Thursday, November 25, 2010

Humanists' New "Godless" Campaign

Logo from the "Godless Campaign"
See, at, "Humanists launch huge 'godless' ad campaign."

Here's what this is about, with a few comments.
  • The American Humanist Association this month said they are launching "what it calls the largest, most extensive advertising campaign ever by a godless organization."
  • But why would they do such a thing? Because "The Bible and the Quran contain "horrific material, and to say you get your morality from there" is a problem."
  • This will be a $200,000 campaign that will be in newspapers and on NBC TV.
  • The point is to "challenge the fundamentalists" who "spout  their backward ideas."
  • The target audience is: people who may not know they are themselves humanists. (In other words, non-reflective, thoughtless humanists. A humanist who did not know she was actually a humanist would not be very bright; perhaps, an "anonymous humanist" like Karl Rahner's "anonymous Christians.")
  • Now here is where, to my thinking, the whole humanist godless-campaign begins to go wrong.  ""We're targeting for criticism those who read the Bible literally, not those who pick and choose what they like," [AHA head Roy Speckhardt] said. "We're telling (people who pick and choose), 'You're more like us.' Biblical literalists and Quranic literalists are holding us back." The wrongness of this is: we have here a false dichotomy. The choices are: either read the Bible literally, OR pick and choose what you like. But that's ridiculous, since there are other alternatives. And again, we have here a humanist organization having to tell people that they may really be a humanist but they just don't know it. If they need to be persuaded by TV ads that they may actually be a humanist I have the feeling this won't last, or will engender a few nominal humanists who are about as effective as the many nominal "Christians" who fill our churches' pews.
  • Here comes some more bad humanistic thinking. Speckhardt says: "We know that you can be good without God, but many folks in America don't know that." Of course a person can be good without God. But without God we have no metaphysical foundation for goodness. A Godless metaphysic leaves us with no reason to be good. Many atheists have themselves seen this. For example, to cite a modern one, see atheist philosopher Joel Marks new revelation that, if there is no God, then "morality" does not exist. Sans God, "there is no such thing as right and wrong," says Marks.
  • "The campaign features violent or sexist quotes from holy books, contrasted with more compassionate quotes from humanist thinkers, including physicist Albert Einstein." Sounds like a bit of spin-doctoring to me.
  • "We don't expect to convert people from the billboard signs," Speckhardt said.
If I were a "humanist" would I be spending money on such things? I hope not. But that they are lauching this "campaign" does make it fun and interesting, in a way. It may provoke some philosophical and religious conversation, which I am immersed in all the time in my philosophy of religion classes. Perhaps I will be able to use some of the examples from the godless-campaign, while not losing sight of the fact that their campaign will not affect the serious philosophical discussion about religion.

What effect might the campaign have? I think: little or no effect. Just as few of my philosophy students know much about the Real Jesus, even fewer have ever heard of the names of those media darlings, the notorious "new atheists." Most students have never heard of Richard Dawkins and The God Delusion, no one has even heard the name "Daniel Dennett," and not one student (I exaggerate, but only slightly) has heard of Christopher Hitchens and that Hitchens is now dying. Today's youth are so busy tweeting around in the shallows of life that they are in no danger of being affected by the attempted (and occasionally challenging) deep-thinking of the new atheists.