The American Humanist Association’s ad campaign in Washington, DC, which asks, “Why believe in God? Just be good for goodness’ sake”, has provoked a number of sharp responses from Christians. The American Family Association’s president, Tim Wildmon, said, for example:
It’s a stupid ad. How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.
Around the blogosphere, Christians have echoed the same argument, which has got me chuckling, for it’s debunked in of all places the Bible itself. As Paul wrote in Romans 2:14-15 (NASV):
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
Paul did not originate this idea of a divinely engraved law; it’s found throughout the Bible. Psalms 19:1-4 (NASV):
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world in them He has placed a tent for the sun,
And it’s not like no one has ever noticed these scriptures. The existence of a “moral law” has been a constant refrain from Christians throughout the centuries, with Christian apologist C. S. Lewis being a recent popularizer (see, e.g., Mere Christianity).
The Christian response to the AHA’s ad reflects a baffling ignorance of their own doctrine. They can’t simultaneously argue one can’t be good without a belief in God, on the one hand, and then maintain that God’s law is written on the heart of every human, on the other. Does atheism somehow rescind a divine act?