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Christmas for atheists: is there joy?

December 24, 2015

I am frustrated that things have been a little quiet on this blog the past couple of months. I have plenty of things to share and to think about, but I’ll have to save that up until the new year. I’m also going to share some thoughts about a debate I was a part of in November (preparing for that was another reason for the relative lack of activity on this blog).

In the meantime I did want to wish the readers of this blog a Happy Christmas.

I look forward to even more discussion and engagement on this blog next year. I do appreciate all the comments and responses (and I do mean to respond to them all in time).

Joy to the World?

Anyway, as I was just finishing off my Christmas shopping this morning I heard the song ‘Joy to the World’ being played in one of the shops. It struck me as somewhat odd that a non-religious shop would be playing a song about the joy that the coming of Jesus brings.

The Christian certainly has reason to celebrate (or commemorate) joy at Christmas. This is because despite our personal circumstances, failures or situation, a savior has been born. One to bring hope, forgiveness and a fresh start. The joy associated with the coming of this savior moved Isaac Watts to write one of the most popular hymns of Christmas – Joy to the World. 

What about atheists?

So I was wondering, what do atheists have to celebrate at Christmas? Do atheists even celebrate Christmas?

I appreciate that there are other things to be thankful for and be joyful for apart from the coming of a savior. But what if the circumstances of my life are not positive, then what is there to celebrate? If life has been tough or painful, can there be joy? In what way?

I’m not suggesting that atheists can’t have joy at Christmas, but I’m interested to see what there is to celebrate. I’d be keen to hear some thoughts from atheists who celebrate or don’t celebrate Christmas. Is there joy?

Image courtesy of Teerapun at

From → Comment

  1. Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday, and that’s the way I still think of it. I call it x-mas, of course. (Have you seen the show Futurama? I think it is so funny that the holiday is ONLY called x-mas in the future. )
    It’s a time to feast and be with friends and family. For me, joy comes from learning, nature, and the people and other animals I love.

    • Well, have a great Christmas and enjoy learning and people and animals!! Happy Christmas. I haven’t seen the Futurama episode. I’ll have a look for it.

  2. Reading this I find myself thinking “why would he think atheists don’t have joy?” That could be me mis-reading your comments so feel free to correct me.

    To answer your question though. There is much joy to be had this holiday season. Cards and news updates from friends, the giving of gifts and the time with family. Knowing that everyone else is doing it too adds to that joy and it does promote goodwill.

    In fact, my joy in this season has not diminished since I walked away from faith several years ago.

  3. matt permalink

    For the average non churched aussie Christmas is simply a tradition of seeing family for a big meal, exchanging gifts before heading out on to the road for a holiday by the beach.

    I think Christian Christmas songs like joy to the world go in one ear and out the other as background noise in those shopping centres.

    I must admit I had a similar thought to you when i heard a similar song in the supermarket recently.

  4. Baptist Joshua permalink

    I wonder how many here are actually atheists–saying in their heart that there IS NO God. That is foolish. Perhaps, what they should be asking themselves is: “Am I rejecting God? Or am I rejecting my former religion? Most religions are man made. By all means reject them. One religion says, be good, or at least lick your necklace and burn your stupid candles, and God will be happy with you. Another says, blow yourself up and all your carnal fantasies will come true. By all means reject the error!

    I am a Christian. Baptistic. Basically, I believe what scripture teaches, that a man is saved by grace, through faith, and that he can do NO good work(s) to save himself or buy or trade for salvation, which is clearly taught to be a FREE GIFT. The false religions always seem to teach that a man can earn his salvation, be it by supposed goodness, “church” attendance, violence, or servanthood to a god. All are false. You would do well to reject them, but in your rejecting, reject not the Truth.

    Let us remember the true point of CHRISTmas.

    “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

    “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

    “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

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