Is It Okay To Celebrate
I've been reading several e-mails people have sent you, and I really applaud the intelligent answers you give them. I'm leaning toward becoming a practicing atheist, but I have a few questions I'm hoping you can answer. Is it ok for me to celebrate secular aspects of religious holidays, such as Easter and Christmas? I do it primarily out of respect for friends and my fiance's family. I think it's silly to incorporate icons like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus to keep Christian doctrine alive, but I really don't attach religion to these holidays. I think of them as close family get togethers. I can't believe that a virgin could have gotten pregnant without any sexual contact or that Jesus, if he even existed, rose from his grave. What if someone robbed his grave and burned his body? I also don't believe the Adam and Eve story at all. It is extremely sexist and gives a false reason why women menustrate. I'm mentioning these things because I haven't seen any mention of them in any e-mails you've received (which I've read). I hope you will address them. By the way, I'm studying to be an astronomer, and I'm also seeking the truth :).
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: From a Possible Atheist
Date: Thursday, April 27, 2000 1:43 AM
Is it ok for me to celebrate secular aspects of religious holidays, such as Easter and Christmas? I do it primarily out of respect for friends and my fiance's family.
There is no highter authority of any kind to tell you that you cannot enjoy the seasons. Christmas is a great excuse for a family get-together, because almost everyone can get the day off. Besides, the winter solstice predates Christianity by millennia.
I think it's silly to incorporate icons like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus to keep Christian doctrine alive...
I have no idea what Santa and EB have to do with the Christian aspects of Christmas and Easter, and many Christians who take their faith seriously will agree. Again, symbols similar to these predate Christianity by millennia.
You are free to interpret these and other life experiences as you deem appropriate. I personally abhor Christmas and everything it means (but not because I am an atheist; I felt this way as a Christian), but will use it as an excuse to get together with the family. Before my father was diagnosed with cancer, I was trying to talk him into establishing a different day as the family holiday, but now I suspect that will never be. So, I will enjoy what I can of the seasons, and will grit my teeth if the fundamentalistic members wish for all of us to bow our heads and pray.
As for finding truth, I prefer to look at it as a continuous learning experience wherein every piece of so-called knowledge is always up for grabs. Read The Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought by Jonathan Rauch for a wonderful treatment of this subject.
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