Christmas. Basant. Diwali. Eid al-Adha. Easter. Yom Kippur. Vesak. Hanukkah. Ramadan. There is no shortage of religious holidays celebrated every year. According to recent studies, there are approximately 7.1 billion people currently living in this world, 31% of whom are Christians, 23% of whom are Muslims, 13% of whom are Hindus, and almost 7% of whom are Buddhists. There are also millions of other people who follow religions such as Judaism, Jainism, and Spiritism.
But what about those of us who do not believe in a god or gods? An estimated 2% of the world’s population does not adhere to any religion. So why don’t they get to have any holidays? Just because 142 million people don’t believe in God, does mean they don’t like to have a good time, right?
History of Atheist Day
The origins of Atheist Day can be traced back to a spoof story that was published on the internet in 2003. Atheist Day was originally about a fictional case of an Atheist who had decided to sue the government. The reason for the fictional lawsuit was a simple one—unlike all the major religions, there was no day for Atheists, to which the judge said that April 1st (i.e. April Fool’s Day) was their holiday. While this case was just a hoax, the story spread quickly and was actually accepted as fact. Although the day is best known to be an occasion for pranks, Atheists, in fact, claimed the day for their own as well. And then they did something very their style: they decided to claim it doesn’t actually exist, after all!
How to celebrate Atheist Day
There isn’t actually a defined way of celebrating Atheist Day, though many use the occasion to show their lack of faith, and/or initiate theological debate. Since Atheism is still a controversial subject in some places, it’s an opportunity to increase awareness of the whole topic. Debates about religion have a bad reputation for their propensity to get out of hand and turn into arguments rather easily, but it’s high time we changed that anyway.
Religion is a fascinating topic, full of history and ancient wisdom, so if you are in fact an atheist, you could take a bit of time on this day to have an in-depth conversation with a religious friend or family member to find out what exactly they believe in and why. What they have to say is guaranteed to supply you with plenty of food for thought. On the other hand, if you’re a religious person, you could spend some time talking to your atheist friends or family members and find out what his or her reasons are for seeing the world the way they do.
People who decide to leave their religion behind, a part of their lives that may well have been a large and important one before, often have many reasons for making that decision. There is no need for either party to try to convince the other, as that will likely not work, anyway. Still, the discussion between a believer and a non-believer has the potential to be a deep and informative one that will motivate all of those who participate in it to entertain some ideas and thoughts they may not have had before. And broadening one’s worldview has never hurt anyone!