Now in its sixth year, the American Atheists’ annual roadside “Humbug!” proclamations elicit little more than a “ho-hum.” Each December since 2011, the atheists have put up strategically placed, carefully worded billboards urging people to turn away from Christmas. The language of the billboards basically amounts to pro-atheism-meme-copy (“It’s Christ-myth,” and “This season celebrate reason”).
So get ready, people: the American Atheists are ready again to try and save the U.S. from the season’s irascible burdens of “tidings of comfort and joy.”
But to get any sort of traction in the public consciousness, or the press, the atheists must have something to “ride on” — usually something directly or indirectly Christian. Atheism is a worldview so vacuous and essentially unlivable that an upcoming global atheist convention to be held in early 2018 was cancelled because “ticket sales have been substantially below expectations” The theme for this event was “Reason for Hope” — odd for a constituency whose core beliefs deny any transcendent foundation for life. (RELATED: Lonely, ‘Invisible’ Atheists Lament Lack Of Political Power As They Stare Into Cosmic Abyss)
The billboards evangelizing for unbelief, put up each Christmastime, represent the atheists’ annual attempt at relevancy. This season is an opportunity for the God-deniers to emerge from their ideological vacuum and enjoy some momentary news coverage. But this requires the presence of — and reality of — Christianity. Strangely enough, God and Jesus have to “be there” in order for the atheists to fight recognition of them — thus, the schizophrenic nature of the campaign and of atheism itself.
Needed: Piety and patriotism (and American atheists, you’re not helping)
In April of this year, the Atlantic ran a thought-provoking piece on “America’s Empty Church Problem.” The concerns in the article could easily have been penned by a magazine on pastoral leadership, but here was a respected secular source lamenting that our growing secularization was actually undermining the country. The Atlantic is not the only voice expressing concern over the nation’s loss of piety, morality and civility. But when respected voices point out that our losses of God, morality, family and virtue are causing the nation to unravel, militant secularists concoct new social justice jargon to ignore reality and demonize the messenger.
In the classroom and through the media, kids are taught there are no objective moral boundaries. Secularism and diversity are the weapons of current educational philosophy. Relativism and hedonism are the unrelenting mantras of most media and entertainment. And yet we are “shocked” and “outraged” when public figures fall due to sexual misconduct.
When groups like American Atheists work to promote a worldview that denies God and undermines truth, there are repercussions in terms of human behavior—tragically negative ones. At this point — and with unflinching confidence in their own unbiased and seamless thought process — atheists will say that the greater tragedy is to believe in “a mean old man in the sky” (God) or an “antiquated book of fairy tales” (the Bible).
But the reality is this: The encouraged, and often enforced, secularism we are living with is destroying the country. As a scholar, I would argue that the atheists’ Christmas billboards are vacuous from the standpoints of historical fact and logic. But the billboards are certainly not without societal impact. The work of American atheists is certainly hardening some youth against God, Christianity and all religion, as well as moral values. And thanks to atheist groups and a secular American school system, millions of young adults now have permanently skewed views about our founders, the Constitution and the role religion has played in America’s success.
And what are ideologue atheists doing as a saveable America edges farther away? Putting up billboards in attempt to steer even more people away from Christ, Christmas, special family traditions and a personal knowledge of God. Thanks, atheists!
Scrooges in a searching world
Douglas Adams of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame wrote, “The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
The billboard-building atheists seem mostly okay with creation, just not the Creator. What really perturbs today’s activist-level atheists is the audacity of the Creator to enter this present world — as a precious baby no less — to ultimately offer Himself as a loving Savior. Their aversion to the God who isn’t there is not at all about demonstrable evidence against God. Many conversations I’ve had with skeptics and atheists have migrated into pastoral counseling sessions.
Beneath the swagger and pseudo-intellectualism of many atheists, I’ve heard stories of pain, abuse, toxic church experiences, abandonment, feelings of alienation or other negative experiences. For many a wounded soul, such feelings metastasize into anger toward God. In no way am I saying that all atheists began their counter-intuitive trek away from belief because of emotion pain or “father issues.” But the number is certainly high enough to be noteworthy.
Why some atheists find Christmas loathsome
And therein, I am convinced, lies part of the atheist’s loathing of Christmas. Atheists have a problem with most of what Christmas represents: Childlike wonder, anticipation, sacrificial love, ultimate forgiveness and the willingness to allow oneself to be overcome with every emotion from exuberant joy to pangs of remembrance to satisfied reflection.
Since Christmases of childhood, many of us have been fortunate to rejoice over some mysterious package. But one of childhood’s most rigorous burdens is to endure the wait of finding out what is in that box! Christmas traditions can be thrilling, but somewhat vexing: Before the prizes of joy and discovery, there are the prices of wonderment and waiting. A full enjoyment of Christmas, like so much of life, requires maturity and character: patience, delayed gratification, appreciation, humility, honesty, selflessness, reverence and more.
I’m not saying that atheists never feel or can’t express those things. But such Christmas-related virtues aren’t naturally associated with their worldview. Starting from the assumptions that life is accidental, purposeless and undirected—a “survival-of-the-fittest,” Darwinian framework—how could Christmas make sense? It couldn’t. Christmas is about God, love and rescue from sin. “Many times in history a baby became a king,” said Charles Spurgeon. Christmas, the renowned orator observed, is that “only once did a King become a baby.”
Atheists, we get it: Christ was born, two millennia later Christmas is still celebrated, and you don’t like it. So, you vent by leasing a billboard or two. Fair enough. But for a moment, at least consider this: That Author whom you’d prefer stay out of your lives wrote a line of dialogue that says, “Whosoever will, may come.”
As one who has publicly and privately dialogued with hundreds of professed atheists, let me say this: Christ knows that you obsessively think about Him all the time. But because things are rough these days, families are struggling and young people are questioning the meaning of life, why don’t we ramp down the rhetoric, give the billboards a rest and reconsider how God might be the answer and not the problem?
It is Christmas, after all.
Dr. Alex McFarland is a religion and culture expert and the director for Christian worldview and apologetics at North Greenville University. He is also a national talk show host, a speaker and an author of 18 books, including his newest, “Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home.” For more information, visit www.alexmcfarland.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.