An Atheist Chooses Jesus Over Santa

I hate Christmas, New Year’s, and holidays in general. What could be sadder than the obligation to be happy on … Continued

I hate Christmas, New Year’s, and holidays in general. What could be sadder than the obligation to be happy on an assigned date? What could be a greater lie? This accumulation of garlands and cheap decorations, the displays of lights in windows, the crass promotion of it all. The perpetual appeal to consume, to binge, to be a part of the bustling crowds in stores. The overflowing of optimism and good feelings on our television screens, along with the sudden increase of pollution, injustice and stupidity, I can’t wait for it all to be over. Bring on the new year, bring on the real world, its struggles, its efforts, and the ordinariness of each day, which always begins again!

It is easy to blame children for some of this. Christmas is their holiday, you say. But that’s just an excuse. Christmas is not the holiday of children. It’s the holiday of retailers, of familial selfishness, of greed, of the child consumer and the childish consumer. It basically represents the opposite of what we need to teach our children.

Just look at Santa Claus, bearded and pot-bellied, entertaining the passersby on the sidewalk. The man who dresses as Santa gets paid to do it. I can excuse him for this – one has to earn a living – but I cannot excuse his employer. In fact, I’m surprised that our churches don’t criticize this. The belief in Santa Claus is worse than heresy, which at least has good faith in itself. Santa is just a superstition for children, a lie for adults, and a generally stupid concept. When my three sons were little, I didn’t have the courage to resist the pressure from society. I pretended, like everyone else. Am I wrong? I don’t know. But what a relief when the truth was revealed; when the boys, very early on, indicated that they didn’t believe in this nonsense!

And what is the opposite of Santa Claus? A child rather than an old man. Poor rather than rich. Hidden rather than exposed. He who has nothing to sell, nothing to give, nothing more than his life and his love. The opposite of Santa Claus is Jesus Christ: the naked infant between the bull and the donkey, the innocent victim between two thieves, the crib and Calvary. These two images, in their extremes, are the most famous of the beautiful nativity story. They demonstrate the essence of this God, who is the weakest of all gods, the most human, and for all that, the most earthshaking.

I don’t believe that Jesus is God or the son of God. He is the Son of man, as they say, begotten and not created, and ultimately born of a woman, just as we all were. It’s in this sense that he is truly our brother. I like that he had a family, that he was loved from the beginning, and because of that, he learned to love. This is the spirit of the Son: the will to be loved precedes the will to love, and renders it possible. In this way the Son is more human than the Father, though fathers are only human because they were first sons.

What does Jesus symbolize? The primacy of love, even when weak, defeated, humbled, and tortured. Easter marks his victory, his omnipotence, his divinity. Christmas marks his weakness, his fragility, his humanity. This is why Christmas has more significance to me. It’s not the victory that I like, it’s the love. Not the power, but the justice. Not divinity, but humanity.

This is why I am an atheist, while remaining faithful – as best as I can – to the spirit of Christ, who represents justice and charity. That is the true spirit of Christmas – the basic opposite of which is the spirit of Santa Claus (if he has a spirit at all), and beyond that it is the spirit of his zealous fans, big and small, who embody selfishness and consumption.

André Comte-Sponville’s new book, “The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality,” will be published by Viking on New Year’s Eve.

  • frank burns

    A confused bit of writing, perhaps meant to give atheism a bad name. It has nothing to do with atheism, something like a piece entitled “What a Boston Sox fan thinks about Hanukkah.” For one thing, outside of the holy writ there is no evidence for Jesus ever having lived (the first mention is no until about 150 years after the inception of the religion, in a phrase that just mentions the existence of the religion, stating who they worship)– so why does this article assume the truth of Jesus’s real existence as a fact? And, when the teachings ascribed to Jesus are considered objectively, outside the lens of the church, on the whole they do evoke the near adoration seen here. For example, in the form of his Trinity cohort, Jehovah, Jesus personally slayed millions of innocent children, women, whatever, simply because they did not worship him, or to “multiply His wonders” (Exodus 11, 12). How many innocent childern has Santa Claus struck down with his mighty sword? Oh sure, you can say that good ‘ol Jesus did some good deeds, — but Timothy McVeigh was also a pretty fine guy outside the fact he killed a “paltry” 300 innocents — so why is he denigrated so? Santa Claus stands for good things, for generosity, and anyone who denigrates his name in the name of atheism is a fake.

  • frank burns

    A confused bit of writing, perhaps meant to give atheism a bad name. It has nothing to do with atheism, something like a piece entitled “What a Boston Sox fan thinks about Hanukkah.” For one thing, outside of the holy writ there is no evidence for Jesus ever having lived (the first mention is no until about 150 years after the inception of the religion, in a phrase that just mentions the existence of the religion, stating who they worship)– so why does this article assume the truth of Jesus’s real existence as a fact? And, when the teachings ascribed to Jesus are considered objectively, outside the lens of the church, on the whole they do evoke the near adoration seen here. For example, in the form of his Trinity cohort, Jehovah, Jesus personally slayed millions of innocent children, women, whatever, simply because they did not worship him, or to “multiply His wonders” (Exodus 11, 12). How many innocent childern has Santa Claus struck down with his mighty sword? Oh sure, you can say that good ‘ol Jesus did some good deeds, — but Timothy McVeigh was also a pretty fine guy outside the fact he killed a “paltry” 300 innocents — so why is he denigrated so? Santa Claus stands for good things, for generosity, and anyone who denigrates his name in the name of atheism is a fake.

  • Mike Kruppa

    He sounds more like an agnostic who wishes he could be a Christian. My impression of this piece is that he’s far too cynical. Lighten up! That the retailers and anyone out to make money exploits Christmas is no revelation. Everyone can see this. As for being happy and merry on an assigned date, I love my wife and family all year round and it’s just a matter of tradition that we celebrate it openly with gifts, food and laughter on that date.I’m happy to be alive all year round but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating that life every year on the day of my birth. I think most people do so as well.War and poverty will be there in the New Year for you to complain about. Until then, Merry Christmas and try not to be a grinch!

  • Andrew

    I agree with this writer about a lot of things. Another internal contradiction in Christmas is the forced generosity: We give each other presents on a single assigned day, largely out of a feeling of obligation. If the generosity were genuine no appointed day would be needed. As it is, the gifts that are more to be celebrated are those extended spontaneously on any day OTHER than Christmas.The author is also obviously right that God does not exist, certainly not in the anthropomorphic, kindly-grandfather sense. But it is interesting to view Jesus’ teachings, as this author does, simply as those of a philosopher (George Bush’s favorite!). From that standpoint the teachings have merit regardless of your theology (and it is also true they don’t seem to have much to do with Christmas as it is currently practiced, the roots of which really belong to the ancient winter festivals of “pagan” northern European tribes).

  • Mortifus

    I don’t mind that other people are having a good time, at least they say they are.If “it’s the thought that counts” when giving presents, then think of this: I don’t want to get involved, don’t force me to refuse it.And what is it with this war on christmas crap? As long as you don’t spend my tax dollars on your religious delusions, do what you like.The jesus business isn’t any more or less meaningless to me during christmas, but your forcing it at me even more than normal at the end of the year is a war with christmas as your battlefield. A war with christmas, isn’t that special.

  • McF

    Yes, I agree with this assessment of Christmas, a tremendously alienating holiday. And the entire season used to annoy me no end, until some years ago I had a minor revelation: Everybody hates Christmas. Many deny it, and insist that their cheer is unforced and their merriness genuine, but why else would Dickens’ Christmas Carol have had the remarkable career it has had if this ghastly ritual didn’t require a hugely coercive support? Do we need fables on Thanksgiving about anorexics tormented by ghosts until they concede that, yes, a huge celebratory meal is a good thing? Do we have Dr. Seuss monsters whose hearts expand at the narrative climax to reconcile them to the 4th of July? If everybody didn’t basically hate Christmas and its gaudy hypocrisy, it wouldn’t need the elaborate propaganda effort no other holiday has. So Andre, it’s OK. Whatever the rest of us may say publicly, here or elsewhere, rest assured: You’re actually preaching to the choir. And there is always that most wonderful day of the year, December 26th, when Christmas is gone for another 364 days!

  • MTgrassland

    Faithless scrooges!

  • Robert

    Although I agree with some of the sentiments expressed about Christmas I do feel that they were kind of clumsy. Its kind of an easy target. Despite the obvious over commercialization, it is nice to have a holiday where the family all comes together. Do we need a holiday for this? no. But its still nice to have. I do, however, appreciate the discussion of Jesus Christ. I myself am an atheist but since I grew up going to church, I find that I really like the story of christ and am disappointed with what the religious in our country find so wonderful about him. They seem to revel in his “glory” and count the seconds until he comes back on a flaming chariot and gleefully murders all of those “unbelievers” and pagans who dared wage a “war on christmas.”People, the story of Christ is the story of an all powerful god who chose to send his only son to the poorest of the poor. To take part in what is truly human. Struggle. Doubt. Rage. Frustration. And then those very same people turned against him and sentenced him to death. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. But at his death he said “forgive them.” His message is to empathize, to understand. Reserve judgment. Care for your fellow human being no matter who they are. “Bless them father for they know not what they do.” But what kind of Christians do we get? Torturers, war mongers, hypocrites, and cheats. This is not surprising since the use of religion has been a means to gain power from the beginning of human society. But still. Its too bad. It could have been such a wonderful myth.

  • Robert

    Although I agree with some of the sentiments expressed about Christmas I do feel that they were kind of clumsy. Its kind of an easy target. Despite the obvious over commercialization, it is nice to have a holiday where the family all comes together. Do we need a holiday for this? no. But its still nice to have. I do, however, appreciate the discussion of Jesus Christ. I myself am an atheist but since I grew up going to church, I find that I really like the story of christ and am disappointed with what the religious in our country find so wonderful about him. They seem to revel in his “glory” and count the seconds until he comes back on a flaming chariot and gleefully murders all of those “unbelievers” and pagans who dared wage a “war on christmas.”People, the story of Christ is the story of an all powerful god who chose to send his only son to the poorest of the poor. To take part in what is truly human. Struggle. Doubt. Rage. Frustration. And then those very same people turned against him and sentenced him to death. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. But at his death he said “forgive them.” His message is to empathize, to understand. Reserve judgment. Care for your fellow human being no matter who they are. “Bless them father for they know not what they do.” But what kind of Christians do we get? Torturers, war mongers, hypocrites, and cheats. This is not surprising since the use of religion has been a means to gain power from the beginning of human society. But still. Its too bad. It could have been such a wonderful myth.

  • Hermey

    I was going to comment on the grinchiness of this piece, but then read Robert’s comment a couple above, and thought he said it best. The third paragraph is as simple and poignant as Linus’s short speech to Charlie Brown. I agree that it’s a pity what Christianity became.

  • trippin

    Holidays? I dig holidays. It’s entertaining to get swept up in the tradition. When leading a life that has voluntarily adopted the burden of free and critical thought, every once in a while it’s enjoyable to just surrender one’s self to the mindlessness of it all, restraining one’s self from asking needling questions as to why a rabbit lays colored eggs to commemorate the resurrection of the male child of the invisible sky patriarch, or musing aloud at a Christmas party as to what magical means were used by his daddy to give his mommy a Y chromosome and how she must have felt about the whole ordeal (not to mention her hubby, who in this day and age would be a Judge Hatchett plaintiff looking for a DNA test) and instead just grooving on the camaraderie.Besides, they’re usually one hell of a convenient excuse to get drunk.

  • Victor Kelley

    Look at it this way: if it weren’t for people spending money wantonly for the Christmas holiday, this country’s entire economy would collapse.

  • phil

    Wow! This is definitely an interesting read. I think the comments are even more interesting. Certainly some passionate comments made. There is a lot that is good about Christmas and there is a lot that is bad about Christmas. I consider myself a devout Christian and it really saddens me what Christmas has become in many ways. My wife and I do not do the whole Santa Claus thing because the whole tradition has become a mockery of the original intention.On another note, I don’t think Jesus makes a very good philosopher. C.S. Lewis once said that that Jesus must be either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. If he wasn’t God, then he was a man possessed out of his mind to claim to be God.I was confused by one of the comments about about no evidence existing that Jesus actually lived. There are the writings of Josephus which chronicle the Jewish War that were written in the first century. Not to mention the Bible which was written in the first century as well.The one thing that always amazes me is that 11 of the 12 apostles gave their lives for their testimony about Jesus. It would be amazing if all these men would have gave their lives for a lie.

  • ЬЗ

    An agnostic’s prayer: Dear God, if there is one, save me from christmas.Amen.

  • Reasonable not hateful

    Jeez.I think that Robert sees the glass as half empty.If you look at the charities that Christianity has spawned over the years, it has done quite a good job in helping the poor. The track record is certainly better than what the government has attempted to do.Couple this with the liberal press and its penchant for always emphasizing the negative things that Christians do, and it is easy to come to false conclusions like Robert does.

  • bocci

    “Festivus”…for the rest of us!

  • Anti-Scrooge

    This is a very sad piece of commentary that has nothing to do with atheism. I cannot resist adding my comments.

  • Rather Not Say

    I was about to approvingly e-mail this along, until I read this humorously undermining postscript:”André Comte-Sponville’s new book, ‘The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality,’ will be published by Viking on New Year’s Eve.”But consume we must, it would appear.

  • Mano

    BTW, the bearded, red and all around avuncular Santa Claus was an invention of the Coca Cola Company marketing department. Google it if you don’t believe me. You people are really funny with your 80 year-old traditions…

  • mano

    As to the comment regarding christian charities: to paraphrase Orwell, just like the communist party would have perpetuated the proletariat’s suffering for a 1000 years so as to justify its own existence, I think religion in general thrives on poverty (and ignorance). And from a purely economic standpoint, charity is probably the least efficient way to allocate marginal resources. If you want to leave social services to organized religion, good for you – but don’t be surprised after 15 years to have a Hamas or Hezbollah on your hands (christian or whatever, but Hamas or Hezbollah nonetheless).

  • RichardR

    I agree this is either the most confused or a purposefully deceitful tract – as one blogger said.

  • Pmbster

    I find it amusing to hear people say that the Lord gave his “only” son for our lives. 1) This “son” was supposedly created by him for this purpose, and2) Had he wanted other sons or daughters he could have impregnated any number of women in the night while they were sleeping or drugged or whatever it was he did with the first one.

  • Mike

    “I hate Christmas, New Year’s, and holidays in general.”Gee, what a surprise to hear this from an athiest. My guess is that most athiests also hate ice cream, dogs, comedy and most importantly, people.Why is the Post so obessed with giving athiests so much air time? They represent a small percentage of our population, yet dominate the “onFaith” section. Oh! Now I remember! It’s because the Post’s staff hold the typical liberal distaste for religion.

  • Eric

    I’m an athiest and I like ice cream, but not my neighbors’ dogs.Merry Christmas everybody!

  • Anonymous

    wow! makes me glad I’m just an agnostic.

  • Reasonable not hateful

    From a pure economic viewpoint?You gotta be kidding me. Most charities I know that are Christian(not the tele-evangilists)understand that the money they receive is from people in the middle class, even lower middle class. They minimize bureaucracy (unlike the government) and more of the money goes to poor, as its efficiencies don’t have that government bureaucrat eating up the money or delaying it. And to equate what happens within Hamas and Islam just illustrates ignorance (lack of knowledge) of the two religions.I don’t see any Hamas’ coming out of Christian churches to any extent that is mentionable.Pmbster- Jesus had alway existed, as he is God that has always existed. Time to read up on Christian theology, my friend, even if you don’t believe in it. As far as Richardr goes,you obviously don’t understand nor even try to comprehend the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made, his free gift to us.

  • Fred Nietzche

    It is always funny to listen to christianists and dominionists berate scientology or islam for being “false religions.” Comedy. The fundamental (errr) problem is of course that if there are false religions, then what makes yours the “true” one. Oh yes. Some jewish toddler born from a virgin some 2000 years ago who went on to resurrect? OK, not as silly as Xenu but not that far either. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the inquisition and uranium-depleted ordinance. Which leads to the logical and inescapable conclusion that the only thing christmas american-style has going for it is the Marine Corps (bless their hearts) and the full faith and credit of the US Government on the bond market. Except that you geniuses want to get rid of government and taxes (which of course raises the uneasy issue of providing for the Marine Corps and the V.A., as well as interest payments to the Chinese).ps: to the WaPo and the editors – kill the whole section of the website. Please.

  • trippin

    “My guess is that most athiests also hate ice cream, dogs, comedy and most importantly, people.”Gee, what a “surprise” from a theist.

  • Mike

    Trippin:Actually I am an agnostic. But of course you have a stereotype in mind of anyone who doesn’t share your narrow views, so feel free to envision me any way that soothes your fragile ego.I was simply pointing out that atheism is a common manifestation of a loser’s nihilistic and misanthropic view of the world.

  • amike

    Mike, how can you say what you say with a straight face. Surely this is a joke? The old I know you are but what am I gambithow old are you? Another teenager trolling with the adults. Do you even know what misanthropic means?You belittle what you perceive as a stereotype then proceed immediately to use one yourself.You, are, an idiot.

  • E Favorite

    Phil: “The one thing that always amazes me is that 11 of the 12 apostles gave their lives for their testimony about Jesus. It would be amazing if all these men would have gave their lives for a lie.”Where are you getting your information? Not from objective, scholarly sources for sure, because there is even less information about the lives of the apostles than there is about Jesus.Until just a couple of years ago, when I realized I had never objectively studied my own religion, I just assumed what I’d knew about it was true. It isn’t. Christians are typically indoctrinated, not educated.

  • Galatians

    Andre,Be aware that your rejection of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior shall lead to your demise. Your blasphemy makes you a filthy sinner. You shall be condemned to eternal damnation. God will punish you for your sinful rejection of Him.

  • Mr Mark

    Wow! If this column was the only example out there of how atheists think, then this atheist would dislike atheists as well. What a mess!Frank Burns hit the nail on the head with the first comment. And where does the author get the idea that Santa is “rich?” Santa is just the factory foreman.We all know that ID/creationist types are earning science degrees these days, not so they may expand our scientific knowledge, but so they can disbelieve everything they’re being taught solely to count themselves as a “scientists who believes in god and creation.” Perhaps this author’s column marks the beginning of a similar infiltration of the ranks of the non-believers by faux atheists.Merry Xmas everyone!

  • JoeT

    Galatians: has it ever occured to you that had you been born in a Jewish or Muslim family you would be reading someone born a christian telling you that you are condemned to hell for rejecting Jesus. how exactly is it that everyone believes the faith that they simply inherited by accident of birth is fortunately the one true one? how ridiculous.

  • E Favorite

    More perspective on the Christmas story: the Archbishop of Canterbury recently said on the BBC that the three Kings are legend, that stars “don’t behave” the way the star of Bethlehem supposedly did and that you don’t have to believe in the virgin birth to sign up with the anglican church. This info is not news to anyone with seminary training, but I may come as a surprise to the people in the pews.There’s a partial transcript of the interview on the archbishop’s own website

  • mistruel

    Be aware that your rejection of [Santa Claus] as your Lord and Savior shall lead to your demise. Your blasphemy makes you a filthy sinner. You shall be condemned to eternal damnation. [Mrs. Claus] will punish you for your sinful rejection of Him.Yeah, I can buy that. Where do I sign up?

  • Groggie

    For me one of the most important insights that atheism offers is not taking oneself or life too seriously. After all, if we only get to go around this world once, it’s really a shame not to take advantage of the fun that life has to offer. And the traditional American holidays offer a great opportunity for both religious and non-religious folks to have fun – baking cookies, getting and giving presents; pretty decorations, peppy music, hot chocolate, keeping in touch with far-flung friends and relatives we care about … what’s not to like? You don’t have to be Christian, you don’t even have to ponder the deeper symbolisms of its various elements (Pagan or non-) to enjoy Christmas.And pondering those elements reminds us that many traditions like the Saint Nicholas/Santa mythology have their roots in ancient solstice celebrations that were meant to provide for happiness during a dark and cold time of the year. So whether it’s Jesus or Santa who floats your boat, why not enjoy what their season and celebration has to offer and be of good cheer?

  • Groggie

    For me one of the most important insights that atheism offers is not taking oneself or life too seriously. After all, if we only get to go around this world once, it’s really a shame not to take advantage of the fun that life has to offer. And the traditional American holidays offer a great opportunity for both religious and non-religious folks to have fun – baking cookies, getting and giving presents; pretty decorations, peppy music, hot chocolate, keeping in touch with far-flung friends and relatives we care about … what’s not to like? You don’t have to be Christian, you don’t even have to ponder the deeper symbolisms of its various elements (Pagan or non-) to enjoy Christmas.And pondering those elements reminds us that many traditions like the Saint Nicholas/Santa mythology have their roots in ancient solstice celebrations that were meant to provide for happiness during a dark and cold time of the year. So whether it’s Jesus or Santa who floats your boat, why not enjoy what their season and celebration has to offer and be of good cheer?

  • Mr Mark

    Mike writes:”Why is the Post so obessed with giving athiests so much air time? They represent a small percentage of our population, yet dominate the “onFaith” section.”Atheists account for 10-14% of the American population. That’s at least 30-million people. If you think 10-14% is a small percentage, deduct 14% from your weekly take-home pay. How’s that small percentage feel now?Atheists dominate OnFaith because we offer fact-based arguments, and such arguments tend to garner responses from all sides. Indeed, the atheists who post at On Faith seem to spend as much time educating Xians about their own religion as they do giving scientific explanations for our world. Be honest with us, has an atheist post ever sent you scurrying to your Bible to see what they’re talking about? Perhaps you should be grateful for small favors?And besides, the WaPo doesn’t “give atheists so much air time,” we simply rush in to fill a void. The same option is open to the religionists. If the religionists don’t take the opportunity, it’s their own fault, not that of the WaPo or the atheists.Merry Christmas to all!

  • Mr Mark

    PMBSTER writes:What’s more important about it (as C Hichens has pointed out) is that we didn’t ASK god to offer this horrible example of infanticide fro our salvation, nor would a civilized human being ask for such an act. Yet, we are now BOUND to this heinous act, enslaved to its barbarity as our ONE chance to gain eternal life…that is, if we choose to believe the fantasy.Imagine if you were short on the mortgage and asked your neighbor for a loan to get you through the month. “No, I can’t offer you any money, but I’ll kill my youngest daughter for you. That should appease your banker, don’t you think?”God created everything, so he apparently created us imperfectly. Yet, he commands that we perfect ourselves. He then doesn’t allow us to choose our method of seeking perfection, but instead, he performs a vile act of infanticide and posits that the ONLY way to perfect oneself is to embrace his vile act as payment for the very sinful nature that he himself created within us.Did I get that straight?

  • Homer Simpson

    All praise to Jebus!

  • Mortifus

    The part of the christian myth that tickles me the most is the mitochondrial guilt we’re all supposed to inherit from Eve eating the apple.Where’s the free will in that?And some of the other things are just outright disgusting. They worship a corpse on a stick, and no matter what kind of metaphorical doubletalk you use, the wafer and the wine or the grape juice or whatever – they are cannabilizing that corpse on a stick.Gross beyond gross. How does anybody fall for this stuff?

  • Andrew

    Phil posted: “The one thing that always amazes me is that 11 of the 12 apostles gave their lives for their testimony about Jesus. It would be amazing if all these men would have gave their lives for a lie.”

  • artistkvip1

    i admire your use of words you are able to paint discriptive expressions of your beleifs. it sounds odd when i say it but an atheist would have to believe in atheism thus making them a true believer and one could rightfully say you have faithin your beliefs….i have to wonder though if you claim to get any benifits from a faith or a beleief in a certanty that you cannot recieve grace or forgiveness, or steanght , or wisdom by spiritual means. correct me if i’m wrong but atheist means alot more than not beleiveing in Jesus…. it’s the assertion that no greater power than the human mind exist,… i find 4 myself this is an untrue statement when i look to my art….. and ponder just where he “hell” (excuse me eye couldn’t help myself) some of the beauty of my creations comes from… i agrre whole heartedly with you on the santa claus lie 2 children. i al;so disagree with christians and people of other faiths subscibing to a santaGodlike theology.2 where God is there to fullfill all thier wishes and prayers of coarse as proof of thier self attained virtues… if there is a God and i choose to believe there is …then i think God is the final arbitrator of consequences both good and not so good but i have to believe he listens to all sides even the atheists whether they choose to aprove or not. of course there is the possibilility you are correct but i would think i would be free to disagree with your disbelief very politely of course

  • Anonymous

    Mike: “Actually I am an agnostic. But of course you have a stereotype in mind of anyone who doesn’t share your narrow views, so feel free to envision me any way that soothes your fragile ego.I was simply pointing out that atheism is a common So, let’s recap. I have a stereotype in mind for assuming you’re a theist on the basis of observing your petty sniping at atheists with whom you disagree, and then you go on to describe in detail the very stereotype that clouds your “agnostic” thinking.And all in knee-jerk reaction to my petty snipe parroting nearly verbatim your petty sniping, but aimed at you instead.So, in addition of accusing me of what you commit in the next paragraph, it seems you can dish it out, but can’t take it. Oh yes, and I’m the one with the fragile ego.Could one be delivered a more delectable Christmas present? Have a kickin’ Kwanzaa, there, Mike!

  • trippin

    No, not “Anonymous” — brain fade

  • Hank

    I think the writer strikes a true note. Santa and Jesus are both derived from fairy tales, neither more believable than the other. Both are nice stories though. Santa makes toys at the north pole, and in one night, visits every home on earth bringing free toys, and gifts. Jesus brings the hope of eternal life, and performs a variety of miricles, to help his fellow man, for in the story he is after all, just a man. The real pity is what man has done to and with both of these stories. Both have been subjected to the human condition. Santa and Jesus both have become front men for corporate america to sell their ideology and goods. They have promoted the concept of forced giving, which for those that believe in christmas, and have no means to give, creates a terrible time of year, filled with guilt and depression. In the end it leaves one to ponder what the true meaning of christmas really is. A day when the wealthy rejoice and the poor lament. Perhaps if we were to turn it into a day where we all just share our thoughts and feelings for each other during a family or friendly get together, more people would actually find it a day to look forward to. After all, we all, rich and poor have those in equal measure to share.

  • Hank

    I think the writer strikes a true note. Santa and Jesus are both derived from fairy tales, neither more believable than the other. Both are nice stories though. Santa makes toys at the north pole, and in one night, visits every home on earth bringing free toys, and gifts. Jesus brings the hope of eternal life, and performs a variety of miricles, to help his fellow man, for in the story he is after all, just a man. The real pity is what man has done to and with both of these stories. Both have been subjected to the human condition. Santa and Jesus both have become front men for corporate america to sell their ideology and goods. They have promoted the concept of forced giving, which for those that believe in christmas, and have no means to give, creates a terrible time of year, filled with guilt and depression. In the end it leaves one to ponder what the true meaning of christmas really is. A day when the wealthy rejoice and the poor lament. Perhaps if we were to turn it into a day where we all just share our thoughts and feelings for each other during a family or friendly get together, more people would actually find it a day to look forward to. After all, we all, rich and poor have those in equal measure to share.

  • Hank

    I think the writer strikes a true note. Santa and Jesus are both derived from fairy tales, neither more believable than the other. Both are nice stories though. Santa makes toys at the north pole, and in one night, visits every home on earth bringing free toys, and gifts. Jesus brings the hope of eternal life, and performs a variety of miricles, to help his fellow man, for in the story he is after all, just a man. The real pity is what man has done to and with both of these stories. Both have been subjected to the human condition. Santa and Jesus both have become front men for corporate america to sell their ideology and goods. They have promoted the concept of forced giving, which for those that believe in christmas, and have no means to give, creates a terrible time of year, filled with guilt and depression. In the end it leaves one to ponder what the true meaning of christmas really is. A day when the wealthy rejoice and the poor lament. Perhaps if we were to turn it into a day where we all just share our thoughts and feelings for each other during a family or friendly get together, more people would actually find it a day to look forward to. After all, we all, rich and poor have those in equal measure to share.

  • Frank Martin

    What a great reading of the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, the incarnation! How can this fellow call himself an atheist? He seems to love the central message and the tradition that embodies it. He is no more an atheist than I am.He says he doesn’t believe that Jesus is God, and he seems to reject the notion of divinity. Well, it seems to me that the notion of divinity (a pagan imperial notion at the time it was first applied to Jesus as Messiah) is a meaningless term for us anyway. And, as far as I am concerned, “the primacy of love,” which he plainly affirms, is as good and sound a theological notion of God as I have encountered in First John or anywhere else. (His apparent borrowing of “we love because he first loved us” is another apparent allusion to First John.) So, Mr. Comte-Sponville is in my mind a believer in what or whom I would call God, and is closer in belief to me and many in my church than others who call themselves Christians. FJM

  • queero

    you silly pagan athiest moron

  • robert

    Anyone ever notice the similarities between Santa and Satan?Coincidence? I think not.

  • tom

    It is, of course, possible to choose neither, since it is a false dichotomy to begin with. Which primitive ritual would you prefer? Fat guy in red suit or bleeding dead Jew? Neither is all that attractive, thank you very much!

  • tom

    “My guess is that most athiests also hate ice cream, dogs, comedy and most importantly, people.”No. Just you. Personally.

  • tom

    The Continuing Adventures of Sally’s Quim!Which is the only reason this otherwise halfway respectable rag is publishing this absolute BS!

  • tom

    “What does Jesus symbolize?”That, plus killing Jews and Muslims. Not to mention Buddhists and Hindus. Santa is at least apolitical….

  • tom

    LET’S CREATE A FALSE DICHOTOMY!!!! AND THEN LET’S MAKE PEOPLE FEEL GOOD NO MATTER HOW WE ANSWER THE QUESTION!!!!WHOOPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tom

    “It would be amazing if all these men would have gave their lives for a lie.”Amazing? No. Funny? Yes!

  • tom

    You know, I used to be a pleasant sort of atheist, who didn’t really care about others’ religion and tolerated whatever sorts of silly tomfoolery my neighbors wanted to indulge in, so long as it didn’t infringe on my property. Then I started to get Chuck Colson Sponsored by Sally Quinn and such silliness, and it ocurred to me, “Why do I have to put up with this BS?” Just because Sally Quinn is having sex with the publisher of the Washington Post doesn’t mean that I should have to put up with the religious maunderings of a convicted burglar. I mean, I know the Constitution gives freedom of the Press to those who own a Press, but there ought to be some safe zone for sheer silliness!!!!

  • tom

    You know, I used to be a pleasant sort of atheist, who didn’t really care about others’ religion and tolerated whatever sorts of silly tomfoolery my neighbors wanted to indulge in, so long as it didn’t infringe on my property. Then I started to get Chuck Colson Sponsored by Sally Quinn and such silliness, and it ocurred to me, “Why do I have to put up with this BS?” Just because Sally Quinn is having sex with the publisher of the Washington Post doesn’t mean that I should have to put up with the religious maunderings of a convicted burglar. I mean, I know the Constitution gives freedom of the Press to those who own a Press, but there ought to be some safe zone for sheer silliness!!!!

  • Tom

    Hurrah for Frank Burns, the first commentator. He gets it right–there is, in fact, “…no evidence for Jesus ever having lived…” The proto-Christian idea of Christ was a heavenly spirit. He was brought to Earth only in the four Gospels, written two and three generations after his supposed lifetime.

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