~Correction/Update: Although Neuqua Valley High School still lists Hemant Mehta on its Math Department faculty webpage, he no longer works there. Linked screenshot below* was taken Dec. 19, 2014.~
A new Chicago-area billboard campaign from the aggressively offensive Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) exposes again this organization’s hostility to and childish misunderstanding of Christian faith.
The FFRF has announced that eleven billboards are going up with these special holiday messages:
- “Kindness comes from altruism, not from seeking divine reward.”
- “We are here to challenge you to think for yourself.”
- “I believe in reason and logic!”
- “Equality for all shouldn’t be constrained by any religion.”
- “Free of faith, fear and superstition”
- “I put my faith in science.”
- And this featuring Neuqua Valley High School math teacher* Hemant Mehta (aka the “Friendly Atheist”): “I’d rather put my faith in me.” (It’s curious that the billboard doesn’t identify Mehta as a public high school teacher. To learn more about Mehta, click here, here, and here.)
A few brief responses to the FFRF’s shallow slogans:
1. Kind acts are “friendly, generous, warmhearted, charitable, generous, humane, and/or considerate acts.” Altruism is unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Kind acts may be motivated by ignoble, selfish sentiments—perhaps even a wrong theological belief that one earns salvation through one’s actions. But kind acts can also be motivated by altruism that derives from faith in Christ.
Kindness can be the result of the regeneration that God performs in the hearts of believers, which deracinates selfishness and naturally results in desires more in line with God’s nature. Kindness can result from an overflowing of thankfulness for God’s great gift of salvation, which makes followers of Christ love and give more unselfishly, often even sacrificially. They act kindly and altruistically not to gain reward but to thank God and to express his love to others.
2. Finding the Old and New Testament writers to be persuasive no more constitutes a failure to “think for yourself” than does finding the ideas of Bertrand Russell, John Rawls, Richard Rorty, Daniel Dennett, or Richard Dawkins persuasive. And believing that reality is not exclusively material does not constitute a failure to think logically.
Are the members of the FFRF actually arguing that Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, G.K. Chesterton, Karl Barth,C.S. Lewis, G.E.M. Anscombe, Pope Benedict XVI, John Finnis, Hadley Arkes, Alvin Plantinga, D.A. Carson, Eleonore Stump, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, Francesca Aran Murphy, Doug Wilson, Robert George, Francis Beckwith, David Bentley Hart, and Alex Pruss did or do not think for themselves and/or that they reject reason and logic?
3. Equality—properly understood—is advanced by Christian faith. Equality demands treating like things alike, and increasingly both those who embrace an atheistic scientific materialism and people who embrace heterodoxy are incapable of recognizing fundamental truths—including even facts—about human nature. Therefore, they are incapable of identifying which phenomena are in reality alike.
4. First, one can make an argument that those who most fear, for example, death are those who have an unproven faith in the non-existence of an afterlife. Second, a superstition is “a belief held in spite of evidence to the contrary.” As such, the Christian faith does not constitute a superstition, because there is ample evidence for the existence of God and his human incarnation, Jesus Christ. Atheists reject the evidence based on their a priori assumptions about what constitutes evidence.
5. Christians too put their faith in science. Christians, including Christian scientists, trust and have confidence that science proves what it can prove. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of an immaterial reality. And science cannot prove whether altruistic acts are objectively morally good acts or merely acts that humans have evolved to believe are objectively good because such a belief serves to enhance survival.
6. Faith in self alone reflects the kind of hubris that leads more often to intellectual and moral error than it does to altruism.
“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will Jesus Christ became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.” ~J.I.Packer
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