Every year, on December 25th, some 2.5 billion Christians and a disturbingly large number of non-theists (of which there are currently around one billion on the planet) celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Saviour of Humanity, et cetera, so on and so forth. What they don’t know is that history has got it very wrong. But, like sheep being led to pasture, they’re all happy to just go along with the flow of celebrations without bothering to question or care about their validity. Not me; it’s not enough for me to just shrug and say, “Christmas is for the kids, that’s why I celebrate it.” That just doesn’t cut it.
I’m all for end-of-year festivities, but not festivities that have become anachronisms. I say that the non-Christians of the world ought to remove the redundant Christmas from their lives and replace it with, well, how about Hitchensmas? I’m sure the late and great Christopher Hitchens would be proud for atheists the world over to celebrate his life and his words (as long as such a practice didn’t end up deifying him.)
How do we know there are inconsistent beliefs about the baby Jesus’s birthday? How can I, as an atheist, dare to make such a bold statement? How dare I be so arrogant and so flippant? Hey, I didn’t write the New Testament, I merely read it. It is the ‘Good Book’ itself that exposes the time of year of Jesus’s birth as the hoax it is. Let’s look at the evidence.
Luke 2:1-6: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.
Such censuses were not taken during the freezing winters in Judea, but during the warmer months, most likely in the summer.
Luke 2:7-8: And she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
No sane shepherd would have watched his flock by night during a Judean December, in sub-zero temperatures, and likely with ice-cold rain or snow. If shepherds were in their fields, it would indicate the time of year to be between the end of Spring and the beginning of Autumn.
Admittedly there is evidence within the studies of tree rings dating back to the Roman Medieval era which suggests the world was warmer 2000 years ago, especially during the supposed time of Jesus’s later life, though not necessarily at the time of his birth. But this would only make a difference of roughly 1 or 2oC at the most, and I’m still certain no one except perhaps for a misplaced Wonko the Sane would be sleeping under the stars during a Roman-era Judean winter.
Luke 1:28-31: In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”
The above exhibit is far from obvious during a casual read, but bear with me. Elizabeth was John the Baptist’s mother, and was at the end of her second trimester when Mary fell pregnant with Jesus. Zacharias, John’s father, was a priest in the temple of Jerusalem during the course of Abijah, which corresponds with the middle of June. When Zacharias went home after his service, Elizabeth became pregnant. The ballpark figure for John the Baptist’s consummation is the end of June. Fast forward six months to when Gabriel spoke to Mary, and the rough date would be the end of December (sound familiar?) This means Mary became pregnant at the end of December, not that she gave birth at that time of year.
Presuming that Mary ran full-term, if we add nine months to the rough date of consummation we arrive at the end of September, which, by this logical deduction, would be when Jesus was born, if indeed he existed at all. With so many historical errors in what is purportedly the “Book of God”, it’s difficult to not consider most of it chaff rather than wheat.
Personally, I don’t care when Christians want to celebrate the birth of their guy. What bothers me is that the end of the year really is a time when festivities should occur, but unfortunately it’s so hugely dominated by this overbearing tradition that suggests a virgin birth occurred at the coldest, harshest time of year, long before the invention of electricity and gas central heating, because a stranger told a woman she was going to get pregnant by… Wait for it…
Luke 1:34-35 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, (wait for it…) “The Holy Spirit will come on you.”
I jest ye not.
If the Bible itself holds such clues as these which highlight inconsistencies in the Christian belief system, surely it holds even more of them. Author and scientist Isaac Asimov got it right when he said, “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”
Essay featured in Life, The Universe & Free Thinking by Scott Kaelen.