Tag Archives: christian

Christmas is a Religious Festivity

Christmas is a religious festivity – us atheists should not recognise it – do you agree?

This was a question posed by NewcastleBoy via twitter a few days ago. I decided I’d answer it here on my blog instead of twitter because it needs more than 140 characters to provide a full explanation.

Firstly, where did the modern day Christian Christmas season and festivities come from? Why was the 25th December chosen as Christmas Day?

There is no evidence that the 25th December was Jesus’ birthday despite this being cited as the reason for that day being chosen (there is no evidence that Jesus ever existed at all, but that’s another story).  Some say the 25th was just a date chosen to commemorate his birthday, much like the Queen of England’s  birthday is celebrated at various dates around the world. It has been said that the 25th was chosen as that is the winter solstice (in the northern hemisphere) or that it coincided with historical Roman festivities. I tend to think that those reasons are most likely; with the church trying to convert the pagans into christians there are definite advantages to just accosting the pagans’ days and rituals and converting them to christian equivalents.

Of course the Jews aren’t very big on Christmas, not recognising Jesus as a god and all that, and one has posted an article (despite the anti-christian rant) on the historical origins of Christmas. There are many more of these on the internet, Christians really should learn about the pagan origins of many of their celebrations and rituals, they might be quite surprised.

So the the origins of Christmas are most likely Roman and pagan festivals accosted by the Christians, but where does that leave modern atheists when it comes to recognising those traditions?

Like many people in Anglo countries (America, UK, Australia, large sections of Europe, etc) many of us are what could be called “Cultural Christians”. In so much that the Christian faith is the biggest (by numbers) of all the many faiths. Many of us, myself included, were raised as Christians and were brought up in an environment where Christmas was a big part of the Christian way of life. So to some extent celebrating Christmas is more of a cultural thing than a Christian thing.

Cultural Judaism is well recognised and many Jews call themselves atheists but still adhere to some of the Jewish rituals. I suspect many Christians are the same, in Guy Harrison’s book 50 Reasons (see my review) he talks about cultural Christians and sees no problem with it.

So to answer the original question. I believe atheists should not recognise Christmas as that in some way condones religion and belief in God.

However, I think these days many people just view Christmas as a time to have a few days off and get together with friends and family and celebrate life and friendship (and drink and eat too much). Christmas can be, and is to many people, celebrated without any reference to religion; barring the word Christmas meaning Christ’s Mass. These days even some non-christian nations celebrate Christmas.

Despite it’s religious overtones, I enjoy the idea behind Christmas as a day to give people presents and to share a table with family and friends, and I’ll still put up a Christmas tree (This years is going to be even more outrageous than last years, stay tuned for some pictures in a few weeks time).

I guess in some ways I’m being hypocritical, celebrating Christmas despite not believing in God or Jesus and being non-religious, but heck it’s fun. Perhaps one day Christmas will become a purely pagan ritual again? We could change the name and still have the day off, drink and eat too much, and have a great time with family and friends. After all that’s all Christmas is to me and many others.

As I have no family here, what little I have are interstate, Christmas day is mainly with friends these days. Despite being on my own I will still be doing the Champagne and Croissant breakfast on the morning of the 25 December.  You are all very welcome to attend, just let me know if you are coming so I have enough bubbles and food on hand. 🙂

But there’s more…

Interestingly, as a child many children are taught by their parents (authority figures) that Santa Claus is real and that he brings them presents (reward for being good) or not if they’ve been bad (punishment for not-believing). Much like from birth those same children are taught god is real and that he also rewards the good (promise of heaven) and punishes the bad (fear of hell).

Not surprisingly, eventually children learn that Santa is not real, that he is a made up story, that it is highly improbable that he could deliver presents to everyone on the planet. They realise that there is no credible evidence for Santa, so stop believing in him. Surprise surprise nothing bad happens when they stop believing in Santa, they still get presents from their parents, though now they know it’s them, not a mythical being, that provides the presents.

Strangely many of these same children remain believers in a god, despite there being no more credible evidence for a god than there is for a Santa Clause. Very strange indeed. From personal experience, and from what many others have told me, much like when you stop believing in Santa nothing bad happens, nothing bad happens when you stop believing in god(s).

In fact many people are much happier and content when they no longer have to fear or worry about god. It’s actually easier to live life when you no longer have to try to live up to some mythical god(s) expectations.  If you are a believer perhaps you should think about that this Christmas.

So my answer:

Atheists shouldn’t recognise Christmas as a religious festivity, and I don’t.

But what do you think, should non-believers recognise and/or celebrate Christmas?

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QOTD 17 June

You can lead a Christian to evidence, but you can’t make them think.

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There’s Hypocrites

Then there’s fucking hypocrites.

[Anyone following this blog recently may have noticed my ‘problem’ with hypocrisy. One day all may be revealed.]

Via Twitter I came across this interesting article:

Group targets school kids in atheism drive

A story (on a religious web site) lamenting that the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) in England are “targeting” children to inform them that religion may not provide the best ethical and moral guidelines.

In what is some of the most hypocritical statements (and I’ve heard plenty over the last 18 months), and some of the best cognitive dissonance I’ve seen (at least in the last few minutes) in a while, comes these pearls of wisdom:

“It is deeply worrying that they now want to use children to attack the Christian ethos of their schools.

“Many parents will also be anxious at the thought of militant atheists targeting their children.”

OMFG! Like the many and varied churches haven’t been using children to boost their incoherent, inconsistent and blatantly stupid beliefs for the last couple of centuries!! Like the churches (eg. Catholic, Anglican & Muslim) haven’t, not only setup their own schools to indoctrinate and brainwash the unfortunate  children, but have also managed to get RE into a lot of public schools. Like religion hasn’t used children and schools to attack atheism, evolution, and promote their particular narrow minded view of the world.

If it wasn’t for the stranglehold religions have on children, there probably wouldn’t be any religions. If religion was expressly forbidden to be indoctrinated or taught to anyone under the age of 18 how many people do you honestly think would believe in it?

Why do you think so many religions espouse having lots of children? Why do you think so many religions (particularly the Catholics) have problems with contraception?

Because if children weren’t indoctrinated from birth in the faith of their parents, if children were dutifully informed about religion and how it came about. If children were informed about the many and varied faiths; they probably wouldn’t become religious. Then the particular faith would wither and die a natural death.

As A. C. Grayling says [paraphrased]

Tell an averagely intelligent adult hitherto free of religious brainwashing that somewhere there is an invisible being, who was born of a virgin, performs miracles, that wants us to worship them or else they’ll burn in hell. Then ask them which of several religions, that fit this description, they wish to believe in, most likely they will say: none of them.

Hypocrisy at it’s best, religions have schools that promote a particular religion, but then have a problem with a group that wants to promote healthy positive, alternative, critical thinking.

Another, slightly less biased story is here.

What do you think? Are the religious being hypocrites? Do they have anything to be concerned about? Is the AHS on to a good thing?

What more could be done to promote critical thinking in schools?

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Anti-Lent

Test a Bad Habit, New Sin or Guilty Pleasure for a few weeks.

Austin Cline from atheism.about.com, has come up with a great idea for atheists this Lent.

Lent is the penitential period of 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter when Christians fast and do penance in preparation for Easter.

So what’s in it for us atheists?

If Christians do penance for their sins, you can rack up new “sins” by test driving new material, physical pleasures.

Austin has some ideas to start you off:

  1. Try Out New Signature Cocktails
  2. Try a Greasy or Fattening Food
  3. Experiment Sexually
  4. Try a Dangerous Hobby
  5. Experiment with a New Genre of Music
  6. Test Your Clothing Comfort Zone
  7. Rent Some Low-Brow Movies
  8. Play Hooky and Treat Yourself
  9. Dump Your Email In-box

I’m sure you can think up many more.

As Austin says:

This life is the only one we have, so expand your comfort zone by trying new things.

According to when-is.com Lent in 2009 will start on Wednesday, the 25th of February and will continue for 46 days until Saturday, the 11th of April. So we are already 10 days into it, only 36 more days of “sinning” to go, so you better start now (if you haven’t already 😉 ).

So dear readers what new “sins” are you going to indulge in this “Lent”?

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Eviscerating a fundie

I have been getting a few new readers lately, posting their first comments which, as I’ve pointed out before, have to be moderated. As I recently blogged about, not all of these are very informative, on topic or lucid. Some just resort to insults, which for a first time visit is a little rude. Would you just walk up to some one you’ve never met and say “you are a fool”? Well Wolfsbane seems to think that is an OK introduction, as the following comment from him shows. (shown in it’s entirety, then broken down so I can address each part)

You people are fools ! Every single one of you ! You will all miss the snow in the UK, hell is a pretty hot place. Reason why you are fools: There is but no evidence, other than a dude who makes money from his opinion paid by people who believe in the same opinion, that God does not exist. You may argue, but their is little evidence to support that he does. Whether he does or not, why make a scene about it. Why do you people need to believe that he doesn’t. Will it make you feel better when looking at child pornography? Will it make you feel better when stealing or killing?

You are fools, cause you live like there is no God, but take to chance to find out that there is one, and what then? You’re screwed?

If you have the balls to attack christian faith, why not attack allah or buddha? You most prob scared after they bomb you! Christians won’t, right?

Understand, that you attack christians, because you are scared, and putting your faith in mere person, hoping he might know what he is talking about, just as I, might not know what i am talking about. You are weak, and looking for the easy way out.

I feel sorry for you people. Not willing to have responsibility for your own lives, and living someone else’s. Good for you, I am happy I don’t have sleepless night about fools.

Adios me foolish wanderers !

Well welcome to you to Wolfsbane, next time try and be a little more polite in your opening sentence. I’ll admit I’m a bit foolish sometimes but I think you are drawing a long bow calling all my readers fools. For a start if you are having a go at non-believers (not entirely clear who the “you people” is) then it may pay you to know that I get a few religious people who frequent this blog (some of them very nice people).

You will all miss the snow in the UK, hell is a pretty hot place.

Personally I won’t miss the snow in the UK as, in case you didn’t guess from the blog name, I live in Australia, so I don’t really miss snow anyway (though now you’ve mentioned it, it’s been a while since I last went skiing, may have to think about a holiday to the snow fields this year). I was in Adelaide last week, now that’s a pretty hot place and it’s real and exists, unlike your imaginary hell. Take note: trying to scare atheists with threats of non-existent places is really not much of a threat.

Reason why you are fools: There is but no evidence, other than a dude who makes money from his opinion paid by people who believe in the same opinion, that God does not exist. You may argue, but their is little evidence to support that he does.

Don’t know which ‘dude‘ you are talking about, but there wasn’t one person that made me think there is no evidence for any gods, it was my own intelligence, thinking and reasoning that made me think that way. I’ll admit people like the authors of all the books in my reading list (see sidebar) have been of assistance in my defining myself as an atheist and prompting me to be vocal about it. They have also provided me with clear and precise reasons why there is probably no god, but I don’t slavishly believe in all their opinions.

Whether he does or not, why make a scene about it. Why do you people need to believe that he doesn’t.

Atheists like myself and the countless other bloggers (see my blog roll page) “make a scene about it” because a large proponent of the religious community from all the varying sects/creeds/cults/versions spend way too  much time and money trying to influence the way the rest of the world behaves. There are many good reasons for doing what we do, but I’m not going to cover them again here. Atheists don’t  “need to believe that he doesn’t” we just don’t accept that he does.

Will it make you feel better when looking at child pornography? Will it make you feel better when stealing or killing?

As for the  “feel[ing] better when looking at child pornography” that is just plain insulting to myself and all other atheists, just because we see no evidence for any gods doesn’t automatically make us paedophiles (by the way have you checked how many catholic priests have been charged with paedophilia lately? pot calling kettle!). Same for the stealing and killing insult. Wolfsbane get off your high hobby-horse and appeals to godly moral authority, go have a read of some articles on morality (you can start with my FAQ 1 page) and find that humans developed morality all on their own in order to survive as a species, no requirements from any gods. Additionally if the fear of god is the only thing preventing you from stealing and murdering then I think you should get some professional psychiatric help.

You are fools, cause you live like there is no God, but take to chance to find out that there is one, and what then? You’re screwed?

Drop the Pascal’s Wager it just doens’t work.

If you have the balls to attack christian faith, why not attack allah or buddha? You most prob scared after they bomb you! Christians won’t, right?

If you’d paid any attention Wolfsbane, or bothered to read more than just one or two posts of mine, you’ll find I have “attacked” several different religious faiths in the past, and will again in the future if I consider it necessary. Go ask a few of the people who have been killed by Christians, such as some of the workers in abortion clinics that have been blown up by Christian extremists, if they think Christians won’t bomb them. Oops that’s right they are dead, killed by Christians. EPIC FAIL Wolfsbane.

Understand, that you attack christians, because you are scared,

Scared of what exactly? If anything we should be scared of the christians because we do “attack” them (only verbally mind you), because time and again the religious have demonstrated they don’t like being critiqued, and quite often the religious demonstrate their displeasure in a violent manner.

and putting your faith in mere person, hoping he might know what he is talking about,

WTF are you talking about? If you are trying to infer that atheists put their “faith” in one person then you are so grossly mistaken as to be laughable. Frankly most of the atheists I read do know what they are talking about, they are generally highly educated and have done their research. But there is no one person who is always right. If you are trying to infer I put my “faith” in humankind then you are right, becuase that is all we have. I would like to think humankind has a bright future and that through commonsence and decency we can all grow as a species, though sometimes I despair at what I see humankind doing to itself sometimes.

just as I, might not know what i am talking about. You are weak, and looking for the easy way out.

I strongly doubt you have a clue what you are talking about. Easy way out of what? I think it would be a lot more easy just to say ‘god did it’ and that I don’t need to take any responsibility for my actions because I can always ask god for his forgiveness.

I feel sorry for you people. Not willing to have responsibility for your own lives, and living someone else’s. Good for you, I am happy I don’t have sleepless night about fools.

And I feel sorry for you Wolfsbane, sorry that you are so misguided and deluded. Just mentioned this in previous statement, but as aetheists we don’t accept that there is any “higher supernatural authority” so we have to take responsibility for our own lives. Unlike religious people who can commit any sort of atrocity but as long as they ask for gods forgiveness they think they still get to go to heaven. Yeah lots of responsibility there….not!

Adios me foolish wanderers !

Adious to you Wolfsbane, I have a feeling that, like Jeffrey, you will never return, you are like a random drive by shooting. Pointless, dangerous, nasty and gutless. <sarcasm> Thanks for that final insult </sarcasm>

Like the previous one of these I wrote, Wolfbane’s comment has been left in my moderation queue (and will probably eventually be deleted as spam), I would prefer if Wolfsbane were to return that their next first comment might be a bit more polite, accurate, and to the point.

Oh, and I fixed the spelling mistakes in their comments. Why are so many of these fundies illiterate?

Feel free to continue my critique of Wolfsbanes comments, or just have your own rant about whatever you want, the likes of Wolfsbane, Jeffrey et al seem to think it’s OK to just drop in and rant so why don’t you all join in the fun? Consider comments on this post open to general ranting. 🙂 but don’t make it too personal OK.

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Feckin Hypocrites

Seems the Christians are going to counter the UK atheist bus campaign with their own campaign.

The new campaign is organsied by the Christian Party, the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Russian Orthodox Church. Their pro-God campaigns will run on 175 buses for two weeks from Monday.

Now I have no problem with this, free speech, no censorship and all that, what I do have a problem with is the hypocrisy coming from elements of the religious  community.

Last month the Advertising Standards Authority received almost 150 complaints that the atheist bus campaign was offensive to Christians, and that the “no God” claim could not be substantiated. [emphasis mine]

For a start, the atheist advert actually says “There’s probably no God”, note the word probably. I have been led to understand that probably was specifically added to counter any complaints that it was being asserted that God definitely does not exist. But still some brain dead morons had to complain and try and get the adverts removed because they were making an unsubstantiated claim.

What some religious people also still don’t seem to have gotten through their thick heads, is that the atheist bus campaign was started in response to religious adverts that basically threatened all non-beleivers to hell and damnation. But now three religious groups have decided they need to counter the atheist adverts, as if we started the ‘fight’. Lets hope this isn’t going to spiral out of control in some sort of claim/counter-claim bus advertising smackdown.

So what is the problem I have with the Christian bus advertising claim? Well, these are two of the three adverts planned:

“There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.”

and

“There IS a God, BELIEVE. Don’t worry and enjoy your life.”

Do you see the problem? I’ll make it clearer by bolding the problematic wording.

“There definitely is a God.”, and “There IS a God” (and the second one was made easy as they capitalised it). Now I don’t know about you, but to me both of those statements are 100% unsubstantiated claims. Both claims have left no room for question (unlike the atheist one which used the word “probably”) they are bold statements that God exists, as a fact. Well I for one have never seen any evidence for God’s existence, have you?

This is where my heading, Feckin Hypocrites, comes from. Members of the religious community accuse the atheist bus campaign of unsubstantiated claims and then make an even bigger more unsubstantiated claim. Hypocrites!

The third Christian advert is going to be:

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”  taken from Psalm 53:1

Well all I can say to that is:

… but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. taken from Matthew 5:22

Who’s the fool now?


Hat Tip to AtheistBus for the link to the article in the Guardian, from whence the above quotes come from, and to drunkenmadman for finding the Matthew 5:22 bible link.

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I’m an Atheist

According to the “Which Enemy of the Christian Faith Are You?” quiz I’m an atheist. Hardly surprising really.

I'm an Atheist

I'm an Atheist

Go ahead, do the quick quiz, it’s only ten questions, find out which enemy of the Christian faith you are. Once you’ve got your results click on the ‘See all enemies?’ link and have a look at all the possible enemies,  some are quite funny, I like the Catholic Priest one.

One other thing for today, Zeno left a comment in my about page today with a link to his site selling anti-religious t-shirts. Normally I think it’s bad etiquette for a first post to be plugging your own blog, especially if you are trying to flog something. But I’ve given Zeno the benefit of the doubt this time as some of his t-shirts are quite funny, in an obscene way. Anyway, here’s the link to his blog, which has links to his apparel.  Don’t think I’ll be this nice and generous next time.  🙂

Hat Tip to Adrian at The Atheist Blogger for the link to the quiz.

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