, Port Arthur, Texas

December 28, 2006

Keep 'Merry Christmas' alive

Ronald C. Spooner

The most important thing that happened to me was Jesus. My life has been guided by my Christian faith for more than 60 years now, even during those time when I have just refused to follow. Nevertheless, it has made life a joyful ride.

The saw-called “War on Christmas” is disturbing, not to my personal faith and the role it will play in my life, but because of the potential consequences to the country and to the world. Most of the killing going on in the world today is being done — or caused to be done — by people who believe in a supreme being. Can you imagine what would be capable of if they did not believe?

The Christmas season was once a joyous season primarily because of the “reason for the season.” And the number of people shopping for Christmas gifts seems not to have diminished. What has diminished has been hearing and seeing Merry Christmas. The words automatically put a smile on one’s face. They cause one to reflect on the reasons we have to be thankful, and hence merry, even in the midst of the troubles. Merry Christmas said there is reason to be thankful for what I have, for loved ones, and reasons to be hopeful about the future. There is a spirit on the season that is uplifting and exhilarating to those who hear and choose to say Merry Christmas.

But all of that makes atheists uneasy. Not only because they don’t have what these other people have, but also because there is a deep forever unsettled question that maybe they should. It is for many of them a projection of doom, which they would rather not have to face year after year. So they attempt to shut down the whole system.

It’s almost like a person being invited to a barbecue picnic, but because he does not like barbecue, he wishes it would rain. And if it doesn’t rain, he thinks of some other way to keep the other attendants from enjoying themselves. Atheism is tough to deal with because atheists don’t choose to be that way. They just are.

Atheism is an irrational position because it assumes all of these things that we see — and don’t see — living and operating around us just happened. Granted, something in the Universe has always been here, either a universe of materials — energy and laws, with likely unlimited capacity to carry on the kinds of eternal evolution we see evidence of — or there is an intelligent being who either drew or draws up the plans to keep this show on the road. And even if the first were true, it would not eliminate the possibility that, during an eternity, a universe that could cause an amoeba to evolve to a man could sooner or later cause some kind of man to evolve to a god, who might still be evolving.

So atheists have no solid ground to stand on. This evolving god which his world would have created is the same God which Christian and other religions believe has always been here. So even atheist have reason to believe. They just don’t realize it yet.

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders remind us that we are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights among them being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Atheists would deny others the right to pursue any religious happiness they themselves are incapable of experiencing. The courts are apparently increasingly using the First Amendment to support that selfishness.

Atheists have the right not to believe, but not the right to not know they are in the presence of believers. They don’t pray so they don’t want to be in the presence of those who do. The only right they should have is the right not to pray. The same goes for religious displays: The only right atheists should have is the right not to put up a display. Those who believe in nothing have the right to display nothing.

But the problem may rest more with our practice of faith than the irritationality of atheists. The fact that such a minority seems to be winning this “War on Religion” may be more about what’s wrong with religion.

The facts remain: Jesus also loves atheists. He died for them, too. And whether they believe it or like or not, somewhere around this time 2000 years ago, He also was born for them. Merry Christmas.

Ronald C. Spooner of Port Arthur is a retired educator.