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Christmas vs Skepticism

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23 comments to Christmas vs Skepticism

  • [...] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptDo I wish people a merry christmas? Do I use “christmas” or “xmas”? Do I put up a tree? Decorations? Do I stand in the “have your picture taken with Santa” line at the mall explaining why Santa Claus is not possible to every child? … [...]

  • [...] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptDo I wish people a merry christmas? Do I use “christmas” or “xmas”? Do I put up a tree? Decorations? Do I stand in the “have your picture taken with Santa” line at the mall explaining why Santa Claus is not possible to every child? … [...]

  • I mostly just treat christmas as an excuse to give the people I love presents. Sure, there are birthdays for that, but there’s something about doing it all at once. I just got home form buying a ring for my mom, for instance, which she’s been making not-so-subtle hints about for years (does “buy me that ring” count as a hint?). Other than that, I tend to stay away from it all. I have no decorations, I don’t particularly like any of the food… so I just treat it as harmless fun.

  • [...] Drew Phillips had some great ideas on this topic.You can read a snippet of the post here.My wife is putting up the christmas tree right now. This is in violation of rule #223 of our relationship, “No christmas decoration will be introduced into the house until after my birthday so as not to take away from said birthday. … [...]

  • chucklenose

    I don’t get to flipped out at the term Christmas as many names for things come from mythical origins, days of the week come to mind. It is the word that our western culture has given to this holiday.

    I too, appreciate this holiday as to celebrate our loved ones with the giving of token or sentimental gifts (we don’t help the economy much).

    I tell my kids about Christ, as a story about a person who took on the bullies of the world with a simple message to “do unto others.” I tell them that many people believe that he is a god, but no one can be sure, that only that that one ideal is important for all of us to remember.

    I let Santa become a lesson in skeptism. We don’t push Santa in our house, although each kid gets one small present from “Santa.” Just yesterday my 6-year-old came up to me doubting Santa’s existence. I asked her what she knew. She gave the usual fatman-down-the-chimney, getting-round-the-world evidence, but then said that it was “just easier” if we gave them the gifts and put his name on the label. Not quite a denial of his existence, but at least a good grasp of logistics. ;-)

  • therealwb

    Great post, Mike. I’ve been feeling the same way for the past year. I think that’s the reason skeptics have the stigma of being the crotchety old grump that spoils all the fun out of life.

    Life is full of fantasy, especially for kids. In my opinion, allowing them to indulge that fantasy briefly then making no effort to hide the truth from them as they get older strengthens their overall skeptical attitude, because they would then have the experience of believing something that wasn’t true.

    Even for adults, participating in an activity doesn’t impart truth to the activity any more than reading and enjoying a fiction novel makes the novel true.

    Just my two cents.

  • psiloiordinary

    Hey Mike,

    You can sort of make your points with a humorous approach. I used to put my daughter in the role of sceptic and get her to spot the errors in my thinking for me.

    You know what I mean. Take on the kids role but just push it a bit too far in a daft direction in some of your claims.

    Getting the kids to be sceptical of your claims or tricks can be great fun and gets the point across fantastically well.

    My daughter and nieces delight in spotting the secrets of my mind reading tricks or psychic demonstrations each xmas. This is also a good laugh for the adults seeing me outwitted again by their kids.

    Good luck this year!

  • I have no trouble wishing people a merry Christmas or a good rashasana or whatever they’re celebrating. I’m wishing them well on whatever they want to do.

    I do, however, have issues with athiests/ nontheists decorating for religious holidays.

    Decorating for Christmas automatically places you in the Christian numbers when people are (informally) polling the religious makeup of the country. They look around and assume that you are part of the majority which makes them more comfortable saying that we non-thiests aren’t such a big thing.

    Why under-cut yourself like that?

    Little things like that can make more of a differencethan all the scientific polling in the world.

  • ellazimm

    A couple of years ago my son (who was about four at the time) was asked by pious friends of my in-laws if he knew what the meaning of Christams was. “it’s Jesus’s birthday” he answered, “He was nailed to a tree and he couldn’t reach his presents.”

    I’m willing to let my son believe in Father Christmas for a few years if he can come up with zingers like that.

  • ellazimm

    Ooops, sorry . . . “Christams” should be “Christmas”. Dumb, dumber, dumbest.

  • [...] Christmas vs Skepticism [...]

  • DLC

    I see nothing wrong in having holidays or in celebrating them just as an excuse to make merry.
    So, have a happy christmas and don’t worry about the small stuff. Winter comes with enough reasons to be morose, there’s no reason to not seek reasons to be happy.

  • wolf87

    My family and I are all atheists, and we have a tree, give gifts, etc. We typically say “Happy Holidays” to everyone. I don’t really see an issue with having a tree and such. The traditions goes back much further than the christians (yule log, feasts, etc. from the norse and others, for instance), so we see it as celebrating an old cultural tradition. The yule log becomes a tree, and the feast becomes steak and ale. If nothing else, it’s a nice excuse for good food, beer, and decorations.

  • Aragon

    Allow me to help. If you are a skeptic then it means you have thought long and hard about matters of life, death, god, aliens, paranormal, science, …. and while doing so you have no doubt emerged yourself in books and movies along those lines. Which means, and I guess here, that you read sci fi and like escapism. Such escapism necessarily involves the “willful suspension of disbeleif”. So engage this faculty of suspension of disbeleif so as to enjoy the idea, as I do, of a dude flying around deliverying toys to billions of peeps :)

  • [...] Christmas vs Skepticism via The Rogues Gallery. I didn’t grow up with Christmas, so I’ve always found the whole cultural phenomenon somewhat fascinating. Now that I have a completely different reason to ignore Christmas I find myself at something of a loss. Anyway, it’s an interesting, seasonally related read. [...]

  • [...] Christmas vs Skepticism [...]

  • MisterMarc

    Interesting observations, Mike! I recommend a great book called “The Uses of Enchantment” by Bruno Bettelheim. It’s about the role that fantasy (particularly the original, unDisneyfied Grimms Fairy Tales) play in early childhood development. Lots of fun Freudian psychoanalysis of stories like Snow White. Anyway, it definitely makes a case for not feeling the need to be frank about every legend or fairy tale (I would lump Santa in that category….Jesus too, now that I think of it) with young children.

  • tristan

    ” I told her that the word Christmas is derived from the Old English “Christes Masse”, which means Christ’s mass. And that, as non-religious people, we shouldn’t be using terms like that.”

    I alway wince a little when I hear people on both sides try to say the word Christmas has “Christ” in it. The simple fact is that Christmas is a both a secular and religious holiday. Some people celebrate giving gifts and some celebrate the birth of their savior, and some do both. And really, it’s that simple.

    To argue that using the word Christmas is a religious act, even though the word applies to a range of secular and spiritual events, commits the fallacy of etymology. Some people will tell that “Christmas” equals literally “Christ” plus “mass”, and these will then try to say that the work is religious. However, there is no such thing as the pure meaning of the word. The Wikipedia article below goes into more detail.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy

  • tristan

    I’d like to give a personal example of the above fallacy. My tenth-grade English said the following to a student: “The prefix ‘a-’ means ‘without’ as in ‘apathy’: ‘without emotion’. The word ‘atheist’ is the same: ‘one without God.’”

    This is a very subtle point. She is using the
    “theist” part to mean a belief in capital-g God — her christian diety. However, the “theist” part means refers to your run-of-the-mill generic god, as in “polytheist.”

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