I’ve been drawn into an interesting discussion on a few other blogs. It started the other day while watching the TODAY show as I dressed for work. Matt Lauer had his panel of “experts” addressing controversial topics of the day, and one of them involved “outsourcing” Christmas obligations, like shopping, card sending etc, and the propriety of doing so. In the course of the conversation, Nancy Snyderman said she didn’t like the religious element of Christmas, in effect, it’s what ruins it for her. It was a short exchange, not well fleshed out, but it was clear there was a disagreement between Star Jones, who felt “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” while Snyderman did not.
Joni Hudson-Reynolds, who operates her blog Politics From The Eyes Of An Ebony Mom posted about the exchange that morning, soliciting comments. I enjoy her blog because she seems to attract some regular commentators who disagree with me about most things (usually religion and politics) so we have some interesting exchanges. I don’t hold back, but I don’t generally insult people, though I have no problem insulting their beliefs, if I think that needs to be done. I point out bigotry, which is appropriate, I feel, on a blog dedicated to certain viewpoints based on race. Her post on Snyderman elicited my usual comments – I was bemused to see it on TV, and found the first comment clearly indicative of an anti-Semitic bias. The commentator, someone named Brame, first assumed Snyderman was Jewish, then declared that because she was Jewish, she had no right to comment on Christmas, because it’s a Christian holiday. I pointed out that I could find no indication that she was Jewish. In fact I found some indication she wasn’t, and that his assumption that she was was bigotry.
Most of the rest of the (now 63 comment strong) commentary pretty much mirrored that of Brame. They were “offended” because she said she didn’t like the religious element of Christmas, they thought she should be fired, they would never watch the TODAY show again, NBC is a terrible network and should be boycotted, etc. You know, the usual whiny complaints persecuted Christians go on and on about when someone even hints that their belief in Jesus isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.
Sparked by this one-sided debate, one of the commentators actually wrote a blog post on the subject of “Uninformed Atheists” who have the nerve to attack Christmas, and hence by extension, his dear Christianity. I think someone is watching too much Bill O’Reilly on FOX news. He makes an argument that needs some refutation. Go ahead and read it, then come back.
The basic premise of the post is that Christianity is under attack at Christmas. Everyone knows that without Christ there would be no Christmas. It could be mere perception, but it seems to him (and the elders of his church, of course) that there’s been a recent uptick in what he sees as “hatred” for Christianity. Actually, in the first sentence, he sees hatred directed toward Jesus Christ himself.
First, I have a problem with the way the word “hate” is bandied about these days. Admittedly, it’s done by both sides, but it seems to me to be a cheap way of stirring up emotion for a cause that doesn’t really lend itself to such expressions. Hate is a powerful emotion, and disagreements about the state of reality are not a good place to insert such an emotion. And the evidence for calling one’s disagreement “hatred” just doesn’t pan out.
Atheists don’t “hate” Jesus. Indeed, if you (and I’m addressing Meolan Truespirit, the author of the blog, from this point on) honestly think we atheists hate Jesus, then you (a) clearly don’t know what atheism is and (b), given (a), are hence disqualified from pontificating about it. You felt the need to define the term “idiotic” (as in those “idiotic assertions” of them there atheists), so allow me the opportunity to define atheism for you, so you don’t make the same mistake in the future.
- Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
- The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
Bluntly put, we disbelieve in the existence of Jesus. We don’t hate him. We just don’t think he exists, at least not in the sense that you do. And never did. It’s kind of hard to both hate something and not think it exists at the same time. It would be like hating Santa Claus. Or unicorns. Or fairies. Why would we hate something that doesn’t exist? Why would we even mildly dislike something that didn’t exist. And taken to it’s logical conclusion, we think people who DO believe he exists are simply delusional, mislead, or willfully ignorant. It makes no sense that we would hate something we deem a mere delusion.
So try to purge the term “hate” from your vocabulary, lest we assume you are simply projecting.
Now, you also make this claim:
Jesus Christ was born into the world and that is a fact.
There’s another word I think you have a problem with. “Fact”. To quote Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
But even in throwing out the Bible there is plenty of secular historical accounts of Jesus Christ being a real person.
The existence of Jesus is not a fact. The only thing that supports this so-called fact is your faith, which is a belief in something without the benefit of supporting evidence, or, as you claim “fact”. You believe in Jesus on faith, not fact. In point of fact, there is not a single, irrefutable historical bit of evidence that supports your claim that he exists. Not one. And if you think there is, it’s only because you believe it and wish it to be true, not because you can point to that evidence. There are no contemporary historical records that he was born, lived or died in the area we called Palestine. And if you want to counter (as you imply in your post) that the Bible proves it, no legitimate historian (David Barton is not an historian) accepts the Bible as evidence for what it says. The Bible asserts the historicity of Jesus, but for proof, you have to look elsewhere, beyond the assertion, and there is no “elsewhere” that supports it. No birth records, no census, no letters, no contemporary historical records whatsoever (other than the suspect Testimonium Flavianum). One would expect of a figure of such importance that there would be numerous records to support his existence. Many other historical figures, more ancient than Jesus, do, but not Jesus.
So let’s not throw around that “fact” as if it was actually a…ummm…fact.
The next ludicrous assertion is here:
The picture of Santa in this sign as set to oppose Christ indicates that the merry in Christmas is represented through Santa Clause and is “real” as opposed to a “myth.” While it is speculated that the story creation of the figure of Santa Clause started with a real person (believed to be a bishop actually) the bottom line is, Santa is not real. Did the American Atheists organization think this through?
I suppose, to be kind, someone who really doesn’t understand exactly what atheism is, might think that atheists believe Santa Claus is real, while Jesus is not. But c’mon. Did you really think that the Times Square billboard was trying to send the message that Jesus was a myth, but Santa Claus was not? Seriously?
On the assumption you weren’t serious, let me explain that billboard to you. It’s equating the myth of Santa Claus, with the myth of Jesus, by pointing out that they are BOTH myths, and one is merry (so let’s continue to enjoy it), while the other one is toxic (so let’s get rid of it). It’s trying to get all those “cultural Christians” who are Christian in name only, to think about the myth, and to stop believing in it as if it was real. Santa isn’t real, and neither is Jesus.
I don’t believe for one second that Atheists are so misinformed that they would truly believe Santa to be real.
If you don’t believe that, why would you write a blog post as if you did? I’m confused. (By the way, the word atheists doesn’t need to be capitalized. It’s not a formal noun. You don’t capitalize theist, do you?) This is what we call a straw-man argument. Prop up the straw man that doesn’t exist. It’s easy to knock him down, isn’t it?
Here’s the last thing you said that bothers me:
What we do care about is when you bash our faith in an attempt to make us feel guilty for loving God, and you claim our religion is the problem causing unhappiness during a holiday specifically designed to honor his birth.
Why do you care, oh ye of great faith in the Lord Jesus, what we think or do or say about your religion? If your belief and your faith is so strong and so true, what can we possibly do or say that could shake it from its foundation? If what you believe is true, who cares what we little gnats you call Atheists say? Just ignore us, we’re going to burn in hell anyway.
Here’s where I think the truth lies.
Methinks thou doth protest too much!
In short, your beliefs are not structurally sound. They rest on so little, no more than the desire that your beliefs be true. There is no evidence that supports any of what you take on faith, and deep, deep down, your inner voice , your inner consciousness, your thinking brain, knows this. And when someone, (those impudent atheists) deigns to suggest that what you believe is actually false, you deal with it by calling us haters, by distorting our no-nonsense irrefutable claims, and by crying like crybabies that the atheists are picking on you. It’s deflection at best, designed to prop up your beliefs, in the process distracting those who might hear our objections from thinking it through and, maybe, just maybe, changing your minds. It’s a way to reinforce your beliefs, by pulling the wagons in around you and taking potshots at the Indians circling.
The atheist strategy is to divide and conquer (the hearts of minds of individual theists). Your post tries to keep the herd together.
It’s not working.
Well, this was fascinating, John. Thanks for the link. I read the post and the comments with increasing incredulity and fascination. Shaking my head in wonderment at the intolerance of so many so-called Christians. I’ll never understand you ‘merrikins!
Judith, I have a hard time understanding us too. Especially after the events of yesterday, and the mindless reactions to it.
Star Jones? Star Jones?! An empty-headed bastion of religious bigotry still gets air time?
Not as much anymore. I only see her on this TODAY segment, but it’s a regular gig.
The Today show sucks. You’re better off switching between Uke on CW/CBS, NFL AM and Mike & Mike on ESPN. That’s my morning until the coffee kicks in.
Anyway, gosh, ignorant Christians emboldened to be extra ignorant and obnoxious at X-mas? Holy shit, what a surprise! Who would expect that?