Dec 12, 2004

'Tis The Season To Celebrate The Human Spirit & Each Other

Celebrate HumanLight
From the ancient Babylonians, to the Romans, to the Pagans, the Jews, and later the Christians, laymen and those in power found many reasons to celebrate in December. What we have today is a mixed bag of folklore, fairy tales, rituals, superstition and a big dose of commercialism. Of course you can choose to believe in any myth you prefer whether you are in the majority (Christians in the US) or in the minority. Speaking of believing the ..unbelievable, check this Newsweek poll about the "Christmas Miracle." It's truly amazing.
The true "miracle" to me is that so many people hold beliefs which have profound effect on their lives and attitudes whilst those beliefs are based on misconceptions and indoctrination! Now, if you agree with the majority in the Newsweek poll, then you probably don't care about the facts, or you've chosen to believe in "something nice", like a good bed-time story. I know, it's so soothing, like warm milk and cookies! I loved being a kid too. Oh, the limitless possibilities of my imagination, sparked by all those great stories, made my childhood a fun place to be in.
For a historical perspective of how we arrived at today's xmas you might want to check the History Channel (and click on all the links of The Real Christmas Story ontop of the page). I "pray" that the minority I'm part of remains active and free of oppression, so we can continue to lead an examined life in the pursuit of happiness. Happy Holidays to all good-natured & warm-hearted people. PEACE.


Anonymous said...

There you go again... Are you trying to ruin our holidays by pointing out da facts? Can't we revert to being children for a few days a year?
Geesh, man. If we Americans want to believe in Santa Claus and the Unicorn and the Tooth Fairy, so be it! We create our own reality and we back it up with our money!
Besides, if it's on tv or in the movies it's probably true! We write our own history.

So sooshhh.

North Pole

PS>Like George Gostanza on Seinfeld said, "it's not a lie if you believe it!"

Anonymous said...

It's a delicate matter when we talk about religion and why people believe in things that in any other case would be summarily dismissed. But, that's the religious sphere.

We liberals do respect others' opinions, and we want to maintain the freedom of thought and the freedom of expression. The problem is when we try to have a talk about religion using reason. Since we can't apply reason to discuss religious tenets, then we have problems of communication.

If I believed in the flying unicorn, most people would call me crazy, but if I believe in Jonan and the whale, the burning bush, in parting of the seas, and all other religious artifacts, then it's OK! Ah, "it's your religion, we respect that."

Of course, every religion has the correct idea about GOD... so much so that some of its followers have been willing to kill others in the name of religion and argue that they act in the name of (their) God!

At least, we humanists, are not inclined to kill others because they don't hold the same beliefs as we do. AND THIS IS THE BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND THEM.

I also believe that religion plays an important role. In earlier times, religion explained the world. After science (not that science has gotten through to all people) dismissed religious views such as a flat earth-center of universe, religion serves as a guiding light to many people. Of course, many people pick and chose passages from their doctrine (after all it is a religion of convenience).

Look, life is harsh for many, and then there is the end, death. These are difficult things for weak people to huggle with. It feels good to believe that an omni-potent being is ultimately going to take care of you, or even that there are spirits/angels that help you out in your daily struggles.

The truth needs guts and a broad, inquisitive mind.


Anonymous said...

Americans never fail to surprise me. If that Newsweek poll is correct, then 67% of our people believe the the entire story of Christmas is true!!! Wow, these are the people who vote for the most powerful government in the world?!!! It's scary! They are not even informed about their religion, let alone about politics.... Tsk, tsk...

And, 55% swallow bait and sinker whole, believing EVERY word as historically accurate in the Bible!!!! So, according to that book, the earth is flat, and the universe revolves around earth!!! Come to think of it, this is what many Americans think of the U.S.

Speaking of applying biblical values to fix our society's ills, can you tell me when the stoning of the non-virgin brides will commence? Since we're picking and chosing OUR facts as we like them, I'm ready for some biblical reality: that marriage is between a man and his wives!

John The Baptist
for my all-cure exilir, please call 1-800-BELIEVE
special discount for the readers of this blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Interesting poll. The lowest common denominator is lower than I thought in this country. Have you noticed that we're going back to Kansas (and Alabama, Texas and...) where school boards have taken issue with evolution theory?.... It's only a theory! While on the subject, why not teach "creation science" as Your theory is as good as mine! Why, we should look at all sides of an argument, right?!!!

Sure, I agree with 62% of Americans who want creation theory taught in schools as science! This opens the door to my pagan religion... Ok, and to your cookie theories about Zeus and other Hellenistic gods...

Do you know that they faked the landing on the moon?!!
It's so obvious to me that the sun and the stars move around the earth, and everyone that has fallen off a a cliff knows that if the earth were round the people on the downward side would have fallen off long since!

(have you ever wondered why we have no Santa in the SOUTH Pole?!!! that also proves my earlier point!)

Anonymous said...

People need to believe. I don't know if it's "human nature", but culture also has a lot to do with it. It's no accident that people born into a certain religion follow it until their death. Now, not everybody can be right, but most people don't even examine their beliefs. It's a way of life. That's what you do.

Of course, there is the other side of the coin, which for some people compels them to question and re-evaluate cultural norms and mores. Otherwise, we would still have polygamy (as it was the norm in Biblical times) and slavery.

I suppose you can't force people to change "sacred" belief systems. Likewise, if one leads an unexamined life, he is not interested in the "details" and the facts don't get in the way of a good story! Most people succumb to the immense presures of society, including from friends and family, to act in a certain way. Rituals cement such behaviours.

I was, too, surprised about the Newsweek poll's high numbers of people who do not know the story of xmas (I found out about the story through your link on your site). Is no accident that the non-believers know more about others' religious beliefs than those who practice the dogmas! I was brought up as a Christian, but I'm ..reformed now!

Great weblog you've got. keep the intelligent conversation going. My goodness, we need more of this.

London, UK

Anonymous said...

How do we judge an idea, theory, view? Does it get more validity depending on the number of people who adopt it? Obviously it does, because many long-held beliefs are given extraordinary respect because many people hold them dear.

I suppose that only very few people believe that the Tooth Fairy is real. We can make fun at this belief. Yet, if the majority of Americans believe in the burning bush and everything else in the Bible as literal truth, then we are warned to respect that!


Anonymous said...

May I suggest these books:
Why We Believe, by Michael Sherman
The Origins of the Bible, by Tim Callahan

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant, Michael SHERMER

Anonymous said...

I see your point and what the commentators have added, but I don't think it's a bad thing to celebrate Christmas, even if it's historically inaccurate, or simply our own and relatively recent creation.
It's a fun time of the year. Life wouldn't be as exciting if we eliminated all the religious holidays, or the ones we made up.


Anonymous said...

Hi, I don't think the point was about removing xmas or the other religious holidays from our calendar. I believe that we need rituals and occasions that as a society we celebrate and take a break from our daily chores.
Now, we should know the origins of and the purposes for which we engage in such activities. Why is it "dangerous" to ask why and how we came to observe these customs? Knowing history is not a threat. Is it?
I enjoyed xmas when I was a kid, and I do enjoy the holidays in December as an adult. I do like the spirit (not the rampant commercialism) and the time I spend with friends and family. It's a beautiful season to be jolly, happy, and welcome the new year! For me, I don't need a supernatural cause, or angels singing around my head to be in the spirit and enjoy a holiday, even if it's man-made, has religious roots, or whatever.

We give meanings to our lives. If some people want to give religious meaning to their celebrations, it's quite all right with me. Be happy, be nice to each other & enjoy!

Terry, NJ

Anonymous said...

Good show on Air American Radio today, by Randi Rhodes....

Listen to AAR on

Randi is exposing the hypocrites of the religious right... "how the liberals stole xmas" they argue.... what a BS!
The liberals are those who fight for freedom of religion and seperation of church and state! First Amendment advocates... READ THE DAMN CONSTITUTION you small-minded theologs! The ACLU fights for our rights!
Those of you religious and good-natured people should be the first ones to repudiate the religious fanatics and the highjackers of your faith.
Those hypocrites only talk about values and confuse the faithful by attacking those who don't hold the same beliefs. But, those attack dogs only preach. They do not practice! How many of them truly care for and about their neighbors?!!!

A First Amendment Defender

Anonymous said...

The bigger the lie the more people believe it. Anyway, it's not surprising that people pick and choose whatever they like or is convenient. Who has time to examine the facts??!!
Of course, these are the same people who also vote. Why are you surprised that Bush won, when 42% of the electorate still believes that there is a connection between Sadam and AlQaeda?!!!! There are no facts supporting this, and the 911 Commission clearly stated that there was no connection!
So, sure, we believe that Santa rides on his sleigh and the flying reindeers!


Anonymous said...

What is amazing to me (and a true miracle) is the power of the myth! Our god is responsible for all good things, while the anything bad is not his doing!

This year's xmas "present", 150,000 (as I write this) people dead, 1/3 of them children! It's very, very sad.
The only way to prevent this is by science, while in order to aleviate the suffering is by human compassion--not adhering to some mythology.