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December 24, 2006

Have Yourself a Merry Little War on Christmas

Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers comes pretty close to summing up my thoughts on the "war" on Christmas. He begins with a link to a recent New York Times article, in which the writer appears surprised to learn that atheists, even fervent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, still celebrate Christmas.

What I've long felt is that there are two holidays being celebrated on the same day — the religious version and the secular version. The religious version, of course, celebrates the birth of the Christ child. The secular version is a celebration of childhood and of nostalgia. That's why you'll find plenty of Jews celebrating Christmas — they're celebrating the secular version.

If Japan, in which less than 1% of the population is Christian, can celebrate Christmas, it shouldn't be a surprise that atheists celebrate Christmas as well.

As I write this, I'm in New Mexico visiting my wife's parents and brother &mdash all atheists and agnostics. We've got a little Christmas tree, along with plenty of Christmas presents. After my son wakes up from his nap, we'll be eating turkey. (We won't be saying grace, other than the traditional "God, what a meal!") After that we'll be unwrapping presents!

Christians complain that people are taking "Christ" out of Christmas. They don't have much justification for complaint, considering that the holiday began as a pagan celebration — Christ was added many years later.

They really have no cause to complain about their religious holiday not getting enough attention. How many restaurants were closed from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan?

In any case, if they want Christmas to be a purely religious holiday, then they'll find that their holiday gets even less attention. (How many stores, banks, and government offices were closed for Good Friday?)

PZ Myers ends with a little bit of poetry:

And the Priest, with his priest-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without Jesus! It came without gods!
"It came without reverends, ministers or frauds!"

Follow the link for the rest.

Link: Pharyngula: Our War on Christmas.

Link: New York Times Week in Review: An Atheist Can Believe in Christmas.

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December 24, 2006 in Religions, Cults, and Miracles | Permalink


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