American Atheists, in an attempt to run a PR campaign against the Bible paid for this billboard in Harrisburg, PA. There are a number of problems with the AA’s methodology, not the least of which is the incredible lack of a cohesive morality within their worldview. At the most fundamental level, Atheism requires naturalism in order to remain a viable worldview. Naturalism denies the existence of God and by definition could never affirm the existence of something as abstract as morality. Moreover, naturalism would necessarily deny objective meaning at worse or at best, it would have no basis whatever for contending it does.
The AA must establish that truth exists, that it is knowable, that objective morality exists and that human beings have value and hence, it is possible to devalue them and such devaluing is objectively wrong, that it is absolutely true that it is wrong and that we can know with certainty that it is wrong. In other words, the only way that AA’s can condemn slavery is to adopt an epistemology, ontology, and ethic that is remarkably similar to that of Christianity. Atheism has no basis for believing that absolute truth exists, that it is knowable, that human beings have value, and that life has any meaning or purpose, or that objective morality exists.
In order for slavery to be wrong, human beings must have inherent worth. It must be possible for humans to commit evil against one another. Yet, naturalism has no basis for thinking such evil actually exists, let alone is possible. If all matter is the product of time + chance, then life has absolutely no meaning, no purpose, and no value. This billboard is put up by people who have spent the last few decades arguing that truth does not exist, that there are no absolutes, and that morality is really a convention of society. In other words, why should we bother to pay much attention to a group whose own beliefs call into question their own reason for existing in the first place?
The billboard is referencing the apostle Paul’s instructions to slaves. Slavery was a common practice in Greco-Roman culture. It was a reality with which the very small church at the time had to face. However, that the slave-master relationship within the Christian community even at the earliest stages of the church was far different from the images we have of American slavery cannot be denied. The goal of the American Atheists is to imply that Christianity along with the House of Representatives endorse or approve of the tyrannical practices that slaves experienced in American history. This implication is outrageous, unethical, and injudicious. The Bible specifically condemns mistreatment of slaves by their masters. In Eph. 6:9, Masters are warned not to use threats against their slaves. They are also warned against showing partiality. In Col. 4:1, Paul commands masters to dispense justice and fairness among their slaves. The American Atheists fail on both fronts. Their naturalistic worldview has no coherent basis from which to condemn slavery. Secondly, Christianity in no way endorses the kind of treatment that the mention of slavery conjures up in the American mindset.