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This Holiday Season Do Your Own Thing and Damn the Critics

Last updated on February 8th, 2013 at 12:51 pm

It seems some Christians don’t like atheism. Surprise, right? Yeah, turns out atheism has a December holiday too, called “Human Light.” Human Light dates from the late 1990s, so it has been around for a decade or so, though most people remain unaware of it.

And by no means are all atheists into the whole holiday thing. The Blaze reports that, “Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, believes that these non-theists should simply shun all December holidays.

“Nonreligious people make themselves disappear when they cling to a ‘me too’ holiday so as not to be seen with nothing special to do towards the end of December,” he said. “We’d further increase our visibility by ignoring the holiday and pressing our employers to leave the office open on December 25.”

But atheistic doubts, if you’ll pardon the pun, got nothing on the fundamental objections (pardon another pun) of conservative Christians, who wonder where atheists get off…well, being. If you look at The Blaze you see comments like this:


Posted on December 22, 2012 at 11:51pm

Where does morality come from and who decides what is moral? Just saying. Which part of Humanity are we celebrating, the good or the bad?

Well, the easy answer is, people decide what is moral, and science demonstrates that most people have pretty similar ideas about morality, though there are always exceptions. Murder and theft are always bad, for example. But humans are social animals. Most folks naturally incline toward helping each other; even prehistoric humans cared for the sick and infirm, long before Moses came down the mountain with his tablets.

Ideas that morality would be impossible without the God of Abraham, or without Judaism or without Christianity, are absurd, despite how feverishly believers cling to such ideas. Nobody wants to be irrelevant, after all, or have their beliefs or their god become irrelevant.

It’s no wonder conservative Christians get so up and arms over the idea that we don’t really need their god or their religion.

And unfortunately for them, humans have proven, before and since, that we do not.

I’m down criticizing religion; I’m a religious person myself and have pledged troth to the gods of my ancestors. But the ancients who lived before Moses and his true/false distinction in religion, understood that morals did not derive from a god or gods. It’s only since Moses that people have become confused on that issue.

Patty Henry comments that “No Atheist can prove GOD does not exist. Historians and other learned people have proven that Jesus lives, was Crucified, as was Paul and Peter and others.”

She fails to acknowledge that by the same token, nobody can prove her god (or any god) exists. She says it’s been proved Paul and Peter were crucified but this is by no means proven, as I have demonstrated here before.

Yet she claims that  ”Atheists struggle so hard to try to foist their sick beliefs upon us (Christians) … do they seek company in their misery? I can’t even imagine doing the class-less, rude things they are doing nowadays.”

If she wants sick beliefs, she should read the Bible. The Old Testament is full of them, as is 2000 years of her religion’s history. Plainly, she is not interested in actual facts, but I’ve yet to find a conservative Christian who is. As far as the foisting of beliefs goes, that’s how Christianity spread: by fire and sword. Ramsay MacMullen has noted the penalties and incentives used by the Christian authorities to speed conversion:

Government…at the urging of the bishops weighed in with threats, and more than threats, of fines, confiscation, exile, imprisonment, flogging, torture, beheading, and crucifixion. What more could be imagined? Nothing. The extremes of conceivable pressure were brought to bear. Thus, over the course of many centuries, compliance was eventually secured and the empire made Christian in truth.[1]

Talk about sick. This went on for seventeen centuries, until the secularism of the European Enlightenment put the brakes on inquisitions and crusades in the name of the Capital-T Truth and it’s “objective” morality.

Speaking of morality, the readers on The Blaze shout down atheistic ideas of morality, deriding them as subjective compared to the so-called objective morality of the Bible, but Biblical morality is ethnocentric in the extreme, the morality of a very small group of human beings in a very tiny corner of the Middle East.

Look at what Jdeafl says on The Blaze:

Atheism offers a subjective moral system that is based on human experience, human conditions, and human reason… & it is the best that atheism has to offer us as a worldview. The problem with subjective morality is it can change depending on the person, situation, culture, and one’s preference; whereas, objective morality never changes. If something is wrong, then why is it wrong? Opinions don’t make ethical standards.

So there you go: if your morality isn’t like ours, it’s wrong. Jdeafl fails to realize that the morality he celebrates as objective is itself subjective, the morality of the Jews of the Bronze Age. The Sumerians, Assyrians, Hittites, Egyptians, and other Bronze Age cultures, had their own moralities. The sole reason for privileging Mosaic Law over all other law codes is that Jdeafl believes that there is only one god and that his god gave that law to humans.

He forgets, or willfully ignores, the fact that even the Jews to whom the law was given did not believe that law applied to anyone but to themselves at the time it was given. It didn’t occur to them that it was meant for everybody. Do not throw pearls before swine. Do not give to dogs what is holy.

The words of Jesus.

Conservative Christians want to privilege that minority position over all other positions by calling it objective on the grounds that it comes direct from the one and only God of the universe. Fair enough. But even the ancient Jews did not think their god was the one and only god of the universe.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” the God of Moses told the Israelites. YHWH knew very well that there were other gods. He just didn’t want his Chosen People chasing after them. The Old Testament is one long (and tiresome) anti-Pagan diatribe. People talk about anti-Semitism but anti-Gentilism is just as real and historically, far more prevalent.

As I argued the other day , Christmas (or whatever else you want to call the holiday) is about belief, even if that belief is a belief that the beliefs of others are bogus. Conservative Christians are no less guilty of this derisive attitude than the atheists they revile.

So on this holiday I would suggest everybody just do their own thing and not worry about what everybody else is doing. Don’t let the hang-ups of others impinge on your own enjoyment of your beliefs.


[1] MacMullen, Christianity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, 72.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen's Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.

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