I’ve been reading several comments on the National Secular Society’s website and come to the conclusion that atheistic and agnostic secularists are happy to celebrate festivals such as Christmas and Easter. However, it seems they wish to do this without admitting there may be any truth to the religious side of such celebrations. Rather, they see themselves as following ancient pagan tradition which pre-dates the ‘hijacking’ of such festivals by the Christian church.
Perhaps this kind of excuse for joining in the celebrations makes some kind of sense to them. It certainly seems to work for 90% of our western societies, where ‘religious’ people can believe supernatural mumbo-jumbo if they wish, just so long as they don’t get too vocal about it and try to ‘ram it down people’s unwilling throats along with the mince pies’ as I read in an article from 2006 on the National Secularist Society Website (1). But it does seem rather odd that the dark days and practices of ancient paganism should be somehow more acceptable to people than the light which superseded it – the Christian faith, accepted by millions over the centuries as being a giant step forward.
But of course, we shouldn’t forget that secularism is a ‘religion’ of sorts itself. It too has a particular world view with its own ‘religious’ agenda, its own take on morality, politics and all the rest of it. And just as with most movements, it too seeks to convince others of its reasonableness and truth, and wishes to evangelise new adherents. The National Secular Society even has its own creed, the ‘Secular Charter’ (http://www.secularism.org.uk/secularcharter.html). But this seems to me a pretty poor affair, so I’ve (rather arrogantly I’ll admit) adapted and abridged the traditional Nicene Creed for them to use this Christmas season. It goes like this:
We believe in one god, science almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible, but not spiritual.
We believe in many lords, such as Richard Dawkins, expert biologist, atheist and TV presenter,
Being of one substance with biological science, evolving, not made:
Who for us and for our salvation, came down from the primordial slime to be incarnated somehow, and made human.
These lords are glorified for us through BBC and Channel 4 TV programmes.
We believe in one, secular faith;
We do not look forward to a resurrection or a life to come.
1. This piece was written by NSS president and gay rights campaigner, Terry Sanderson. http://www.secularism.org.uk/editorialbyterrysandersonchristi.html.
2. Perhaps, in the interests of political correctness, this should read ‘Apersons’?