Don’t Take Down That Christmas Tree Yet!

December 11th, 2013 Post by

atheistchurchThis time of the year can certainly be quite charged. Here I am not referring to credit card use, but instead to those who go out of their ways to make the season a bit less cheerful in the name of their deity, Atheism. The news outlets have run stories typical of this time of the year. Stories of atheists fighting against the use of nativity scenes in public places (whether on private property or not matters little to them anymore). Invariably, an atheist is interviewed and tells us why we shouldn’t have festive colors in schools, or why “manger scenes” should not be allowed in malls. Indeed, take down those Christmas trees! The reason typically offered is that Christians, and theists in general, are deluded by ancient superstitions. Atheists know better, they are not inflicted by a primal gut feeling that God exists, so they say.

What the atheist purports to know about the world underlies their practices of attacking God in the public square at every opportunity. Raise up a Christmas tree in Time Square and one who denies the existence of God will raise their voice like some sort of prophet telling all theists why we are bound in gloomy chains of irrationality, condemned by wishful thinking that there is a supreme being in the world who loves us and sent His Son to atone for the sins of the world.

According to the late, world renowned atheist, Christopher Hitchens, “Religion was our first attempt at philosophy… [which] cater to our inborn stupidity, and our willingness to be persuaded against all the evidence that we are indeed the center of the universe and everything is arranged with us in mind” (1).

empiricalUnderlying Hitchen’s remark is an assumption about how we obtain knowledge in the world. Indeed, turning to the next page in his book, Hitchens goes on to explain that we have better and simpler explanations of why we are here, than those provided by religion. Why? For Hitchens the claims of the atheist are “testable and consistent” (2). In other words, in principle the theist can only lay claim to knowing God exists if that claim can undergo the scrutiny of the methods of science. If the claim is not empirically testable, then the believer can’t hope to ever have a reasonable claim of knowing God exists.

So burn the Christmas trees, dismantle all the manger scenes, and tell little Suzy or Johnny that they can’t wear festive colors to a public school, because we can’t test the claim that God exists.

Wait a moment! We don’t need to follow along with the atheist’s poor reasoning. Indeed, the Apostle Paul gives a cogent response to the atheist’s supposition. Firstly, Paul simply rejects the underlying assumption that belief in God is mere wishful thinking. He writes, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (3). Secondly, Paul makes the reality of God painfully clear with his argument,

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied”(4).

The wishful thinking going on is the idea that there is no God, or at the least that we can’t have knowledge of God. That is, theists are not doomed to an irrational belief. It is reasonable that there is a creator and sustainer of the universe. As the Apostle Paul argues, not only does the very creation itself point to God, but the resurrection of Jesus is the historical evidence that Christ’s truth claims are in fact the truth.

resurectionTis’ the season for the atheist to attack Christmas, because if they can convince themselves that the nativity of Christ is mere fiction, then the resurrection of Christ is not a reality. Thus, they can continue to ignore the evidence God has given to them concerning His Son, and console themselves that the Christian can have no knowledge about God and hence they can rest in their atheism.

The atheist wants Christmas celebrations to publicly cease, because they can’t really bear to think about the resurrected Christ! If the resurrection is true, then so is the nativity, and their faith is in vain.

 _________________________________

1)      Hitchens, Christopher (2007). The Portable Atheist (p. xvii). Da Capo Press.

2)      Ibid. p. xviii

3)      Romans 1:20 ESV

4)      1 Corinthians 15:14-19 ESV






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  1. Joel Dusek
    December 11th, 2013 at 19:02 | #1

    It is curiously disappointing that while many theists will attempt to share faith, persuade, and convince, atheists will condemn, criticize, and belittle. Not always everyone on either side, but I find a majority of the theist arguments done from compassion and concern, which is how we are told to evangelize, and atheist arguments rude and condescending. Although they claim to be opposed to all religion, they seem to have a special focus on Christianity. Reason can’t convince them as they consider themselves to have a monopoly on human reason and consider it sacramental. Only the Gospel can turn stubborn minds, “Faith must trample reason underfoot.”

  2. December 11th, 2013 at 19:07 | #2

    Joel,

    What you write concerning the atheist’s reason and their not coming to faith by reason is most certainly true. That’s why I like to talk to them about the resurrection of Christ, since it usually means I also get to tell them about why Christ had to die, for our sins.

  3. Jim Grady
    December 11th, 2013 at 22:12 | #3

    I like the way atheists get all wrapped around the axels about something they have no belief in. I don’t believe In unicorns and people that do don’t bother me at all. How irrational is it to be so upset with something you do not believe exists!

    Their rage at God gives whiteness to what they know but refuse to confess. They are truly dead in their sins and trespasses, and at war with God.

  4. December 12th, 2013 at 06:26 | #4

    Joel has a good point. When was the last time you heard an atheist rail on Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam?

  5. helen
    December 12th, 2013 at 09:11 | #5

    @J. Dean #4
    When was the last time you heard an atheist rail on Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam?

    Well, they might get away with it in a predominantly Buddhist environment, but with Islam or Hinduism, they’d be in danger of a severe beating, if not death. Most atheists are not stupid.

    Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek so they are fair game. Besides, it’s part of the faith to be persecuted, so “it’s a rotten job, but somebody has to do it.” ;\

    In ignorant and benighted Texas, the legislature passed a law that religious expression could not be forbidden in the public schools since we have freedom of speech.

    So, Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas, all y’all!

    I ate our Jewish colleague’s honey cake at Hanukkah (which was on Thanksgiving this year).
    I hope he’s enjoying the Christmas cookies which are turning up in the break room already! :)

  6. Jais H. Tinglund
    December 12th, 2013 at 09:44 | #6

    @helen #5
    That, and it is “hip” and politically correct to be a Muslim, or a Buddhist or a Hindy or something else that smacks of oppressed minority.
    It seems, though, that it is not quite as hip to be Jewish. I am not sure why. Perhaps Jews have not been oppressed enough in history to measure up to the standards the educated and enlightened have set for qualifying as an oppressed minority – or something …

  7. Jais H. Tinglund
    December 12th, 2013 at 12:02 | #7

    O wait; that is all Luther’s fault, of course, is it not, as we all know, and his only …

  8. Jais H. Tinglund
    December 12th, 2013 at 12:15 | #8

    Joel Dusek :
    It is curiously disappointing that while many theists will attempt to share faith, persuade, and convince, atheists will condemn, criticize, and belittle. Not always everyone on either side, but I find a majority of the theist arguments done from compassion and concern, which is how we are told to evangelize, and atheist arguments rude and condescending.

    In all fairness, it is also difficult to ignore the testimony of some Christians out there, or perhaps Biblicists would be a more appropriate term, along such lines as that “there are references to a god in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constituation, and this proves that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and all those other guys were all Bible-believing Christians, and that this is our country, and if you are not at this time in your life a Bible-believing Christian, and in favour of having a monument in the Courthouse tell you that thou shalt not have crucifixes on your person or in your home or in your church, then you really have no right to be here, and you are stupid, and a bad person, and God hates you every bit as much as I do – and, by the way, merry Christmas. Gotcha, right there, in your face. I hope you are upset and unhappy now that I have wished you a merry Christmas”.

    Not that what you are saying is wrong, because it is not.
    But those people and that attitude are a constant source of annoyance to me, and almost make me embarrassed to appear as a Christian voice in the public square; I really have no desire to be identified with them in any way.

  9. Matthew Mills
    December 12th, 2013 at 16:18 | #9

    I had it out of the library, and unfortunately did not record the quote before returning the book, but there was a very piquant couple of paragraphs on the difference between “toleration” and “neutrality” in public policy, in a well written chapter of “How Much is Enough” (Skidelsky and Skidelsky.) The authors are fairly unreconstructed Aristotelians, and the end of the book left me uninspired, but it’s well worth running down if you’re interested in the drift from public toleration to government neutrality.

    The upshot though was: it’s ok, and even historical, to have and support “favorite” institutions and ideologies, even if you tolerate dissenting views. That’s a concept that we’ve lost in the US.

    Advent Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

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