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The Atheist's Guide to Christmas Hardcover – September 1, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Stuck on a holiday gift for your favorite atheist? This book will fill him with Christmas-like cheer.... If there’s one overarching takeaway...it’s that atheists have a sense of humor.” (Penthouse )

“[E]ntertaining and enlightening… The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is not only for atheists…nor is it an anti-religious rant or deep philosophical treatise. In essence… a good gift for anyone with a sense of humor.” (Technorati.com ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

What do you get an atheist for Christmas?

If you're an atheist, you don't believe in the three wise men, so this Christmas, we bring you not three, but forty-two wise men and women, bearing gifts of comedy, science, philosophy, the arts, and knowledge. What does it feel like to be born on Christmas day? How can you most effectively use lights to make your house visible from space? And where can you listen to the echoes of the Big Bang on December 25? The Atheist's Guide to Christmas answers all these questions and more:

  • Richard Dawkins tells an original Christmas story.
  • Phil Plait fact-checks the Star of Bethlehem.
  • Neal Pollack teaches his family a lesson on holiday spirit.
  • Simon Singh offers a very special scientific experiment.
  • Simon le Bon loses his faith (but keeps church music).
  • AC Grayling explains how to have a truly happy Christmas.

Plus thirty-six other brilliant, funny, free-thinking pieces perfect for anyone who doesn't think of holidays as holy days.

All author advances and royalties for The Atheist's Guide to Christmas will go to Terrence Higgins Trust.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Friday Project (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007322615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007322619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Emery Emery on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I want to begin by admitting that I am one of the 42 contributors to this book. When Matt Kirshen asked me to forward Ariane Sherine's email on to fellow Atheists who might want to submit stories for consideration, I knew I wanted to toss my proverbial hat in the ring. I was after-all, born on Christmas.

So I forwarded the request to many atheists I knew, some well known and others, not so much. Then I set out to write the truth about being born on Christmas.

After sending a first draft to Ariane I got a response that sent me through the roof. I was giddy with excitement because I knew I was going to have my scratching publish within the same pages as; Richard Dawkins, Charlie Brooker, Ben Goldacre, Phil Plait, AC Grayling, Richard Herring, Simon Le Bon and my friend, Matt Kirshen. And while all of these people of note have written wonderful stories, filled with amazing anecdotes, sound advice and absolutely wonderful and well spirited humor, I was thoroughly stunned after opening my personal copy to page 91 where I found Nick Doody's offering.

Nick is a wonderfully funny stand up comedian and writer. He is very close friends with Matt Kirshen and I am proud to say that I have, on a number of occasions, had the chance to hang out with him. He's charming, extremely original in his comedic style and always spot on with perfectly structured stories and ideally placed punchlines.

How To Understand Christmas: A Scientific Overview by Nick Doody is a work of pure genius. His laser guided satire has it's way with not just the idea of Christmas, the word itself and rituals surrounding it, he takes the art of written word and annihilates the very medium as well.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great collection of opinion pieces about the meaning of Christmas from an atheists point of view. Essentially starting from the point of - What really is the meaning of christmas. They are divided into categories such as science and philosophy and while some of the pieces are patchy I think there is a lot in here for everyone.

Some of the more famous - such as Richard Dawkins, are along side less than well known (well form most people anyway) the novelist Kapka Kabossova (sp). What I really appreciated was the variety of perspectives on a subject which is, of course, pertinent. Why do atheists celebrate Christmas?

The first section on science I found the most interesting. The Jewish astronomer (I've forgotten his name off hand) was wonderful. His early years discussing the lack of Christmas celebrations in his family, and his own fascination with the sky and the supposed phenomena of a super-star at the time of Christ's birth was beautiful.

The rise of the pagan and pre-christian celebrations of a mid-winter festival and the forms it took - including all the mythical links to Christian and Christmas celebrations offer a much deeper perspective into the human psyche.

After about 30 of these peices I started to lose interest, I found that they were a lot of the same kind of thing. One man who was a bit of a christmas hater, who went to the Middle east one year for teh festive season to escape it.

The essential message is that the Christmas spirit is there, and it is not about the birth of Christ and 3 wise men. The humanity of the midwinter festivals is about hope, eating, giving gifts, sharing time together, laughter, revelry, and new dawns. Pretty much what our festival is about these days.
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Format: Paperback
What I Can Tell You:
As someone who holds onto the belief of God with all my might and who celebrates Christmas and all that goes along with it, I found this book to be quite interesting. I have never met an Atheist but if I did would never judge them as I would hope they wouldn't judge me.

The stories range from Neil Pollack's Revenge of the Christmas Spirit where his son receives for Christmas a Sponge Bob, Square Pants Connect Four and he decides to play Santa and give the "already have" gift away to a shelter. To Nick Doody's How To Understand Christmas: A Scientific Overview. I was very interested in the scientific history of Christmasology.

Best section of the book, the How To sections which include titles like:
How to Have the Perfect Jewish Christmas
How to Have A Peaceful Pagan Christmas
How to Decorate the Outside of Your House with Lights and Not Have Your Neighbors Hate You: A guide to turning your home into a festive something that is so bright it can be seen from Space.

Favorite quote by Allison Kilkenny:
"It was no longer a holiday meant to worship the birth of a now dead Palestinian who once claimed to be the Son of God but who is now used as a marketing ploy by huge Corporations to sell more Xbox consoles."

While I understand the skepticism, appreciate the scientific evidence of evolution, wonder in the history of the earth, marvel at the educated, scientists knowledge in the book, I long for the magic Christmas brings. Fake, real, I don't care! While this Christmas didn't feel Chistmassy for me, (health problems and unable to move), it was still the best day of the year.
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