After all, what is the tie that binds atheism? It seems that by definition “atheists” would reject any attempt to lump them all together with one symbol or phrase that unites and epitomizes an atheist “credo.”
That is, after all, the point of religious monuments. Christians in general will erect a cross, the tablets of the Ten Commandments, a statue of Christ, while we Catholics will include statues of the Blessed Mother or other saints, and a crucifix. Jews have the Star of David or the tablets of the Decalogue. Muslims have the crescent moon.
These things point to a central truth of the faith that all adherents to that faith would immediately recognize and understand and identify with. The item would call to mind the religious duty of the person of faith, the revelation of God to man, the whole she-bang, in some way.
So what would atheists choose to be their monumental sign on the lawn of the courthouse where a monumental tablet of the Ten Commandments sits?
A North Florida county courthouse will soon be home to what’s believed to be the first public monument dedicated to atheism in the nation.
Bradford County has reached a deal to allow American Atheists to install a 1,500-pound granite bench near the county courthouse. The bench will feature quotes from Thomas Jefferson and Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
It will also include a list of punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, including stoning, and will include a quote from the Treaty of Tripoli, a late 18th century peace agreement that declares the U.S. was not founded on Christianity, The Gainesville Sun reported.
That’s it. It’s not a monument “dedicated to” atheism, it’s a monument against Christianity. It does not extol the virtues of, explain the foundational reasons for, or reveal the motivating idea behind anything; rather it attempts to put a thumb in the eye of Christian Americans. It doesn’t even really argue against the existence of God or for a godless universe, just focuses on tearing down Christianity and the Christian underpinnings of America.
They could have gone with something that extolled human achievements or wisdom that they believe occurred apart from any belief in a deity. They could have memorialized accomplishments and good lives of prominent atheists. Heck, they could have taken a stab at a flying spaghetti monster!
For that matter, they could have chosen another, non-Christian, foundational legal code to feature: the Code of Hammurabi, perhaps. Or something that merely said, “You don’t need a deity, just be good to each other.” That would have promoted something somewhat positive.
But no: they chose to raise a petulant middle finger instead.
See: for a Christian believer worth his salt, no quotes from Jefferson, O’Hair, or treaties, and no out-of-the-whole-context-of-salvation history quotes from the Bible will make a whit of difference. We don’t believe America is “founded” upon the Judeo-Christian heritage or that that heritage is vital to the survival of a just Western society just because some of the Founders said so or we want it to be so. We (at least we Catholics) don’t ignore the parts of the Bible that seem hard to square with a just and loving God, because the whole picture of salvation history shows how those things fit in.
A monument like this one is merely a snit. It’s an un-monument. It seeks to tear down rather than build up. But, like all adolescent tantrums, it reveals the immaturity of the perpetrators rather than the stupidity of the targets: the Ten Commandments are not going away, even if some localities bow to pressure to remove their display from public grounds.
But in this instance, this monument to the petulance of some atheists will sit with equal dignity to the Ten Commandments, the words of God that have stood the test of millennia of human history.
But there is an upshot.
It is a bench, after all, so all one has to do to defeat their purpose is, well, sit on it to block the words from view. And, depending on the arrangement, perhaps sitting on it will provide a good vantage point to sit and view and meditate upon … the Ten Commandments!