Skepticism

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas Now Available!

I’m very pleased to announce that an excellent book of essays has just hit the market: The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, edited by Ariane Sherine, the talented lady behind the atheist bus campaign in England. Full disclosure: the final essay in the book is my husband’s, so I’m rather biased. Other contributors include Derren Brown, Simon Singh, Josie Long, Ben Goldacre, Richard Dawkins, Robin Ince, Phil Plait, and Brian Cox, so Sid’s in very good company.

Guide To XmasThe essays are alternately touching and hilarious, and together they serve a very useful purpose: to offer a rational response to the new annual tradition of TV talking heads screeching about a nonexistent war on Christmas. The angry, Christmas-hating atheist is, at this point, an absurd characterture created by a ratings-hungry media, similar to the man-hunting shark and the ever-lurking pedophile. It’s a relief to have a book that publicizes the views of the many nonbelievers who are perfectly happy to celebrate Christmas as a time for love, family, goodwill, and rampant consumerism, and who don’t burst into tears at the mention of Jesus or virgin births or whatnot.

The book is now available at Amazon.co.uk. Americans can go here and request an email when the book becomes available in the US.

EDIT: Check out this great review in today’s Times and this interview on the wonderful Little Atoms radio show and podcast.

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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17 Comments

  1. How exciting!

    I enjoyed the Times article though was interested to spot in the comments section that “Atheists can do pleasure and fun to an extent but they’re not generally so good at child like happiness and joy…”

    I was to understand that children had the monopoly on that but none the less I’m going to put extra effort today in the laughing at my farts, pulling my friend’s hair while screaming “DING DONG!” and spinning around until I’m so dizzy I puke!

    Ah..to be a child!

  2. We read Tom Flynn’s book, The Trouble With Christmas a couple years ago. Last year we gave christmas a complete miss.

    I have to report, it was great! No stress, no bother. The only headache we found was trying to do some grocery shopping and running into the occasional christmas shopping crowd.

    We instead mark Darwin Day on February 12th. This lets us play gift giving, and it’s so far out of sync with traditional christmas shopping season (which seems to start before halloween now), we miss all that stress as well.

    This year, for example, my sons (and I) get a proper microscope.

  3. Hey! I’m an atheist and I burst into tears when people talk of virgin births! (Of course, those tears are tears of laughing so hard. It’s just like an internet meme I’ve seen, it was green, and it said, “Abstinence: 99.9999% effective” showing a pic of the Vegan Mary.)

  4. I actually have a bit of a soft spot for the nativity myth. Baby Jesus is so much better than Real Jesus… much less telling people how to live their lives, and many fewer people banking on his crucifixion for salvation. Makes for nicer carols.

  5. Well, what self-respecting nerd wouldn’t have a soft spot for the Baby Jesus myth? Like any good Star Trek episode, it kills off bystanders to demonstrate that the situation is serious. The innocents of Bethlehem were all just so many redshirts!

    To our thinking, Reader, it was a sorrowful star, that star of Bethlehem. What good purpose for Jesus or for anyone it served we cannot discover. It stood over Bethlehem, however, with a dire meaning to the homes there. All the little children there, except the one that “fled” into Africa were soon to be little corpses.

    A Plain Commentary on the First Gospel (1891)

  6. @Baco_the_foil:
    I enjoyed the Times article though was interested to spot in the comments section that “Atheists can do pleasure and fun to an extent but they’re not generally so good at child like happiness and joy…”

    It’s true, it takes a kind of childlike ignorance to believe the bible is historically accurate and infallible.

  7. I’m agnostic (or apathetic?) but even if I ever become a hard-core atheist, I’ll never stop celebrating Christmas. There are a lot of things I love about it. It’s a winter celebration that started long before Christianity, and many elements of the Christmas story aren’t from the Bible anyway. (The Bible doesn’t say anything about an inn being too crowded, etc.) I see no reason why secular people shouldn’t keep celebrating this festival.

  8. I’ve never been Christian, and have been a conscientious atheist since I was quite young. Nonetheless, I’ve always enjoyed Christmas. A lovely riualized pleasure time of gift giving, evenings before a fire, time off work, special dinners with special friends, most pleasant.

    @The Skepdick:

    That sounds like an interesting book. But some of the reviews make it sound like it’s a bit preachy, in the sense that either you are for Christmas and are wrong to be so regardless of the reason, or you are against Christams and therefore good and right to be so. Sort of dogmatic — is it that way?

    Have you read The Battle for Christams by Stephen Nissenbaum? A very interesting, well written history of what we think of as Christmas. And not dogmatic at all.

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