Christmas must be an odd time to be an atheist. Atheists don't believe in the Christian notion that Christmas saw the birth of Jesus Christ who would become the saviour of the world. They don't believe in the Yahweh of Judaism or the celebration of Chanukah. They don't believe in Allah. They don't believe in any sort of creator god. And of course they don't believe in Santa Claus.
So to all atheists... Merry...um... Festivus?
Actually most atheists soon reveal themselves not to be true atheists. A true atheist is marked by their theory of the origin of the primordial atom, that is, the atom that didn't have a yesterday.
Most who claim to be atheists generally admit that while they don't know where the first atom came from, they're pretty sure it wasn't from a creator. This position sounds very much like the view of an agnostic who doesn't know whether or not there is a god. Perhaps we need a new term for this position, like 'agnathiesm'.
A true atheist or 'New Atheist' as they are called by band leader Richard Dawkins, are happy to postulate a theory of the origin of life that actually requires more faith than most creation doctrines. In fact, it's a theory that falls more into the realm of Harry Potter than it does organised religion.
Take Charlie Pickering's recent interview with one of Dawkins' key banner wavers, Dr Lawrence Krauss, on ABC's 'The Weekly' television show.
Krauss commenced the interview by claiming that teaching kids about religion is 'like not allowing your child to be vaccinated -- it's doing them harm. Not allowing them to know what reality is really like -- you are doing them harm.'
Pickering then asked about the 'Big Bang' theory. The fact that this particular hypothesis was developed by a Belgian priest named Georges Lemaitre in 1931 as an explanation of how the universe began, is omitted. Interestingly, the 'Big Bang' was not a popular theory at the time because Lemaitre's peers thought it would give religious folk the evidence they needed to back up Genesis chapter one -- 'let there be light'.
The crux of the New Atheist explanation for life, the universe and everything, comes toward the end of the interview.
Pickering: 'If we know that the Universe came from a speck of dust, where did that speck of dust come from?'
Krauss: 'Why did it have to come from anywhere?'
Pickering: 'What? Was it just left out on the bench or something?'
Krauss: 'What science has taught us is that what seems right to us may not be right. Given the laws of quantum mechanics, it (the universe) can 'pop' into existence from nothing. No reason. No cause. And quite likely that's how it happened.'
Pardon me? Hmmm, as a mere muggle, this sounds a lot like wizard mischief to me!
In fact it sounds like the sort of mystical non-provable theorising that people who believe in a creator are accused of touting. That the universe simply came into existence by itself -- that there was nothing and then suddenly -- pop -- an atom just appeared. Expelliarmus!
As for Krauss's nonsensical reference to the 'laws of quantum mechanics', Dr John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford puts paid to this by showing that if there was truly nothing in the beginning, there would BE no law of quantum mechanics.
Lennox writes, "If I say 'X creates Y', this presupposes the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. If I say 'X creates X', I presuppose the existence of X to account for the existence of X. To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its existence, is logically incoherent."
So much for allowing children to know what reality is really like.
Yes, it must be an odd time of year for New Atheists. Looking down on the majority of the world's population as being deluded in one way or another and yet not quite sure what to celebrate at Christmas.
It must be even more unnerving to realise that their own belief in the origin of the universe requires just as much cold hard faith as believing in a jolly fat man in a red suit, or a baby in a feed trough destined to change the world.