Theological critiques of billboards required

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza prepare to charge

The atheist billboards which went up in three New Zealand cities recently have provoked some interest. Most of it has been quietly positive.

However, there are the critics. Inevitably there are those who criticise the weakness of the slogans. Lindsay Perigo had a slightly humourous article on this (see SOLO-NZ Press Release: Memo to NZ Atheists—Grow a Pair!). He said:

“What sort of abject cop-out is ‘There probably is no God’ after ‘We are all atheists about most gods. Some of us go one god further’?! There probably is no God? Is that what we say about all the other gods?

“Would we say there probably are no goblins, ghosts, tooth fairies, taniwha and trolls under bridges?

“Given that we live at a time of resurgent goblinism, particularly of the pseudo-Mordi variety, it’s refreshing to see someone taking on these morbid superstitions and urging folk to enjoy their lives uninhibited by fearful fantasies spouted by charlatans and witch-doctors. For that precise reason it’s exasperating to see the punch-line of this campaign retreat into a wimpy nod in the direction of the politically correct, Richard Dawkins-type agnostics who believe one shouldn’t state anything with certainty for fear of frightening the horses or upsetting philosophy professors unsure of their own existence.

“There is no God. There are no goblins, ghosts, tooth fairies, taniwha or trolls under bridges. Now you can really stop worrying and enjoy your life,” Perigo concludes.

Perhaps he has a point.

Theological criticisms

Then, inevitably, there are the religious critics. Inevitable because their collective noses are obviously out of joint over this little bit of democratic voicing of opinion – something they just aren’t used to

But somewhat pitiful given that part of the success of the atheist advertising campaigns results from the criticism and opposition from those who are upset by people having different ideas to their own. Attempts to prevent adverting (successful in New Zealand with the buses) and their public condemnations before and after the billboards went up have only created more interest. And support – even from many Christians who are offended by attempts to prevent others from expressing a viewpoint.

What I have found rather amusing is the efforts of some of the theologically inclined (and hence offended) bloggers who make a theological criticism of the slogans (see man created God, There’s Probably No God? Fisking Atheist BillboardsMore Billboard Fun and Stop Worrying?).

Bloody hell – its one thing to condemn Richard Dawkins book “The God Delusion” because it is a consciousness raiser rather than a typical dry and convoluted theological treatise. But to try to apply the same analysis to two-line slogans really does bring up the image of Don Quixote and Sancho Panses charging a billboard instead of a windmill.

Anyway, I wondered if these theologians would dare apply some of their skills to those signs that go up outside churches. After all, Church theology is so much more naive than academic theology. What about a bit of constructive criticism there.

Theological critiques of church signs?

I hunted down some church signs for them to criticise. No, not locally, those are so dry and meaningless. But there are some interesting ones on the internet. mainly American but a few Kiwi ones.

In fact some of them are so funny, or weird, that I got distracted. They are good for a laugh. I could see someone putting a collection together. Unfortunately I became aware that the better ones were probably not genuine. Rather they were designed using the Church Sign Maker. Pity! I can imagine a Pastors job is so boring that some of them may be tempted to express themselves on their church billboard.

Anyway – here’s some samples for these theological critics. Come on Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and your mates – you have written dry academic screeds critiquing these harmless atheist billboards. Lets hear your theological comments on the Church billboards. (Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image)

Permalink

Similar articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Share

About these ads

24 responses to “Theological critiques of billboards required

  1. “God does not believe in atheists”

    What the hell does that even mean?

    Like

  2. Amazing how Perigo manages to turn even these billboards about the Theism/Atheism debate into a racist rant… actually that is exactly what i would expect from the Randians.

    Like

  3. The meaning of “God does not believe in atheists”?

    I think it means that God does not think there are any any true (strong) atheists.

    Deep down, everyone knows that there must be an intelligent first cause. Common sense demands it.

    Like

  4. Some days I think the ‘probably’ was worth it just for the drama it causes hehe

    Like

  5. Richard Christie

    Deep down, everyone knows that there must be an intelligent first cause. Common sense demands it.

    Rubbish. Common sense would ask what caused your so-called “first cause.” (apologies to Cedric for use of scare quotes).

    If you demand an act of creation for reality then you must also demand one of the creator, ad infintum. A pointless exercise.

    Like

  6. Richard Christie

    Amazing how Perigo manages to turn even these billboards about the Theism/Atheism debate into a racist rant… actually that is exactly what i would expect from the Randians.

    What are you talking about? racist?

    Like

  7. Maxanon, what specifically was the racist part?

    Like

  8. Well Ken – the “pseudo-Mordi” bit.

    On its own it looks like just another example he happened to think of… but having followed his rants over many years it fits with a pattern. Here is a billboard about atheism.. and yet Perigo sees it as an opportunity to get out his racist bugle. It is not just him. Randians, while claiming to be objective, often embrace an anti muslim, pro-white extremism, and then try to justify it using twisted apologetics style argumentation.

    Like

  9. I am not disagreeing, Maxanon. Still just don’t understand it. What is “pseudo-Mordi?”

    I am beginning to regret I included Perrigo’s comment. After all I am trying to get some theological skills applied to the Church signs. They are meant to be theologically-based, surely?

    Like

  10. “Mordi” is Perigo’s snide way of mocking Maori for wanting their language to be pronounced properly. Why pseudo? I think he has in his mind a concept of how Maori should be, and when they present themselves in a way which differs from his pre-conceived perception it upsets him!

    Like

  11. Richard Christie

    Point taken, I had tried finding the word mordi before I asked about your comment but failed to find anything. Agreed, it is rather snide.

    Like

  12. OK – I understand now. Silly man. He should avoid using “in-words” that very few people can understand. I thought Mordi was a Punk Rock group. But then again he is in it for the personal rant.

    Now to get pack to the theological business.

    Like

  13. My opinion – they are just slogans! No argument form me.

    Like

  14. Same as the three atheist billboards?

    Like

  15. That Joseph and Mary graphic cracks me up. I wish I could post it on every Roman Catholic Church door in Canada this coming Sunday morning. Theists sure don’t like it when you poke fun at their fairytales.

    Like

  16. Ken: absolutely. Slogans. And actually TAM – *some* of us theists love it when you make fun of our fairytales ;)

    Like

  17. Don’t worry Ken, church signs ARE frequently criticised, especially ones next to St. Matthews-in-the-City, Auckland.

    I am sure bloggers will continue to write about whatever takes their fancy. As you may have gleaned from post titles such as “Billboard Fun” (and from your gleeful collection of dumb church signs), pointing out stupidity on billboards is easy for a laugh.

    Like

  18. Richard Christie

    That Joseph and Mary graphic cracks me up. I wish I could post it on every Roman Catholic Church door in Canada this coming Sunday morning. Theists sure don’t like it when you poke fun at their fairytales.
    That was a from a church billboard, but it was vandalised by believers several times and finally abandoned.

    Like

  19. I agree, Ropata. But our friends Matt and Glenn consider that the atheist billboards should be scrutinized seriously from a theological position. Something I think is silly and only deserves derision.

    All I have done is invited a similar levels of serious theological scrutiny be paid to Church billboards.

    So far they are noticeable by their silence. Perhaps they realize how silly they have been.

    Like

  20. Rubbish. Common sense would ask what caused your so-called “first cause.” (apologies to Cedric for use of scare quotes).

    Ha! Just spotted this one. :)

    (puts on somber expression)

    Ego te absolvo.
    Go and sin no more.
    (giggle)

    Like

  21. Here’s something else for you to complain about :

    http://ropata.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/theocracy/
    :)

    Like

  22. Richard Christie

    Marines abseiling from the ceiling in a church.

    Who says the USA is a scary place?

    Like

  23. Then, inevitably, there are the religious critics. Inevitable because their collective noses are obviously out of joint over this little bit of democratic voicing of opinion – something they just aren’t used to

    Do you really think that? There are so many posts I’ve come across mocking Christianity, I’ve lost count. Your attempt here to continue the theme is not new. Did you think you were forging new ground or something?

    Like

  24. Oh, dear, ZenTiger. Have these posts been claiming you don’t exist, you are going to hell, or you are a fool?

    Welcome to the real world. Now there are some people who are so “rude,” “strident” or “militant” they might actually be critical of some of your most silly claims. May be even mock them.

    Its the mormal give and take of human discourse. We can respect the person but still ridicule their claims whem they are silly.

    Like

Leave a Reply - please be polite to other commenters & no ad hominems.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s