America loves to invent holidays in recognition of great ideas and achievements. We have at least one official holiday for nearly every occasion and dedicated to nearly every group — except atheists. At 13-14% of the population, atheist Americans number between 30-50 million, making them perhaps the largest of any single identifiable minority. Atheists comprise a larger portion of the U.S. population than Blacks, Jews, or Gays, yet because of the social stigma cast by religion, atheists are largely invisible. Or worse, they are demonized and marginalized by buybull thumping Christians who equate atheism with immorality.
Such fallacy! Many, if not most of the great scientists were/are atheists or at least, deists, rejecting a personal god.
Where is the Atheist day of recognition?
Perhaps change is in the wind. There are at least five new books on atheism, some of which have made the bestseller list. Atheism has been a recent topic on several of the major television networks. There are many famous atheists who could be symbols for our day, including Einstein, Watson and Crick. Thomas Edison said that religion is all bunk. (Would a light bulb with the caption, "I see the light," be the atheist holiday symbol?) The Internet now has many freethought sites and blogs. Perhaps we could share an event, like, say Groundhog Day. When Puxatawny Phil fails to see his shadow, atheists could fail to see the big, white-bearded guy in the sky. Another thought is to pick the longest day of the year, June 21-22, in direct contrast to the shortest day of the year, December 25 when early deities, including Jesus and Mithras, were said to be born, symbolically ushering in Spring and new life. By celebrating the longest, and presumably hottest day of the year, atheists would represent the approaching of winter and the symbolic escape from religion's hell, fire and brimstone.
But an atheist holiday could have several obvious advantages in addition to recognizing famous scientists:
- No obligatory presents to buy. (There are some good atheist T-shirts and Darwin fish, however, in case you do)
- No resulting traffic jams, and likely no snow and ice.
- No productive work lost.
- No need to buy a $4.00 greeting card emblazoned with some inane statement that no one really reads anyway.
- No need to deceive children that a fat bearded guy in a red suit is going to give them something, only if they've been good.
- No exhaustive planning required.
- Billy Joel's music is optional. (No, not Kate Smith singing 'Gawd bless America'.)
- No guilt from believing ridiculous fairy tales that the faithful are expected to honor and believe, even for those many so called 'believers' who actually know better but cannot say.
- The knowledge that some of us, at least, have overcome the mental bondage and self imposed guilt of religion.
- All this can be achieved without a credit card.
Happy belated Atheist Day! May the force be yours, entirely.
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