Pharyngula

Sermon and Sermonette

We’re going to have to start calling ourselves the Three Wise Atheists of of Scienceblogs: as Revere reveals in his Sunday Sermonette, he, Greg, and I don’t seem to have much difficulty with this Christmas stuff, and contrary to the Fox propaganda channel, most atheists and cheerful holidays with our families and friends, just like Christians, only without the boring superstitious part. I really don’t understand how people can so consistently fail to get it — our atheist Christmas is so much better than anyone else’s, because we get the presents and feasts and fun without the tedious ritual obligations. We’ve got to start marketing ourselves that way.

Meanwhile, I’ve always said that if you scratch one of those appeasing wooly-headed agnostics, you’ll find a raving fundie underneath (well, at least I said it just now). Wilkins exposes his militant fundamentalist side with his announcement that he’s an Eighth Day Inventist, and uses his militant, angry agnosticism to fuel a vicious tirade against some poor brain-damaged lunatic named Grant Swank. He seems to be a kind of Christmas pinata, because Wilkins seems to enjoy wacking him. Tsk, tsk — those mean-spirited agnostic Eighth Day Inventists. It makes me glad to be a warm-hearted atheist, it does.

Comments

  1. #1 Russell Seitz
    December 23, 2007

    One of the few existential pleasures of being a Republican these days is celebrating all those who take atavistic joy in lighting lights in the dead of winter.

    Who gives a hoot what their cultural excuse is – it’s dark out there.

    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/12/candle-in-the-w.html

  2. #2 DLC
    December 23, 2007

    To be fair about it, Swank the witch-doctor seems to deserve a good thrashing.

  3. #3 Ichthyic
    December 23, 2007

    Wilkins:

    puppy grinding

    puppy grinding?

    does that require a specific kind of grinder, or will my standard meat grinder do?

  4. #4 spurge
    December 23, 2007

    Does it matter what breed of puppy?

    What do we do with the ground puppy?

  5. #5 Ed Darrell
    December 23, 2007

    What do we do with the ground puppy?

    Sausage casings, make it into hot dogs.

    You really don’t want to know about hush puppies, though.

  6. #6 Dennis
    December 23, 2007

    I do Christmas on Dec 25th for children, but also do what I call secular christmas (note small c) in January. I see no reason to spend Christian prices for gifts to my adult friends and family when I can spend “real” prices anytime after that. Sorry Christians, being an Athiest has benefits. I have been doing this for many years now, my family may think it’s weird but I don’t care. You can get a belated christmas card for the same price as a Christmas card.

  7. #7 Rey Fox
    December 23, 2007

    “We’ve got to start marketing ourselves that way.”

    Damn straight. Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too. That’s why there’s such a disparity in numbers between those who believe in heaven and those who believe in hell. That’s why the Calvary Church near the mall is advertising someone’s talk called “Imitating Jesus” when you just know that they’re not encouraging people to give up their possessions and live humbly.

  8. #8 blf
    December 23, 2007

    I normally have goose (roasted). Puppy (ground) would be, ah, different, but … I’ll be a boring closed-minded foodie here, and stick with the goose. Besides, I’ve already got a nice organic one waiting in the fridge (I can hear it honking right now, I guess it doen’t like the chill … ;-) ).

  9. #9 Tony Popple
    December 23, 2007

    Historically, I have just gone through the motions of the Christmas holiday and simply not given it much thought. I have had the fortune of living in a rather liberal area of the upper Midwest. This year I have given a lot of thought to significance of being an unbeliever celebrating a supposedly religious holiday. I have been struck with an interesting observation.

    While I usually celebrate the holiday with people who would never regard themselves as atheists or agnostics, I have noticed that their expectations of the holiday are not significantly different from mine. Only a handful of them plan on attending a church service, and some have even shown irritation at the more preachy displays of religion.

    It makes me wonder if religious conservatives are ignoring the real problems they face. They have rushed to cast the “New Atheists” as the great enemy. In reality, I think apathy among lukewarm believers is a much bigger problem. The average person I encounter might not mind a nativity display, but they aren’t exactly filling the pews and coffers of churches either.

  10. #10 mothworm
    December 23, 2007

    I don’t seem to have much difficulty with this Christmas stuff, and contrary to the Fox propaganda channel, most atheists and cheerful holidays with our families and friends, just like Christians, only without the boring superstitious part.

    Sadly, there is an interview on the Onion AV Club, right now, with Christopher Hitchens going on and on about how much he hates the celebration of christmas. (To be fair, he rants about how inescapable the music and holiday-ness of it is, but he does seem to think that as atheists, we shouldn’t be joining in).

  11. #11 mothworm
    December 23, 2007

    Tony,

    Maybe someone with better google-fu than I can find it, but I read a report not too long ago that compared the number of people who say they attend church to the actual attendance numbers colected by churches and found that the numbers don’t match. Apparently people are fibbing about how often they attend.

  12. #12 Norman Doering
    December 23, 2007

    …as Revere reveals in his Sunday Sermonette, he, Greg, and I don’t seem to have much difficulty with this Christmas stuff, and contrary to the Fox propaganda channel, most atheists and cheerful holidays with our families and friends, just like Christians, only without the boring superstitious part.

    Luckily for Bill O’Reilly, Christopher Hitchens is keeping up his end of the war on Christmas (and Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and Groundhog day). Bill would be fighting windmills if Hitch didn’t do his part.

    Ever since Sam Harris was discovered to have a Christmas tree with ornaments and Richard Dawkins was found singing Christmas carols there has only been Hitch to hold up our end of the war that John Gibson, the author of “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought,” invented — errr, I mean discovered.

    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2007/12/who-exactly-is-fighting-war-against.html

  13. #13 HP
    December 23, 2007

    mothworm, lots of people, including lots of Christians, don’t much care for Christmas. The whole idea of what seems like enforced jollity and manufactured social obligations takes the fun out of it for a lot of folks, especially those of us given to depressive disorders (seasonal affective and otherwise). The difference is that Christians who don’t like Christmas have the additional burden of guilt for feeling the way they do. Part of being a freethinker is the freedom to celebrate or not celebrate as we see fit.

    I’m not particularly keen on Christmas, or holidays in general. I’d rather take pleasure in generosity, altruism, and conviviality when it occurs spontaneously, regardless of the calendar.

  14. #14 Erp
    December 23, 2007

    The great advantage in not believing in the myth is that one gets to decide which rituals one follows without worrying about whether a god will punish you for getting it wrong. So attend the caroling, have your tree (Christmas, Yule, or other), eat the seder (different holiday and faith tradition but same idea) if you so choose. We humans are story tellers and story listeners so enjoy the myths, just don’t confuse them with reality.

    I fear that Hitchens would make a good strict puritan just given a few minor changes in his beliefs (remember they were against Christmas also).

  15. #15 John S. Wilkins
    December 23, 2007

    Puppy grinding is obviously what non-Eighth Day Inventists do, as it is morally degraded, and we all know you lot are moral bankrupts. As evidence, see here. You can’t fool me.

  16. #16 Brian Macker
    December 23, 2007

    I’m disappointed. I thought the link was going to get me to a real raving fundie agnositic. I’ve seen them before and they are always amusing. Their intolerance of atheists is especially amusing. They generally seem to hate atheist more than theists althought they insist they hate both equally.

  17. #17 Somerville
    December 23, 2007

    mothworm asked about church attendance in the US. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm says people don’t tell the truth about going to church.

    In one study, researchers actually counted attendees at four churches and then called people that week to ask if they had gone to church on the previous Sunday. 24% of that particular religious belief in the town were counted, 51% said they were there. Oooops!

  18. #18 Simba B
    December 23, 2007

    Our friends over at Sadly, No! are master artisans at making fun of J. Grant Swank, Jr.

    Let’s put it this way: I’m almost positive that man’s first language is not English.

  19. #19 CanadianChick
    December 23, 2007

    once upon a time I thought I was a christian – and for me, christmas was about church and religious music as well as about presents and family and midwinter…but I’m an introvert who doesn’t like loud noisy celebrations, so it was more about the music.

    then, I became an atheist, and at first I thought that meant I shouldn’t “do” Christmas. After all, it had ‘meant something’ when I was a christian, so as a decidedly non-christian, I shouldn’t do it, right?

    Yeah, whatever. I grew up. I had always known, even as a christian, that it was a co-opted pagan holiday, so why was I ignoring it now?

    So, I went back to my childhood baking frenzies, play christmas music loudly on the stereo, and this year, went back to my roots of SINGING the music…mostly to appease my Jewish friend who has unresolved childhood issues around christmas music…(don’t try to figure it out)

    we’re spending christmas day providing music at a catholic soup kitchen on skid row. It’s run by a jesuit. Me, the atheist, and my friend, the jew – singing secular and sacred music to entertain the indigent.

    sounds like a good christmas to me!

  20. #20 Russell Seitz
    December 23, 2007

    You have to hand it to this fellow Swank- he has the Gobstopping power of an elephant gun.

    The bottom line of his website is
    STATS: Total entries: 1842 Total comments: 6

  21. #21 Bob Lane
    December 23, 2007

    Is there a science section on this Blog? Or is it all about religion?

  22. #22 Brian English
    December 24, 2007

    Is there a science section on this Blog? Or is it all about religion?
    There’s plenty of science. It’s not PZ’s fault that religious types can’t act as morally as they say they do and need to have the light shone on them.
    However, if you don’t like the blog. You don’t have to read it. There’s No obligation. Happy festival of Sol invictvs to you. :)

  23. #23 Ron Sullivan
    December 24, 2007

    Luckily for Bill O’Reilly, Christopher Hitchens is keeping up his end of the war on Christmas

    Am I the only one here who’d like to lock the pair of them in a nice cozy room and wander away and forget to think about them ever again?

  24. #24 truth machine
    December 24, 2007

    Is there a science section on this Blog? Or is it all about religion?

    Have you tried clicking the Archives link? Or are you just a stupid troll?

  25. #25 Frank Oswalt
    December 24, 2007

    @Ron Sullivan (#23):

    Luckily for Bill O’Reilly, Christopher Hitchens is keeping up his end of the war on Christmas

    Am I the only one here who’d like to lock the pair of them in a nice cozy room and wander away and forget to think about them ever again?

    Absolutely. Hitchens has his moments of brilliance, but most of the time I find myself thinking that, if he were a typical atheist, maybe the religious types would actually have a point.

  26. #26 mikmik
    December 24, 2007

    I wish i had the exposure of a Hitchen.

    I admire people that get listened to. Not often agree with, mind!

    Hey, paul. I often agree with you. i am an extreme 13 billion times 7 to the letter fundamentalist, and soon, I wish to take a day off.

    Every seven days? That would be nice.
    Every second day? How do I do it!!!!

  27. #27 Bob Lane
    December 24, 2007

    Thanks, #24; I wondered how long it would take before the name-calling started. I actually expected more vituperation, but maybe it’s because of the season.

  28. #28 Timothy
    December 24, 2007

    Just a reminder that the “War FOR Christmas 2008″ begins in only two days. On December 26th make sure to start sending letters to your favorite christian blowhard telling him or her to keep their damn hands off of Secular Christmas.

  29. #29 complex_field
    December 24, 2007

    Well, I hope you’re happy. I am now godless.

  30. #30 lurchgs
    December 24, 2007

    Christmas is like a hammer. It’s a great tool for what it is, but if you use it for something it’s not *designed* for, it’s less effective.

    Christmas is about new beginnings and acknowledging that you have survived another crappy year.

    Christmas is about spending time with family and close friends. If they happen to be in church, well.. so be it. You can go sit with them or wait until they’re done and visit afterwards.

    Christmas is about giving things to people you love (and hate, but you have to because your mother will write you out of her will if you don’t do it). Preferably, spend a lot more than you can afford.

    Christmas is about loving your fellow man (or is it fallow men?) when you just know the world would be better off if you just shot them.

    Christmas is my wife and me staying up until all hours making presents for our teen-aged boys – and knowing that, oddly enough, they’ll actually like them.

    That last one keeps me going. Man, I have some cool kids.

    Even if they do like Christmas

  31. #31 PeteK
    December 24, 2007

    Religion IS about science, in a sense, because religions make claims that can be scienitifcally-tested and debunked, and they also impact on science issues! Atheists only discuss religion because theists push it on everyone…

  32. #32 Nemo
    December 25, 2007

    Is there a science section on this Blog? Or is it all about religion?

    Whenever someone says this (this is at least the second time in the last few weeks), I find a science article right on the front page. (In this case, it’s “Species are such fuzzy things”; admittedly, a short one.) And, for example, when there was that recent stem-cell advance, and all the mainstream reporting on it was so lousy, I figured I could count on PZ to explain it properly, and indeed he did.

    But, the subtitle of this blog is “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal”, so I fully expect posts about godlessness and liberalism. I can see where someone would be confused, looking only at the URL, into thinking that it should be all science, all the time; but that’s not how blogs work. They’re personal. This isn’t a newspaper column.

    I can also see where some might be disappointed at the ratio of science posts vs. godlessness, and might perceive that it’s been going down. I haven’t been reading long enough to know that (I only wonder, since the ratio seems much higher in “A Taste of Pharyngula”), but it doesn’t bother me in any case.

    I daresay that creationists and other religious nuts are likely to blame for any such shift, because they’ve made science political, and they’ve drenched poltics in religion. When religion is the basis of so much bad policy, then the only way to improve things is to attack the source.

    I can tell you that, for a good couple of decades, I was a “live and let live” kind of atheist. I wasn’t an agnostic or anything; I just didn’t see a reason to make a big deal about it. But now I do. Believe me, I’d rather not be spending my time fighting medieval nonsense — a battle I thought was won long ago. No, I’d rather be getting on with life. But they won’t let me. They’re trying to ruin my country. I’m not having that.

  33. #33 Marie
    December 25, 2007

    Christmas is too much fun to leave to Christians!

    All the good times without the superstitions — you have hit the yule log right on the “head” there.

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 27, 2007

    mothworm asked about church attendance in the US. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm says people don’t tell the truth about going to church.

    In one study, researchers actually counted attendees at four churches and then called people that week to ask if they had gone to church on the previous Sunday. 24% of that particular religious belief in the town were counted, 51% said they were there. Oooops!

    It’s also interesting that this phenomenon has not been found outside the USA, AFAIK.

  35. #35 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 27, 2007

    mothworm asked about church attendance in the US. http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm says people don’t tell the truth about going to church.

    In one study, researchers actually counted attendees at four churches and then called people that week to ask if they had gone to church on the previous Sunday. 24% of that particular religious belief in the town were counted, 51% said they were there. Oooops!

    It’s also interesting that this phenomenon has not been found outside the USA, AFAIK.

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