At Christmas, it’s tough out there for an atheist

posted at 3:31 pm on December 22, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

What with the big day falling on Wednesday this year, I’m not sure exactly how much more time I’ll have to chat with all of you between now and then, so I’d just like to start by wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year for you and yours. And no, I don’t feel bad about wishing a Merry Christmas to folks who may not be Christians, just as I gladly accept whatever other good wishes they may care to send my way this time of year. But it seems that some folks are struggling a bit more with the “uncomfortable” situation they find themselves in as families prepare to gather together and celebrate. This is apparently such a pressing problem that one author at The New Republic felt compelled to publish an Atheist’s Guide to Christmas: How to Talk to Kids About Santa and Jesus.

Insofar as the December holiday has become a culture-war touchstone, I suspect it has something to do with increased pominence of atheism in American life. Religiously neutral seasonal greetings were one thing when they were about being respectful to Jewish neighbors—but, at least in some corners of the country, it’s something else entirely when the respect is being directed towards the faithless.

On the other hand, Christmas can be confusing for atheists, too. Minority religious groups in Christian countries have had centuries to develop their own approaches to December 25—my colleague Marc Tracy just made the case for the joys of being Jewish on this holiday—but for atheists, there’s no established formula, let alone something that’s had time to evolve into a Chinese-food-and-a-movie cliche.

This somewhat depressing introduction leads the reader into the transcript of an interview he did with Deborah Mitchell. (In case you hadn’t heard – and judging by the lack of buzz, most of you haven’t – she’s the author of Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Without Religion.) The fact that I find portions of this interview so disturbing generates a lot of conflicting feelings for me. I have worked and been friends with plenty of atheists, and given my own struggles with Faith over the last half century I’m in no position to throw stones. I also tend to have a healthy, “hands off” attitude where it comes to parents choosing how to raise their kids. (Assuming abuse is not taking place of course.) And yet some of this is just off putting.

IC: I was thinking about raising kids, and while I don’t believe in God, I want to say to them that they can believe whatever they want to believe, because if they decide to be religious then that’s their choice. On another level, Jesus actually wasn’t the son of God and I should state that as a fact rather than say you can choose and all opinions are equally valid.

DM: I definitely wouldn’t advocate lying to your kids. You know, when they say ‘what do you think happens after we die?’ I tell them, I don’t know, but this is what I think: we die, we go into the ground and we become fertilizer. You know, that’s it.

IC: Maybe shy away from saying you become fertilizer when they’re too young.

DM: [Laughs] Right, for sure. Maybe say instead, we’re part of the circle of life. We become part of the earth again, from which other things will grow. But, you know, these are conversations we have now. I never lie to them about anything in regards to God or whatever knowledge that we have. Jesus may have been an actual man, we know that, but there’s no evidence he was divine.

I really don’t know how to describe how incredibly sad this seems. You’re talking about children here, and the already challenging issue of talking to them about things like mortality, God and the infinite mysteries of the universe. Elsewhere in the article they discuss how to talk to them about Santa at a very early age. How sad for a child who goes to school and plays with all of the other kids who are excitedly chattering about the Nativity and all the decorations and what they hope Santa will bring them, only to go home and have your dreary mother sigh and inform you that Santa is a drunk who hangs out at the mall and you will some day die and turn into worm food.

Do you write this off as teaching them to “deal with reality?” Even if you are rock solid in your belief that this is all there is and life is a pointless terminal ride to the empty darkness of the grave, how do you say that to a small child surrounded by other kids whose faces are glowing with excitement and anticipation? It seems needlessly cruel, even if you’re trying to prove a point. But then, if Christmas is this much of a burden and a bother to you, I suppose you need to share your pain with someone. Even if it’s your kids.


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…MERRY CHRISTMAS!

KOOLAID2 on December 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM

I don’t know why there should be any discomfort. It is Wednesday, after all. Should be good enough for them.

john1schn on December 22, 2013 at 3:51 PM

So tough being so enlightened and so smarter than everyone else. They are! …ask em.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Not really. Christmas has a secular component that has nothing to do with religion. Christians hijacked Christmas, as it is. It was originally a Roman, pagan holiday.

rickv404 on December 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

I know an atheist who spends the day with their family giving each other stupid presents and mocking the rest of us for being…well, stupid.

vityas on December 22, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Atheist’s should relocate themselves to any God forsaken nation in Europe. They might be less miserable there.

Mr. Arrogant on December 22, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Being evolved and “reality-based” and insufferably smug makes for sucky holidays, evidently. They’re probably not too welcome at funerals either what with the “fertilizer” cracks.

Cicero43 on December 22, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Atheists, who’s numbers are actually very tiny, 2% along with 4% agnostics according to Gallup, and similar according to Pew, have a disgracefully large impact on society because they control the media and education. The ‘nones’ they like to claim are, for the most part, disgruntled Christians who still believe in God and pray as much as anyone else. David Brody thinks Christians have finally gotten to the point where they will begin to rise up fight back against these militant atheists. We’ll see.

AmeriCuda on December 22, 2013 at 4:04 PM

pagan holiday.

rickv404 on December 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

So Atheists are now pagans. Interesting.

And punk how dare you use such a pejorative towards our non-Judeo-Christian believers in a greater power?

/

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Merry Christmas, everyone! (except the arseholes, that is).

OldEnglish on December 22, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Merry Christmas and God Bless us everyone…

OmahaConservative on December 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Merry Christmas, everyone! (except the arseholes, that is).

OldEnglish on December 22, 2013 at 4:07 PM

That is what I wrote in my Christmas cards to my Pagan and Atheist friends.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Boo-freakin’-hoo.

davidk on December 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Merry Christmas and God Bless us everyone…

OmahaConservative on December 22, 2013 at 4:09 PM

To you as well.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Rick means that Christians borrowed several pagan rituals for their Christian and Easter celebrations.

Happy Holidays.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM

No, it isnt. Update the thread title to “whining, self-loathing anti-theist” and maybe you’ll be gettin’ somewhere, Jazz.

Jeddite on December 22, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Hm. Way to go out of your way to be offended.

M240H on December 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Jeddite on December 22, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Affirmative!

OldEnglish on December 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

What’s depressing about returning to the earth? What’s depressing about not filling children’s heads with lies about supernatural nonsense? Why do you think you are so important that if you don’t live on in some form that the entire universe is pointless? If that’s all you have to live for then your life is pointless.

Dan_Yul on December 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

No, it isnt. Update the thread title to “whining, self-loathing anti-theist” and maybe you’ll be gettin’ somewhere, Jazz.

Jeddite on December 22, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Yep. It’s not stepping on my junk to have someone else celebrate their Holidays, or even (horror of horrors) wish the same for me.
What’s hard, is watching so many other atheists (anti-theists, really) make total asses of themselves over something that their vaunted logic should conclude is a complete non-issue.

PXCharon on December 22, 2013 at 4:19 PM

Here in China we have to keep the front room curtains closed so no one can see our Christmas tree. It’s a war on Christmas out there.

DarkCurrent on December 22, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Not really. Christmas has a secular pagan component that has nothing to do with religion secularism. Christians hijacked Christmas placed their holiday on the same day as the birthday of Sol Invictus, as it is. It was originally a Roman, pagan holiday.

rickv404 on December 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

FIFY. If you’re secular, why do you feel the need to celebrate either a pagan or Christian holy day?

mabryb1 on December 22, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Rick means that Christians borrowed several pagan rituals for their Christian and Easter celebrations.
…..
bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM

And that has what to do with the post?

I will post it slow for you.

A t C h r i s t m a s, i t ’s t ou gh o ut t h e r e f o r an atheist

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I friend whose family is full of Protestant ministers tells me that they banned Santa Claus because they didn’t want to propagate a lie.

Note to atheists: embrace Santa

J_Crater on December 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Tough out there? Try being a Christian in Syria! Or in America, where anti-Christian bigotry runs amock thanks to the tyranny of a tiny minority of atheists and gays!Tough for you-what utter BS!

redware on December 22, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Dan_Yul on December 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Aww somebody’s feelings are hurt. So sad.

So tough being so enlightened and so smarter than everyone else. They are! …ask em.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Thanks for playing !!! Oh and happy Pagan holiday. Rick said you’d be thrilled with such a greeting and it would make your day.

Love, CW

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:23 PM

So many having so much fun and happiness concentrated into one day… except them.

viking01 on December 22, 2013 at 4:24 PM

I friend whose family is full of Protestant ministers tells me that they banned Santa Claus because they didn’t want to propagate a lie.

J_Crater on December 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

My guess: Most kids already know there is no real Santa by the time they are 6 or 7.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:24 PM

And know I lost no trust in my parents over the –OMG — Santa lie.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:25 PM

“At Solstice, it’s tough out there for a Christian”
/

OccamsRazor on December 22, 2013 at 4:26 PM

There’s no need to tackle existential issues about the supernatural when celebrating Christmas. Put up a tree, play the classic movies and music, let your young children believe in Santa (or not; they won’t be any less grateful to get gifts from their family), and cut out the hokey “virgin” birth of the “messiah” crap. Christmas, à la carte.

Armin Tamzarian on December 22, 2013 at 4:27 PM

and cut out the hokey “virgin” birth of the “messiah” crap. Christmas, à la carte.

Armin Tamzarian on December 22, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Thanks for playing.

So tough being so enlightened and so smarter than everyone else. They are! …ask em.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 3:52 PM

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Pro death freak teaching others about how to enjoy life. Hmmm. Ironic.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Not really. Christmas has a secular component that has nothing to do with religion. Christians hijacked Christmas, as it is. It was originally a Roman, pagan holiday.

rickv404 on December 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

This is untrue. For some reason atheists seem to think that because winter solstice is several days prior to Christmas that its the same celebration…which it is not. Christmas, in its earliest forms, was celebrated as early as Roman times. The Christmas celebration was a celebration of Christ’s birth. Have other things been adopted into there, both religious and securlar, over the years? Yes, they have but that doesn’t change what Christmas was or what Christmas is.

I also like how atheists are so quick to point out what pagans did and do, like their secular celebration of a holiday that started out religious is OK because pagans celebrated something around the same time. That’s an incredibly interesting way to go about it.

Sammo21 on December 22, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Not really. Christmas has a secular component that has nothing to do with religion. Christians hijacked Christmas, as it is. It was originally a Roman, pagan holiday.

rickv404 on December 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Actually, they redeemed it. Just like Jesus redeemed the cross and just like He has redeemed each of us.

JellyToast on December 22, 2013 at 4:37 PM

I’m not a believer yet enjoy Christmas a great deal. Just as there are many believers who are stone-cold jerks, there are many non-believers who don’t rain on other people’s parades, go along to get along, and realize that we’re in the minority in America.

This has never bothered me – just as feminism hasn’t been about equality in a long, long time, the type of atheist who gets offended by celebrations like Christmas aren’t doing so because of their supposed absence of belief. That said, an early merry Christmas to the commentariat!

King B on December 22, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Pro death freak teaching others about how to enjoy life. Hmmm. Ironic.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM

How is adherence to the tenet of eternal afterlife not participation in what is then, in essence, a death cult?

M240H on December 22, 2013 at 4:39 PM

IC: I was thinking about raising kids, and while I don’t believe in God, I want to say to them that they can believe whatever they want to believe, because if they decide to be religious then that’s their choice. On another level, Jesus actually wasn’t the son of God and I should state that as a fact rather than say you can choose and all opinions are equally valid.

Atheists are always obsessing over the fact that other people believe in God. I am probably being unfair to this woman but from the very few true atheists I know, I think if her kid said he/she believed in God I don’t think she would passively accept it even though she said she would. I think she has to throw that comment in there to make sure we know she is very openminded. One of my atheist acquaintances won’t discuss Mohammed and Allah if I ask her to extend her opinion to another Abrahamic religion. It seems with her to be an exclusive hang up about Christians.

DaveDief on December 22, 2013 at 4:39 PM

I’d like to see an atheist billboard campaign attacking Islamic holidays. You never see that. Weird.

JellyToast on December 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM

And that has what to do with the post?

I will post it slow for you.

A t C h r i s t m a s, i t ’s t ou gh o ut t h e r e f o r an atheist

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:21 PM

I can type s-l-o-w-l-y, too.

If the discussion is Christmas and its traditions, pointing out their origins is pertinent.

Aww somebody’s feelings are hurt.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 22, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Yes. Yours, apparently.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 4:49 PM

how do you say that to a small child surrounded by other kids whose faces are glowing with excitement and anticipation?

And if they’re in Texas, those kids will be wishing them a Merry Christmas, not the more secular Happy Holidays.

Kafir on December 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Christmas has been secularized in an attempt to destroy its meaning, irregardless as to the “factual” date of birth. This is a result of the evil in men’s hearts…they are constantly fighting against God’s spirit. It will never prevail, because greater is He who is within us–then he who is in the world. Atheists have no hope…and they are trying to steal ours…silly soulless ones. I always have loved the picture of Santa, kneeling at the manger..on bended knee. Funny, it is easier to go after Christmas…then the one true holiday that represents the true meaning of CHRISTMAS–that being EASTER…

Putting up a “nativity” of beer cans, will not steal our joy at the birth of One who was born to save us from an eternity of darkness.

lovingmyUSA on December 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM

I can’t believe i’m about to quote Don Imus(Imus in the morning).

There’s no downside believing in God.

gerrym51 on December 22, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS, Jazz!

lovingmyUSA on December 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Merry CHRIST MASS.

You think atheists have it tough now ?

Try spending eternity, wishing you’d never been born . . . . . : (

listens2glenn on December 22, 2013 at 5:02 PM

If that’s all you have to live for then your life is pointless.

Dan_Yul on December 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

If evolution is true everything is pointless, nothing has any purpose at all.

Your life, your marriage, your kids, no point to any of it.

Your post is pointless. It means nothing.

Are you teaching your kids that they have no purpose? Have you told your wife that your “love” for her is nothing more than a purposeless undirected biological phenomenon which is pointless.

You would be pointless, too, if not for your head.

davidk on December 22, 2013 at 5:04 PM

I, for one, am getting a little tired of people who choose NOT to participate now claiming Victim Status because they feel “left out” of what they chose NOT to participate in!

jaydee_007 on December 22, 2013 at 5:06 PM

And if they’re in Texas, those kids will be wishing them a Merry Christmas, not the more secular Happy Holidays.

Kafir on December 22, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Wishing “Merry Christmas” to people who don’t celebrate Christmas, with the reason of “It’s Christmas for everybody!” is what secularizes Christmas. I believe Christmas is a religious holiday (and should be considered as such) — and that’s why I say “Happy Holidays” (if anything) to people, just in case.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

There is no reason for atheists to be disgruntled on Christmas. I don’t spend the day making fun of Christians. I spend the day celebrating Jesus as a great moral philosopher. I celebrate him as a revolutionary against the tyrannical Roman Empire, who was ultimately successful through martyrdom. I celebrate the spirit of giving, as taught by St. Nicolas. I celebrate the Winter solstice (who doesn’t love having the days get longer?), and spend those darkest, coldest days of the year with family.

One doesn’t need to invoke a supernatural deity and an afterlife in order to teach the value of many of the moral principles central to Christianity. You can teach your kids that they will go to Hell if they don’t turn the other cheek, and I will teach my kids that turning the other cheek displays inner strength and maturity for all to see, while defusing potentially dangerous conflicts. I think both my kids and your kids will turn out just fine.

TBSchemer on December 22, 2013 at 5:08 PM

I suggest that atheists all leave and move to Islamic countries where they will be better appreciated.

(Atheism is a silly, intellectually dishonest and logically self-defeating position, since they claim that they know there is NO God, which is as much a faith statement as claiming one knows there IS.)

Be an honest agnostic and stop the proselytizing for anti-religiousness.

profitsbeard on December 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Profits, I believe that most people, deep down, are agnostic. It’s why we call it “faith” rather than “fact.” I go to Mass every week and I pray. But I don’t have any inside information.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

There’s just no reason that I’ve been able to discern to be annoyed or depressed by other people’s celebration of their holy (or not so holy days).

When my Muslim friend wishes me Eid Mubarak, I wish her the same. It’s not a special day for me, but, I feel no need to self-righteously say, “I believe you mean Happy Tuesday. It’s just another day.”

That said, I see nothing depressing about teaching your kid there is no life after death if that’s what you believe. Well, as a Christian it makes me sad because I don’t believe it is accurate, but, MY faith aside, why would it be sad? Child hood can still be full of magic and wonder without Santa and life after death.

JadeNYU on December 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

At Christmas, it’s tough out there for an atheist

It’s all a matter of choice, and the Door is always open.
Absolutely no NEED for the glums, (reasonable, tho, sure) but I do understand how difficult it can be for those who choose not to believe.

Choosing the way without Joy is bound to be depressing.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM

OT/Excusez. All the atheist talk is making me pine.

To my favorite human: x x x x x x x x x x x x x, Merry Christmas!!! o o o o o o o o o o o o o

. . . x.

S’il vous plaît — continuer.

Axe on December 22, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Axe on December 22, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Chin up, Raj.
I’m sure she ‘hears’ you.
:-)

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 5:28 PM

“I go to Mass every week and I pray. But I don’t have any inside information.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM”

Please read the Holy Bible. Our family will pray for you!

Foxhound on December 22, 2013 at 5:29 PM

And no, I don’t feel bad about wishing a Merry Christmas to folks who may not be Christians

LOL! This atheist is happy to accept words of good will in whatever form they come. I don’t celebrate it, but I love Christmas time. Mainly because others love it and I like to see and be around others who are happy.

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 5:32 PM

(Atheism is a silly, intellectually dishonest and logically self-defeating position, since they claim that they know there is NO God, which is as much a faith statement as claiming one knows there IS.)

Be an honest agnostic and stop the proselytizing for anti-religiousness.

profitsbeard on December 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM

A belief such as you described would be an illogical statement of faith. Fortunately, it does not describe my atheistic stance (which you would mistakenly refer to as agnostic). Have fun playing with your strawman. I guess it’s too warm where you are to have snowman, eh?

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Some of the Christians here sure seem especially angry and bitter about this stuff. That’s no way to spend the holidays.

Armin Tamzarian on December 22, 2013 at 5:36 PM

They are always welcome to recognize that they are dead in their sins facing a holy and just God. Repentance is still an option.

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM

As long as it’s a choice I’m happy. I’ll stick with what’s behind door A :-)

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Profits, I believe that most people, deep down, are agnostic. It’s why we call it “faith” rather than “fact.” I go to Mass every week and I pray. But I don’t have any inside information.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

I hope your assessment is wrong about most people. Deep down, I’m not agnostic.

Prayer is a dialog.

Axe on December 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM

As long as it’s a choice I’m happy. I’ll stick with what’s behind door A :-)

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 5:41 PM

And God’s not mad at you for it.
Choice was His idea, from the start.
:-)
Wouldn’t want to FORCE my kids to love me, either.
Then it wouldn’t be love.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM

If Christians are out spreading the “Good News” and the progressive left atheists are busy being a skunk at the garden party, it does not take a pollster to see who is going to be more popular. Thus the progressives are not just trying to poo poo the good news, they are busy besmirching the character of anyone who spreads the Good News. As political professionals will tell you negative advertising works.

KW64 on December 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Atheists activists who are determined to stamp out expressions of the Christian faith are not wilting flowers. They’re tough cookies. I’m amazed someone felt the need to write a book about rearing godless children.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ. So don’t celebrate it if you don’t want to do so. How about some tolerance and recognition of the benevolent influence of Christianity on your life? A couple of random examples: Lex, Rex: The Law Is King was written by a Presbyterian minister. Our system of government was brought to you by men who recognized and believed that all men have a proclivity to acquire and abuse power.

INC on December 22, 2013 at 5:49 PM

As political professionals will tell you negative advertising works.

KW64 on December 22, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Yeah, and He also says it will, ‘for a time’

:-)

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 5:49 PM

I used to think that — when I was a kid in California’s Bible belt.
Now I just think it’s bizarre the lengths that people go to, secularizing Christmas.
This atheists perspective? It just one celebration of myth among many celebrations of myth. Treat it like a fantasy game and get over it. Heck, that seems to be what most Christians do, anyway.

Count to 10 on December 22, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Be an honest agnostic and stop the proselytizing for anti-religiousness.

profitsbeard on December 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM

A belief such as you described would be an illogical statement of faith. Fortunately, it does not describe my atheistic stance (which you would mistakenly refer to as agnostic). Have fun playing with your strawman. I guess it’s too warm where you are to have snowman, eh?

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Your reply makes no sense.

Maybe it does to you, but you left out any info that might make it so to others.

What is your “atheistic stance”?

How does it differ from being a “faith statement” against belief in God?

I am more a Taoist agnostic than anything.

The world has patterns that express a developing intelligence in Life.

How this started, or why, or where it leads, or if any Intelligence that is conscious is “behind” it, who knows?

But why this would lead one to claim any certain knowledge about a deity- for or against- is puzzling.

Frosty the Strawman awaits your answer.

profitsbeard on December 22, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Treat it like a fantasy game and get over it. Heck, that seems to be what most Christians do, anyway.

Count to 10 on December 22, 2013 at 5:51 PM

If the word MOST were changed to MANY, I’d agree with that statement.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Profits, I believe that most people, deep down, are agnostic. It’s why we call it “faith” rather than “fact.” I go to Mass every week and I pray. But I don’t have any inside information.

bmmg39 on December 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

The biblical concept of faith is not Kierkegaard’s irrational leap that’s separated from reason and rationale. In the New Testament belief in Jesus Christ is not presented as an irrational leap without content or reason—there are truths to be understood, and there is knowledge we must have.

Having knowledge about the person and work of Jesus Christ is necessary to believe in Him, but those who have only knowledge, even if they believe those facts to be true, believe only in knowledge. They do not believe in Jesus Christ. James is clear about this when he states that even demons believe God is one.

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
James 2:19 (ESV)

The New Testament teaches that Christians don’t merely know facts, they confess Jesus as Lord. Christian belief is presented as believing into Jesus. We believe in Jesus. We believe on the Lord Jesus.

The Greek word that is translated to believe or belief is also translated as faith. Two different words are used in English, but there is only one basic word in Greek. It comes from a word that means to convince or to persuade. W. E. Vine defines to believe:

“PISTEUŌ (πιστεύω), to believe, also to be persuaded of, and hence, to place confidence in, to trust, signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence.”

Christians have understood and acknowledged the reality that before God we stood guilty of sin before Him and under His judgment. We have realized our inability to ever make ourselves right before Him. In repentance we have had, as Vine writes, a “change of mind [that] involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God.” We have believed in Jesus as we acknowledged Him as Lord, having confidence that His death for our sins satisfied the judgment of God we deserved and turning to follow Him in obedience. We have placed our confidence, our trust, our reliance on Him. We have believed in Him.

INC on December 22, 2013 at 5:56 PM

They are always welcome to recognize that they are dead in their sins facing a holy and just God. Repentance is still an option.

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Seriously, easy on the mushrooms tom

DarkCurrent on December 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

profitsbeard on December 22, 2013 at 5:52 PM

My stance is to reject beliefs in things for which there is no evidence. So I say that I do not believe in any gawds. Nor, for example, do I believe in underpants gnomes. I cannot prove the negatives but I reject the notions due to lack of evidence.

This is very different from the generalization you provided that atheists accept as a matter of faith that there are no gawds.

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Merry Christmas Chuck Clark, may God reveal Himself to you in a way that you cannot deny this coming year!

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

I’m an atheist, not a militant killjoy.

And in case anyone here doesn’t know the difference, you might want to read this.

Also, your example is the primary means by which you communicate your faith (or lack of it) to others; a poor example does the opposite. I get along fine with religious people–jerks who are religious, not so much.

Yunno who the holidays are tough on? (Think military, it will come to you.)

And Christmas pretty much sucks for Christians (and Jews and homosexuals and, yes, atheists) under threat from Sharia adherents, as well.

And it sucks for people without families, or estranged from them.

But for atheists? World’s tiniest violin.

Don’t conflate all atheists into a single cliche. The smart ones don’t conflate all people of faith into one.

ConservativeLA on December 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

If you say, “God does not exist” you are making a truth claim.

If you do not have evidence that God does not exist then you are believing a proposition on blind faith.

davidk on December 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Oh happy joy, my comment disappeared.

Shorter version:

I’m an atheist.

Atheists in the West have nothing to cry about.

Believers who are jerks are not good fisherman.

And understand the difference between atheists, and militant killjoys.

Merry Christmas, and have a fantastic Festivus.

ConservativeLA on December 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

I’ll add my amen, and for many others as well.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Merry Christmas Chuck Clark, may God reveal Himself to you in a way that you cannot deny this coming year!

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Happy Holidays tom. That’d be really cool.

DarkCurrent on December 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

I’m an atheist and love Christmas. I loved it when I was a Christian, too. (Now I just think he was a great moral philosopher and there’s no reason not to celebrate his “birthday.”) It’s a solstice holiday from pagan times, and too many pundits over think the issue. Read Penn Jillette’s Every Day Is An Atheist Holiday,” lighten up, and tolerate all beliefs. Happy holydays.

strongerthandirt on December 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

it’s tough out there for an atheist

Lenin failed.
Hitler failed.
Mao failed.
Welfare State failed.
Global Warming failed.

Yeah, I can see how it’s tough. Happy Hopelessdays atheists!

kcewa on December 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I suspect it has something to do with increased prominence of atheism in American life.

That makes my heart soar with hope that the insanity, anti-intellectualism and fear that religion generates is getting sent to the dung heap where it belongs. I know all you inbred hill billy fear filled yokels will whine and cry but get on the winning side and join the smart people, in the bright light of freedom from fear and bask in the glow of knowledge.

Alas I fear that the message of intelligence will be lost on the Christan Taliban that infest this place like bed begs and lice.

Your Mamma loves me on December 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

I’ll add my amen, and for many others as well.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

May you find the Way :)

DarkCurrent on December 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM

ConservativeLA on December 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Cool article, and happy festivus to you, too.
:-)

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM

DarkCurrent on December 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM

I love you, too.
Haha .. serious giggle, no snark, cuz that was good.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Yunno who the holidays are tough on? (Think military, it will come to you.)

And Christmas pretty much sucks for Christians (and Jews and homosexuals and, yes, atheists) under threat from Sharia adherents, as well.

And it sucks for people without families, or estranged from them.

It only sucks for those people if they don’t believe in the incarnation. Otherwise it gives hope.

kcewa on December 22, 2013 at 6:12 PM

davidk on December 22, 2013 at 6:06 PM

It is not a leap of faith to reject belief in the claim.

If such were the case then you wouldn’t merely have faith in your gawd. You would have billions of faiths and not even know it. You would be an a-gnomist and an a-leprechaunist and an a-Zeusist …

That is a rather funny use of language and I find it meaningless to express my outlook in terms of all the things that I do not believe. In fact, the reason I call myself an atheist is because theism is so prevalent in our society that is most frequently useful to distinguish myself from them. If such were not the case I would say that I am a materialist.

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 6:12 PM

It’s great being agnostic. It all could be true, I’m just not certain. Bring on the presents and Christmas Carols. I love the trees, lights, “Jesus People” (what my daughter called the Nativity when she was three) and all the smiles, too. What is the downside? Seriously.

Merry Christmas!

Fallon on December 22, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Murphy9 on December 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

If any seemingly supernatural being were to reveal itself to me in an undeniable way, I wouldn’t call it “God.” I’d call it a powerful extraterrestrial being with capabilities well beyond our understanding.

That being said, I don’t expect to be visited by extraterrestrials this Christmas….

I’m perfectly happy to celebrate Jesus of Nazareth, the man. Though, I’ll be leaving alien hybrid Jesus and zombie Jesus out of my holiday.

TBSchemer on December 22, 2013 at 6:13 PM

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Thanks! And to you and yours.

“I got a lot of problems with you people, and you’re gonna hear about it!” ;-)

ConservativeLA on December 22, 2013 at 6:15 PM

It was originally a Roman, pagan holiday.

rickv404 on December 22, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Wrong.

Christmas December 25th was calculated using two formulas.

The first formula was to calculate back from the Martyr’s death since early Christians believed many martyrs died on the anniversary of their conceptions…

Eusebius of Caesarea puts the death and conception dates at March 25 so the traditional nativity birth date is December 25th.

The second formula calculates when Zechariah was in the Temple and is related to Elizabeth’s pregnancy of John the Baptist in relation to Mary’s pregnancy.

By calculating both the resulting nativity date is December 25th.

workingclass artist on December 22, 2013 at 6:17 PM

I don’t know why there should be any discomfort. It is Wednesday, after all. Should be good enough for them.

john1schn on December 22, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Oh, great. Now remind the atheists that it’s actually Wodan’s (Odin’s) Day– another diety! Just rub it in!

de rigueur on December 22, 2013 at 6:18 PM

TBSchemer on December 22, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Would it surpise you if I said good for you ??
Just one not-so-minor point, is all.
Should you be ‘visited’ how could you discern between an extraterrestrial and the real God ?
That part is important.

pambi on December 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM

atheists believe government is gawd

SparkPlug on December 22, 2013 at 6:20 PM

hi merm.

SparkPlug on December 22, 2013 at 6:20 PM

A little girl hears an ice cream truck and is excited at the possibility that she can have some. She runs to the garage where her dad is working on a small engine. She asks him if she can have some. Her dad cocks his head, hears the truck, smiles at her, and says yes.

As he finishes what he’s doing and wipes his hands, the ice cream truck gets closer, and she gets anxious. After what feels like a very long time, he finally reaches into his pocket, takes out his wallet, and gives her money.

She runs to the curb, meets the truck, and gets her ice cream.

Make it a chocolate push-up. :)

The daughter is one of God’s kids, and the father is God.

She had hope. In the Bible, Godly strangeness is preceded by hope. There’s a lot to say about this, but I’ll skip it. She asked. There’s a lot to say about this, but I’ll skip it. :) Her father said “Yes” — She believed him. There’s a lot — just see Abraham’s story in the Bible. The time between the moment her father said yes to the time she was holding her push-up was a time of faith — continuing to believe her father; faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith isn’t believing something with no reason to believe that it’s true.

Axe on December 22, 2013 at 6:21 PM

SparkPlug on December 22, 2013 at 6:20 PM

I’m no theologian, but I’ve seen enough Charlie Brown Christmas’s and stuff to know that the season is about good will and stuff. So why don’t you try to lighten up?

MJBrutus on December 22, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Irony is funny.

SparkPlug on December 22, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Oh, great. Now remind the atheists that it’s actually Wodan’s (Odin’s) Day– another diety! Just rub it in!

de rigueur on December 22, 2013 at 6:18 PM

I’ve always liked that Thor.

Axe on December 22, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Irony is funny.

SparkPlug on December 22, 2013 at 6:24 PM

It’s hilarious. :)

rotf

Axe on December 22, 2013 at 6:28 PM

I’ve seen $40,000 billboards in the news extolling that the Christ does not exist, and marvel at the nameless people who put money down to build that billboard, but which will still receive and say to their neighbors “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” and even “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hannukah”.

My take: It’s passive/aggressive, and if at her death mommy really thinks she’s going to the worms, well — that’s just what may happen — to her. After all, did not Jesus say that as we judge, so shall we be judged?

I hope He’s kinder than that, but really, according to God’s “what goes around comes around” thinking, that’s all she deserves. What I really think will happen is the “there are no atheists in foxholes” thing — as the lights begin to go dark, she’ll have second thoughts about what she did to herself, her children, her Life.

unclesmrgol on December 22, 2013 at 6:28 PM

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