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Response to Religionists who are Badmouthing Nonbelievers

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Created by God to be good

by Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
November 14, 2010

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IT HAS BECOME an annual tradition: The days grow shorter, the holidays approach, and the American Humanist Association rolls out an ad campaign promoting atheism and disparaging religion.

Last year, the organization placed ads reading "No god? No problem!" on hundreds of billboards and buses in more than a dozen cities. Its theme in 2008 was: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."

Sarah Ameigh, of the American Humanist Association, with some of the advertisements the organization is placing on billboards, buses, and in newspapers to spread its gospel of atheism.

This year, the association is taking a more combative tone. It is spending $200,000 to "directly challenge biblical morality" in advertisements appearing on network and cable TV, as well as in newspapers, magazines, and on public transit. The ads juxtapose violent or otherwise unpleasant passages from the Bible (or the Koran) with "humanist" quotations from prominent atheists. For example, a dreadful prophecy from the Hebrew prophet Hosea -- "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" -- is contrasted with Albert Einstein's comment that he "cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation."

Of course anyone can cherry-pick quotes to make a point.

>>Can any god be good by any stretch of the imagination if He commands that babies be smashed on rocks? Furthermore god commanded genocides and murders throughout the whole bible - this is not cherry picking<<

And of course it is true, as the humanist group's executive director Roy Speckhardt maintains, that there are "religious texts" that "advocate fear, intolerance, hate, and ignorance." Religion has often been put to evil purposes or invoked to justify shocking cruelty; the same is true of every area of human endeavor, from medicine to journalism to philosophy to the law.

But it will take more than a few grim verses plucked out of context

>>Under what context can baby smashing be acceptable?<<

to substantiate the core message of the American Humanist Association's ad campaign: that God and the Judeo-Christian tradition are not necessary for the preservation of moral values and that human reason is a better guide to goodness than Bible-based religion.

Can people be decent and moral without believing in a God who commands us to be good?

>>You mean to say that you don't realize that killing is bad for us without god?? And your god commands us to kill people who don't observe the sabbath and kill our sons who talk back to us.<<

Sure. There have always been kind and ethical nonbelievers. But how many of them reason their way to kindness and ethics,

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professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at a new york medical school also an active atheist
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A genuinely enjoyable essay. The small misprint i... by Philip Krumm on Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 at 12:17:47 PM
I fully understand why atheists are outraged by th... by Arthur Avalon on Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 at 12:33:32 PM
I have always been amazed that religious adherents... by John Moffett on Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 at 1:04:11 PM
Men established religious doctrine, dogma, and can... by Sarah Ruth on Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 at 5:14:15 PM
Why argue, discuss -- or even think about God and ... by Robert Spies on Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 at 8:32:58 PM
When I was young, I got left with my Mothers cousi... by Mel Smith on Sunday, Nov 21, 2010 at 11:41:22 PM
My Only Problem With Being an Athiest... is that ... by Faith Carr on Monday, Nov 22, 2010 at 7:15:51 AM
The idea that nature is "naturally" cruel is quite... by Dick Hudson on Monday, Nov 22, 2010 at 11:44:24 AM