You Know It’s a Myth, Be Good for Goodness’ Sake

Another holiday season is upon us and we are assaulted by the Christmas music, the holiday sales, the cold, and of course, religion! It is getting to be that time of the year where you can’t go a city block without seeing a house decked out with Christmas lights or a nativity scene. But this post isn’t about the nativity scenes or the lights or the commercialism. Its about what Christmas really means to many people and how it came to be.

Now, you may not have heard, but the American Atheists have purchased a billboard right at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, right before you go inside. People drive by this billboard every day very, very, slowly as rush hour comes on.  The billboard reads “You know it’s a myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason”.  Pretty catchy, eh? Of course there has been some backlash concerning it:

“Oh those atheists are trying to ruin Christmas”, “why can’t they leave well enough alone”, “Christmas is a Christian holiday, they shouldn’t even worry about it”.

But is it now? Lets look back at some of the things we celebrate around Christmas. Take say, the nativity scene.  Three Kings came to see the baby Jesus, right? Except there is no mention that there were specifically three men in the bible, there could have been any number! This was just a pop-culturization of the myth in relatively recent years.  December 25th? This was easily stolen from pagan religions that celebrated the Winter Solstice. What better way to attract new followers than to coopt some of those myths into Christianity? Not to say Christianity is specifically guilty of this, all cultures do it, but to say it is not a myth is to be intentionally misleading.

The point of these discrepancies isn’t to knock a cultural celebration of a holiday. I mean, who doesn’t like the time off work, the time spent with family, and the general feeling of goodwill some people choose to espouse during this time of the year.  The point of bringing it up is that we should now be able to move beyond the myths and have a celebratory time for the sake of family and friends. There weren’t really three kings, women don’t spontaneously have babies, winter has nothing to do with Jesus’ birth, and the whole rest of the story.  There really are reasons to celebrate that do not require a belief in Christian dogma though!

So when we go into the holiday season or we see supposed “Christian” culture inserted into our holiday time, remind yourself and others that we all know it’s a myth. We all know this stuff doesn’t and didn’t REALLY happen the way it is depicted in our culture today.  We can be good for goodness’ sake without God.

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17 comments on “You Know It’s a Myth, Be Good for Goodness’ Sake

  1. Dan Reed says:

    According to this article – http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/12/01/catholics-fire-back-at-atheists-in-billboard-battle/

    The slogan is “You know it’s a myth — this season, celebrate reason.”

    and the Catholic league responded in kind with a billboard on the opposite side saying, “You know it’s real — this season celebrate Jesus.”

    Not quite as catchy.

    Try taking a moment to reflect on this. What would you as an atheist feel going through the opposite side and having to read the “You know it’s real — this season celebrate Jesus.” slogan over and over until Traffic finally moves you past it? Now imagine on the opposite side of a tunnel is a Christian going through the exact same thing on the opposite side reading “You know it’s a myth — this season, celebrate reason.”

    My point is, it’s really quite assinine and childish for both parties. $18,500 on either side could have done a lot more good than a couple of dueling signs.

    • jastiger says:

      Thanks for the correction on the article, you’re absolutely right. That is what I get for looking for a picture to link with a bunch of other stuff. Just slipped in there haha.

      As far as the billboards I’m not sure if I agree with your stance. I think the billboards are a good idea to raise awareness about Christmas and its secular traditions as well as raising awareness of atheists in the country. Its a big step that goes a long way towards removing the stigma tied to atheism.

      As far as it being childish, there are tons and tons and TONS of religious bill boards and literature out there. I mean, go drive down the highway outside any major city or any rural area. Its everywhere. I think its a bit unfair for an atheist group to put up their own billboard and be called childish because another group “fights back”.

      • Dan Reed says:

        You missed the point. I wasn’t solely calling the atheist group childish, they are all childish. It is a huge waste of time and effort that could better be spent on the human side of the holiday’s….to improve Christmas for even one or two families instead of a game of billboard self-gratification.

    • Jay says:

      “Try taking a moment to reflect on this. What would you as an atheist feel going through the opposite side and having to read the “You know it’s real — this season celebrate Jesus.” slogan over and over until Traffic finally moves you past it?”

      It wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary at all. How many churches put up slogans and signs and manger scenes this time of year? They have every right to reach out to their members and display their message. It’s easy to see how atheists and agnostics (and believers in other religions) can feel left out this time of year. So I have a hard time criticizing ads that reach out to the minority group.

      • Mike says:

        Jay, I don’t feel left out at all as I do not recognize this time of year in a religious way. Nor do I feel left out of Hanukkah, or Kwanzza, or even Ramadan. That is the great thing about this nation of ours – we are all free to do whatever, or not do it. Just because I don’t agree with someone, does not mean that I’m going to start a campaign to deny the rights of others.

        • jastiger says:

          I have seen no evidence that anyone is denying anyone elses rights. What is the issue here?

          • Dan Reed says:

            There is no issue, other than some people find it offensive. Regardless of your beliefs or opinions of the billboards J, people are entitled to their opinions.

            This is a game that kids will play until someday it becomes more than a game when lives are at stake…may it never come to that. The Atheists with a billboard on one side. The Christians with a billboard on the opposite side. Is there a joke yet that goes, the Rabbi, the Pastor, and the Atheist took a drive through a tunnel….

            Am I the ONLY one that sees the humor in this? Two groups spending thousands of dollars, just to piss each other off during a time of year that has Morphed into what it currently is to many Americans – a season of retail consumerism, which should be about giving of ourselves, of our time, our money, our efforts to help each other.

            I think Mike’s point about “denying rights to others” is that he is afraid of the truth invoked by the sign. He is being denied his right to live blindly as a bigot in peace, while he whoops it up for the Christians in their tough stance response, demonstrating their belief with a sign of their own – “take that atheists!”. So much humor here.

            The Atheist group is like “Hey…there is so much media attention being brought to this, man – people really love us! Oh, you mean the Christians are upset?? We didn’t intend to do that…” as he smiles and points at his dimples trying to look innocent.

            A waste of money and effort on both sides in my opinion – even though it does provide some entertainment value.

            • Mike says:

              As I said in my first post, and several others, there is only one issue, and that is that there is no consistency among you. I agree with you completely about this time of year. I even agree partly with the billboard. One that does not refer to any other religion than Christianity – because what other religion would have “3” wise men and manger? None but “Christianity.”
              Again, Jesus is not the reason for the season, Catholicism is.

  2. Mike says:

    Amen, Amen. Jason you are absolutely correct. The Bible says nothing at all about “three kings”, they were more like soothe sayers, but we don’t know how many. And they didn’t show up until weeks after the birth. You are correct that this is a pagan holiday started by the Catholic Church, that has done so much to destroy what TRUE Christianity is all about. The birth of Christ was most likely in September, not December.
    If people would just interpret the Bible properly, we wouldn’t have Xmas. It’s become nothing more than a time for coveting anyway. Too commercialized.

    As a side note, for people who hate “religion” it’s interesting how it’s only Christianity that is picked on. I’d love to see the American Atheists do a billboard against Islam, or Judaism, the Dolly Lama, etc. When ya’ll start doing that, then maybe you might have more credibility. Not to mention the “tolerance” you say have.

    Happy kwansolhaneidmas

    • jastiger says:

      I never claimed to be tolerant.

      The American Atheist billboard can definitely be attributed to any other religion, not just Christianity. We live in a predominantly Christian nation so it seems fitting to point out the fallacies in the predominant religion. That does not mean a Muslim or Jew should look at our message and think they are somehow more reasonable. They are just as unreasonable, sometimes more so! Just not as numerous.

    • Jay says:

      “As a side note, for people who hate “religion” it’s interesting how it’s only Christianity that is picked on. I’d love to see the American Atheists do a billboard against Islam, or Judaism, the Dolly Lama, etc. When ya’ll start doing that, then maybe you might have more credibility.”

      I wouldn’t say I “hate” religion as much as I don’t think any of it is true. Anyway, I’ll bet their focus on Christmas a matter of finances. The biggest religion in America is Christianity, so an ad that focuses there will have a larger impact. More bang for their buck, so to speak. I’m sure they’d consider ads aimed at Judaism or Islam or any other religion if you wanted to donate some cash for an ad. I think they have a spot for donations on their site Mike.

  3. Mike says:

    Jason, you need to remove “tolerance” from your tag on the side of the site.
    So please tell me how the billboard can be attributed to any other religion, when it specifically is designed toward a “Christian” holiday, not Jewish, Moslem, or any other? I don’t find anything about Romadan or Hanukkah on it.

  4. jastiger says:

    I don’t control what goes up there. I think it just picks words that are used more than a certain amount of times, and based on their usage, their size is bigger or smaller.

    It says “season”. During this season there is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza (though I’m a lot less knowledgeable about that one I admit). So there is more than JUST Christianity in the particular billboard, but that isn’t the point. The point is that the billboard can be applied to any religion, regardless of time of the year.

    Even if it didn’t though, even if it just specifically said Christianity, it wouldn’t be any less right.

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