A Skeptical Christmas

A Skeptical Christmas December 16, 2020

If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas, let me suggest my two novels. The apologetic argument becomes an additional character in Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey. It’s the story of a young man torn between two mentors, his pastor and an atheist, as he struggles to make the Christian case in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

A Modern Christmas Carol is a reworking of Dickens’ classic, in which a shrewdly successful televangelist receives unexpected Christmas visitors: first, his long-dead partner, and then three ghostly guides. Finally able to acknowledge the shallowness of his Christian message and doubts he has long suppressed, he makes amends with far-reaching consequences.

Here are my Christmas-themed posts:

  • On the claimed list of fulfilled Bible prophecies, the Jesus virgin birth story is especially popular. When you actually read it, however, it’s surprising how many ways this claim falls apart.
  • Popular Christian apologist William Lane Craig tackled the virgin birth question and more, and I responded.
  • I summarized Rick Larson’s popular attempt to find a scientific explanation for the Star of Bethlehem that supports the Bible story, and I critiqued that argument here. (By the way, there’s an unusually close Jupiter/Saturn conjunction on the winter solstice, December 21. The visual distance between them will be one fifth the diameter of the full moon. Look for it in the west, just after sunset.)
  • A very different interpretation of the Star of Bethlehem story comes from an atheist source in the Zeitgeist movie (here). I didn’t think much of that argument and critiqued it here.
  • In my long and growing list of Bible contradictions, I contrasted the many statements in the nativity stories that Jesus was divine with his family’s startling conclusion that he was insane.
  • My favorite Christmas movie makes an important rebuttal to empty Christian claims. George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life finds powerful meaning in his life, destroying the apologists’ claims that only God can provide meaning (discussion here).
  • The War on Christmas™ seems to come sooner every year, doesn’t it? Some Christians seem to enjoy being offended, and the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue is a professional at it. Literally—that’s his job. In one end-of-the-year survey, he thought he found a juicy factoid with which to attack the atheists, but it blew up in his face.
  • Stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt demolished a pop song and taught an important lesson about how God doesn’t work at Christmas: “How Christianity Infantilizes Adults.”
  • A parable about two kids arguing about evidence for Santa has interesting parallels with evidence for Jesus. Be careful about dismissing the existence of Santa, because that reasoning may demand that you dismiss Jesus as well.
  • A few years ago, in what was must have been a War-on-Christmas miracle, I was given a copy of Sarah Palin’s Good Tidings and Great Joy to review. I had a few thoughts. Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in that book.

Until it’s legal to once again say “Merry Christmas,” I’ll have to be content with “Happy Solstice”!

We cannot know that Santa definitely doesn’t exist.
This is technically true.
But what’s your best guess?
Go on. Be bold.
— Ricky Gervais

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Image from freestocks (free-use license)
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