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What do the atheists do at Christmas?(35 posts)

What do the atheists do at Christmas?DougSloan
Dec 26, 2002 1:59 PM
Just curious.

we give presents, love our families, thank whoever we believe inretro
Dec 26, 2002 3:37 PM
I'm closer to agnostic than atheist--I just DON'T KNOW, and that's OK with me.
The view from Fresno notwithstanding, though, Christmas isn't a religious holiday for a great many people. They may be able to tell you what it represents (though a surprising number can't), but to them, personally, it's a day off, a time to get presents or bemoan the need to give them, a day to overeat and watch football. You can see a hint of the emphasis by the coverage the holidays get in the news media--they lead with stories about how retailers are doing, not how people are quietly celebrating the birth of their savior. Don't forget, though--just because a man doesn't believe in the same god you do doesn't mean he isn't a good person doing his best for his family, his community and the world.
Dec 26, 2002 3:43 PM
I'm not a atheist or even an agnostic, but being a non-Christian and having spent my childhood where Christians constituted such less than 10% of the population, X-mas never really meant anything to me other than a holiday which was no different from the other religious holidays for each of the other major religions.

However now that I am in the US, all those lights sure look good, and so I too participate by putting out some string lights. Other than that, I just hope that shops (barber, cleaners, oil change, movie rental etc) would be open so that I could get some chores done for which I cannot find time on weekdays.
re: What do the atheists do at Christmas?Qubeley
Dec 26, 2002 3:57 PM
Well, the usual. Watch TV, sleep, go shopping, etc. It's just another day to me, except the mall is more crowded.
Not like all Christian really do anything religous anyway.
Exchange non-denominational greetings. . .czardonic
Dec 26, 2002 4:03 PM
. . .and use our Christmas bonuses to pay off credit cards.

I leave the Walmart stampedes to the true believers.
Same as you, Doug...Jon Billheimer
Dec 26, 2002 6:05 PM
...except go to church. And don't forget, the Christians borrowed the holiday from the Romans so they could compete with the pagan religions of the day. Interestingly, I heard an expert on the history of Christmas the other day saying that going back to the 4th century a.d. critics have always bemoaned the "excesses" of Christmas. Only prior to the 18th century and the industrial revolution the excesses centred around gluttony and drunkenness rather than conspicuous consumption. I guess in some ways that the more things change the more they stay the same.
re: What do the atheists do at Christmas?Woof the dog
Dec 26, 2002 6:53 PM
I don't completely buy it that anybody is truly an atheist. They are still the same people just like any religious persons. They have morals built into them. Whether people follow their inner feelings or follow the Bible or Koran, they all are slaves to the thousands of years of evolution, and only recently it seems the so-called atheists have gone astray in the sense that they don't follow any particular moral codification. Do we count religions that don't have God or gods as atheistic? That doesn't make sense. Also, I guess atheists wouldn't have survived if they had not been similar enough in their attitude toward life in general. The fact that these days atheism is around and abound just supports my point that they are the same people with practically the same uhm... lets say 'inner workings of the brain' that only allow for MORAL behavior in a society. Atheists just make it really difficult for themselves to find meaning. On the other hand, believers make it too easy. The middle path, man!


Woof the dog.
re: What do the atheists do at Christmas?BikeViking
Dec 27, 2002 5:20 AM
Atheist: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods

Agnostic: One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Agnosticism (for me)is a more reasonable approach than either atheism or true belief. There are no straight lines in nature, but the symmetry of the planet orbits around the sun almost look conceived.

On the other hand , I have never had a "conversation" with God and, if He did, how would I know it?

FOr Christians, GOd knows all that was, is and will be. Therefore He knew before Creation (if it really happened)whether or not I will accept His son as my personal savior, kind of removing me from my "choice". Predestination seems to be at work here.

Dec 27, 2002 6:59 AM
God knows all that will be? I'm so sure. Why would he test us (like Job)? I think there is so much free will and chance that He really does not know what will be. Lots of the Bible just doesn't make sense if God knows the future.

Dec 27, 2002 7:01 AM
Meant to say "I"m NOT so sure."
Lots of the Bible doesnt make sense period (nm)ColnagoFE
Jan 2, 2003 9:05 AM
Au Contrare'Kristin
Jan 3, 2003 8:19 AM
Sorry, I have no idea how to spell that and don't own a French dictionary. Anyway, perhaps its better to state things from a personal perspective, instead of making general blaket comments. The bible began to make sense to me, once I began to study it--as opposed to just reading it. Did you mean that the bible doesn't make sense to you?
none if it?DougSloan
Jan 3, 2003 9:51 AM
Kristin, I think just about anyone would have to admit that lots of the Bible does not make sense. While we can infer some understanding, some parts may not ever make sense to us mere mortals. I suppose with with enough study, we can ascribe some sense to it, but it could be very difficult.

For example, take the first two pages. Did God really create the universe in six days, as we know "days"? Does it make more sense to interpret that literally, or more sense to think of it figuratively. I don't know. However, if God followed any of the (known) laws of physics, then we know it could not have been literal.

I think that there is nothing wrong with admitting that portions of the Bible don't make sense. Those parts may not even matter that much. That doesn't mean we can understand the messages, though. I think Jesus did do a pretty good job of clarifying the essentials, don't you think?

pretty much the entire book of RevelationsColnagoFE
Jan 3, 2003 10:54 AM
I mean how many crazies have used that book to justify what they did? I'm guessing it was written in some kind of code that only those who were on the inside could understand. After all, in those days the Christan religion was not mainstream and Christians were often put to death for their beliefs.
What a beautiful insightKristin
Jan 3, 2003 11:47 AM
I never knew what to make of Revelation. It is definately the book of choice among fanatics and the obsessive compulsive. But you nailed it I think. John, when he wrote that, was living in exile on the island of Pathmos (think Alcatraz). It was a prison, and sensorship was alive and well. Not only was it a matter of life and death for Christians on the outside, those letters would have never seen the light of day if they had been written plainly.

My pastor, John Ortberg, did a series on Revelation three years ago, that thoroughly blew me away. He wrote this cute paragraph about Micheal Jordan that no one outside the US would have ever understood. It was a good illustration on the type of thing John was trying to do. John also taught, and I felt he was right, that many of the things interpreted as prophecies, were in fact, metiphors describing current day events and not predictions. My personally opinion only, but all of this "end days tribulation" hoopla way misses the point.
I guess its all in how you approach itKristin
Jan 3, 2003 11:29 AM
Isn't all understanding inferred to some extent? The classics are endlessly debated because the readers are always inferring and interpretting. I don't expect the bible to be any different. But that's not the same as saying something doesn't make sense.

I think its about one approach to the text. If a person is reading the bible as an historical document or looking to find scientific verification for, say, the beginning of the universe, then I would say the bible would make no sense to that person. I don't think the author of Genisis wrote what he did so that we would have a perfect understanding of the beginning of time. I would infer, based on various evidences, the book was written to indroduce us to God. After a time of study, I became comfortable with the idea--inferred, if you will--that the bible is predominantly philisophical. Its goal is to define value and principles. To teach us who God is and who we are. And, what I've studied of it--admitedly, not much--has made sense to me and has not been confusing. I don't expect that the rest of it will be any less sensible.

So far I've studied in depth, Mark, Luke, Joshua and the first part of Acts. I'm not saying I just pick it up and read it and viola, it perfectly makes sense. After being a Christ for 8 years, I put my bible away and didn't open it for another 4. I never grew from reading it and it just felt like an effort in futility. So I stopped. I wasn't until a year ago that I hooked up with a group at my church where I learned to really study it. This involves removing those goofy chapter and verse referrences that were not part of the original text, learning to use a lexicon, and studying ancient maps and places. And its not to say I didn't ever struggle with any of it. But I found over time that it was my presumptions about God and the church that tripped me up more than the text itself. I come to the table expecting God to be one way, when the text indicates something else, it might take a while for me to grasp. But once I do, its life changing.
Be a Calvinist.Sintesi
Dec 27, 2002 7:49 AM
Isn't that exactly what they believe? You are pre-destined at birth (actually before) to be either condemned to hell or bound for heaven. That you act "virtuous" or "malignant" is not a matter of personal choice but rather a natural manifestation of God's choice.

I rather like that. No work, just be. Takes the pressure off. :)
that's too easyDougSloan
Dec 27, 2002 8:27 AM
But what if you are predestined to "work" and suffer from the pressure? Predestiny doesn't get you off the hook, unless you were predestined to be off the hook...

I guess it depends.Sintesi
Dec 27, 2002 11:24 AM
If God made you a shiftless, immoral, pleasure seeker you can be free of a nagging conscience since there's no hope of salvation anyway. So you burn in hell, what are you gonna do? : )
Middle path?53T
Dec 28, 2002 5:28 PM
Is this the key to being an American? Has Woof found the soccer mom secret? "Find the middle ground between believing and athieism" This is profound. In this way we can never have to profess an opinion about anything. We can live our lives based on relationships, not truths. We will be happy because opinions only server to alienate. If we follow the middle ground we will all get along.

Soon we will be as extinct as the dodo.
Middle path?Woof the dog
Dec 28, 2002 5:50 PM
the middle path is Buddhism I think. I think it was described as the middle path compared to complete asceticism and something else (probably materialism kind of thing), I don't remember but i can look it up. Obviously i used it in the wrong context, but it just sounds so cool :-). I don't know if I believe in anything anymore, but Buddhism contains very profound views and some of them do actually make sense to me. Not that I really read much about it anyway ;-)

Woof the dog.
nihilism is so much easierDougSloan
Dec 29, 2002 10:41 AM
In college I almost convinced myself to be a nihilist, but fell sort and settled for solipsism for a while (Descartes' "je ponse..." got in the way). It's just so easy to believe that nothing exists, or at least that only the self exists. Heck, what matters then?

What matters then53T
Dec 30, 2002 6:14 AM
For the next 100 years, my children will walk this earth. I want to make it as enjoyable for them as possible. That means stay out of jail and put some money in the bank and educate them as well as possible. They may want to do the same for their kids. This all works without God or an afterlife.
Chinese food and a movie.Sintesi
Dec 27, 2002 5:39 AM
That's a tradition for some. Seems like everyone celebrates during Christmas time tho. I was just reading an article in the local Daily News yesterday about how non-Christians (i.e. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, etc....)tend to enjoy the trappings of Christmas (dinner and gifts) even if they don't celebrate Christ. I mean what group of people doesn't enjoy a big meal with family, friends and relatives followed by children and presents? Most people get the day off so why not?
re: What do the atheists do at Christmas?eyebob
Dec 27, 2002 5:39 AM
I couldn't decide how to answer your post Doug. At first I thought, "That moron!" He knows very well that there isn't much difference to how an athiest celebrates. But then I thought, oh good, Doug was thoghtful enough to post a thread on this board on a slow day. I'd also imagine that it's a day that most of us would eschew a good go about the state of affairs in the world type of thread (ie topics involving Bush, Iraq, Aids, Health Care, Big Oil, etc...) So here's my straight up answer.

Athiests do what most everyone else does. Uses the Holiday as an excuse to get together with family and friends, trade some merchandise and tall tales all while embibing their favorite bevvy/cigar.

A better post might have been "How did the celebration of Christ's birth come to this? How is it different in other predominanty Christian countries?

I mainly wondered about the gift thingDougSloan
Dec 27, 2002 6:56 AM
I just wondered what meaning it had, if any, to someone who doesn't believe. Since gifts seem to be a Christian tradition started by the Wise Men and all that, I was just curious whether that has become so secularized that even atheists hop on. The concept of not believing is so foreign to me that I can't imagine what it would be like. It was a sincere question.

There are obvious differences, like going to church, praying before meals, those sorts of things. I wondered how much of the traditions have been adopted, though, even though there isn't much reason for them if you don't believe.

I realize that there are some atheists who just don't believe, then there are others who are militantly anti-religion. That might make a difference, I suppose.

Christmas originsmotta
Dec 27, 2002 6:42 PM
First you have to realize Christmas is just another holiday usurped by the christians to mollify the Pagans they were trying to convert. Two of the biggest celebrations in the Pagan year were the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Funny how the two most important events in the christian calendar just happen to come about at that same time. It is easier to convert a person when his traditions remain intact. He is less resistant to change because his life really doesn't change all that much. The christians knew if they tried to take away the ability to celebrate at certian times of the year there would never be widespread conversion, so co-opt existing festivals and make them relate to the new religion. So when you look at the pine tree and mistle toe you dragged in from outside, remember the true meaning of the holiday. A celebration of life(all life, not just man) so the world will re-awaken in the spring.
About easterKristin
Dec 27, 2002 7:09 PM
Actually, Easter is kind of an interesting mix. While it is true that the easter we know--bunny rabbits, hard boiled eggs and all things pastel--has its roots in pagan tradition; the Resurection is celebrated generally around the same time that Christ Jesus was actually crucified and resurected...on the Passover. Its documented that Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover and was raised from the dead three days later (less than 36 hours, as this was 3 days on the Hebrew calendar). Personally, I wish that we would celebrate Christs sacrifice and resurrection exactly on their anniverseries; but we are in the ball park at least. What is so pagan about easter these days anyway? We really should stop calling it a pagan holiday and call it by its true name instead. A Hallmark holiday. I have chosen the Christ Jesus as my Lord and I celebrate him often. I know the difference between celebrating my Savior and all the other stuff that goes on in the world.
About easter53T
Dec 28, 2002 5:34 PM
Hate to break it to you, but Judeism is also a made up religion. The rules and traditions were written by men. The holidays were copied from the previous belife system. The only difference from Christianity is about 5000 years, so there are no good records of the previous belief system.

Perhaps this is how we athiests celebrate Christmas, spreading the gospel of history and science. Happy Holidays!
Did you know that the Christmas tree is a fertility symbol?Kristin
Dec 27, 2002 7:13 PM
And there are several follac (sp?) symbols commonly found in every household during Christmas. I chuckle silently when I see them.
Did you know that the Christmas tree is a fertility symbol?motta
Dec 27, 2002 7:28 PM
Follac? is that a hair club for men cult?
Did you know that the Christmas tree is a fertility symbol?Woof the dog
Dec 29, 2002 10:22 PM
Funny that you say that. I've read this some time ago:

"Although there is ample historical evident for the symbolic relation between Christ and the tree symbol, the little girl's parents would have been gravely embarrased had they been asked to explain exactly what they meant by decorating a tree with burning candles to celebrate the nativity of Christ. "Oh, its just a Christmas custom!" they would have said. A serious answer would require a far-reaching dissertation about the antique symbolism of the dying god, and its relation to the cult of the Great Mother and her symbol, the tree -- to mention only one aspect of this complicated problem."
From 'Man and His Symbols' by Carl Jung. Really cool stuff that I just don't have time to read :-(

Woof the dog.
Nobody ever said Santa was God. (nm)Breakfast
Dec 27, 2002 5:14 PM
You mean he's not? nmKristin
Dec 27, 2002 6:50 PM
Good questionDuane Gran
Dec 29, 2002 7:29 PM
As a former atheist, I spent the day with family and for the most part chided them on their religious tone. Yep, it was not enough to be an atheist, I had to be an ass about it. I'll admit it. For me it was a day off from work/school and a chance to visit family. I did spend one Christmas by myself (intentionally) because it didn't mean that much to me. Let me tell you, that was freaky and I don't think I want to do it again.

Regardless, every year I was prompted to contemplate a little bit about the life of Jesus. In spite of the comercialization of Christmas, the Christian meaning of the holiday still comes through. (and yes, I know about the pagan roots)