Thursday, 29 October 2009
If you live in New York City and ride the subways, perhaps you've seen a new ad campaign. For those of you who don't, during the next month, twelve subway stations will be featuring posters that ask the question, “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”
There seem to be two purposes for the ad campaign. The first is rooted in the organization responsible for conducting the campaign, the New York City Coalition of Reason. According to its website, the group, also referred to as the Big Apple CoR, is “a collection of local organizations working together to increase awareness of secular-minded groups throughout New York City.” Taking that into consideration, the primary purpose for the “good without God” campaign is to unite like-minded people, in this case those who are atheist.
A second, more understated purpose relates to the release of the book coincidentally entitled Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe by humanist Greg Epstein. The book, which was released this past Tuesday, discusses the purpose of secular humanism and suggests that humans can lead moral, virtuous lives without the existence of a higher power, essentially that humans can be “good” without God.
This is, of course, where the Christian view differs dramatically. In the Biblical perspective, the existence of good and evil in the world is directly related to the existence of God. They are inseparable, because God is the Biblical definition of good:
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. (Mark 10:18, NIV)
With that in mind, God is not only good, He is the source of all goodness and the ruler by which good is measured. Things like compassion, love, caring for one another, morality and virtuousness are all, therefore, derived from God because of the goodness exemplified by these actions.
Christians and atheists will, of course, disagree on the answer to the “good without God” question. There is, though, one positive outcome of the advertising campaign that Christians can benefit from: people will ask questions, and when they do, we can explain to them why we believe that there is no good without God.
“A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”
No, actually, I'm not. I'm a sinner, hardly good at all, but through the grace of God and His undying love for me, I can know that, when I do “good” things, the world around me sees a glimpse of Him, because He is the definition of good. With that in mind, there's no such thing as “good without God.”
What do you think will be the result, if any, of the “good without God” advertising campaign?