The Center for Inquiry is launching a Living without Religion campaign. This is the latest tit-for-tat skirmish in the oh-so-tiresome billboard wars. Personally, as purely a matter of tatse, if I must see a billboard I'd rather see a 3D cow telling me to Eat Mor Chikin than either a Christian or atheist billboard.
The message is rather bland—to the point of sleep-inducing:
"You don’t need God-to hope, to care, to love, to live."Yawn.
For whom is this message intended? I can't decide. Is it intended for atheists? That seems odd. Is there a large number of atheists who are sad about being atheists? It doesn't seem so to me. At least I never met an atheist who admitted to such.
Or is it intended for Christians—if so, to what end?
I guess I think it is intended for Christians. Consider this blurb from the CFI press release:
"With this campaign, we are aiming to dispel some myths about the nonreligious,” said Ronald A. Lindsay , CFI president & CEO. “One common myth is that the nonreligious lead empty, meaningless, selfish, self-centered lives. This is not only false, it's ridiculous. Unfortunately, all too many people accept this myth because that’s what they hear about nonbelievers."This is a meta-myth. A myth about a myth. Atheists seem to be in love with the idea that we spend our time denigrating, fearing, and misrepresenting them.
Show of hands: how many of you—when you do hear something in church about the group atheists (which I contend is many orders of magnitude less frequently than atheists imagine) actually hear something closer to this:
It is shameful that you cannot tell Christians from atheists—many of whom are far better than we are at charity, caring for the poor, parenting, preserving marriage, etc…
rather than anything resembling Ronald A. Lindsay's fantasy?
If I ever heard a pastor say anything about "empty, meaningless, selfish, self-centered lives" he was almost certainly chastising Christians, not insulting atheists.
I have heard--far more often-- pastors attempting a call to action by comparing Christians unfavorably to atheists--as opposed to saying anything along the lines of: they're a miserable lot, they are.
Lindsay and other atheists love to perpetuate the meta-myth that Christians perpetuate an unfavorable myth about them. Part of the rather strong atheist persecution complex.
As for the billboards—I think a solution is that Christians and atheists should get together and fund a billboard that we can both agree with. I propose:
If you are an atheist pretending to be a Christian, STOP RIGHT NOW!!. It's OK to come out of the closet.Like Ronald Lindsay, Jerry Coyne, gets it bass-ackwards, unsurprisingly buying into the meta-myth.
Jerry--we rarely think about you at all. When we do, it is most likely to mock your obtuseness, not to claim you live an immoral, meaningless, unfulfilling life.
UPDATE: Okay, next time I have a glaring spelling error in the title someone please let me know! I feel like I've been walking around all day with a piece of spinach stuck between my two front teeth.