God, Billboards, and Missing Subjects
by Luke Nix
Last year and earlier this year some atheist groups used the commercial advertising space of billboards to promote their worldview and mock religion. As disappointing as it was to see atheists use rhetoric and ridicule rather than reason and evidence in these spaces, it was not as disappointing as the news that I saw reported this past Monday.
It came to my attention that Christian organization Answers in Genesis (AiG) has decided to respond to the atheists’ billboards, in kind. I was hoping to see billboards with succinct versions of the traditional arguments or some scientific evidence or an invitation to discover a world full of meaning, purpose, and reason or just a penetrating question. However, my hopes were dashed when I heard that the text of the billboards would read “To our atheist friends: Thank God You’re Wrong.” No argument. No evidence. No invitation. No question. I didn’t realize that “in kind” meant not just medium, but lack of substance and presence of condescension too.
However, discussing those issues would be rehashing much critique that has been leveled at Answers in Genesis’ general strategies and tactics throughout the years by many theologians, pastors, philosophers, scientists, and bloggers (including myself here and here). Today I want to focus on the actual content of these billboards- specifically the text’s ambiguity and the implications of the possible interpretations.
The Ever-Important Subject (Grammatically Speaking)
I really wish that AiG would have left the statement with simply “You’re wrong,” not “Thank God You’re Wrong.” The first is a complete sentence with a visible subject. The second (chosen by AiG) is missing the subject, so it leaves the reader to fill in the blank- which makes the statement ambiguous.
A few possibilities exist: “I”, “we”, or “you.” Since AiG didn’t include any of these, but still make the statement, one of them is implied. Depending on which one is read by the reader, the statement has different meanings. Unfortunately, they all have serious problems with Scripture, reason, and/or attitude. Let’s begin by looking at the first option: “I”…
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