This Thursday we celebrate the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton, born December 25th, 1642 (old style calendar). Newton remains one of the true giants of science, having discovered that gravity affects celestial bodies according to the same laws that we observe on Earth. Newton’s equations are still used by NASA when sending vehicles into space. Of course, Newton was also religious, but he was a man of his time – a time before we knew about evolution, before man had shrunk the need for God as an explanation to just that of a “designer” who tinkers with DNA (according to Michael Behe, anyway). Perhaps if Newton had been born today he would have been less enamored of religion, just as he would almost certainly not have experimented with alchemy. Anyway, his religious beliefs in no way diminish his scientific achievements, and his birthday (Newtonmas) should be celebrated.
That’s all very well, but recently I’ve become aware of the war on Newtonmas (TWON). Apparently many Christians, not content with appropriating the Winter solstice celebrations that take place today (Happy Solstice to any pagans reading), and the celebrations and customs of other religions, now want to appropriate the Newtonmas holiday too. They are even calling TWON, “the war on Christmas.” How dumb is that? So I’m going to start with several posts that comment on this absurd “war.” Here goes…
The War On Christmas (TWOC)
To start us off, Ron Gold presents The "War On Christmas": Bill O'Reilly's Ill-Conceived Fight posted at The Invisible Pink Unicorn, arguing that if you're concerned with what greeting a store clerk gives you, then maybe you're really condemning the secularization of the commercialization of Christmas. Nice thinking.
Yvette presents O'Reilly: Holidays For Christians Only posted at Blue Linchpin. This is an open letter to O'Reilly containing some logical arguments. Ha – like he’d even recognize a logical argument. Worth a try, though.
Robert McCormick presents Good for Goodness sake posted at Relatively Science, where he tells us that the Bible (Jeremiah 10:1-5) outlaws the whole idea of a Christmas tree anyway. Huh – so the Bible’s against Christmas too? I guess I’d better post a picture of a Christmas tree, then. Here it is.
Vjack presents How Christians Have Secularized Christmas posted at Atheist Revolution, about how Christians are themselves responsible for the war on Christmas, and how they have the solution in their own hands (if they are willing to take it).
Vjack also presents Encouraging Children to Believe Falsehoods posted at Mississippi Atheists (he has two atheist blogs!?), asking if teaching our kids the Santa Claus myth undermines our credibility when we later try to teach them critical thinking. No Santa? That that really would be TWOC. What about Newton in a Santa hat? Would that be OK?
To round up TWOC posts, Procrustes presents State of Christmas posted at State of Protest. He concludes the State of Christmas is that the State should stay out of Christmas and all religious affairs. And that is really where TWOC should end.
Just Regular Godlessness
There were some non-TWOC posts too. First off, H presents maybe god was only pro-life for daniel and isaiah (the guys, not the books) posted at ...And That's How You Live With A Curse, asking, if God is so against abortion, how come he calls so often for children – including unborn children - to be killed? I think we should be told. (Backed up with Bible quotes.) Wow. I guess God needs a hug. Perhaps he’ll get one if I post some mistletoe.
Adrian Hayter presents Crackergate Continues: FSMdude Interrogated posted at The Atheist Blogger. Apparently "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” is optional for some Christians. Somebody called the cops on a kid who had posted YouTube videos of magic crackers being desecrated, alleging the kid had a gun and was planning a murder spree. Nice.
Regular Skeptico commenter (and fierce debater) Tom Foss presents On Suffering and Sacrifice posted at Dubito Ergo Sum, asking Christians, if you could go back in time and successfully rescue Jesus from the crucifixion, would you do it? The way some believers answer that question is… interesting.
Greta Christina presents two posts on what is it like being an atheist in the LGBT community compared with being LGBT in the atheist community. Part one is Being an Atheist in the Queer Community, and part two (on what she thinks we should do about it) is How To Be An Ally with Atheists, posted at Greta Christina's Blog. Greta’s posts are always insightful, and these are no exception.
Yvette presents A World Without Gods posted at Blue Linchpin, asking if atheists should really be working on changing minds through logic and reason, or would a better strategy be to reach out to theists in other ways?
Arensb presents Foxholes and Shoe Leather posted at Epsilon Clue. He tackles the old "no atheists in foxholes" myth, and argues that even if it were true, it’s only because people resort to desperate measures in desperate times. It doesn’t mean those desperate measures are effective.
Transplanted Lawyer presents Invoke Rule Eleven On The Thomas More Law Center posted at Not A Potted Plant, about how the Thomas More Law Center is wrong on all counts regarding the Muslim-bashing lawsuit they filed alleging America is a Christian Nation.
I hope you like the picture of the holly – another image the Christians appropriated. Btw, don’t do what I did and Google images of “holly.” Funnily enough, if you do that you don’t get many pictures of holly, just lots of skimpily clad women. You have to Google “Christmas Holly”, which proves the war on Christmas has failed, if you ask me. (And I know you all just Googled images of “holly” anyway. Santa can see you, you know.)
While we’re on the subject, Ron Britton presents Stop the (re)Presses! posted at Bay of Fundie, describing how some fundies have become outraged at Victoria's Secret store displays. BoF's posts are usually amusing, and this one is no exception.
Steve Snyder (SocraticGadfly) presents Obama sellout NO. 344 - Rick Warren at inaugural posted at SocraticGadfly. A short post on why we might as well throw politics under the bus and get Jeremiah Wright in the mix, too.
I even sneaked in a quick post of my own on why Rick Warren Is Wrong.
Finally, Chris Hallquist presents David Aikman's _The Delusion of Disbelief_ posted at The Uncredible Hallq – his latest entry in a longer series critiquing the critics of Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris.
That’s it for this edition of the COTG. So kick back on Thursday and raise a glass to Sir Isaac. And remember, Newton was actually born on December 25th, unlike, er, that other guy whose birthday is also celebrated by many the same day. Of course, celebrating Newtonmas doesn’t mean you can’t also celebrate Christmas if you want (or Hanukkah, or anything else for that matter). Santa, trees, presents, turkey etc are not restricted to Christians, so celebrate the day any way you want. And ho ho ho.
The next edition of COTG will be in three weeks time on January 11th, 2009, at CyberLizard's Collection. Please submit all entries using the GOTG submission form - that way, the host receives your entries via email as nicely ready-formatted html.
And I believe Brent is looking for hosts. Hosting the carnival is a great way to raise the profile of your blog. Check out the Carnival of the Godless page for guidelines and for contact information for hosting requests.