I Found an Altar to No God
I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD’ ~Acts 17:22,23
Faced with a decision of how to respond to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens he could have chosen to ignore them or berate them. After all, they had just been calling him an "idle babbler" and a proclaimer of strange deities (17:18). Furthermore, Paul had already learned that he might not be well received by those to whom he proclaimed his message (17:5), His choice, however, was neither ignoring nor berating. Rather, he chose to engage with them. How? He found a point of intersection–"an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD." From that point of intersection he reasoned with those in the midst of the Areopagus, explaining the true nature of God, making clear how humanity relates to God, and establishing the proof for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The result? Some mocked him. Some wanted to hear more from Paul. Some believed Paul and joined him.
On March 24th there will be another assemblage of people talking about the latest ideas of the day. They will not be promoting an altar to an unknown God, but an altar to ‘No God.’ Joining together on the National Mall in Washington D.C., secularists from all over the country will be meeting for the Reason Rally (ReasonRally.com). In their own words,
The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society…
Whether people call themselves atheists, agnostics, secular Humanists, or any of the other terms used to describe their god-free lifestyle, secularism is coming out of the closet. . .
The purpose of this particular rally will be to advance secularism (in the broadest sense of the word) in society. . .
. . . the event is indeed a celebration of secular values.
They have every right to gather and express their views. We respect that right. Is it going to be just another "opportunity to trash religion?" They say, "No. This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active." It sounds like another Areopagus, though some might object that the Reason Rally is not a gathering of people who are "very religious in all respects" as in Paul’s situation (17:22). However, Paul’s statements to the "very religious" included the Epicureans who were materialists, hedonists, and had no use for the involvement of divine beings…
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