Christmas for Atheists

I’m not one of those Grinch atheists that want to remove Christmas celebrations from governmental locations.  I’m sure my faithful friends would be horrified, but I no longer believe Christmas is just about Christ, and seeing baby Jesus in a manager is no different than seeing Santa in a sleigh.  Christmas supplanted a pagan holiday, so is it all that strange that a secular Christmas has supplanted a religious Christmas?  Our society is about diversity and inclusion, so why not let the religious Christmas coexist with a secular Christmas?  I don’t believe in angels, but I like them, and I especially like movies with angels.  I value the concept of the separation of Church and State, but is a nativity scene really a religious endorsement in our modern commercial Christmas times?  Isn’t it closer to a holiday brand?


I love that we have a holiday based on giving and sharing, that promotes goodwill to all mankind.  That’s very positive and not particularly endorsing any religion when you think about it.  It is sad that Christmas has become a commercial holiday, but the underlying concept is still about giving, and that’s good.  Plus, helping businesses stay afloat and keep people employed is a positive concept too.  We’re a capitalistic society, so a commercial Christmas is the perfect holiday for our economic philosophy.  And isn’t giving a nice way to expand the GDP?

Wasn’t Christmas redesigned by Charles Dickens in the 19th century anyway?  Isn’t A Christmas Carol the real model for modern Christmas philosophy?  It’s sad to say, I think even the wonderful sentiment of Dickens is now being supplanted by Comedy Christmas – which makes me wonder what the holiday will be like in one hundred years.  I guess it’s sort of funny, but serious Christians want to restore the ancient traditions about the celebration of Jesus, and I want to maintain a mid-20th century traditional view of Christmas.  My concept of Christmas comes from these movies:

  • A Christmas Carol (1938) – with Reginald Owen
  • The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
  • The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
  • Holiday Inn (1942)
  • Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  • The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
  • Scrooge (1951) – A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim
  • White Christmas (1954)
  • A Christmas Story (1983) – a modern movie about a mid-20th century Christmas

Younger people today when they list their favorite Christmas movies pick films that are about the Christmas holiday such as Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but they seem to lack the sentiment of what I think Christmas is about.  Even the Christian Science Monitor lists Die Hard as one of their top Christmas films.  Really?!!! 

Thus, we have to accept that Christmas is constantly changing, mutating, and must I say it, evolving.  I think it’s interesting that many low-tech animated Christmas television shows from the 1960s have a retro popularity now.  I guess Christmas itself is always about looking backwards, and promoting a sentimental view of the past.  Sometimes a modern movie conveys this almost as well as my old favorites, such as the films Love Actually, and The Family Stone.  Even the comedy Christmas movies add moments of touching generosity between their crude gags.

Christmas is about reminding people they shouldn’t be Ebenezer Scrooge.  Does it matter how the message is delivered?  I can accept that some people like it with metaphysical trappings.  That’s cool.

JWH – 12/16/13

Accepting Reality

For most of the history of mankind, gods or God, explained reality.  God made us, the plants and animals.  Any event in nature, whether good or bad, was caused by gods or God.  Then science came along and explained rain, thunderstorms, earthquakes, eclipses, droughts, stars, planets, and so on.  When science explained the origin of animals and people, some religious people rebelled.

We now have people that reject science because they want to keep God.  They feel science is explaining away God.  I’m afraid they are right.  But instead of accepting reality and letting God fade away, like the gods before monotheism, they are rejecting reality.  When I was very young I rejected God and accepted science mainly because of the size of reality.  Reality seemed too immense to have been created by one being, especially one in our image.  Take a look at this video to see what I mean.

God was a great concept when our awareness of reality was small but once you realize the size of reality, age and scope, even at the limits of what we know now, that knowledge changes everything philosophically.  Humans can’t be the crown of creation.  We can’t be the center of the universe and the focus of God’s attention.  We can’t be special if we’re so small and insignificant.

So what is our place in the reality?  Years ago I would have asked, what is our place in the universe, but it appears our universe might be one of an infinity of universes, and this round of 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang, only a single bubble in a foam of universes.  Science now talk of the multiverse, but I prefer the term reality to encompass it all.

Humans are here in this vast reality by an accident of randomness.  We won’t always be here.  Reality existed before us, and it will exist after us.  Being here is the biggest miracle we’ve yet discovered.  It’s a miracle that outshines any miracle ever recorded in all of the religions of the world.

I think its time we reject the theory of God and start accepting reality for what it is.  Start asking questions about what existing in this vast reality means.  Becoming self-aware in this immense reality is a great opportunity.  Instead of destroying the Earth and committing species suicide we need to think about what we could become.  Don’t ask what is our purpose.  Under religion our purpose was to obey God.  Reality doesn’t work that way.  We each have to find our own purpose if we want one, but reality expects nothing of us.  We can’t have a personal relationship with reality.  Each of us is an awareness of reality, but most of us pretend we’re not here.

Erase all the past thoughts of religion and philosophy.  You just woke up in an unknown place.  Take stock in your surroundings.  You know that old saying, think global but act local – do the same for reality.  Our philosophy should be based on our best picture of reality.  Start with cosmology and work your way down.  Most people define reality by their very small personal delusions.  I say, any philosophy that doesn’t account for the size of reality dooms itself to a cockroach mentality.  A cockroach scurries about satisfying its personal urges unaware of its environment.  A cockroach does not know it’s in your kitchen because it doesn’t see the big picture.

There is only one human endeavor that tells us about reality, and that’s science.  I suggest starting at the top, and work down.  NOVA presented a wonderful four part series called The Fabric of the Cosmos hosted by Brian Greene based on his book of the same name.

Fabric of the Cosmos 1: What is Space?

Fabric of the Cosmos 2: The Illusion of Time

Fabric of the Cosmos 3: Quantum Leap

Fabric of the Cosmos 4:  University or Multiverse

Maybe there’s still room for religion in reality, I don’t know.  But any religion that ignores what we know about reality is delusional.

JWH – 2/11/12

You Are An Atheist

If there are a thousand different gods most people would be an atheist to 999 or 1,000 of them.  People only hate atheists who disbelieve in their god, and they never think about themselves being an atheist to other people’s gods.

Which leads me to believe that the dislike of atheists is not about disbelieving in a god, but hating people who don’t agree with you.  Most people who are insecure in their beliefs join groups of like minded people.  This reinforces their beliefs and makes them feel more secure.  The most insecure people will spend all their time trying to convert other people to believe the same way they do because it strengthens their view on reality.  It’s a mechanism for maintain sanity.

For these insecure folk encountering people who disbelieve what they believe hurts their confidence and insults them personally.  But they do not think about how their own disbeliefs hurts other people.  People who are riled the most by meeting an atheist, are often just as riled at meeting someone from a different political party, or even meeting a fan of another football team.

Few people are happy to believe what they believe and not be bothered at all by what other people believe.

Among Jews, Christians and Muslims who claim to worship the same exact god, there is no agreement and a lot of lethal animosity.  Which again makes me think it’s not about the deity but the sensitivity of believers.  If you asked the followers of the god of Abraham about the gods of Greece, Rome, Persia, India, China, or all the religions of the Americas and Africa what they think of those gods and they will flatly reject them all as superstitious nonsense in the same way as Dawkins or Hitchens dismiss their god.  They think nothing of being atheists to other people’s god, yet they puff themselves up about their own hatred of atheists.

What we really hate are people who disagree with us.  The trouble is some people hate this more than others.  Some people want to wipe out everyone who disagrees with their beliefs, or at least seek to convert the unbelievers.  It’s like that Paster Mike Stahl who wanted to create a national registry for atheists patterned on the registry for sex offenders.  Of course even that isn’t as severe as in some Muslim countries where they just kill the atheists or anyone that they think insults their god or prophet.

Why do they feel the need to do this?  If their god is all powerful can’t he handle unbelievers in his own way?  Like I said, it has nothing to do with gods.  It’s all about hating people who challenge your beliefs, no matter what they are.  In some cultures disrespect is a reason to fight or kill.

For the faithful, the strength of hating unbelievers is directly proportional to their own insecurities.

The problem is we don’t all think alike, and on some level we’re all atheists to other people’s beliefs.  We need a system to protect everyone from this war of beliefs.  That’s why the founders of the United States created the concept of separation of church and state.  And it’s why we don’t want Rick Perry and other political evangelicals leading a New Apostolic Reformation in the 2012 Presidential campaign.

These apostolic and prophetic folk are so insecure in their beliefs that they want to take dominion over the government of the United States, and if you disagree with them you’re an atheist.  This is pretty scary.  It’s just as scary to me if absolute atheists wanted to take over the government and outlaw religion.  Not all atheists are alike, and neither are all religious folk.  Us people in the middle have to always fear the extremes at both ends.

Citizens in the middle feel everyone should have their own beliefs and keep religion out of politics, whether we’re religious or not.  The trouble is if one extreme or the other tries to take control it will force everyone to take sides in a civil war of beliefs.  Do you really want that?  Even if you’re very religious, will you believe in the same way as the New Apostolic Reformation believers?

Like I said, atheism isn’t always about god, and sometimes believers in god will become atheists to other believers.

The solution to the problem is simple.  Never vote for anyone who campaigns on a religious agenda.  No matter how religious you are, you actually do want the government to be impartial and atheistic to all religions, otherwise it can’t maintain the concept of freedom of religion.

JWH – 9/5/11

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