More vitriol; Baby Jesus, dictatorship, and Christmas…

You may have already heard about the news story that leads to my blog post, you can find an article on it here: Anti-religion Sign Joins Nativity Scene…. Now, there’s a whole blog post just from that article, but I have to get to my main discussion point here; Dan Barker on Fox and Friends this morning trying to make some kind of point about us Christians “stealing” the winter solstice from “them,” and drawing a bizarre connection between having a creche (nativity scene) of the baby Jesus with Hell…and dictatorship.

Apparently Dan Barker is another proselytizer for the “new atheism.”  This was my introduction to him, and I’ve found quite a bit about him online of course.

First, December 25th is indeed the time set aside in the church’s liturgical calendar to remember or commemorate Christ’s birth.  Pretty much every Christian I know readily acknowledges that Christ wasn’t literally born on the 25th of December.  So, this Dan Barker (spokesperson, and co-president for “freedom from religion”) goes of on this odd notion that Christians “stole” the winter solstice from them, meaning the atheists…hunh.

Does Dan Barker not realize that the celebration of the winter solstice was not humanistic, that it had religious, sacred, and/or spiritual overtones, even when it wasn’t Christian?  How about the fact of the celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of lights, also falls at this time of year?

Besides those obvious facts, how in the world is adding in a day to celebrate Christ (and St. Nick for that matter) “stealing” anything?  There was no logical argument given, it just came across as a child stamping his foot over some perceived slight.

Then he starts talking about the baby Jesus, and winds up trying to throw in a bit about Hell (it seems that’s what he thinks about when looking at a nativity scene), and how that baby Jesus became a dictator.  Now, I fully realize this is the same Dan Barker that can’t even admit that Jesus was a real, honest to goodness person that did in fact exist.  The idea of the “Jesus myth” (where someone claims Jesus of Nazareth never existed in any form) is so illogical as to defy description.  There are a majority of scholars from all backgrounds that readily admit the existence of Jesus, even if they do not believe He’s the Son of God.  So, I should be prepared for illogical tangents, but the one about baby Jesus becoming a dictator was a red herring I didn’t really expect…especially since Barker supposedly doesn’t even believe Jesus ever really existed.

Of course in our society it is quite clear when someone refers to someone else as a dictator, especially in a context like this, that they are employing a dysphemism.  It is an attempt to sway listeners’ emotions in a negative fashion…and this is what Dan Barker attempted to to do by linking the term “dictator” to Jesus (baby Jesus at that).  The later comments by viewers of Fox News, and additional thoughts by the anchors reveal that Barker’s attempt at emotional manipulation (unsurprisingly) backfired.

Who can seriously listen to someone who directly tries to smear Jesus in His infant state by tossing around words like “dictator,” and pouting about Christmas?  It struck me as a good thing he was broadcast on-air with all of this rhetoric, since it should show people how illogical, and emotional those like Dan Barker really are.  Yes, we again have an example of a “new atheist” blatantly resenting Jesus whilst at the same time trying to maintain that He doesn’t exist in the first place…funny that.

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13 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Christianity

13 responses to “More vitriol; Baby Jesus, dictatorship, and Christmas…

  1. Martin

    I agree with you about the “Jesus never existed” bit. Unless you are a scholar trained in this area and have some strong evidence to support it, it’s illogical to go against what the majority of historians say.

    I also somewhat agree with you about this whole thing. I really wish the “new atheists” would choose their battles more carefully.

    However…

    Technically, logically, by-the-book, rules-lawyerly, they are correct to put a sign in the capitol’s Christmas display. The government exists for the entire public, and not just a particular religious branch. Therefore, it should remain completely neutral on this subject. People should be allowed to have church, opinions, put Christmas displays in their yard, do whatever they want, as long as it a) doesn’t infringe on the rights of others and b) doesn’t use a public space for their particular opinions.

    If roommates have to share a bathroom, wouldn’t it be wrong for one of them to leave whiskers all over the sink from shaving? They all have to share the bathroom. The person can shave in his own room and leave whiskers there if he wants, but not in the shared bathroom.

    And if he refuses and continues to do it, then perhaps one of the other roommates should decide to do something in retaliation? Perhaps leaving wet toilet paper all over the place?

    This is akin to what Dan Barker is doing.

    Keep government clean and neutral for everybody. If you refuse, then Dan will leave his wet toilet paper in the bathroom. If you agree, then he will clean up his mess also.

    • Kliska

      Martin, do notice that I never said they shouldn’t be allowed to have a symbol of the season or some such (a sign with a whole sermon on it is an odd choice to me, since there’s just a nativity scene and a “holiday” tree there too, but to each his own, I suppose). I know you didn’t say that I was against it, I just want other readers to note that I’m for Freedom of religion, and that includes atheistic beliefs. So, I completely agree with you on the fact that they too have a right to freedom of speech, etc.

      One of the things that came up in the news broadcast was how the atheist message was such a negative one; it wasn’t supporting anything in a positive light, rather it made very negative claims about religion…the ones who cry “tolerance” the most don’t seem to want to tolerate Christian belief. Now, in your analogy, what was going on was something negative; the dude is leaving a mess for someone else to clean up. I realize that was a quick analogy, not meant to be perfect, but putting up a nativity scene doesn’t really line up with leaving a mess. It’s more like someone cleaning up the bathroom, and the roommate doesn’t approve of the way the cleaning was done, so they leave a nasty note. 😉

      Again, despite what Dan Barker backs in his “freedom from religion” foundation; it is indeed freedom of religion.

  2. Mike

    What a wonderful thing, to have faith in an anti-god who freely gives the gift of non-existence! What an un-fathomable joy! How can I sign up? For, I want to harden my heart, accuse those I despise, and sing the praises of the Great Nothing too!

  3. dwilli58

    I almost posted on this issue, as I had on the bus signs, a few weeks back, but decided that the world system of this age, which according to the Word of God, will not be changed until all has been fulfilled through Christ!

    It’s good, however, for the enemy (satan) of God to be exposed to those who belong to him and those who are seeking the truth! So thanks for following the leading of your Spirit!

  4. Carl Sachs

    Dan Barker on Fox and Friends this morning trying to make some kind of point about us Christians “stealing” the winter solstice from “them”

    I don’t understand this at all. December 25th was the birth of Mithra according to Mithraism, and if Wikipedia is reliable, it was also the festival of Sol Invictus. So is Barker saying that modern atheism and Roman paganism are the same thing? I have difficulty imagining anyone being so foolish as to say that, and so I wonder if he’s being quoted fairly.

    • Kliska

      Here’s a quote so that you can see I reported accurately: ” This time of year is the Winter Solstice. It’s a natural season that Christians basically stole this season from us human beings by using the hate speech of the nativity scene which, which damns all of us to hell if we don’t bow down before that little baby who became the dictator. What a horrible insult to what it means to be a human being! We all love this time of year.”

      He does start off earlier in the interview talking about pagans…but then it turns into this when the interview becomes more emotional. So, I suppose we Christians are now no longer human. That’s really tolerant, and logical, don’t you think? People should ask themselves why the scene of a baby in a manger gets this guy’s goat so much.

      Edit to add: He was on Fox News as well, the evening before and said this, “This time of year is a natural holiday.” Ok…what makes a natural occurrence a “holiday” which is, of course (ironically), “holy day?” And, goes on to add, “It is not a Christian tradition, it is a human tradition.” Hunh. Again, he seems to be drawing an odd line between humans and Christians.

  5. Martin

    Kliska,

    Yes, I will admit I think the sign is a bit combative. But perhaps it’s a case of one roommate thinking hand soap is better than a bar and keeps swapping it out. They disagree on what’s good and what’s bad.

    This is why I think that public spaces should not be used for such things AT ALL. It only causes fights.

    But I think the vitriol you perceive in Dan Barker and his ilk is not quite what you think. Let’s try another analogy.

    Let’s say you are part of a medical team going deep into the rain forest to vaccinate a primitive tribe against a disease that is going to wipe them out if nothing is done. Let’s say when you get there you find out that these people believe in several gods for several different things, but one of their gods won’t allow them to ingest anything other than certain kinds of local plants and animals. Let’s furthermore say that the medicine that will save them can only be administered orally.

    Let’s also say that, ethically, you decide you won’t administer it to them through trickery or force. You decide that the only way to do it is to convince them to take this medicine willingly and knowingly.

    But they refuse. No matter how hard you try to convince them, they won’t give up their beliefs in their god or the fact that he doesn’t want them to ingest anything foreign. But they are going to die if they don’t take your medicine, and the whole culture will be gone forever.

    In frustration, maybe you curse their obstructive superstitions which are going to lead directly to their deaths. Clearly silly to you, but full-on reality to the tribe.

    Now…

    Are you being intolerant and vitriolic and hateful of these people’s religion? If you can put yourself in these shoes just for a second, even if only for a second, you will have seen things from Dan Barker’s point of view.

    Come to think of it, that wasn’t really an analogy so much as a microcosm.

    This is how atheist organizations see the world; as a place that has been improved immensely by science, but which could be improved so much more if not for what they see as obstructive superstitions (stem cells, Catholic Church’s refusal to endorse birth control, etc).

    • Kliska

      My word, your analogy went from bad to worse. The reality is that our gov’t was set up, not to be a-religious, but to allow religious freedoms. I have no problem at all seeing a Menorah next to a tree next to a crescent moon, etc… I find it incredibly odd that someone seeing a nativity scene would be so insulted…when I see the lovely Menorahs I don’t believe for one moment that it’s some odd brainwashing trying to make me renounce Christ and become Orthodox Jewish in my religious persuasion. It isn’t harming a soul, and it certainly is not “hate speech” as Barker claims…he’s putting forth such irrational arguments, it’s hard to have a rational conversation about it.

      Further, Christmas is an established holiday, and that is why it is celebrated, usually with decorations. What established holiday is Barker trying to celebrate with his sermon on a sign? Certainly not the Winter Solstice since that clearly had a religious or spiritual significance to the earliest celebrants. If he wants to celebrate “Darwin Day,” at the appointed time he’s free to do so.

      Your analogy definitely makes no sense in the context you are presenting it; for one thing, many many scientific discoveries were made by scientists who were, what? Anybody? Christian. What in the world makes anyone think that being a Christian makes one ignorant or anti-science? The notion is silly, and if that is what Barker thinks, it is just more evidence that he’s being driven by emotion, not logic. It reminds me of some atheists I’ve had conversations with online that swear up and down that all my college degrees had to come from a religious institution, which is exactly opposite of the truth as they all come from secular colleges and universities…apparently there are many out there that have this completely false concept of what it means to be Christian.

  6. Martin

    His sign is a way of saying, “Look, religion is overstepping it’s bounds by having governmental recognition of it by setting up nativity scenes in the capitol; since you refuse to remove them, then I’ll celebrate my religious holiday also, except I’m an atheist so I don’t have any. Therefore I will put up this irritating sign explaining my beliefs. It’s goal is not to celebrate anything per se, but to show you that when you use the public sphere for religion, then I’m going to annoyingly be right there next to you. The thing that would make me happiest is for you to keep your nativity scenes on private property, but you won’t budge. If you do, I’ll remove my sign gladly.”

    In short: stop using public property for religious displays, but have at it in your own yard/church.

    As for Christian scientists in the past; well, of course they were Christian. Most everybody in Europe was. Without recognition by the church you were anathema. It was a prerequisite to being a member of society. But Christianity is not what led them to do science. They didn’t pull out some amazing discovery from the scriptures. They observed something interesting in the natural world, tested it, and made conclusions. They would have done the same with or without the church.

    Anyway, that’s besides the point I was trying to make. The point is for you to be able to, just for a second, have empathy for people who feel like this. If nothing else just to be able to understand your enemies better. They are not hateful, they are not trying to force beliefs on anyone. They are not rubbing their hands together in evil joy, plotting how they will banish religion and help the Evil Atheist Conspiracy to takeover the world. They aren’t angry or intolerant per se. Trust me.

    They are simply frustrated.

    They are frustrated by what they perceive as superstitious interference in the real world and getting real things done. I know you don’t believe that. Just realize that’s how THEY perceive it. They perceive it as a tribe who refuses to help themselves because they are entrenched in make believe.

  7. Mike

    Martin wrote: “People should be allowed to have church, opinions, put Christmas displays in their yard, do whatever they want, as long as it … doesn’t use a public space for their particular opinions.”

    What? Are you kidding? A person should not be able to express opinions based on their Christian beliefs in a public place??? What country are you living in?

  8. Carl Sachs

    Here’s a quote so that you can see I reported accurately: ” This time of year is the Winter Solstice. It’s a natural season that Christians basically stole this season from us human beings by using the hate speech of the nativity scene which, which damns all of us to hell if we don’t bow down before that little baby who became the dictator. What a horrible insult to what it means to be a human being! We all love this time of year.”

    Huh! — so he really is as silly as you made him out to be!

    All I can say is, Barker and all the rest like him make me feel embarrassed to be an atheist.

  9. Pingback: Merry Atheist-mas (Follow-UP II) | An Outsider's Perspective

  10. Kliska

    Martin said, “His sign is a way of saying, “Look, religion is overstepping it’s bounds by having governmental recognition of it by setting up nativity scenes in the capitol; since you refuse to remove them, then I’ll celebrate my religious holiday also, except I’m an atheist so I don’t have any. Therefore I will put up this irritating sign explaining my beliefs. It’s goal is not to celebrate anything per se, but to show you that when you use the public sphere for religion, then I’m going to annoyingly be right there next to you. The thing that would make me happiest is for you to keep your nativity scenes on private property, but you won’t budge. If you do, I’ll remove my sign gladly.””

    This completely begs the question because there is absolutely nothing in the constitution that bars religious scenes on public property…in fact, the constitution upholds the right of freedom of religion and makes sure that right cannot be infringed upon. Also, if this is true then Barker is presenting one big red herring about waxing poetic about the winter solstice.

    Martin says, “As for Christian scientists in the past; well, of course they were Christian. Most everybody in Europe was. Without recognition by the church you were anathema. It was a prerequisite to being a member of society. But Christianity is not what led them to do science.”

    Have you not read many of the quotes from scientists who were, and are believers? Their belief in God most definitely fueled their love and pursuit of science. Not only that, the greats recognized that it is because of God that we have an ordered universe that is capable of being studied by science…and the reverse; many see that the order, purpose, and beauty that science can discover points directly to God. I’d also point out that there are many scientists who are Christian in this modern age that are inventors, pioneer researchers, and are adding significantly to discoveries and the pursuit of knowledge through science.

    “They didn’t pull out some amazing discovery from the scriptures. They observed something interesting in the natural world, tested it, and made conclusions. They would have done the same with or without the church.”

    There’s no way for you to “prove” that these Christian scientists would be the same people at all without their belief in God, let alone make the same conclusions and discoveries without that belief. Yes, those scientists at least stuck to true science and the scientific method in their pursuits.

    “…just to be able to understand your enemies better.”

    My main degrees and training are in psychology, I do look into these things to “understand my enemies better.” It does indeed add to the psychological profile.

    “They are not hateful, they are not trying to force beliefs on anyone.”

    First, this is a sweeping statement and secondly it isn’t accurate. Yes, they (the new atheists that I’m referring to, NOT all atheists) are hateful, and most of them don’t try to deny it. And, yes, they do try to proselytize their beliefs; some do so just as any other religion would, which is not a problem, but some do so through false accusations, blatant rhetoric, and bully-style tactics.

    “They aren’t angry or intolerant per se. Trust me. They are simply frustrated.”

    Sorry, the evidence that I see doesn’t support your assertions.

    “They are frustrated by what they perceive as superstitious interference in the real world and getting real things done. I know you don’t believe that. Just realize that’s how THEY perceive it. They perceive it as a tribe who refuses to help themselves because they are entrenched in make believe.”

    I do realize how they perceive it.

    Again, it is sheer arrogance. No one has ever shown how religious belief (which is miles apart from “superstition” BTW), is detrimental in the least…quite the opposite. Having faith and religious belief adds significant benefits to people’s lives. If the “new atheists” are perceiving it as you describe than they are experiencing false perception. That means one of several things, either they are simply ignorant of the reality of religious people and our beliefs, or they are purposefully mis-perceiving, either consciously or unconsciously, in order to maintain their own POV without having to question it. I know I get “real things done” all the time, as do all the many Christians I know in areas such as psychology, nursing, practicing medicine, teaching, charitable work, music, biology, mathematics, computer science, and on, and on, and on.

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