Are You Good Without God?

Been quite a few "heavy" subjects lately. I'm afraid I can't apologize for too much - I feel convicted. I have a good-old-fashioned-Mormon "burning in my bosom." And it won't go away with Pepto.

I'll try to intersperse some more lighthearted posts from time to time. Like this one. But the name of this site - Emerging Christian - may be less and less accurate, at least from a merchandising standpoint. I'm less interested in how to "do church" in hip new ways. But I still think "emerging" is an accurate description for someone who is [at least] trying to evolve - to grow - to deconstruct and self-analyze. It may not always seem like I'm being self-critical when I talk about the failings of Western Christianity, but I really do see all of it as my own failings.

And so it goes.

Read this today - thought it was great!

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Some New Yorkers may want to reconsider exclaiming "Thank God" when arriving at their destination subway station beginning Monday. Or at least that's what a coalition of eight atheist organizations are hoping, having purchased a month-long campaign that will place their posters in a dozen busy subway stations throughout Manhattan.

The advertisements ask the question, written simply over an image of a blue sky with wispy white clouds: "A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?"

On October 26, a dozen bustling New York City subway stations will be adorned with the ads as "part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don't believe in a god", according to a statement from the group, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason.

I think it's ironic that atheists are actually lagging behind Christians... in the fundamentalist department. It's so natural (and sad) to mirror your "enemy" - to become what they are.

One of the key motives of this group is to raise awareness among the general public about atheism itself: that it's a viable option. And I think this is a healthy thing. Too many people subscribe to religion because it somehow equates to being a good person, being a patriotic American, being a savvy politician... these are not good reasons to call oneself Christian or any other religion for that matter. The sooner "religion" means something more than cultural affiliation or family ties, the sooner religions can be free to identify themselves by what they are rather than where they are.


Jubilee Oregon said...

Hi, Peter -

Great blog!

I edit the Jubilee Oregon blog and came across your comment. We would love to have you join us! We also invite congregations, synagogues, mosques, etc. to be part of our work. Please let us know if you are part of a congregation that would like to be a member congregation. This is an each one reach one effort that is not, as I can personally attest to, restricted to "believers."

Best of luck on your journey!


Sabio Lantz said...

So, Peter, you said, "Too many people subscribe to religion because it somehow equates to being a good person"

So what reason do you personally subscribe to religion. Or why do you feel people should ideally subscribe to religions.

Here are the common ones. Do you have others.

a) To become a better person
b) To feeling meaning in life
c) To get community
d) To get a career (Seminary types)
e) To help others
f) To gain status
e) To encourage the morals of their kids
f) To get healed
g) To go to heaven and avoid hell
h) To think of their dead loved ones as really alive in heaven -- to avoid pain of death of others
i) To acquire benefits in this life -- test scores, health, lover, money etc...
j) To become happier

I may have forgotten some common ones. I guess a few would say:
Z) To worship god because he deserves it

Anyway, what is yours, if there is something more noble than becoming a better person.

Existential Punk said...


Just finished a GREAT book and blogged about it about a former religion reporter for the LA Times, who was a christian, who lost his faith. My post, 'Why Do i Hang On?' talks about the book.


wsforten said...

I have personally submitted a response to this ad to more than fifty members of the Big Apple CoR. It can be viewed online at my website:

Peter said...

Ah, Sabio, I think you actually nailed it.

I said too many people "equate" belief in God with being a good person. You asked if "becoming a better person" was a reason to be religious. Becoming vs. equating. Belief in God (in my view) has nothing directly to do with being a good person. But belief in God CAN be a motivator to becoming a better person.

Is that a reason to believe in God? Maybe for some. I believe in God for a number of reasons. Meaning. Yes. A persistent, inner compulsion. Maybe. Questions that don't want resolving. A deep sense of awe and wonder at the beauty in our universe. A tugging at my heart toward a personalized deity I've conceptualized from childhood.

Awe and wonder can be satisfied with science alone for some, which I understand. Much of my experience is emotional and hyper-subjective. I get that too. I don't have much interest in debating God's existence because I'm not threatened by arguments of non-existence. Jesus didn't say, "Go out into the world and prove God exists."

Sabio, your list of toxic and selfish motives is important for all of us in faith-circles to be constantly aware of.

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