri

    I believe (in RE: the DOI) that I was indeed endowed certain right by my creator – both of them, actually. I have to remember to give them a call later today.

    I’m talking about my parents – they created me.

    We all do know where babies come from, right? Or does someone here need a reminder?

    Jamie: Citation needed. For several things in your post. Ask if you need me to be more specific. Thanks in advance.

  • JIm

    None of this surprises me, look at the balckmail and extortion the Catholic Church is conducting in Washington D.C. :

    http://rawstory.com/2009/11/catholic-church-wading-outright-lobbying-critics/


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X