Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's Time for a Secular Religion

Today I had a conversation with a couple of friends about some of the "advantages" that religions, as institutions, pose over the none religious (when it comes to spreading their ideologies).    The main advantages are that they start teaching when people are young and have recurring holidays that people can celebrate.  Also, most religions also have a nice traditions that revolve around great foods!

These are all nice and good things, but unfortunately for the unbelievers, these great "tools" are only at the service of the religious.  I say that it's time to bring these tools to the use of all the secular folks around the world!

Taken from
Just to give you a feel for what I mean, take for instance "Darwin Day".  I know it already exists (, so I'm not claiming to have made it up!!  The problem that I see with the existing Darwin Day is not (entirely) in its content, but in the way it fits with other holidays.  Or more accurately, that it doesn't fit with any others.  It's as if there is a "stand alone" holiday called "Darwin Day" that is not a part of a movement, a "religion" of sorts, that pull together and bind a bunch of well thought-out holidays that serve to inspire and educate the next generation.  That, and there is no obvious cuisine involved!

So here are some of my suggestions on how to improve Darwin Day and make it a part of an ecosystem that is a new secular religion of sorts:

1. Make it personal.  Darwin's ingenuity affected people on a very personal level, and that should be reflected in the celebration.  Darwin demonstrated to me that all life on earth is connected not by a higher power, but by our own.

2. Make it active, on a family's scale.  This holiday can encourage a family to go on a hiking trip to enjoy nature's beauty, visit a zoo to experience the diversity in life, or volunteer at an animal shelter.  On a slight tangent I have to admit that I'm not very fond of some of the zoos that I've seen, but I'm just trying to think up of ideas that may be good for people.

3. Include food!  On Darwin's Day, one could eat a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, and learn how they relate to each other, and to us.

4. It doesn't have to be on Darwin's birthday.  Although his birthday may be the "default" choice, if a more appropriate day is available, a day that enhances the values that this day inspires, then I think that it should be used.  For instance, in the northern atmosphere, February isn't the best time for hikes, so perhaps it should be moved to sometime in the spring.  

As a side-note to choosing a date for a holiday, I think it's important to keep in mind existing popular holidays.  There are advantages (and disadvantages) to placing a holiday on the same date as an existing one.  There is already an atmosphere of celebration that one can tap, and if one doesn't believe in the existing holiday, the child doesn't have to feel "left out".   But I think that it should be done in good taste and in a way that increases the value of the holiday.

5. Consider gifts!  Now, I'm not big on gifts, but most kids seem to be excited by them.  Can you imagine a Christmas or Hanukkah without gifts?  I can, but most people can't.  I think that adding gifts, in appropriate dosages, can increase the connection people have with these holidays.

Now, on to the idea of an ecosystem of holidays, or as some would call it, a religion.

I think there is real value in holidays being connected to one another, as their synergy can greatly increase the value of these celebrations.  Plus, an ecosystem of holidays can provide a wider range of ideals and ideas than any one holiday can, and participants can see how these values interact and connect with each other.

Some other holiday ideas that my friends and I came up with:

Rosa Parks Day - She is an inspiration for the truth in knowing that all people are deeply equal, no matter what they may look like, and for the courage it sometime takes to uphold this truth.
  • Ideas to celebrate: large public celebrations with people from all walks of life, watch a movie that was created by a different culture, learn about how people are connected today, and think of fun ways to increase the connection in the future.
  • Food: pick a random country and find a new recipe for a dish you haven't tried before.  If in a group, each person can bring a dish from a different place!

Mary Wollstonecraft Family Day - A day to celebrate both our immediate and extended human family.  We can recognize our respects and gratitude to all members in our family.  We also recognize the hardships that some members in this family went through (and some go through still) only because of their gender or sexuality.  In our family, everyone is equal, regardless of what they look like, who they're attracted to, what body parts they may or may not have, how long they've traveled the earth, etc. etc. etc....

Some more holidays that my friends thought of include:

Taken from
Tail Day - where kids dress up as various animals in our ancestral history (perhaps can be on the same day as Halloween or Purim.)

The Big Bang Day - celebrating the start of the known universe on January 1st, 13.75 billion years ago!

So what are your thoughts, any ideas for the new Secular Holiday calendar?

1 comment:

  1. I think atheists need to celebrate a day when ape became Homo Sapience.

    I think this is great holiday to celebrate, for atheists and anybody who believes in evolution of Homo Sapiens the way Darwin discovered it.