THE BLOG

An Atheist Christmas is No Christmas at All

12/09/2010 03:34 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Norris J. Chumley, Ph.D. Author/Producer "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" & "Be Still and Know: God's Presence in Slience"

I really like the "anti-religion" signs that are cropping up this Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa season. They make me really love God even more, and are catalysts for conversation, even argument. As a matter of fact, it's been my observation that there hasn't been much talk of God for decades of Christmas, ur, rather "holiday" seasons. Seems to me that God and faith have been oh-so-politically incorrect, and we've focused far more on gifts and consumer indulgence instead. After all, we've made Santa the deity for Christmas, and cleansed it of God and Christ entirely! But Santa Claus isn't God -- he's a guy who maintains morality through materialism, and we believe in him. "You better be good," Santa warns, or you'll not get presents! "Be good for goodness sake," is that message. Signs went up recently on the sides of Fort Worth, Texas buses proclaiming, "Millions of Americans are Good Without God." For goodness sake! While that's a reasoned assertion, I maintain through experience that with God I'm not only good, I'm able to be even better.

Goodness is not the cause or case with signs like, "You KNOW it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason," erected by the American Atheists group near the Lincoln Tunnel approach from New Jersey to New York City just in time for Hanukkah and Christmas. Being good for goodness sake isn't reasonable, nor is belief it seems. After all, they've been atheists for a long time -- "reasonable since 1963" the sign proclaims -- and they are reasonable, I assume. They also have money -- that sign rental was reported to be $20,000. Cheap, but belief is priceless.

I've been Christian all my life, and known and experienced God since birth, over 50 years ago. I've studied other's direct experiences and statements of testimony written centuries ago, also reasonably stating that they know God, too. It's not myth to me; God's reasonable and real.

Maybe it's just that I have the "God Gene," VMAT2, espoused by Dean Hamer, the director of the Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. He wrote a book, "The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes" claiming that we're predisposed to mystical or spiritual experiences genetically. He also purports that these transcendent experiences can be measured and quantified using psychological, neurological and behavioral methodologies. Reasonable? Myth? Only by the limits of empirical, tangible science. Whew. Thank God my experiences of spiritual knowledge are now quantifiably genetic!

I also really like the sign, "Praise Darwin. Evolve Beyond Belief." That's from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF.ORG). Yes, praise Darwin, he was brilliant. He's inspiring. Especially to those of us who aspire to be fittest, so we can evolve. It's through my beliefs and knowledge that I'm able to survive and evolve. That includes mentally and spiritually, as well as biologically. Yes, thank God we have the freedom to believe and know whatever we want. I support the FFRF. Their position makes sense. A lot of religions are stifling and repressive and we should be free of them. Some, however, are wonderful and point us to God, and offer opportunities to praise and celebrate Him in community.

The FFRF is a community. So is the American Humanist Association, which is spending $200,000 on anti-faith TV and print campaigns this holiday season. "Criticism of religion has always been taboo; we'd like to set aside that taboo," said Roy Speckhardt, Exec. Dir. recently on GMA. Actually, it's trendily chic to be atheist these days. Look at the hits that Hitchens, Dawkins, Foucault, Dennett, Chomsky (to name a small few) have had recently. The list of famous atheists is long. I also saw a 20-something with a "Don't Think" slogan on his hoodie yesterday! So cool to disbelieve and not think!

I also support the theories and teachings of Carl Jung, arguably, reasonably, the most influential philosopher and psychologist of our time. Jung said in a 1959 BBC interview "I don't believe, I know," when asked about the existence of God. God's not a myth, or mere archetype. Those who know, experience God in sensation, and in affect. God gives me comfort and joy. Not just at Christmas, but always.

"Yes, Virginia, there is no God" is my favorite "holiday" sign though. Love that one! However, I draw the line -- if they put up a "There is no Santa Claus" sign, I'm going to fight that one. I know that Santa exists, too. Even though the name, "Santa" is an anagram of "Satan." Merry Christmas.

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See "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" by Dr. Norris J. Chumley and V. Rev. Dr. John McGuckin on SnagFilms Collection on Comcast and Fios Video-On-Demand beginning December 15th, 2010. In theaters and on DVD in early 2011. Details at www.mysteriesoftheJesusPrayer.com