Skip to comments.Why Atheists Celebrate Christmas
Posted on 12/04/2011 6:18:55 AM PST by SeekAndFind
They may not find much meaning in the birth of Jesus Christ, but many atheists embrace religious traditions such as churchgoing for the sake of the children, a new study finds.
The research, which focused on atheist scientists, found that 17 percent of atheists in the study attended a religious service more than once a year. The atheists embraced religious traditions for social and personal reasons, they told the study researchers.
"Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society so much so that even some of society's least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives," Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study's principal investigator, said in a statement. Ecklund and her colleagues reported their findings in the December issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Earlier research by Ecklund has revealed that the line between believing and not believing in God is not always bright. For example, in research released in June 2011 in the journal Sociology of Religion, Ecklund and her colleagues found that about 20 percent of atheist scientists are "spiritual," if not formally religious.
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
Many of the irreligious folks believe in the religion of ideology (political, philosophical) or in the TV and Sunday mall..
I'm quite familiar with Pascal's wager. And with the principal objection to it, that God sees the human heart and can tell the difference between true belief and feigned belief.
Of course, Pascal had an answer to that objection, that the unbeliever should act as if he believes ...."Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. "
Are those the specific things which you think I should do??
One thing I always try to do when talking with people of faith is to treat them respectfully.
I hope you will never hear me accusing believers of thinking primitively or irrationally.
Have a great day.
Believers In Jesus Christ are Saved. All others finding excuses not to believe, are lost.
The reason a lot of atheists embrace religion is because religion has become or is a part of this world.
If i was the leader of a church i would not be too proud if the only times an atheist came to my church was on a so called holiday like Christmas or Easter Sunday, both of which are said to have pagan origins.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.
Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
The only way we can know Jesus is to read about him in the Gospels, the only way we can know the truth is to read his words which is the Gospel.
My intent is not to bash Christmas or Easter or Halloween, it is just as a reminder that the meaning of Christian to so many people is far from what it was in the beginning.
Jesus and his apostles were not moral policemen, nor were they a bunch of mister cleans. true believers were those who would and did die for their faith in Jesus period.
The activist atheists are the ones to fear, because they have other than good intentions for us.
He believes in some of the rights and wrongs that i do but if it agrees with Gods word it is just a coincidence, that of course is self rightness.
I understand because before i became a believer i was the most self righteous bastard in the world.
LOLOL!!! Gagdad Bob strikes again!!! (Guess who the "Head Lizard" is!)
Thanks for introducing me to him, Matchett-PI I enjoy reading him very much, so much so that I bought his book, One Cosmos under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit.
Gagdad Bob is the alias Dr. Robert Godwin a clinical psychologist and philosopher uses on his blog. How do we make clear what he means by the "horizontal" and "vertical" axes of thought and being?
In his book, Godwin invites us to
Imagine a two-dimensional being trying to "get away from it all" by going on vacation somewhere in Flatland; anywhere he goes, he will still be restricted to a cramped planar existence, and never experience the comparatively infinite freedom of the third dimension, even though that dimension is equally available from any point in Flatland.Our 2-dimensional Flatlander, moving "horizontally," never senses a third dimension "vertical" to his linear progression through planar space plus time, a dimension accessible to him at every point in his progress, if he but knew it. But if he did know it, he wouldn't be a 2-dimensional being anymore.
We might say the "horizontal" line is about fact, and the "vertical," value, or IOW the meaning of fact.
Our problem raises issues of time and causation. Our conventional sense of time (evident in Newtonian mechanics and Darwin's evolution theory) is that it is a linear, unidirectional, irreversible movement from past to present to future; i.e., it is a "one-way street" in which discrete, serial events occur by means of local causes exclusively. Here it is axiomatic that objects not in sufficiently close proximity do not causally affect each other. IOW, all causation is local causation. This is what we mean by the "horizontal" line it is our most familiar time line, rigorously reinforced by the habits of ordinary sense perception and experience.
Yet when Sgt. Joe Friday always said (on the blockbuster TV show Dragnet that aired in the late 1950s through early '60s I'm dating myself!), "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts," this should not be taken to mean that "facts" were the point in themselves; but rather that Sgt. Friday needed to adduce facts in combination in order to analyze and find their meaning, so to bust the bad guy. But this imaginative process cannot be located on our time line as just another ordinary fact, for it is atemporal and non-local WRT that time line and the events on it. This is what is meant (IMHO) by the vertical extension.
Quantum mechanics has exploded any idea that causation is a strictly local phenomenon.
And so my favorite way of dealing with this new situation in science is to have resort to the categories of Aristotelian causation.
Aristotle proposed four causes as sufficient to explain all processes in Nature: the formal, material, efficient, and final. Every existent process in the natural world depends on all four.
The formal cause (eidos) is the pattern or design according to which materials are selected and assembled for the execution of a particular goal or purpose. For example, in the case of a Boeing 747, the blueprint (or schematic) would be its formal cause. This is the key explanation for the jet.Now the interesting thing is contemporary science regards only three of the Aristotelian causes: Final cause has been banished from its method ever since Sir Francis Bacon.
The material cause is the basic stuff out of which something is made. The material cause of a Boeing 747, for example, would include the metals, plastics, glass, and other component materials used in its construction. All of these things belong in an explanation of the 747 because it could not exist unless they were present in its composition.
The efficient cause is the agent or force immediately responsible for bringing that material and that form together in the production of the Boeing 747. Thus, the efficient cause of the jet would include the efforts of engineers, materials fabricators, hydraulics specialists, and other workers who use the designated materials and components to build the jet in accordance with its specifying blueprint. Clearly the Boeing 747 could not be what it is without their contribution: It would remain unbuilt.
Lastly, the final cause (telos) is the end or purpose for which the Boeing 747 exists. The final cause of the jet would be to provide safe, reliable, comfortable air transportation for human beings. This is part of the explanation of the 747s existence, because it never would have been built in the first place unless people needed a means of air transportation.
Contemporary science identifies first cause with initial conditions plus the physical laws; the material cause with brute matter; the efficient cause with energy. It absolutely rejects final cause for final cause cannot be located along the same time line as the other three. Indeed, Aristotle said, "the final cause is an end, and that sort of end which is not for the sake of something else, but for whose sake everything else is." Final cause is not temporally congruent with the other three causes it is not on the same time line, and appears to be acting from the future, not the temporally local present.
But this would only make it a "non-local" cause it lives in the "vertical," not along the "horizontal" plane that it effectively dominates.
By "end," Aristotle means purpose or goal (peras, Limit). But materialist/physicalist science cannot admit any idea of purposefulness in Nature.
Yet modern biology sneers at final cause even though no concept of biological function could possibly be imagined without reference to the successful completion of a biological goal a final cause.
And so I just loved it when Godwin said (paraphrasing), final cause is a lady that biologists cannot do without, but with whom they do not want to be seen in public.
Anyhoot, just to wrap up for now, three Aristotelian causes proceed along the horizontal; but that which gives them meaning and purpose proceeds only along the vertical.
Just some thoughts, struggling to elucidate a problem....
Thank you ever so much, dear Matchett-PI, for the ping and for the link to the ever fascinating Gagdad Bob!
Believing makes one humble! I reckon your acquaintance believes in God, but has not accepted Him into his heart, yet. These kinds generally do when a catastrophe strikes. I never thought about it before, but I also know people like in your post. I bet most of us do.
I wasn't sure what Pascal's wager was, but Google is a personal friend of mine, so finding out was no problem.
I would not suggest the 'fake it till you make it' approach. (I don't think Pascal was recommending that specifically. That's just my quick and dirty summation.) A lot of people do just that and it is frustrating and ultimately disillusioning.
I suggest reading "Surprised by Joy" and "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. Lewis was an Oxford professor and former atheist who later became an outstanding apologist for faith in Christ. After that, I suggest getting a bible you can read (lots of debate on translations. New King James or NIV will do fine) and let God speak to through His own word. Mark is a good place to start.
If you just want a good daily read, read a Psalm and a chapter of Proverbs a day. Lots of good ordinary wisdom there.
The reason I used that exact quote from Pascal is that, unlike many modern Christians who use the wager as an apologetic argument, Pascal clearly did not intend that the winning wager was a bet on God's existence, rather to him the winning wager was a bet on Roman Catholic doctrine.
Which brings up one of the other objections to Pascal's wager, the "Which God" response.
In my experience, Christians seem to define humanity's belief systems as composed of: Christianity, and, everything else. The possibility that someone might respond to Pascal's wager by adopting Judaism, or Hinduism, or Islam, or Buddhism, or any other non-Christian faith does not seem often to occur.
As I have said to my believing friends countless times: there are a hundred religions in the world. I disbelieve in a hundred of them, you disbelieve in ninety-nine. We are closer together than we think!!
I have read most of the works of C.S. Lewis, (my favorite by the way is "The Great Divorce" which seems to present a rather merciful God) as well as other works of Christian apologetics. I have found none of them yet to be convincing, although many are well-written and very respectful of the unbelieving reader.
Anyway, if you want to carry on the discussion, here's a quote from Jonathan Edwards, the great eighteenth century revivalist preacher:
...the sight of hell's torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever. It will not only make them more sensible of the greatness and freeness of the grace of God in their happiness, but it will really make their happiness the greater, as it will make them more sensible of their own happiness. It will give them a more lively relish of it: it will make them prize it more. When they see others, who were of the same nature and born under the same circumstances, plunged in such misery, and they so distinguished, O it will make them sensible how happy they are. A sense of the opposite misery, in all cases, greatly increases the relish of any joy or pleasure.
Do you agree with Edwards?? When you are in heaven, will you take pleasure in observing the torments of the damned in hell??
Don’t have it. Sorry. If I did, I would have posted it.
Here is something similar, however. from 2008: http://hotair.com/archives/2008/06/23/new-pew-survey-21-of-atheists-believe-in-god/
Thats OK. Thanks for the ref. I also beeped 25% of avowed Atheists believe in God and elicited some interesting results.
All and any atheists must defend their lack of belief. It’s not an option, there is no respect for religion within any atheists. There are no sweet fuzzy atheists, only the self-centered know-it-all, have to see it to believe it, me, me, me. I have a bit of respect for someone who calls themselves “agnostic”, none for the other. Not personal, but there it is.
Perhaps in the sense of looking at the smoldering rubble of an aircraft someone warned you not to take. I think the joy is in missing the tragedy and not in the fact that others who had similar warnings perished. In a real sense "there, but for the grace of God, go I".
When you are in heaven, will you take pleasure in observing the torments of the damned in hell??
Maybe if its Hitler, Pol Pot, or the guy who came up with "New Coke".
One of my favorite Lewis books is "Till We Have Faces".
Actually, that is personal, and I take it as such.
Modify your post with a couple of "In my experience" or "the atheists I have talked to" and it's no longer personal.
Yes, well those are the easy ones. It's a little tougher when you're talking about the nice little old lady down the street who just does not happen to believe.
For me it's a lot tougher to contemplate the situation of my loving atheist parents, who if orthodox Christianity is true are now in the "everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels". I decline to worship a God who would do that, eternally.
It seems to me that if Christians desire to emulate Christ, they should curse and condemn their friends and relatives who died unsaved. The last thing they should do is pity them - Christ certainly does not.
You took offense, actually, as a practicing Christian, I take offense at people who proclaim themselves atheists. I stand by my statement.