Saturday, December 25, 2010


Nonbelievers are sometimes chided for participating in the Christmas season. You know, exchanging gifts, putting up trees, partaking of the celebrations. The "chiders," of course, usually are Christians who secretly believe the nonbelievers really, deep down, believe in God, Jesus, and Santa Claus. They want to believe the nonbelievers are just ornery but, ultimately, that they are just like them.

Well, nonbelievers are "just like them." But not because of their religious beliefs.

Nonbelievers, like almost anyone else, want a better world. Nonbeliever want people to be at peace. They want all people to love their fellow man, as it were. Nonbelievers want to eradicate poverty. They want an end to war. They value "the human spirit," but not in a religious sense.

Nonbelievers enjoy the good cheer, comaraderie, and spirit of giving that surrounds the Christmas season. We, too, care about humanity and this earth and we hold many, perhaps most, of the same core values that believers hold. The only real difference is that nonbelievers don't believe in a supreme creator, a conscious being who guides us into goodness or punishes us for our failings.

We're not being hypocritical when we celebrate the Christmas season. We're not taking advantage of a Christian tradition without "paying our dues" as Christians. We're simply accepting and agreeing that the celebration of human goodness is a good thing. We're happy to acknowledge that many of the values of Christianity, and Judeaism and Islam and Buddhism for that matter, are good, honorable, fine values that should be HUMAN values.

I say "we" as if I spoke for other nonbelievers. I don't. I don't belong to a church of nonbelievers. I hold no membership in a club of atheists. But I think I understand what other nonbelievers must feel and believe when they celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is good. For me, Christmas is NOT about Christ. I know, it is to Christians and that's OK by me. But for me, Christmas is about humanity and the desire for all people to get along and appreciate our commonalities as well as our differences. Christmas is an opportunity to openly appreciate goodness. And for that, I am grateful. Not to anyone or anything in particular, just grateful.


Pensionado said...

Well said and too true. I celebrated by downloading and pasting lyrics into the mp3's of a passel of rather odd (to my aesthetic) Spanish language seasonal songs.

bev said...

Speaking from the point of view of an atheist, I see Christmas as a good time of year to take a moment to remember friends and family - send cards to those who aren't on email, or email notes to those who do - just to say 'hi' and that we have thought of them. It's also a good time to get together with friends and family if that is possible. That said, I think there can be too much emphasis on the celebration of the event, and that it can marginalize those who don't have much remaining in the way of family (I know this from first hand experience). For this reason, I like to think of it more as a couple of days when we should be able to get some rest from the grind of daily living and do some things for which we normally don't have time.