According to the PC consensus, non-Christians have nothing to celebrate tomorrow. Moreover, they are expected, indeed encouraged, to feel insulted whenever the word Christmas is mentioned. For atheists, agnostics, deists, Muslims and exponents of assorted eastern creeds, the birth of Christ is just any old bank holiday, whereas for Jews it’s time for thousands of Happy Hanukkah cards. One wonders if Hanukkah would be celebrated with as much pomp if it fell on any other month. After all, one doesn’t see too many Happy Purim or Merry Sukkoth cards for sale.
What one does see all over the place is Happy Holidays! replacing Happy Christmas! as the greeting of choice. ‘Thou shalt not offend’ trumps all other commandments, although no one in his right mind could possibly be offended. Even the supposedly pious Tony ‘Anthony’ Blair, whose religious faith matches his political principles in courageous fortitude, expunged the offensive allusion to Yuletide from his Chri… sorry, holiday cards. The fashion started in America and, as most perversions of the same provenance, took a few years to reach our shores. But now it’s firmly entrenched.
Yet while tomorrow Christians will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the rest of the West should join them in celebrating the birth of our civilisation, the greatest the world has ever seen — or will ever see. For every Western achievement we recognise as such can be traced back to that humble birth.
Our music, towering over anything produced by any other culture, has direct church antecedents — and few other. So does our painting. So, largely, does our architecture. Translations of the Scripture, most emphatically including our own Tyndale and King James Bibles, had a formative effect on every Western language and therefore literature. The church was the sole source of education, and the principal influence on government, for many critical centuries of Western history. Our most important laws are derived from scriptural injunctions, as are our binding moral principles.
This much is widely known and commented upon. What receives less attention is the unique contribution Christianity made to Western science, the foundation of our material wealth. Can you name a single great scientist ever emerging from a non-Christian country? I know I can’t, not offhand. However, I can name many ignorant atheist fanatics who claim that Christianity somehow hindered scientific progress (Richard Dawkins, ring your office). What utter nonsense!
No religion is just worship; they all excrete and wrap around themselves a cocoon of intellectual premises that are more or less conducive to various pursuits. Judaeo-Christianity made scientific exploration possible for reasons unique to it. Unlike the Greeks who had a multitude of gods, each responsible for its own realm, Judaeo-Christianity teaches that God, and therefore the world, is one. That means that scientific and mathematical laws apply universally, and unity can be inferred from variety. Christianity also teaches that the material world was created by a rational God. It is therefore rationally constructed and rationally knowable, a realisation that never existed in either the classical or Eastern world. And finally, that event 2011 years ago established the sanctity of the material world, not just of the spirit. Uniting in his person God and man, the physical and the metaphysical, heaven and earth, Christ not only encouraged us to know and subdue the earth (that was done in Genesis), but he also made this possible.
You may or may not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. However, those who lovingly nurtured our civilisation to splendour believed just that, and it was in his name that they toiled. Let’s say a word of thanks to those giants — and above all to their inspiration.
Happy Christmas to all, believers or not.