Why Would an Atheist Celebrate Christmas? Because It’s Freakin’ Awesome!

Posted on December 24, 2012 9:00 pm

[High Praise! to The Camp of the Saints]

So Sayeth Ayn Rand:
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[In answer to the question of whether it is appropriate for an atheist to celebrate Christmas:]

Yes, of course. A national holiday, in this country, cannot have an exclusively religious meaning. The secular meaning of the Christmas holiday is wider than the tenets of any particular religion: it is good will toward men – a frame of mind which is not the exclusive property (though it is supposed to be part, but is a largely unobserved part) of the Christian religion.

The charming aspect of Christmas is the fact that it expresses good will in a cheerful, happy, benevolent, non-sacrificial way. One says: “Merry Christmas” – not “Weep and Repent.” And the good will is expressed in a material, earthly form – by giving presents to one’s friends, or by sending them cards in token of remembrance…

The best aspect of Christmas is the aspect usually decried by the mystics: the fact that Christmas has been commercialized. The gift-buying… stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by department stores and other institutions-the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors – provide the city with a spectacular display, which only “commercial greed” could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.
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Me, I’m partial to colored electric lights at night and Rankin & Bass stop-motion animation Christmas specials.

If there’s a catchier song than this, I don’t know what it is:


[YouTube direct link] (Viewer #2,265,954)

Tooooo much!

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18 Responses to “Why Would an Atheist Celebrate Christmas? Because It’s Freakin’ Awesome!”

  1. Whoopie says:

    Speaking as one such atheist who enjoys Xmas (and unashamedly wishes my religious friends a Merry Christmas) I agree 100%. Why NOT celebrate a holiday that brings joy to so many (myself included).

    I’m personally offended by those fake atheist commies who worship their political religion and spread social division in the foolish belief that it somehow benefits their twisted agenda.

    Atheism is NOT a cause to be promoted, it’s merely a state of mind. A genuine atheist would not begrudge those who have their beliefs.

    Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

  2. Harvey says:

    So… has anyone ever made a Hanukkah TV special? I don’t mean as a parody, I mean as quality holiday entertainment.

  3. Steve says:

    Hi, Harvey, and Merry Christmas! While it’s true that displaying good will toward men is something that atheists can do and have done, the idea that this ought to be done is the exclusive property of God, which atheists are borrowing from. It is this “oughtness” that atheism cannot account for. If there were no God, then all things are permissible, and no one would have a moral duty to their fellow man. Everyone would be free to decide what is moral for themselves, which makes it irrational for an individual atheist to expect everyone else to do what what he thinks is right, and equally irrational to display moral indignation at other’s behavior. If there were no God, if we arrived by evolution, then survival of the fittest is the only law I need to be concerned with, so why shouldn’t I do only those things that serve my own interests? Why should I sacrifice my time and resources to take care of the old and sick? If God didn’t exist then there would be no objective moral absolutes; there would only be individuals with subjective opinions. Your display of goodwill towards men would then be neither objectively commendable or blameworthy, and neither would any other action or inaction. You may say that you personally like or dislike it, but you would have no basis to say it’s right or wrong, good or bad. You would have no basis to find fault or heap praise beyond your subjective personal tastes.

  4. Harvey says:

    @3 – Fair questions, all. The long, windy, Randian answer is here:

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ari_ayn_rand_the_objectivist_ethics

    My less-confrontational short answer is this:

    What goes around, comes around.

    Or as one of my Navy chiefs once told me, “if you hate a guy, never tell him, because sure as anything, he’ll be the guy holding the life preserver when you fall overboard”.

  5. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    It would appear that Steve and Harvey are swerving, from different directions, headlong into the very center of an ontologism: that knowledge of God is intuitive.

    Cloak it, or euphemise, by descriptions of action-reaction…I have yet to come across an avowed atheist who can accurately explain The Uncaused First Cause.

    Deny a belief in God Almighty with all the breath in one’s lungs while proclaiming an abiding respect for nature or science (Science!)…but in the so-doing, the impressive alignments of natural overlays on this Earth, the precise alignment of the planets in the solar system, the galaxy, etc., must be acknowledged.

    However, the greater acknowledgement, of the consciousness which made said design and alignment, is rarely made.

    The acknowledgement of that higher consciousness which gave us this planet and all that exists within and upon it…gave us the gifts of free will and intellect…and His only-begotten Son.

    Such gifts, trumping diamonds or gaming systems, should warrant humble gratitude being expressed towards the Giver.

    Merry Christmas!

  6. Harvey says:

    All I know is that the universe has bacon. Which is awesome.

    Any knowledge outside that is beyond the scope of this post.

  7. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    All I know is that the universe has bacon. Which is awesome.

    So who gave the universe this awesome bacon? Placed it in the foodchain as wondrous sustenance?

    Don’t you think said Almighty Bacongiver warrants acknowledgement and more than a modicum of gratitude?

    Surely, that is well within the scope of the posting.

  8. Harvey says:

    @7 – Um… Saint Hormel? :-)

    But seriously, Bunker, I don’t want to talk about why I’m an atheist. That’s what evangelical atheists do, and those guys are assholes.

  9. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    But seriously, Bunker, I don’t want to talk about why I’m an atheist. That’s what evangelical atheists do, and those guys are assholes.

    Fine, and granted. I, honestly, would not presume any right to know whatever personal experience(s) culminated in your arrival at the point where you say, “yup, God simply cannot exist”.

    Just in the same way as I tend towards indifference when encountering sesquipedalian evangelical proselytizers (thank you, bless, but I’m already in the flock)…but we on this side of the Tiber are tasked with going forth and making the case that, yes, He does exist. Without crawthumping or voluable exhortations.

    Merely a larger, philosophical, exploration of theological (atheological?) convictions, and the courage to be drawn therefrom, without need for rolling out personal experiences.

    And we are talking about celebrating the birth of Christ. Which is, inarguably, theologically significant.

    Otherwise, you might as well be celebrating Festivus.

  10. Harvey says:

    @9 – I don’t mind when Christians spread the Good News (it’s in the instruction manual, after all). Atheists have no such mandate. Why some impose it on themselves, I’ll never know. I just assume it’s a character flaw.

  11. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    So, you grant that Christ, the holiday of whose birth you describe as “freakin’ awesome”, is the inspiration for the “Good News” being advanced.

    What then, with the absence of belief in God, does that make the news of Atheism?

    It’s been said that the greatest trick the Devil pulled off was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist. Wrong. It is convincing people, that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, God doesn’t exist.

    Happy Festivus!

  12. Harvey says:

    “What then, with the absence of belief in God, does that make the news of Atheism?”

    A quaint parlor trick, like rubbing a balloon on a cat and sticking it to a wall.

    Honestly, it’s about that important in guiding my day-to-day activities.

  13. Basil says:

    A quaint parlor trick, like rubbing a balloon on a cat and sticking it to a wall.

    Oh, I want to see that trick!

    Or did you mean stick the balloon to the wall. If so, not as impressive.

  14. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    A quaint parlor trick, (h)onestly, it’s about that important in guiding my day-to-day activities.

    Atheism being that insignificant, why the reluctance to make the leap and acknowledge something significant?

    Like The Uncaused First Cause.

    (Which brings us back to #5.)

  15. Harvey says:

    @14 – because that’s not entertaining, and the purpose of blogging at IMAO is to be entertaining.

    This just isn’t an appropriate venue for me to have a significant discussion.

  16. Basil says:

    …the purpose of blogging at IMAO is to be entertaining.

    Which explains right there why I don’t post any more than I do.

  17. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    @14 – because that’s not entertaining, and the purpose of blogging at IMAO is to be entertaining.

    Oh, so no thought provocation accompanying the entertainment? No depth of thought?

    Just Obama in a straw boater and cane doing a soft shoe?

    Or sword swallowers and high-wire acts.

    Nothing heavier than God Almighty as a Terry Gilliam cardboard cutout.

    Gotcha.

  18. Bob Belvedere says:

    A very belated ‘Thank You’ for the HP [I just got back from vacay].

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