"Just be good for goodness' sake."
That's the ad campaign launched in Washington, D.C., by the American Humanity Association. It strikes me that this ad betrays the persistent misunderstanding atheists have about the grounding question in ethics. The grounding question is one I've brought up a lot on the blog. It is the explanatory power a worldview has to justify and make sense of morality, good and evil. It's the question often raised by theists to atheists in debates and most often the question is either misunderstood or the terms are changed. And that's what's going on in this ad once again.
The atheists usually answer the grounding question by asserting that they do behave morally. Atheists can be good. But the question isn't about being good; it's about explaining good, and evil. It's about an explanation for how these categories of universal, immaterial properties fit in a natural, physical universe if God doesn't exist.
The fact that atheists can be good isn't challenged by theists. And it actually makes sense in a Biblical worldview since all human are moral creatures and capable of great good and great evil. The problem is that atheists can't explain the existence of these categories.
We can be good for goodness sake. Even theists believe there is an intrinsic value in being good, and goodness just motivated by fear of God. Virtue is a love of the good. God loves the good, I believe, and we should love what God loves.
The ad confuses the grounding question once again. It's easy to assert goodness. It's harder to explain it without God.