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Winners of the ‘Back at Ya’ Contest


The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 18, Number 4.


We had so many wonderful and funny entries for our contest soliciting clever rejoinders to those who assume the world is religious (SHB, Fall 2002) that we couldn’t rank the winners. Perhaps we just have an aversion to hierarchy of any kind. So all the folks who took time to submit witticisms will receive a free Robert Green Ingersoll: Humanist Hero 2003 calendar. All the rest of you have to pay! 

Here is just a sampling of humanist humor that we received:

  • After a sneeze and the ritual “Gob Bless you,” I say, “It won’t help. The virus is an atheist.”— Steve Marks

  • When informing people you are an atheist you may hear, “Oh, you must believe in something!” “Yes, the truth.” — Steve Marks’s father

  • “If an only child is spoiled, what can be said of an only God?”— George R. Wager

  • When challenged about your patriotism because you are nonreligious, say,  “Atheists make excellent patriots. Who else can definitely say they love their country more than any God?” — Pete Hance.

  • CAUTION: FBDS (Faith-Based Deficit Syndrome) is CONTAGIOUS!John C. Simpson

  • There was this interchange between colleagues: “Do you remember a fellow named Johnson?”

    “No, what was his Christian name?”

    “He didn’t have one; he was Jewish.”

  • And then there was the great quarter-page ad placed in the Laguna Beach Coastline News on April 1 by Niko Theris (see below).

  • Kevin Markwell writes: “When someone presumes I am a believer or challenges my disbelief, I will occasionally attempt a good-natured tactic” (below):

Me: Well, you know, after a lot of thought, I’m not so sure about a God, but I believe in Santa Claus.

Believer: What?!

Me: Yeah. Look at how well-accepted he is over so much of the world.  And look at how much harmony and happiness he brings to so many.

Believer: But you know there’s no Santa Claus!

Me: You can’t prove that. Maybe he doesn’t reveal himself in any verifiable way, but I think he exists behind the scenes, instilling all the warmth, generosity, and good cheer of the season.  The glowing face of a child with the faith that he is coming is pretty good evidence for me. He works in strange ways, but he usually gets the job done. Furthermore, his ability to see all, and his promise of rewarding good behavior is an irreplaceable motivator that improves the lives of families everywhere.

Believer: But he is an invention of the adults for the children.

Me: Do you really think that the universality and consistency of the story could be possible if there wasn’t some factual basis? I think in the old days he really did go to every house and magically popped down every chimney. But when the world got more populated and complicated he either couldn’t manage enough miracles or he just got tired of it, so he lets the parents take care of all the practical matters.  Also, that way if they screw up the gifts on the lists, it’s not his fault.

Believer: But if you can believe in Santa Claus, why don’t you believe in God?

Me: I give Santa credit for doing a fairly good job of establishing and promoting the pervasive gift giving of the Christmas tradition. The only downside to the concept of Santa Claus is that some kids with parents who can’t afford to support the myth are disappointed.  Otherwise it strikes me as a positive phenomenon. On the other hand, throughout the ages, throughout the world, the concept of God has created intractable hatreds, unprovoked persecutions, and all-out warfare. It seems that if there truly were a God capable of creating this magnificent universe, he would have prioritized peace and understanding a little higher in the scheme of things. So Santa Claus just makes more sense to me.
 x


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