why we desperately need atheists

13Dec09

I just read this article on mpr’s website about atheists celebrating Christmas without religion and their feelings and opinions towards believers. The article seems a bit quickly written, but you can still pick-up on the tone of several of the people interviewed and how they not only feel discriminated against and offended by the religious, but they don’t see God in our society. Can you blame them? Not only are we offending those who don’t believe exactly what we believe, but we are being just as, if not more stubborn and prideful as them – but we are supposed to have someone and something else to live for besides ourselves, right? If it bothers you to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, then I am talking to you. That is the exact stubbornness that is offending others and not reflecting Christ’s love. But what? We need to defend and stand-up for our beliefs, christianity and the church – right? If they phase-out Merry Christmas, than that’s just one step closer to defeat? Wrong. We are not politicians, campaigning for Christ, arguing and debating. We don’t have control of life like we think. We are waisting our-every -breath with worrying about things like these in such an earthly and prideful way. Don’t you see that by being sensitive and respectful to those who don’t believe what we believe, and by purposefully not offending them, it strengthens relationships and then, opportunities of discussion and fellowship are possible. I mentioned the book that I’m reading, It’s Really All About God in my last post. It’s been a great read so far, and I just so-happen to be reading chapter 7, The Blessing of Atheism. I can’t think of one believer that I know that couldn’t benefit from reading this chapter alone – but sadly, I can think of many believers that I know that wouldn’t read this chapter or couldn’t make it through it. Atheism, was non-existent until religion. Atheism does not exist without religion and religion should not exist without atheism, challenging us and holding us accountable. I have always viewed atheism in one way, but I have realized that there are many types. Sure, there are fundamentalist atheists who are very closed-minded, who rid everything that humans cannot understand or prove and who forbid questioning. There are also apathetic atheists, those who have given up on life. And then there is atheism at its best, let me leave you with this excerpt from the book :

Atheism at its best participates. It does not simply dismiss religion but engages with it constructively so that the world is better for it. It is an expression of faith and humanity, even faith in religious humanity – however misguided they might be, religious people are human too!– asking the difficult but legitimate questions that religious people dismiss, about scientific evidence ignored by religion, about historical facts forgotten by religion, and about suffering produced by religion. Atheism at its best questions religion while acknowledging the good it brings.

… Atheism at its best serves the world as a rebellion against the God offered in the market of religions, a demand that God ought to be more that what or who our God management systems (religions) say God is, if God is in fact there at all.

… Atheism at its best grabs us by the collar and throws us to the ground, demanding to see lives well lived, forcing us to dig deeper and live up to the best of our own religions.

… Atheism at its best hangs on to the hope that our religions have not grasped reality adequately, given what our grasp of reality has brought to the world.

… Atheism at its best is a gaurdian of secularizaton, a process of creating a common and safe space where world views – including religious ones – can share their treasures and expose themselves to correction by others.

… Atheists are God’s whistle-blowers.

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4 Responses to “why we desperately need atheists”

  1. 1 Ben Swanson

    Nice rant Kevin! I especially like your comments on saying Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas. I want to tell people who argue about maintaining the standard of “Merry Christmas” to get a life. I mean really, read Jesus’ words from the Bible and show me how this follows Christ’s teaching. Instead of loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us, this sort of thing is picking a fight with people who are not our enemies and are not persecuting us.

    At the same time, I wonder if we could develop the tradition of giving our own chosen greeting, so if we say “Merry Christmas,” maybe my Jewish neighbors could respond “Happy Hanukkah.” We are not a Christian nation (See Greg Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Nation” or Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”), but we are an immigrant nation. Would this be more genuine and inclusive than simply saying “Happy Holidays?”

    I live in a diverse neighborhood and when someone greets me, “Wassup?” I don’t respond, “Wassup.” That’s not me. I say, “Hi” or “Hey.” They don’t need me to use their greeting and I don’t need them to use mine.

  2. Merry X-mas Kevin! I can remember being little and people in my church being upset by people using X-mas as a replacement for christmas. “They are taking christ out of christmas” Somehow a holiday based on commercialization and consumerism with a few CHRISTmas songs thrown in doesn’t really feel like a holiday christ would want any association with.

  3. I was just talking to Loran about this last night. Happy Holidays, Merry X-mas, Merry Christmas; does God really receive more glory from one over the other? Especially when those who defend and argue this point, celebrate Christmas more as a time to spend ridiculous amounts of money, over-indulge and not have to work. Let our actions speak.

  4. 4 Ben Swanson

    They will know we are Christians by how we greet people on Jesus’ birthday. LOL. No, you are right, they will know we follow Christ by our love in action. Words are cheap.


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