Skip to content

This Week in Atheism 2018–12–09


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/12/09

“Am I letting the Bible off the hook?

Sam Harris thinks I am.

If you’ve ever felt completely and utterly outmatched, that should give you an idea of what it was like speaking with Sam — a philosopher, neuroscientist and one of the pre-eminent atheists of our time. Yes, an atheist.

Sam has gone toe-to-toe debating with some of today’s brightest minds: Jordan Peterson, Ezra Klein, Ben Shapiro and Reza Aslan, who will be our guest on next week’s “Journeys of Faith.””


“For as long as anyone can remember, a Nativity scene has been displayed during the Christmas season in front of the public library in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, but not this year.

After Americans United for Separation of Church and State dangled the threat of a lawsuit, the borough agreed reluctantly to end the tradition this year. The scene has since found a new home on Main Street outside the Emmaus Moravian Church.

Not everyone was happy about it. Some argued that the display honored the borough’s distinctly Christian roots: Emmaus was founded by the Moravians and named after the biblical town where Jesus was seen by two of his disciplines after his crucifixion and resurrection.”


“While studying philosophy and world religions in an evangelical college, I read a number of books by the Jewish mystic philosopher Martin Buber (1878–1965). I sensed even then, while emerging from a narrow worldview, that if I was going to be a follower of the rabbi of Nazareth, I’d better understand something of Jewish thought.

Reading the work of holocaust survivors Elie Wiesel (“Night” and “Dawn”) and Viktor Frankl (“Man’s Search for Meaning” and “The Unheard Cry for Meaning”), I also encountered Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (“The Prophets” and “Sabbath”), Jewish biblical scholars and the ancient commentary called the Talmud.

I learned there was no “old” testament any more than there are “old” gospels. There are Hebrew scriptures and Christian scriptures, both revered by their communities.”


“Christmas is approaching, and religious people across the world are preparing with the appropriate prayers, observations, and services. However, a growing proportion of the population is non-religious, and for them, Christmas can be a meaningless, empty, and lonely period.

Indeed, a small but growing body of research continues to explore the relationship between religiosity, non-religiosity, and mental health. Much of this includes broad comparisons between the religious and non-religious.

Who are the non-religious?

The ‘non-religious’ is an umbrella term referring to a heterogeneous group of people, often known as the ‘nones.’ These can include people who are lapsed, non-affiliated, agnostics, the ‘spiritual but not religious’ and atheists.”


Dear John: About a year ago I decided that I could no longer claim to be a Christian. The sheer hypocrisy of so much of what the Christian church says and does finally became too much for me. So, after a lot of soul-searching, I renounced my belief in God and embraced atheism.

Although I was raised in the church, atheism is right for me. I love being free of the whole idea that God is a great big daddy-judge in the sky. I love that I don’t need God to make sense of the world and my place in it. I love being able to appreciate all the wonders of nature without having to credit it all to a divine creator.

All that said, this is my first Christmas as an atheist. And I have to admit that as Christmas Day approaches, I’m feeling a little more lost than I expected to.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: