Christians face a bit of a dilemma around Halloween time. On the one hand, it’s a Christian holiday (All Hallow’s Eve, the day before All Saints Day); on the other hand, it glorifies ghosts and devils and all sorts of other anti-Christian kind of stuff. But what about atheists? Should it be a dilemma for us as well?
Certainly Halloween has religious roots, however secularized and diluted the original meaning of the thing has become. Even if you want to assume (with good reason) that it was probably a pagan holiday long before the Christians snapped it up, paganism isn’t atheism — it’s just superstition without the overlay of rigorous codification that turns a superstition into a religion.
But let’s face it, if atheists shun every activity that’s been co-opted by the God-botherers, we wouldn’t have very much left to do for fun, would we? And we shouldn’t dismiss superstition (or religion) out of hand. There may well be profound psychological underpinnings to which superstition, paganism and other religions are a response.
Maybe mid-autumn (in Europe and North America), when leaves are dying and the icy bleakness of winter is beginning to approach, is just a natural time for people to think about death and other creepy things. Maybe that’s why religions in temperate climates evolved to use this time of year for reflection on such things.
There’s no reason we atheists — just as human, just as evolved, just as engaged in the world as anybody else — can’t acknowledge those underpinnings and even revel in them.
(cartoon via FreeThunk.net)