Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Answers in Genesis: Believe in God or Die!

Answers in Genesis has decided to become a hate-site and promote the killing of atheists.

This is a television spot that the organization has put out:

AIG has got a lot of money. It is a well-funded hate group. As such, it is not unreasonble to expect that this advertisement is simply the work of some kids with a camera. It was probably put together by a professional marketing organization, market-tested and approved to deliver the types of impacts that AIG was willing to pay for.

So, let us ask, What is it selling?

Answer: Theism, or belief in God.

What reasons does it give to buy the product?

Answer: Otherwise, you will be shot.

The text that goes with the advertisement says: "If you don’t matter to God, you don’t matter to anyone.”

So, another thing that this advertisement is selling is the idea that atheists do not matter to God and, as such, they should not matter to the kid with the gun. It grants a moral permission to kids with guns to go ahead and kill atheists.

If it is morally permissible to kill atheists, then other activities less likely to bring the police and courts into the matter, must also be permissible. Assault, vandalism, bullying, intimidation, theft, an "accident" in the school yard, some name-calling, withholding honors and inviting ridicule . . . if the use of a gun is permissible, these must be acceptable as well.

The group most obviously targeted for this message of hatred against atheists are young boys - boys about the same age as the boy in the picture who might like the feeling of power that the person holding the gun can acquire. It invites identification with the boy with the gun. And, if one does not have a gun, there are a lot of other things such a boy can do to in its place.

There is no conceivable way of interpreting this advertisement as saying that it is wrong to kill atheists or to subject them to any of these lesser crimes. In fact, in light of the new national past-time of grabbing a gun and killing as many people as possible, this message says, "If you're inclined to grab a gun and kill people, then kill the atheists."

Consider the possibility of somebody like the kid in that video showing up at your next atheist gathering, or discovering that some atheist blogger lives nearby. Imagine him taking to heart the message in this advertisement, "If God does not matter to you, then you do not matter to me."

More broadly, the advertisement also represents an attempt to rule by terror. AIG's "Believe in God or die campaign" is a message to anybody who might put on a T-shirt with the letter A or otherwise identify themselves as an atheist, that you are making yourself a target.

What you need to do, according to the "believe in God or die campaign," is to protect yourself from the guy with the gun by burying your atheism. You must hide it. You must keep it secret and never let it out in public. Because, if you let your atheism be known, you are going to make yourself a target for the guy with the gun.

Politically, the message to atheists is to submit quietly to rule of, by, and or the theists or suffer the consequences.

If this advertisement turns out to be profitable - not in terms of money, but in terms of fulfilling the desires (or feeding the hatreds) of those who promote it, then we can expect to find more and stronger messages such as this in the future. We can expect it to be, like the atheist bus advertisements, an advertisement to be copied by other organizations who have the same desires. Furthermore, it will feed and promote those desires in others.

There are very real consequences to allowing it to be the case that those who deliver such an advertisement, and those who view it, experience more praise than condemnation of the message contained within. The message itself offers praise of for those attitudes. So, praise starts off in the lead, and condemnation must then catch up.

In addition, I wish to remind the readers of something that is a bit of a cliché in this blog.

The right to freedom of speech is not a right to immunity from condemnation for what one says or believes. It is a right to immunity from violence or threats of violence for those beliefs. AIG will certainly try to answer any condemnation by declaring that they have a right to freedom of speech. It would, perhaps, be useful to remind them and their audience of what a right to freedom of speech actually entails.

One final comment.

If, per chance, AIG should be pressured into offering an apology, this time, do not accept one of those back-handed apologies atheists are prone to accept. Do not stand for a statement like, "I'm sorry that you object to being shot," or "I'm sorry that you failed to understand my message," or "I'm sorry that I got caught."

If it is not a true and sincere rejection of violence and fear as a weapon, or of the message that the lives of well-being of atheists do not matter – if the apology does not include some measure of atonement – then this means that the person offering it does not yet realize the wrongness of their actions. This is not an apology. It is simply adding insult to injury.


anton said...

When I recount to Christians that exactly this type of attitude was championed in Finland in the early 1900s and that my Grandfather was one of their declared "targets", they don't/can't take me seriously. Many Finnish atheists were murdered. The police did nothing. And, almost 100 years later the same attitude can be found in US America.

Meanwhile, the so-called moral Christians who are not a part of this "campaign" sit on their hands and do nothing about some of the devils in their midst!

Baconsbud said...

This has got to be a put on. I can't believe someone would be stupid enough to air something like this. I am going to check a few christian blogs just for the purpose of finding what might be being said about this ad or types like it. I figure I will need to post a couple of comments with the link to this video on it. If enough people do this maybe it will wake a few people up.

NAL said...

It's not a put on:


Cindy said...

When I first saw this vid, I thought it was a put on too! I could not believe it. It's embarrassing to me, and outrageous!

When you follow the link in the comment above that organization puts a good spin on the meaning of this video - implying that they mean that if you don't believe in God you will not value human life. But that's equally untrue!

And it is certainly NOT the message that this video brings to mind!!!

I thought it was a Christian going to shoot Atheists.

I'm embarrassed and highly disturbed. And as a Christian, I'm terribly sorry.

Thesauros said...

“There is no conceivable way of interpreting this advertisement as saying that it is wrong to kill atheists.”

Before I’d read Cindy’s post, I’d cut the above comment and was prepared to paste it and then write the following.

I’ve never read any other AIG ads so I can’t say if this ad is part of a pattern. If it is, it’s disgusting and should result in charges.

However, if it isn’t part of a pattern I think that there are absolutely other possible interpretations.

The first one that comes to mind is, “If you don’t KNOW that you matter to God, then life is absurd and nothing matters, ultimately.”

My first thought is that this is an dislusioned atheist kid.

The add is addressing the atheist kids that have been going into schools and killing in a manner that clearly shows that no one matters in the minds of the atheist killers.

. While not all atheists kill.
. And while not all atheists who don’t care about God don’t see the absurdity of life.
. All atheists who kill, like high-school killers on the news “know” that nothing matters, because they don’t matter.

Like I said, unless this is a pattern for AIG, then I think the explanation that they give is perfectly reasonable and believable.

Eneasz said...

All atheists who kill, like high-school killers on the news “know” that nothing matters, because they don’t matter. That's just silly. Atheists kill for the same reason as any theist. Love, jealousy, hatred, profit, passion, stupidity, expedience. We are not some alien race. The only ones who do it because "They don't matter, so no one else does either" are the mentally disturbed. Unless you're going to extend this argument and conceed that every christian who kills some one does so because their god told them to (ala Yates) you should immediately correct what you just said, and then take a while to contemplate why you said it.

Lippard said...

"There is no conceivable way of interpreting this advertisement as saying that it is wrong to kill atheists or to subject them to any of these lesser crimes."


AiG's position is not that it's wrong to kill atheists, their claim is that *if atheism is true*, then there is no right and wrong, and thus killing *by atheists* is expected.

Their position is also not that atheists don't matter to God, but that atheists *think* they don't matter to God (they tend to get confused about the fact that atheists *don't believe there is* a god).

They can and should be faulted for their misrepresentation of atheism and ethics, but to accuse them of claiming that it's OK to kill atheists is itself a misrepresentation.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Jim LippardAiG's position is not that it's wrong to kill atheists, their claim is that *if atheism is true*, then there is no right and wrong, and thus killing *by atheists* is expected.AIG's permission is that if God does not exist then it is permissible to kill anybody - atheists or theists. It is not a descriptive theory about what can be predicted. It is a prescriptive theory in that there is no prescription against killing in the absence of God.

However, I was not talking about AIG's position, but the meaning of the advertisement. The meaning of any text or image is the idea that it can be predicted to cause to arise in the brain of the reader/viewer. That message is violent, and it is directed at those who deny the existence of God.

Furthermore, it is not at all uncommon for people to say things they do not believe simply because they value the effect. That's what lying is. Most lying does not involve intentional deception - the lier actually lies to himself more than to others.

AIG might not want to admit - even to themselves - the meaning of this message. We do not get its meaning by asking AIG (because of this problem of self-deception). We get the meaning by measuring the ideas expected to be formed in the minds of viewers.

That meaning is violent, and it is directed against those who deny the existence (or compassion) of God.

Sheldon said...

I am sorry I came to this discussion late. I found the video interesting in that I did not know exactly how to interpret it, what was AIG's intented message? I wonder if the ambiguity was intentional. Of course Christianity is a muddled and confused doctrine, with so many different interpretations of the Bible etc. So I am not surprised that their own message was not clear.

Sparrowhawk said...

Hello...late to the discussion, sorry. I've seen that there are billboards for this now, apparently, that are accompanied with the text "If God doesn't matter to him, do you?".

The message I get from that text is pretty clear:

This kid is an atheist and since he doesn't believe in Yahweh, he has no reason NOT to kill you.

I'm not sure what the purpose of the billboard is, other than to slander atheists and to suggest that we just go around killing people.

Lippard said...

Alonzo Fyfe: You didn't really respond to what I said. I agree that it's a violent message, and with Sparrowhawk's interpretation that it suggests that atheists have no reason not to kill people at random.

But I still disagree that it presents a message about *killing atheists*, as your post claimed. I think that's simply mistaken.

Anonymous said...

I note an inconsistency between the video's message and that of the bulletin boards: the video says "If you don't matter to god, you don't matter to anyone." I take this to mean, if God has turned his back on you, atheist (and some Christians believe that he does in fact do this), then your life is not to be considered worthy of preserving by anyone. Getting shot is just something you ought to expect. Such a message is, I agree, reprehensible. The bulletin boards, on the other hand, ask "If God doesn't matter to him, do you?" which is more in line with the argument others are seeing - that, without the (alleged) moral guidance of god, you're just more likely to shoot people whether they're religious or not. I don't support this kind of fallacious reasoning either, but it's a damn sight safer than what the video is putting out. The two messages seem to me to be as different as night and day. I wouldn't put it past AiG to be promoting both messages, but I think that the video's message is likely to do far more damage than good for their cause.

James Burchell said...

Go ahead and try to kill me for being an atheist. I wear my atheism tattoo proudly, for I have the ability of free thought and will, and if you do succeed in killing me, well enjoy your hell (I am sure according to your belief in god I will see you there, making your hell that much worse.) Because I am sure it is and will not be your only sin against your god. You are already going to hell for merely thinking a sin. So with that said, I Love you still, even as an atheist, but note I carry a gun as well and will END YOU without second thought or punishment from your imaginary "santa-Easter bunny-tooth fairy-GOD." And lets say you are right and I am going to "HELL" for not having belief in an insecure, Probably atheist as well god. Praise my lost soul "JESUS CHRIST WHY DON'T YOU COME SAVE MY LIFE NOW OPEN MY EYES BLIND ME WITH YOUR LIGHT." Sad to report I have still not been saved.