“One million kiwis are good without God”. This is one of the new billboards seen around New Zealand.

One of the intentions of the more than $22,000 raised for these billboards is to start discussion.

I suspect that there is an intended double-meaning: (a) those on the census who registered “no religion” are fine (“good”); (b) those on the census who registered “no religion” live morally “good” lives.

I cannot judge if the former is true – I guess that the billboard-producers have checked them all out to see if none of them sweats about the meaning of life and not one of them ever suffers any existential angst. Great! I am surprised – so thanks for that piece of information at least.

It’s the second contention that fascinates me; that one million kiwis are morally good without God. In the liturgy we say of God, “you are the source of all life and goodness”. As Erasmus would have it, and Jung so famously reinforced: “Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit – Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” It is not the registering of oneself on the census as having a religion that makes God present in one’s life. It is not the registering of oneself as “no religion” on a census that removes God’s presence from one’s life. Wherever there is love – God is present (“Ubi Caritas et Amor, Deus ibi est”). Wherever there is goodness – God is its source.

In fact the opposite is also true. It is not the case, as some might take from the billboard, that three million kiwis are good with God. As if putting one’s religion on the census form means that one is “good”. There are endless accounts of religious people doing evil. In fact there are endless accounts of people using and abusing religion for evil.

Jesus calls us to be salt, and light, and leaven, enhancing the good and minimising evil. I suspect that Jesus, were he alive today (he is alive today!) would horrify some “religious” people (as he did in his own day) by hanging out with “non-religious” types and denouncing some who tout their religiosity.

I am delighted to work in partnership with atheists of good will for the betterment of others and our world. I see God in that. I’m comfortable that others might not.

man created God
There’s probably no God?
NZ Atheist Campaign

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