(Photo: considerhumanism.org via The Christian Post)
A Christian apologist at Biola University responded Thursday to a new atheist ad campaign that criticizes the Bible, saying it is "ridiculous" for humanists to lecture on morality without God in the picture.
"They are trying to show that they can be good without God but that's ridiculous," said Dr. Craig Hazen, founder and director on Biola's MA program on Christian Apologetics, in an interview with The Christian Post.
"How do you get an ought from an is?" posed Hazen. "The concept of good has no meaning in the humanist worldview. How in the world can they understand good and evil, pleasure and suffering, when they believe that the creation of this world is random?"
Earlier this week, the American Humanist Association launched a national campaign that directly challenges the Bible and the Quran. In the ads, excerpts of both holy texts are portrayed in a negative light as a way to show the humanist approach to topics like women, homosexuality, and war as being more moral.
In one of the AHA video ads, an actor portraying a pastor cites 1 Timothy 2:12 saying, "I do not allow women to teach or have authority over a man. She must be silent." The video clip, which can be viewed on the "Consider Humanism" campaign website, is followed by a quote from 19th century freethinker Robert Ingersoll, stating that "the rights of men and women should be equal and sacred" and that "marriage is a perfect partnership."
However, the ads take the Bible verses out of context and don't paint an accurate picture of Christianity, according to Hazen. Citing Ephesians, he said the Bible is not misogynist but teaches that husbands should love their wives like Christ loved the church.
"Men are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the church and giving themselves over to death for her," said Hazen. "That doesn't sound like subjugation but that sounds like deep love anyone would want."
"They are simply assuming the Bible is misogynist and homophobic without doing the careful work that Bible historians do," added the Christian scholar. "They are trying to set the rules for the discussion but they don’t actually want to hear the arguments."
The current AHA ad campaign is the not the first time the atheistic organization has attempted to increase its membership but it is the first in which the ads directly assault the Bible. Last year, the group ran a holiday campaign under the slogan “No God? No Problem!” on bus ads across the nation.
AHA director Roy Speckhardt said this year's campaign seeks to recruit atheists and agnostics who might want to join his organization instead of a church.
One video ad also features the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins giving the humanist take on intelligence. His quote is paired with a Bible verse from Proverbs 3:5, which calls on believers to trust in the Lord and not lean on their own understanding.
The campaign, comprised of broadcast, print publication and public transportation ads, will include a television spot on NBC Dateline on Friday and print ads in major newspapers like USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Although Hazen said humanists have no business interpreting the Bible, he concluded that the ads may have some resonance due to the biblical illiteracy among Christians today. Some Christians may see these ads and think, “Yeah, we have to be more tolerant, open or good,” he said.
"Unfortunately, it's effective," commented Hazen. "It's an indictment on general Christian education but it turns out we've got the goods in terms of excellent thinking and response to campaigns like this."
Hazen said public interest in Christian apologetics has been growing, especially at Biola in Southern California, and hopes the school’s graduate program can train more "clear thinking" Christians to defend their faith in the public square.