Wednesday 22 January 2020

God in details

• What a solipsistic and, frankly, nonsensical article from Tim Stanley (Irish Independent, December 23).

As an atheist I have absolutely no problem with anybody celebrating any holiday they want. Like Richard Dawkins, I enjoy all Christmas traditions, carols, decorations, gifts, goodwill to all; even Christmas Mass is nice.

However, on almost all of his points, Mr Stanley is plain wrong, and it is a little sad that he thinks that unless Christmas is about Jesus it isn't "really" Christmas.

Unfortunately, what Mr Stanley doesn't mention are the true origins of Christmas, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the unconquered sun), or Saturnalia or the Mithraic mysteries -- all of which pre-date or heavily influence Christian Christmas. And, of course, the founding father of America did intend for there to be a separation of church and state, as written by Thomas Jefferson (who himself was an anti-clerical Christian).

As for the other founding fathers: the most prominent of them, Benjamin Franklin who thought in the same vein as Jefferson; and then there was Thomas Paine and others who were Deists, which is a form of belief but with a small but very important difference to the kind that Mr Stanley is talking about. A belief in God, but not the God of any of the religions.

He should probably check his sources.

Brian Murphy
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Irish Independent

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