Monday, February 09, 2009

Atheist Bus Ads in London

Scot McKnight wrote:

Have you seen this? What do you think of the approach? The Bible verse chosen? What verse or verses would you choose?

The word of God is on the move in London -- literally. Beginning Feb. 9, three separate Christian groups will launch advertisements on more than 200 of London's buses to convince pedestrians of God's existence. "It may be unpopular and unpleasant, says David Larlham, the assistant general secretary of London's Trinitarian Bible Society, a group that distributes bibles worldwide, "but there is a whole lot of truth in the bible that people need to get to grips with." His organization has paid $50,000 to display posters on 125 of London's red double-decker buses that quote Psalm 53: "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God."

Here's my two cents:

It's too bad a potentially interesting conversation is happening in such an unfortunate venue. Psalm 53 inspired the venerable Ontological Argument, which Alvin Plantinga has retooled in a thought-provoking modal form. It cannot be captured in a bus ad! Admittedly, these days most people consider it unfashionable to argue for God's existence, but does that mean philosophical conversation must be marginalized? ;)

The very fact that these atheists are using bus ads to further their cause indicates that they are more interested in people's hearts than their minds. While this is a legitimate approach--one that the Holy Spirit uses constantly!--the atheists cannot have it both ways. They cannot pretend to be appealing to "reason," while simultaneously they are using media which frustrate and undermine it.

So, the bottom line: Christians don't further the kingdom when we perpetuate contradictions. Let's imitate Paul and "become all things to all people" by fighting the bus ad battle using Travis Greene's method*, and fighting the International Philosophical Quarterly battle using Plantinga's.

*Travis Greene's method: Put up bus ads that read: "There is a God, and he's saving the world. Come join him."

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