Don’t Take Down That Christmas Tree Yet!
This 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).
Underlying 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.
Tis’ 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