Pharyngula

Oy, it’s War on Christmas time again

Fresh off the British Humanist Associations’s successful bus campaign, the American Humanist Association has fired up its own set of big signs on buses in the Washington DC area. Their message is “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake”.

Of course, CNN considers this another salvo in the War on Christmas. Silly news organization. Didn’t you get the word? The war on Christmas is over. We won. It’s a secular holiday, atheists can celebrate it any way they want, Christians can continue to pretend it’s baby Jesus’ birthday, and everyone has the freedom to interpret the meaning of the day in whatever way they choose. The freethinkers of America are victorious.

The only people left fighting it are desperate holdouts who look sad and comical when the emerge from the jungles of their own making. Like the American Patriarchy Association.

In mid-October, the American Family Association started selling buttons that say “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas.” The humanists’ entry into the marketplace of ideas did not impress AFA president Tim Wildmon.

“It’s a stupid ad,” he said. “How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.”

Guess what, Tim? It is OK to say “Merry Christmas”. Even I have been known to say it. Go ahead, have a good time with the greeting, although it does rather rip the spirit out of it if you say it through clenched teeth with furrowed brow, looking like you’re daring everyone to object so you can punch them in the throat. It’s also OK to say “Happy Solstice,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” and “Merry Cephalopodmas,” whatever feels right to you.

But I’m sorry, this Biblical god fellow is not a very good source for goodness. If we went by that definition, Christmas would be a time when we’d slaughter Amelekites, get drunk and have sex with daughters, stone gay people, and treat molluscs as abominations. None of those things sound very merry to me. Wouldn’t there be a better source for goodness that doesn’t rely on archaic xenophobia and delusion from bad old books? How about empathy and the general principle that we should do to others what we would like them to do for us? Atheists can follow that one, and they don’t believe in god at all.

Comments

  1. #1 funda62
    November 12, 2008

    Well at least we wouldn’t be eating the molluscs!

    I think the bus campaign rocks and is an even better message than the one in London. Going to DC soon and will try to get pictures.

  2. #2 Michelle
    November 12, 2008

    Yay for secular Christmas! I love christmas time… When I’m not attacked with it left and right in the middle of fucking NOVEMBER or even before HALLOWEEN. Wait until december for the damn decorations, assholes!!!
    …ahem.

    The problem is that them folks don’t know their bible. God is no source of morality. He’s a douchebag, a murderer, a saddistic freak. He’s a dictator. If that’s a loving, good god… I want a divorce.

    I hate hwne they think that you can’t be moral if you don’t believe in god. It’s sorta scary too. Does that mean they’re going to rape me if I prove god doesn’t exist since they will be no afterlife consequences?

    …Which brings me to the bible again… The frickin’ rape rules are ridiculous. I’m gonna have to marry that guy if he rapes me?! God IS an asshole.

  3. #3 Greg
    November 12, 2008

    I know it’s a commonly shared sentiment, but the fact that there are large groups of people who tell us they have no morality of their own and require it to be provided from an outside source, is terrifying.

  4. #4 Bart Mitchell
    November 12, 2008

    Im planning my normal year of using the phrase liberally throughout the season, with one exception. On the anniversary of Darwins 150’s year of Origin, I went around telling everyone ‘Happy Darwin Day’. If anyone asked why, I told them, if they didn’t ask, I just walked on.

    One of my suppliers asked. I told him is was the 150th anniversary. His response was ‘150 years of a STUPID theory’. I was a bit taken aback. Anyways, as I’m sure to get a ‘Merry Christmas’ from him this year, I’m working up a quick retort. “jesus was a myth!” or “Christ? Do you believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny too?”

    Any other quick returns you can think of?

  5. #5 Lynnai
    November 12, 2008

    Have pity on the molluscs!

  6. #6 Prof MTH
    November 12, 2008

    I prefer to say:
    “Happy Chris-Han-Kwana-Rama-Solsti-Vus”

  7. #7 Matt Heath
    November 12, 2008

    “Be good for goodness sake”
    Wall of Sound win.

  8. #8 Michelle
    November 12, 2008

    @Bart Mitchell: Maybe… Happy 4,5 billioneth?

  9. #9 DLC
    November 12, 2008

    Oh blast. this time of year is annoying and depressing enough without having to listen to people blather about “War on Christmas”. Have the day off on the 25th and get over yourselves. Call me when something worth noticing happens.

  10. #10 michael Fonda
    November 12, 2008

    I have found that an excellent way to get a cheap laugh is to wish people “Happy appropriate holiday.” Even fundies will smile at that one.

  11. #11 GK4
    November 12, 2008

    I understand why many atheists (etcetera) say that the current December 25 holiday is very secular. But the name is still a reference to a church ritual! The Christians can keep it, and I will (in December) instead wish people a “Happy Crimble”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW6nZyJSERw

  12. #12 Sidheag
    November 12, 2008

    Happy to hear that the US will have something like this, but “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake” is a pretty terribly slogan, isn’t it? Talk about ponderous.

  13. #13 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Happy to hear that the US will have something like this, but “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake” is a pretty terribly slogan, isn’t it? Talk about ponderous.

    I kind of like it.

  14. #14 Deepsix
    November 12, 2008

    Finally! I’ve been waiting all year to try out my new flame-thrower. “Fire-resistant Christmas trees” my ass.

    I think we call all agree, there’s nothing more we atheist hate more than family, food, and free gifts.

  15. #15 Theron
    November 12, 2008

    It’s the authoritarian mindset. Evil come from violating rules, and rules must have a rulemaker. That rulemaker, in order not to be universal, must come from outside humanity — therefore God. The more liberal mindset, I believe, holds that evil come from violating each other. You don’t need some outside entity to work out a moral system based on that idea.

  16. #16 Matt Heath
    November 12, 2008

    Sidheag. NOO It’s frikkin’ awesome! It’s a line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”; who doesn’t love that song. And it’s also the perfect “up yours” to claims that we need God for morality.

  17. #17 Grumpy Mr. Gruff
    November 12, 2008

    Merry Cephalopodmas sounds like something celebrated at the Church of Dagon in H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth.

    “Have yourself a merry little Ceph’l’mas,
    On that darkest night
    From now on,
    the Old Ones will call forth the blight…”

    I’m done geeking out, honest.

  18. #18 Michelle
    November 12, 2008

    @Sidheag: You think so? I thought it was pretty clever and sharp. I always loved that line anyway.

  19. #19 Matt Heath
    November 12, 2008

    me@16: Or something similar with grammar.

  20. #20 HumanisticJones
    November 12, 2008

    I tend to like Festivus myself. Nothing quite like a good airing of grievances followed by the feats of strength. Always pick a scrawny person to have to wrestle you to the floor. It makes the party last longer.

  21. #21 Jeanette
    November 12, 2008

    Yay! War on Christmas is on the way! War on Christmas is one of my favorite holidays.

    But it does seem to drag on forever nowadays. I remember when I was younger, the War on Christmas didn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Anymore, the War on Christmas hype starts the moment Halloween is past.

    And the War on Christmas has become so commercial these days. It’s like people don’t even recognize the sacredness of the occasion.

    But the worst of it is those politically correct types who aren’t even willing to say the words, “Merry War on Christmas.” Don’t they realize that those who claim a holiday as their own are entitled to demand that everyone else observe it in the same way?

  22. #22 mike
    November 12, 2008

    I’m so angry, I could punch a mollusk in the throat!

  23. #23 Josh West
    November 12, 2008

    I’ll be celebrating agnostica again this year.

    http://www.agnostica.com/

  24. #24 Bart Mitchell
    November 12, 2008

    Ohh, I had an idea after I posted at #4.

    My good by phrase is ‘Ciao dios.’ which is Goodbye God, in Italian and Spanish respectively. Most people never catch it, its just a cute phrase.

    I think this year, Im going to use ‘Merry Christmyth’

    Then again, everyone is just going to think I have a lisp.

  25. #25 J-Dog
    November 12, 2008

    Ah Yes! My FAVORITE time of year! I love telling people off for saying “Merry Christmas”! From a simple “No, thank you, to the more aggressive F^^k off and die Christian Scum, I like to vary it.

    It puts me in the proper spirit, and I always consider that they may then pass on my disdain for their stupidity to Bill O The Clown Himself.
    Ho! Ho! Ho!

  26. #26 Ouchimoo
    November 12, 2008

    Pffftt Good ole’CNN. First they show a story about an atheist family that was getting persecuted in their community. Then they mock said atheist. Then they try to make amends by having Richard Dawkins on. Then they throw Richards interview under the bus to cover 3 f#cking weeks of Ana Nichole Smith. And through it all they still can’t stop crying “OMGODS THEY’RE STEALING OUR HOLIDAYS!! They’re EVIL!!!”

    Christmas, like Halloween and Easter, is commercial holidays anyways. It’s all about the sales. One of the big reasons why I don’t like Xmas is because it’s not really about getting together with family anymore. It’s now just a mad rush of buying useless crap to try and appease people and having to listen to crappy xmas music from the First of Nov to the end of Dec.

  27. #27 Greg
    November 12, 2008

    @Bart Mitchell, #24

    Well, that depends on if you pronounce it Christ-myth or Chrithst-myth. The former would likely get you stranger looks.

    I may have to borrow the spanish, though. :)

  28. #28 Carlie
    November 12, 2008

    Well, according to this handy list of winter festivals in Wikipedia, you could wish Xtians a Happy Feast of the Circumcision, and it would still be their own religion so they couldn’t object.

  29. #29 Ric
    November 12, 2008

    Getting drunk and having sex with somebody’s daughter sounds good to me. :)

  30. #30 Interrobang
    November 12, 2008

    The War on Christmas stuff doesn’t get much traction here in Soviet Canuckistan, I think probably because of our more generally apathetic culture. I’ve been going around for years wishing people a “Happy Yule,” and even the Salvation Army mendicants don’t bat an eyelash. It’s slightly disappointing. I think I could have some fun with BillO; I suspect I’d wind up counting how many veins I could get to pop out of his forehead.

  31. #31 Carlie
    November 12, 2008

    I think this year, Im going to use ‘Merry Christmyth’

    Make sure you use a good Igor hunch and limp while you do it.

  32. #32 E
    November 12, 2008

    I content myself with wishing my friends and neighbours a
    Salubrious Solstice, and a Perfectly Peachy Perihelion.

  33. #33 Sastra
    November 12, 2008

    GK4 #11 wrote:

    I understand why many atheists (etcetera) say that the current December 25 holiday is very secular. But the name is still a reference to a church ritual!

    So what? We use the word “Easter” without making explicit reference to the goddess Estre, we don’t care about the technical definition of “Halloween,” and any use of the word “saint” in “St. Valentine’s Day” is purely ceremonial. Christianity is part of our historical, aesthetic, and cultural past, same as many other no-longer-current beliefs and forms. A pre-existing holiday based on secular values picked some name up along the way, and it stuck. Ok.

    So, ironically, the REAL “war on Christmas” is not substituting “happy holidays” or some other expression for the word “Christmas.” It’s using the word “Christmas” over and over again, without any religious connotations. Take it away from the Christians. That’s their fear. Saying “Merry Christmas” is worthless if people are not “keeping the Christ in Christmas.” I grew up in a freethought household that celebrated Christmas as a time of good will, cheer, and charity — and no big deal made about the Baby Jesus story. It was just one more item in the celebration, next to Frosty and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

    As for the “you need God to be moral,” Christians constantly play metaphysical hopscotch on that. What does it mean?

    1.) God is the source of goodness in the world, which can be recognized whether you know where it ultimately came from or not.

    2.) God is the reference for what is good; you can’t tell if an action is right or wrong unless you check with the correct holy text.

    3.) God is the motivation to be good; doing good or evil to others is ultimately based only on an exterior reward and punishment system.

    Each one of these can be attacked and dismantled. That’s why they keep skipping from one to the other. Refute #3 by explaining why virtue has intrinsic value? Yes, but where does it come from? Give an evolutionary explanation for the basic human moral sense? Oh, but how do you know which group is correct on the details (#2)? And so on and so forth…

  34. #34 dNorrisM
    November 12, 2008
  35. #35 Britomart
    November 12, 2008

    Bart my favorite response to “I will pray for you” is I will dance naked under the oaks next full moon for you.

    Feel free to modify it depending on the climate where you are. I used to live on Cape Cod with a high fence and a lovely garden full of oaks…

    I find it doesn’t seem to have occurred to a lot of people who mindlessly wish everyone a Merry Christmas that not everyone is celebrating that. Last December I responded “Happy solstice” to a grocery clerk and the woman in front of me turned and wished her a happy Hanukkah and the woman in back of me had a headscarf. We had a conversation about it and I think she ended up persuaded that Happy Holidays was far more appropriate and a real statement of good wishes, whereas Merry Christmas excludes a lot of customers that her boss might not wish to offend.

  36. #36 Ouchimoo
    November 12, 2008

    OOOoo I just thought of a great idea for a poster:
    Picture of Santa. . doing Santa stuff with big letters above him saying:
    Santa is a humanist!

    LooOOooLS

  37. #37 JM
    November 12, 2008

    I personally think that these bus ads are a bit too much. The will likely be met with knee-jerk reactions of disgust.

    In my experience, one does not just go from a God fearing believer to an atheist. They start by questing certain aspects of their faith. Then they say things like ‘I believe in God, but I don’t follow any organized religion”. Then they say things like I believe God and the universe are the same, and I am a spiritual person. Then the finally come to the conclusion that the old God they once knew, was just an idea, and they finally accept being an atheist.

    God is the last thing to go. I think we should be starting smaller. How about:

    “You can have God, without all these crazy religious people”

    “Save me lord, from your followers”

    Then move onto…

    “Be spiritual, not religious. Follow the enlightenment.”

    Then finally…

    “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake”.

  38. #38 Dunc
    November 12, 2008

    How do we define ‘good’ if we don’t believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what’s good and bad and right and wrong.

    And how do you tell God from Satan (or a false prophet from a true prophet) if you don’t know what “good” is? “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

    Also, isn’t there something in Genesis about us getting kicked out of Eden for eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

    False prophet! Stone him!

  39. #39 Kobra
    November 12, 2008

    A major source of irritation for me is when people protest against the word “Xmas.” Roland Martin wrote a piece last year that I criticized to hell. http://tinyurl.com/5um5un

    Attention butthurt Christians: The X in Xmas stands for The letters Chi Rho in Greek– which is short for Christ.

    Why are nationally syndicated columnists bitching about something that doesn’t even remove the cosmic Jewish zombie from the name?

    Ranting aside, my family celebrates Christmas out of tradition rather than religion. No nativity scenes or any of that crap– just gift-giving, feasting, and stocking up on liquor for New Year’s Eve. :P

  40. #40 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Ranting aside, my family celebrates Christmas out of tradition rather than religion. No nativity scenes or any of that crap– just gift-giving, feasting, and stocking up on liquor for New Year’s Eve. :P

    Same here but we do put up a tree.

    My mother still goes ape shit with Santa stuff, but no Jesus stuff thankfully. My nieces and nephews love it.

  41. #41 JStein
    November 12, 2008

    Hey, with the Jewish family I still celebrate Hannukah. Not in the religious way (my dad’s secular too, so it’s never really been that religious), but we have fun.

    People like this make me laugh.

  42. #42 Matt Heath
    November 12, 2008

    And how do you tell God from Satan (or a false prophet from a true prophet) if you don’t know what “good” is?

    Or for that matter, “Why is good to obey God?”.
    The usual reply is “That is what good means” which is: a) factually inaccurate (just look at the word’s history and usage) and b) exactly what my answer would be to “How do you know it is wrong to hurt people without God?”.

    It’s a funny argument, the argument from morality.

  43. #43 Hank Fox
    November 12, 2008

    JM #37: “I personally think that these bus ads are a bit too much.”

    JM, it’s not all about Christians. Mainly, I think the campaign is to reach people who ALREADY have doubts, or already know they’re atheists/agnostics, but just need to know that they’re not alone and it’s okay to come out of the closet.

    As for me, I’m waiting for Bill-O or other wingnut conservative Christian to blame this on Barack Obama.

    Three … two … one …

  44. #44 raven
    November 12, 2008

    The War on Halloween has fizzled out the last few years too. The fundie morons have lost the will to stand up and gibber about how Halloween is….well whatever nonsensical idea it is that they claim.

    The War on The War on Xmas seems to be going the same way. After a while listening to wingnuts babble gets boring. People stopped paying attention to Bush years ago, they just lost interest.

    The fundies will have to find something else to irritate and amuse the general population. Maybe they can declare war on the Easter Bunny, who isn’t mentioned a whole lot in the bible.

  45. #45 Greg R.
    November 12, 2008

    @Bart Mitchell, #4
    You could just smile and say it’s your favorite made up holiday.

    @HumanisticJones, #20
    I like Festivus, too. “A Festivus for the rest of us!”

  46. #46 mike
    November 12, 2008

    Don’t forget the Aussies!

    They are also planning bus advertisments…
    http://www.meetup.com/sydneyatheists/messages/boards/thread/5706263

  47. #47 Brad D
    November 12, 2008

    There are always a few billboards around here (San Diego) that spring up about this time with this slogan: “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

    It would be nice to rent a billboard near each of these explaining that the earth’s tilted rotational axis is the reason for all seasons.

  48. #48 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    I’m gearing up for the War on National Frozen Food day.

    Following that, the War on Hug your Cat Day

    Seriously.

  49. #49 Ricahrd Eis
    November 12, 2008

    I wish they would put these bus messages to the vote before using them. I’m sure we can get something punchier than the second sentence. It sounds like something my mother would say when i was younger for goodness sake.

    Also the main reason for believing in a god is not morality, thats just an excuse IMHO.

  50. #50 Sastra
    November 12, 2008

    JM #37 wrote:

    I personally think that these bus ads are a bit too much. The will likely be met with knee-jerk reactions of disgust. In my experience, one does not just go from a God fearing believer to an atheist. They start by questing certain aspects of their faith.

    I think you’re right about the gradual progression from faith to nonbelief, but wrong about the value of the ‘extreme’ bus ads. One of the reasons that even moderate and liberal theists scorn atheists is an underlying cultural consensus that belief in God is ubiquitous, spirituality signals depth of character, and faith is a virtuous thing to have. And whatever you do, don’t tell anyone their supernatural beliefs are wrong. Belief in belief itself, is sacrosanct.

    The regular insistence coming from the religious that atheists will be respected “only as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on others” is, I suspect, a self-serving load of bull designed to protect beliefs from open criticism by granting them sacred status. The “harmony” among religious believers — I won’t attack your beliefs as long as you don’t attack mine — comes with the price that atheists will be marginalized out of the mainstream. Expressions of one’s religious beliefs are not seen as attacks on other religious beliefs — unless you’re an atheist. Do you view “Jesus Is The Reason for the Season” ads on buses as, not just wrong, but ‘a bit too much?’ Does the general public? Why the special rules for nonbelief?

    As atheists, we’re in a double bind — damned if we speak out, and damned if we don’t. The general consensus of the culture is that “atheism makes no sense.” People can’t figure out how anyone could not believe in some sort of God. It’s extreme, loony, fruitloops — but the religious will “tolerate” it as long as atheists keep their mouths shut, say nothing about why they don’t believe in God, try to pass as ‘straight,’ and stay firmly out of the way.

    The “look at me, I’m a nice quiet atheist who would never try to talk anyone out of believing in God just pretend we’re not here” hasn’t worked very well. I like the idea of the bus ads. A bit tacky? Maybe. But it’s a step towards public recognition. It’s a pretty neutral message, really. In order to call the ads “hostile” and “extreme” folks are going to have to acknowledge, at some level, that it’s not the WAY we’re coming out that’s the problem: it’s that we’re coming out at all. Atheism itself is seen as aggressive.

    They want it to be unthinkable. You can’t start questioning faith itself if being an atheist is unthinkable.

  51. #51 Sigmund
    November 12, 2008

    “A 23 degree axial tilt of the Earth is the reason for the season – Thank Goodness for Science!”

  52. #52 eric
    November 12, 2008

    hmmm…minor quibble with the post: Cephalopodomas rolls off the tongue much easier than Cephalopodmas.

  53. #53 spyderkl
    November 12, 2008

    I have to say, I like these ads better than the ones on UK buses. It just feels like a slightly lighter touch to me.

    Since it’s already well-established that the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim God is a rip-roaring a**hole, I’d think you could come up with far better moral models.

    Sastra/#33:

    So, ironically, the REAL “war on Christmas” is not substituting “happy holidays” or some other expression for the word “Christmas.” It’s using the word “Christmas” over and over again, without any religious connotations. Take it away from the Christians. That’s their fear. Saying “Merry Christmas” is worthless if people are not “keeping the Christ in Christmas.”

    I love that! Mind if we steal that for this year? Usually the phrase we (as in everybody at our house) use is, “Thanks! You, too!”

  54. #54 Kobra
    November 12, 2008

    @47:
    I support this idea.

  55. #55 Pierce R. Butler
    November 12, 2008

    Oh damn! What’re we gonna do, honey? Wal-Mart is all out of Amelekites!

  56. #56 Sarcastro
    November 12, 2008

    If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.

    Going to be? I take it the Spanish Inquisition and the Albigensian Crusade were perfectly sane.

    Meh. Happy Decemberween everybody!

  57. #57 Ranson
    November 12, 2008

    I have yet to convince my son that setting a trap in the fireplace is a good idea. I think it’s because my wife opposes me in the matter, (but I think she fails to see how it can work for the Santa phenomenon, especially with a remote trigger).

    Such is my war on Christmas. Take out the big man, and the whole system comes tumbling down. That, and we all know how it works when you capture a magical being. Of course, if it turns out to be just some old Eastern European priest, I’m going to be pissed.

  58. #58 Fred Mounts
    November 12, 2008

    Sastra #50 wrote:

    belief in God is ubiquitous

    I was watching Hardball yesterday evening, and one of the talking heads (not the band, though I am listening to the band right now – Papa Legba is the track) mentioned that Sarah Palin is a person of faith. An exasperated Chris Matthews replied: “Who isn’t?!”

    I already gave up on the no-talent ass clowns at CNN. Does MSNBC have to go next? At least Matthews may.

  59. #59 Kobra
    November 12, 2008

    @57: Are you referring to a pedopriest dressed as Santa trying to break into your home to rape your son? I’d be pissed too.

  60. #60 tim rowledge
    November 12, 2008
  61. #61 Prof MTH
    November 12, 2008

    I put up a Krampus tree every year. It is red and has homemade Krampus ornaments.

    My spouse and I also put up a solstice tree which is usually blue, purple, and white (very Jewish colors) decorated with family memorabilia.

  62. #62 chancelikely
    November 12, 2008

    That does it.

    I’m going to email Bill O’Reilly and wish him a Merry War On Christmas.

    I know War on Christmas is his favorite time of year.

  63. #63 Dirty Hairy
    November 12, 2008

    “…Christmas would be a time when we’d slaughter Amelekites, get drunk and have sex with daughters, stone gay people, and treat molluscs as abominations.”

    Where do I sign up???

  64. #64 Paul Lundgren
    November 12, 2008

    Dr. Myers, I have to take you to task for your discrimination. In your list of acceptable seasons greetings, nowhere did you list “Spicy Spaghettimas!” in that list. I consider this an affront to Pastafarians everywhere, and demand an immediate apology. Or, at least, please pass the Parmesan.

    kthxbai.

  65. #65 Pim
    November 12, 2008

    I’m envious of you Americans. We can’t have a proper war-on-christmas because our word for christmas (kerstfeest) already took most of the ‘Christus’ out of it. And taking the Weihn out of Weihnachten or the No out of Nol also makes little sense for those other parts of Europe that don’t speak English.

  66. #66 SeanD.
    November 12, 2008

    “Merry Fucking Christmas & Happy Fucking Holidays – Now will you shut the fuck up.”

    Best T-shirt EVAH!

  67. #67 Ted H.
    November 12, 2008

    My favorite irony is the way this alleged War on Christmas is supposed to take form. They insist that the Wal-Mart greeter, or whoever, say ‘Merry Christmas’ while they buy all their crap in a display of materialism.

    40+ years ago the alleged problem with christmas was that the holiday became too commercial as in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. Apparently, Linus was wrong. Commercialism is not the problem, it’s forgetting what became so commercial. Americans gotta have their crap.

    How many of these ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ losers actually go to church on christmas?

    I’m also willing to guess that most of these people celebrate Thanksgiving in a completely secular way. It was a type of religious holiday at one time. I’m sure the original intent was that you’re supposed to give thanks to invisible sky-daddy.

  68. #68 Evolving Squid
    November 12, 2008

    @mike (#22)

    I’m so angry, I could punch a mollusk in the throat!

    You mean, like this guy: http://www.squidzone.ca/UT/puchceph.jpg ? As I recall from the writeup, the mollusc won this encounter :)

    That’s taken from the book that PZ uses to get many of his Friday Cephalopods.

  69. #69 GK4
    November 12, 2008

    Sastra #33 wrote:
    “We use the word ‘Easter’ without making explicit reference to the goddess Estre, we don’t care about the technical definition of ‘Halloween,’ and any use of the word “saint” in ‘St. Valentine’s Day’ is purely ceremonial.”

    “Crimble” is a linguistic “corruption” of “Christ mass”. The same process gave us the words “Easter”, “Halloween”, and “Valentines Day” (sometimes with an “m” for good measure). The roots of these new words acknowledge “our historical, aesthetic, and cultural past”, as you put it, but the fact that the words have *changed* represents that the holidays and their meaning have also changed. The past is a source, but it’s still past.

    Besides, I like inducing cognitive dissonance in Christians by reminding them that this two-month-long commerce holiday is very different from the solemn two-hour religious ceremony from which it derives its name. This is my way of reminding them that they’ve already lost; everyone celebrates Crimble, and no one attends Christ mass.

    If it weren’t still November, I’d wish you a Happy Crimble, Sastra.

  70. #70 Cliff
    November 12, 2008

    @58 Fred Mounts

    I saw that, too. Frankly I was a bit surprised, and a lot disappointed at his response. Who knew?

  71. #71 ggab
    November 12, 2008

    What ever happened to our great traditions?

    Remembering the good old days.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0McggLIYmnE

  72. #72 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 12, 2008

    I’m so angry, I could punch a mollusk in the throat!

    I dare you.

  73. #73 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 12, 2008

    I actually have quite a few christmas/cephalopodmas verses floating around… But for this thread, I think perhaps this one:

    An atheist Christmas

    We’ll all open presents, and cook a big dinner,
    And share in traditions we learned long ago
    But Christmas is different for this humble sinner,
    No “birth of the saviour”, just people we know.

    It has nothing to do with a babe in a manger
    Or kings being led by a star up above,
    But rather in family, friend, and in stranger,
    In kindnesses done for the people we love.

    A spirit of hope, and a spirit of giving,
    A promise of peace in a troubling day,
    A chance to examine the way we are living–
    The courage to say what we’ve wanted to say.

    You don’t need to think there’s a god up above you
    To want to be good to your fellows on Earth.
    To give to your friends, and to tell them “I love you”
    Has nothing to do with some son of god’s birth.

    For love, and for giving, we say “tis the season”
    For caring, for kindness, for sharing good cheer
    But why limit ourselves? I mean, what is the reason?
    Why can’t we be giving the rest of the year?

    This Christmas, my wish for each sister and brother,
    To you, and to everyone you may hold dear;
    Remember, this Christmas, to love one another–
    Not only this season, but all through the year!

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2007/12/atheist-chistmas.html

  74. #74 Robert W
    November 12, 2008

    One of your best posts yet, PZ. Thanks for putting this so well. Happy solstice!

  75. #75 Pierce R. Butler
    November 12, 2008

    E @ # 33: … a Perfectly Peachy Perihelion.

    Uh, isn’t perihelion around Jan. 22? Most of the people I know will still be celebrating the End of the Bush Error then…

  76. #76 Tim
    November 12, 2008

    Roman christians just took a pagan holiday and filed the serial #s off, the really intense fundies won’t celebrate it. How about a different carol? http://www.cthuhulives.org/solsticecarol.html

  77. #77 BobbyEarle
    November 12, 2008

    Rats.

    I got all zippered up for this year’s installment of the War on Christmas, and now you tell me that WE WON???

    I wonder if I can get a store credit for the flame-throwers, and death ray blasters I bought….

    Wait, never mind. I can use them for the upcoming Assault on the Gnome Agenda.

  78. #78 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Papa Legba is the track

    Appropriate considering that fox news uses voodoo and magic as their sources.

  79. #79 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 12, 2008

    We have a damned good reason for waging a war on Christmas, in the future Santabot will be after us.

    Preemptive strike!

  80. #80 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Bah nevermind.

    Reading fail.

    Hardball not Hannity.

    failly fail fail

  81. #81 marcus
    November 12, 2008

    Sir: I defy you to prove scientifically that molluscs are not abominations! Slimy little beady eyed creatures always hiding under their shells plotting the overthrow of decent god-creating mammals. They should all be steamed in their shells and eaten! Eaten I say!

  82. #82 Josh
    November 12, 2008

    Where do I donate so I can get these bus ads in Chicago too?

  83. #83 Pete Rooke
    November 12, 2008

    Bill O’Reilly has done a great job in the past of highlighting this issue, as well as the Catholic League.

    It’s symptomatic of societies in which people feel unable to culturally identify with anything – whether it be citizenship (am I American, what does that mean, why classify me in terms of arbitrary lines on a map), whether it be sexuality (why should marry someone of the opposite sex, is it because it’s in my genes, surely that would be committing the naturalistic fallacy..), whether it be immigration and a subsequent lack of assimilation resulting in corporations, which drive Christmas as we know it, wanting to be inclusive and deciding that a “holiday season” inclusive of everyone would be more profitable.

    Nary a thought is given to the ultimate sacrifice that Christmas celebrates, what this means to us and why this is so important. I’m all for exploiting the commercial activities if it spreads the message of Christianity. As it is I feel that committed Christians should consider forgoing present giving and “Thankgivingisize” Christmas returning it to a purely religious celebration with a emphasise on the nuclear family – without commercial pressures and the distractions this brings. On a positive note, at least Churches bulge around December.

  84. #84 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    plotting the overthrow of decent god-creating mammals

    I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but

    nice

  85. #85 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Ok, a new (old) one. I think you already know the tune:

    And so this is Christmas
    So back to the war–
    It’s time to remember
    What Christmas is for
    An so this is Christmas
    Let’s make a big fuss
    Cos Christmas is only
    For people like us.

    A very merry Christmas
    And a happy New Year
    Unless you are godless
    Unless you are queer.

    And so this is Christmas
    For people like me
    For Christian believers
    Good people, you see
    And so Happy Christmas
    It’s so black and white
    Don’t say “Season’s Greetings”
    ‘less you’re ready to fight

    A very merry Christmas
    And a happy New Year
    Unless you are godless
    Unless you are queer.

    And so this is Christmas
    So back to the war–
    It’s time to remember
    What Christmas is for
    An so this is Christmas
    Let’s make a big fuss
    Cos Christmas is only
    For people like us.

    A very merry Christmas
    And a happy New Year
    Unless you are godless
    Unless you are queer.

    War is over when we win it
    War is over then

  86. #86 Liberal Atheist
    November 12, 2008

    Merry Christmas is ok, of course, even if you can’t possibly know which holiday the other person is celebrating, if any. But then “Happy Holidays” is ok too, even more so, since it’s more inclusive. I am sure the Christians are logical enough and tolerant enough to understand that. ;)

  87. #87 Mikayla
    November 12, 2008

    Like I end up saying every year, I do say ‘Merry Christmas’. Even as an atheist. It’s just what I’m used to saying, as a cultural matter. The AFA needs to pull it’s head out of its rear end.

  88. #88 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Nary a thought is given to the ultimate sacrifice that Christmas celebrates

    Me having to see those Christmas shopping commercials in October?

    That is the ultimate sacrifice.

  89. #89 Pete Rooke
    November 12, 2008

    @ Cuttlefish, OM

    I don’t like your poem. Christmas is a time to forget the differences that tear this country a part. Remember all sinners can be saved.

  90. #90 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 12, 2008

    The Rookie:Nary a thought is given to the ultimate sacrifice that Christmas celebrates, what this means to us and why this is so important.

    An immortal creature is “killed”. Yeah, some sacrifice.

    Oh but the pain he went through. No more then all of the millions of human that have been tortured to a real death.

  91. #91 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 12, 2008

    Posted by: The Rookie | November 12, 2008

    @ Cuttlefish, OM

    I don’t like your poem. Christmas is a time to forget the differences that tear this country a part. Remember all sinners can be saved.

    No you dense little schmuck, you are not about forgetting about the differences between all of us. You are about having everyone think and act like you.

  92. #92 thalarctos
    November 12, 2008

    …Which brings me to the bible again… The frickin’ rape rules are ridiculous. I’m gonna have to marry that guy if he rapes me?! God IS an asshole.

    I started to observe “talk about your perverse incentives!”, but then realized from the point of view of the writers, that’s actually a feature, not a bug.

  93. #93 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    I don’t like your poem. Christmas is a time to forget the differences that tear this country a part.

    Do I smell smoke?

    Remember all sinners can be saved.

    aaaaaaaaand BOOOOOOOM!

  94. #94 Dan DeLeon
    November 12, 2008

    But is there a place for those of us that prefer “Humbug!”?

  95. #95 Qwerty
    November 12, 2008

    But when is the FSM’s birthday?

  96. #96 Nerd of Redhead
    November 12, 2008

    Pete “well meaning fool” Rooke, if you don’t like Cuttlefish’s poem, then the poem must be good. When are you going to grasp the concept that your opinions don’t matter to us? The only difference between you posting and not posting, is that we have to waste our time reading your insipid opinions if we haven’t killfiled you.

    Really, if your say A, we know not A is true. That is what a “well meaning fool” is for.

  97. #97 ggab
    November 12, 2008

    Rooke to pawn….oh..God beat me to it.

  98. #98 robinsrule
    November 12, 2008

    I must be getting old – I remember when when the War on Christmas didn’t start until after Thanksgiving. Oh well, support the troops and all that.

  99. #99 amphiox
    November 12, 2008

    My understanding of the entities categorized as “abominations” in the bible are that it is a catchall category for pretty much anything that is interesting, unusual, and good at inciting the curiosity of inquisitive minds.

    In which case, the Mollusca are abominations in spades. Even if we discount Cthulu.

  100. #100 amphiox
    November 12, 2008

    As for the war on Christmas. . .

    Never has a war been sooo easy to win.

  101. #101 Sam
    November 12, 2008

    “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake”

    Why be good? What is this “goodness’ sake” crap, anyway?

  102. #102 SteveM
    November 12, 2008

    Nary a thought is given to the ultimate sacrifice that Christmas celebrates,

    No, don’t you know your own religion? Easter celebrates that “ultimate sacrifice”. Christmas is a holiday that was co-opted by the early christians so they could disguise their celebration at a time when everyone was also celebrating. Christmas wasn’t even a religious holiday until around the 1850’s. The colonists forbade celebrating Christmas, believing it diluted the real meaning of Christ’s life which was the resurrection, celebrated at Easter. “Christmas” always has been a basically pagan/secular holiday with just a little christian frosting sprinkled on top.

  103. #103 varlo
    November 12, 2008

    Don’t worry, Rookey, you can be as cheap as you want to be. Take the other superstitious moprons with you. That will make for less crowded stores and make it easier on the rest of us.

  104. #104 Lago
    November 12, 2008

    Um, be Good not Godly?

    If I remember right, the word “Good,” comes from the word, “Goodly,” which means “Godly.”

    It reminds me when I saw a Christian bumper sticker that said, “Christians do not say, Good bye, we say, See you later.” This despite the fact that, “Good bye,” means, “God be with you.” It comes from something like, God be with ye”which shortened to “Good bye.”

    Sorry, I just love fuckin’ with Christian’s heads.

  105. #105 Evovling Squid
    November 12, 2008

    @PR #89

    Remember all sinners can be saved.

    Umm, go read your Bible again.

    Blasphemy is an irredeemable sin. (Matthew 12:32)

    Oh yeah, you’re a Christian, so you probably haven’t read the Bible.

  106. #106 VegeBrain
    November 12, 2008

    If I sense someone’s trying to feel persecuted about the so called war on Christmas, I like to say “Merry Christ Mass” to in reply just to emphasize the fact that those words they hold so dear to their frail little egos is about the Catholic mass. So many Protestants have forgotten exactly what it is they’re protesting it doesn’t have much effect.

    Maybe this year when I’m assaulted with this greeting I’ll answer with a question: So you’re a Catholic? Then when they reply they’re not, inform them about the true meaning of “Christ Mass”.

  107. #107 CrypticLife
    November 12, 2008

    Carlie @28,

    “you could wish Xtians a Happy Feast of the Circumcision, and it would still be their own religion so they couldn’t object. ”

    Somehow I’m thinking that would be a poor way for a retail business to stir sales, but I’ll be happy to use it on annoying coworkers. Thanks!

  108. #108 Paper Hand
    November 12, 2008

    #29 & #63:

    Not someone else’s daughter. Your own. Genesis 19:30-38

    Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

    33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

    34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I lay with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.

    36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

  109. #109 Fred Mounts
    November 12, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Protector of the Realm, Keeper of the (non)Faith:

    You’re partly responsible for my Talking Heads kick. I only used to know of Burning Down the House, Once in a Lifetime, and the other singles. The trailer for W got me into the singles, and you helped push me towards the albums via some of your comments. So, the lesson is that lurkers may be influenced by the regulars.

    And at this point, the idiots on MSNBC and CNN are closing the gap with the idiots at Fox. It’s getting easier to confuse them. Well done lads and ladies!

  110. #110 Jeeves
    November 12, 2008

    They should have asked me for the bus slogan:

    “The Judeo-Christian God is a human invention designed to make people fearful and to make said people do the church elders’ bidding through shaming and eternal punishment. Happy Holidays!”

  111. #111 culmastadm
    November 12, 2008

    Hey, my birthday is Christmas. Talk about a war on a holiday. People, family members even, have seriously said to me, “Oh, well, you should move it.”

    People have actually been angered when I insist on people recognizing my birthday on the 25th of December.

    I hate that Jesus guy.

  112. #112 Patricia
    November 12, 2008

    Pete Rooke why don’t you toddle off and read Exodus, and dream about gods back parts instead of trolling us.

    Or are you hoping to annoy us enough to get us to troll your new website?

    And lay off Cuttlefish.

  113. #113 jj
    November 12, 2008

    It’s also OK to say “Happy Solstice,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” and “Merry Cephalopodmas,” whatever feels right to you.

    I prefer to say “Happy Saturnalia” in homage to the true origins of Christmas.

  114. #114 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    You’re partly responsible for my Talking Heads kick.

    Cool! Going to see David Byrne on the 9th!

  115. #115 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    It reminds me when I saw a Christian bumper sticker that said, “Christians do not say, Good bye, we say, See you later.” This despite the fact that, “Good bye,” means, “God be with you.” It comes from something like, God be with ye”which shortened to “Good bye.”

    Best. Bumper Sticker. EVAH!!! \/

    “God is my co-pilot and we’re cruisin’ for pussy.”

  116. #116 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    In mid-October, the American Family Association started selling buttons that say “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas.”

    I like the ones that say “I won’t apologize for saying ‘Merry Christmas'”. At least the bigoted twats have the decency to wear a sign saying so.

  117. #117 E.V.
    November 12, 2008

    Cuttlefish:
    Wow, you just got the best affirmation of your life! When Pete Rooke disagrees, you know you’re on the right track.
    I loved the poems and think they’ll make perfectly apt Xmas card sentiments for the non-religiously deluded.

  118. #118 Sengkelat
    November 12, 2008

    Bart Mitchell #4: I’d go with “Oh, yeah, happy birthday to your little imaginary friend.”

  119. #119 Ian Monroe
    November 12, 2008

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  120. #120 Scotty B
    November 12, 2008

    Hannukah, Solstice, Cephalopodmas, Festivus, Christmas, Kwanzaa (others I forgot?)… thats all too much to remember.
    That is why we Pastafarians keep it simple and celebrate ‘Holidays.’ And don’t forget, every Friday is a holiday too.

  121. #121 Greg Peterson
    November 12, 2008

    God is worse than useless as a source of morality. Suppose we all die and go to be judged and God says, “OK, I’ve decided I’d really rather spend eternity with atheists, who have been honest about not seeing a reason to believe in me, than you religious lickspittles, so I’m sending all believers to hell.” What argument would the believers then use? “That’s not fair”? No, God decides what is fair. “But then you lied”? No, God changed his mind and now lying is just fine. Whatever sense of outrage the believers might feel in this scenario would be unjustified if God is the source of morality. And if, as this thought experiment implies, God is NOT the source of morality, what is? Maybe morality is just a feature of the universe that can be discovered through reason and human empathy, and doesn’t require some external Platonic ideal to exist. The fact that I don’t have a perfect sphere in front of me doesn’t mean I can’t tell a basketball from a rugby ball from a football. We have the tools we need to be good for goodness’ sake (excepting the rare sociopath), and the relgious frankly don’t have a leg to stand on in this argument.

  122. #122 woody
    November 12, 2008

    For at least the past 40 years, my preferred winter celebration greeting has been the euphonious “Jolly Holidays!”

  123. #123 Matt Heath
    November 12, 2008

    Um, be Good not Godly?

    If I remember right, the word “Good,” comes from the word, “Goodly,” which means “Godly.”

    You remember wrongly. “Etymology online” has “god” derived from proto-germanic “*guthan” meaning “that which is invoked” and “good” from proto- Germanic “*gothaz” meaning “fit, adequate, belonging together”. It specifically points out a lack of connection in the “god” article. (Although both were written “god” in old English)

    In any case etymology=!= meaning

  124. #124 woody
    November 12, 2008

    If feeling snarky, I will offer ‘merry chrismahanukkwanza!”

  125. #125 Malimar
    November 12, 2008

    I call it “creditmas”.

  126. #126 JM
    November 12, 2008

    Sastra (in reference to #50)

    I think you make really good points, and I am in total agreement.

    Do you view “Jesus Is The Reason for the Season” ads on buses as, not just wrong, but ‘a bit too much?’ Does the general public? Why the special rules for nonbelief?

    This is exactly what I’m getting at. I personally, am in full agreement with the ads, and they don’t offend me at all. But I do think that the general public will view them as ‘a bit too much’. It may sway some of those on the fence to feel more comfortable with their teetering non-belief, but it may also create a gag reflux in the majority that will make them dismiss all such ‘atheist talk’ as insensitive or otherwise inappropriate.

    But again, you are right. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. And perhaps it does break the ice, which we all know needs to be broken.

    So I guess, you have helped me change my tone a bit. I stand by my statement that it will likely be too much for many people, however, it may be a good thing that it is. Help desensitize them a bit.

  127. #127 CrypticLife
    November 12, 2008

    Pete Rooke;

    I think you missed the point of Cuttlefish’s poem. He was writing it from the voice of a Christian.

    And lest you think it’s not true, the Liberty Counsel has recently published their “Naughty and Nice” list, on which any retailer who dares to be inclusive by using generics such as “Happy Holidays” gets listed as “naughty”. Seems Christians are pretty upset with general well-wishes, and need the apocryphal day of birth of their dead rock star hero to be specifically mentioned.

  128. #128 Longtime Lurker
    November 12, 2008

    I think “Cool Yule” should become standard.

    Let this War on Christmas be the rightards’ last gasp. They lost badly, so let them have one last bitter fling (of poo, of course!).

    I’d like to think of it as a holiday present to them.

  129. #129 Kelly
    November 12, 2008

    I was watching a fox channel morning news show this morning (best traffic/weather) in Baltimore.. They had a call in “Are the new metro advertisements offensive?” I only saw three calls, but of course all were *shock* offended. At least one went on about “Christian Nation” and how goodness is only from God. Some blather about fearing God. There really are people who think that a person cannot be good without some scary god threatening them…
    sad.

  130. #130 Ferrous Patella
    November 12, 2008

    Where does Hogswatch fit into all of this?

  131. #131 Masks of Eris
    November 12, 2008

    What, the middle of November and the stars are right already?

  132. #132 Alex
    November 12, 2008

    I love this quote:

    “These people’s God has shown them by a million acts that he respects none of the Bible’s statutes. He breaks every one of them himself, adultery and all.” [“Mark Twain and the Three R’s, by Maxwell Geismar, p.124]

  133. #133 Qwerty
    November 12, 2008

    My favorite line from the CNN article:

    “Edwords said the purpose isn’t to argue that God doesn’t exist or change minds about a deity, although ‘we are trying to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people’s minds.'”

    The article reminds me of reporting on gay issues. They always seem to demand a quote from the homophobes when any gay issue is written about in the press. It seems that have to have CONFLICT. Lately, though, there have been a few articles in the local press without anti-gay quotes. Progress? I hope so.

  134. #134 E.V.
    November 12, 2008

    Sam:

    Why be good? What is this “goodness’ sake” crap, anyway?

    Altruism without being prodded by the fear of punishment or the promise of a reward.
    Whether there is an afterlife or not (hint: there isn’t) we have to live with our species and find positive ways of making life better for all (except fascist shmucks like you, I suspect). You only get one chance. You can choose to be selfish and jerkish about it and take more than you’re entitled to (and face the ire from the people you piss off); you can be a doormat/martyr/victim; or you can balance your own need for fulfillment with the needs of others and live an ethical, respectable life. Try being good for the sake of being good, you’ll like it.

  135. #135 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 12, 2008

    The X in Xmas stands for The letters Chi Rho in Greek

    The X is a capital chi. You might try Wikipedia…

    How about a different carol?

    Those who cannot spell Cthulhu shall be eaten next to last.

    It’s symptomatic of societies in which people feel unable to culturally identify with anything -

    In other words, Western societies, as opposed to theocratic or otherwise ideology-ruled societies. Free societies. I thought it’s a free country…?

    whether it be citizenship (am I American, what does that mean, why classify me in terms of arbitrary lines on a map),

    Where’s the problem. I’m an Austrian because I have an Austrian passport, and I feel fine. :-|

    whether it be sexuality (why should marry someone of the opposite sex, is it because it’s in my genes, surely that would be committing the naturalistic fallacy..),

    Are you seriously trying to tell us you don’t know if you’re heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual? Isn’t that sort of, like, hard to overlook for oneself?

    whether it be immigration and a subsequent lack of assimilation

    Whine, whine. In the early 20th century there were third-generation Americans, all over rural areas of the country, who spoke nothing but German. Evidently, the late great USA is ancient history by your logic.

    And so this is Christmas
    So back to the war–

    LOL!

    But is there a place for those of us that prefer “Humbug!”?

    ROTFL!

    Oh well, support the troops and all that.

    <chortle>

    Cthulu.

    What did I just say? :-)

    Christmas wasn’t even a religious holiday until around the 1850’s.

    In the USA.

    Why be good?

    If you’re an asshole, people will start treating you like one, and you won’t like it.

    Also, you have innate empathy, so if you do good, you feel good.

    If I remember right, the word “Good,” comes from the word, “Goodly,” which means “Godly.”

    Wrong, there’s no relation.

    Blasphemy is an irredeemable sin. (Matthew 12:32)

    Only if it’s attributing to Beelzebub when it’s in fact the work of the Holy Spirit.

    ——————-

    Come, Pete. Celebrate kurisumasu with us, the Japanese celebration of love and rampant consumerism. :-)

  136. #136 Rob Clack
    November 12, 2008

    We all had a good laugh donating to the London bendy bus campaign, and they raised an impressive amount of money.

    Sadly, that campaign completely overshadowed a much more important BHA campaign – to stop government funding of faith schools in the UK. This one didn’t get the public exposure that the bendy bus campaign did.

    They need 30,000 (about $45,000) to pay their dedicated campaigner for another year, but the fund seems to have stalled at about 13,000.

  137. #137 Desert Son
    November 12, 2008

    Qwerty at # 133:

    have to have CONFLICT.

    It sells media.

    In addition to reporting the news, which I do genuinely believe many news organizations and their employees are at some level interested in doing and doing well, those same news organizations are also in the business of making money.

    It’s not the ONLY thing they’re interested in, but it’s on the list. The current market (and you can see similar kinds of things in markets past going back a ways) seems to reward a certain level of sensationalism in news distribution.

    It may be that the day sensationalism starts to negatively affect media sales then sensationalism will start to decline. My personal (anecdotal, N = 1) observations indicate little chance of that happening any time soon. The tabloids are still in business. All that said, there is news, and worthy news, to be found out there. But the sensationalism seems to be working, too.

    No kings,

    Robert

  138. #138 abb3w
    November 12, 2008

    “Good” is generally considered synonymous with “that which is moral”. Of course, this leaves the question of the nature of moral.

    While I’m not the best at statistical mechanics and information theory, it looks to me like morality for an entity x at time t consists of a decision function for choosing which actions give the highest value of probable largest mutual information I(x;y_i) for any y_i in the set Y, with Y defined as the set of all possible future entities x’ in the light cone of x at arbitrary future time t’.

    I think this can be proven from statistical mechanics, but I’m not sure. I’m also fairly certain it is an uninteresting problem to show the optimization is RE-hard. More interestingly, I also think it can be shown that most traditional morality constitutes approximation attempts on the (incomputable) ideal algorithm.

  139. #139 Celandine
    November 12, 2008

    @Lago #104,

    Actually “good,” which has cognates in most of the Teutonic languages, probably derives from a root meaning “fitting or suitable,” a variation on a word meaning “to unite.” Cf. the OED.

    No godliness in sight.

  140. #140 ThatOtherGuy
    November 12, 2008

    You know, I never realized it, but yeah. Every time a kid’s show has a Christmas special where they say that the point of the holiday is loving, giving to, and sharing with the people around you, it’s another nail in the coffin of these crazies.

    Thanks for pointing that out, I honestly hadn’t noticed that the War On Christmas thing had really already ended in our favor :D

  141. #141 blf
    November 12, 2008

    War on christmass? Nah, it’s war on the fecking elves. I suggest a slow roast, with jolly fat man sauce on the side.

  142. #142 Tom Foss
    November 12, 2008

    Wouldn’t there be a better source for goodness that doesn’t rely on archaic xenophobia and delusion from bad old books?

    I’m suggesting “Hop on Pop.” There’s more net good advice in “Hop on Pop” than in the Bible.

    Although admittedly, “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” may be superior still.

  143. #143 Brad D
    November 12, 2008

    How about wishing people, “Merry Ymas”?

    Making sure to distinguish that it is not an Upsilon, but the 25th letter of the English alphabet. That way the people that understand X as Chi (etc…) will have the chance to be offended at the use of the second-most common algebraic variable name instead of a religious sentiment.

    Another silly thought on the same line:

    Y=mX+b or X=(Y-b)/m

    Happy (Y-b)/m mas
    Have a linear holiday.

  144. #144 Evolving Squid
    November 12, 2008

    @david #135

    Only if it’s attributing to Beelzebub when it’s in fact the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Incorrect. No putting spin on it. Jesus is quite clear that disrespecting the holy spirit is unpardonable. There’s no Beelzebub involved. He says that you can disrespect him (Jesus) all you like, but disrespect the holy spirit and you’re done.

    Of course, that position isn’t good for getting converts, most of whom have given God the philosophical finger sometime in the past, so the various churches downplay that verse and put spin on it like you did.

    My apologies for quoting Scriptures, but I think it’s necessary to make this point…

    New International:

    30″He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

    KJV

    30He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
    31Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
    32And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

    Jesus seems remarkably clear on that issue, which is better than usual.

    If the God Squad spent as much time reading the Bible as they do putting spin on the bits of it that they like, there’d probably be a lot less Christianity in the world.

  145. #145 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Merry Z-Mas

    Then bust out some Jesus Left Chicago.

  146. #146 Mark
    November 12, 2008

    Ahem….my Xmas poem:

    There once was a tree from Nantucket,
    Which now filled a five gallon bucket,
    I seen where it stood, and I liked it so good,
    That into my truck I did tuck it.

    I placed that there tree in my hall,
    And decked it with red and green balls,
    I did not then know, that the tree was aglow
    with critters now plotting my fall.

    So THE DAY came the inlaws arrived
    And I ushered them quickly inside
    It soon became clear, from the buzz we did hear
    That trees occupants sure were alive!

    They came out of that tree in a rush,
    A loud roar in the now slack-jawed hush,
    For ruining their winter, they gave us the splinter
    And drove us out into the slush.

    So once we were out and calmed down,
    I bought all the bug spray in town,
    The house I did bomb, while cheered on by Mom
    And a fake tree the next year I found!

  147. #147 Tulse
    November 12, 2008

    Merry Cephalopodmas sounds like something celebrated at the Church of Dagon in H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth.

    As others have alluded to already, the fabulous H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society has produced two albums entitled A Very Scary Solstice and An Even Scarier Solstice. They are hugely fun.

  148. #148 ThrobbingAbraham
    November 12, 2008

    Sung to the tune of White Christmas:

    I’m dreaming of a right-wing christmas
    We’ll put the girls and fags in their place
    We’ll have mandatory minimums
    And huge corporate dividends
    Our fiscal policy will be a disgrace

    I’m dreaming of a right-wing christmas
    Where moral values shall be the rule -of law
    There’ll be no more welfare
    Forget about health care
    We’ll teach creationism in the schools

    I’m dreaming of a right-wing christmas
    Where everyone all thinks the same
    Dissenting voices shall be oppressed
    Greivances shall not be redressed
    We’ll say critical thinking is to blame

    I’m dreaming of a right-wing christmas
    The kind that brings armageddon near
    For when the earth is bathed in fire
    The righteous shall rise higher
    Then we’ll have a right-wing christmas for a thousand years

  149. #149 Blake Stacey
    November 12, 2008

    E.V. says of Cuttlefish:

    Wow, you just got the best affirmation of your life! When Pete Rooke disagrees, you know you’re on the right track.

    All the praise I could offer is as nothing next to the implied endorsement of a fool’s disgust.

    I think I know some folks who’d love to perform Cuttlefish‘s carols in the street. . . .

  150. #150 Carlie
    November 12, 2008

    We have a damned good reason for waging a war on Christmas, in the future Santabot will be after us.

    Never fear, Janine, that was just Pilot Fish. All taken care of now.

  151. #151 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    Where does Hogswatch fit into all of this?

    That’s in Backspindlewinter. And even then you have to deal with the Fast of St. Ossary.

  152. #152 Cuttlefish, OM
    November 12, 2008

    I think I know some folks who’d love to perform Cuttlefish’s carols in the street. . . .
    Take any you like!
    I’d love to see them YouTubed–
    Just don’t make me sing!

  153. #153 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 12, 2008

    Carlie, I want to know more about the tradition of the English invading Turkey and eating the inhabitants.

  154. #154 Carlie
    November 12, 2008

    #135 Hey David! Good to see you! I haven’t seen a lot of your posts lately (although I haven’t had much time to look, I admit).

    It reminds me when I saw a Christian bumper sticker that said, “Christians do not say, Good bye, we say, See you later.”

    To be fair to the Christians, it’s not a statement on the words “good bye”, it’s supposed to be a cutesy way of saying that even if they don’t see each other again ever in this lifetime, they will in Heaven because it’s one big happy party and so there’s always later to see them, there’s never any goodbyes, and isn’t that great!

    Now please don’t make me defend them again, I think it gave me a rash.

  155. #155 Lana
    November 12, 2008

    I could be wrong but aren’t the people who are religious and conservative also the people who think the government should leave businesses alone so they can make money?

    Why shouldn’t a business trying to make money be as inclusive as possible? It doesn’t make business sense to offend anybody. Do the Christians really spend so much that businesses can afford to annoy the non-Christians?

    I could be wrong.

  156. #156 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    How about Happy FARTFAT (Finding A Reason To Fry A Turkey) Day. ?
    Yum yum fried turkey!

  157. #157 Rey Fox
    November 12, 2008

    “It’s symptomatic of societies in which people feel unable to culturally identify with anything – whether it be citizenship (am I American, what does that mean, why classify me in terms of arbitrary lines on a map), whether it be sexuality (why should marry someone of the opposite sex, is it because it’s in my genes, surely that would be committing the naturalistic fallacy..),”

    Oh, poor Petey. We really have him by the balls, don’t we?

  158. #158 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    How about Happy FARTFAT (Finding A Reason To Fry A Turkey) Day. ?
    Yum yum fried turkey!

    Followed by Call The Insurance Company to See If Our Policy Covers “Rain of Fire” Day.

  159. #159 Quiet Desperation
    November 12, 2008

    Following that, the War on Hug your Cat Day

    Aw! Teh kittehs needs teh lovins too!

    Now *this* I could go to war against:

    http://www.plattsburghforpeace.com/assets/fred1.jpg

    But this?

    http://icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/funny-pictures-worth-a-thousand-words.jpg

    As they said in my old neighborhood: Wassa matta wit you?

  160. #160 Quiet_Desperation
    November 12, 2008

    Why shouldn’t a business trying to make money be as inclusive as possible?

    Um, because businesses make bad decisions every day?

    You might as well ask “Why shouldn’t a business avoid repackaged loan products with who knows what’s in them” or “Why shouldn’t a business back off on the gas guzzlers when the writing is clearly on the wall?”

  161. #161 chancelikely
    November 12, 2008

    Lana #155:

    Not recently. The social conservatives and neocons have spent the last eight years (at least) trying to throw actual small-government conservatives out of the Republican Party. The party line these days is “free trade, unless it annoys us, which is almost always”.

  162. #162 E.V.
    November 12, 2008

    Um, I don’t get the “Fags Die-God laughs” sign (post#159). If an omniscient anthropomorphic deity can kill humans at any time or already knows the time and circumstance of their death, why would that make him happy, or sad for that matter? Is God a hateful homophobe despite the fact that He doesn’t have a Mrs. God to get jiggy with? Was He a virgin before he popped Mary’s cherry or did he bang angels whenever he got wood? The world may never know…

  163. #163 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    #158 Would that be “god’s punishment” for not reading the directions?

  164. #164 Thomas
    November 12, 2008

    It’s better to say, “Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you.” This gets rid of the masochists loophole. I think it was Bhudda who said it this way.

  165. #165 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    November 12, 2008

    This gets rid of the masochists loophole.

    Keep your fingers out of my loophole!

  166. #166 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    #158 Would that be “god’s punishment” for not reading the directions?

    No. Not reading the directions is its own punishment.

  167. #167 Mena
    November 12, 2008

    I always took the “holidays” in “happy holidays” to mean that there were other groups celebrating their religious holidays around the winter solstice and that they should be included. It *would* be a nice gesture to reach out to everyone but now a bunch of fundies and pundits who seem to be the living embodiment of Teh Stoopid have made it into a crusade against atheists in order to impose their radical Christianist agenda on everyone else. You would think that since they are so concerned about Israel (just ask Joe the “Plumber”) that they wouldn’t be so anti-semitic but apparently they are so dumb that they don’t realize that they are. It’s all for Jesus after all…

  168. #168 JSug
    November 12, 2008

    I base my system of morality on the combined philosophies of St. William of Preston and St. Theodore of Logan.

    Commandment 1: Be excellent to each other.

    Commandment 2: Party on, dudes!

  169. #169 EB
    November 12, 2008

    I think that when eventually are down to the last 100 fundie christians, I’d say we keep a few, just for laughs.

  170. #170 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    I always took the “holidays” in “happy holidays” to mean that there were other groups celebrating their religious holidays around the winter solstice and that they should be included. It *would* be a nice gesture to reach out to everyone but now a bunch of fundies and pundits who seem to be the living embodiment of Teh Stoopid have made it into a crusade against atheists in order to impose their radical Christianist agenda on everyone else.

    It’s even a little more sinister than just pushing an agenda. They really believe everyone is or wants to be Christian.

    The “It’s okay to say ‘Merry Christmas'” button says one thing: “You don’t have to pretend to be tolerant around me. I don’t mind.” As if being tolerant is a distasteful thing that nobody really wants to do but is forced to. They think everyone wants to say “Merry Christmas” but isn’t allowed to. They think they’re doing you a favor.

    The idea that not everyone is as bigoted as they are hasn’t even crossed their minds.

  171. #171 JSug
    November 12, 2008

    Mena:

    I always took the “holidays” in “happy holidays” to mean that there were other groups celebrating their religious holidays around the winter solstice and that they should be included.

    Not only that, but there are multiple holidays, even in the Christian tradition, being celebrated around the same time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are all celebrated in a 5-6 week window. “Happy holidays” and “season’s greetings” are shorthand for wishing someone a happy time of year, whatever celebrations they happen to take part in.

  172. #172 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    I think that when eventually are down to the last 100 fundie christians, I’d say we keep a few, just for laughs.

    Okay, but I’m not feeding them or cleaning their cage.

  173. #173 Carlie
    November 12, 2008

    You would think that since they are so concerned about Israel (just ask Joe the “Plumber”) that they wouldn’t be so anti-semitic but apparently they are so dumb that they don’t realize that they are.

    Mena, you’ve just given me my retort if I need it.

    “Happy holidays!”
    “Don’t you mean MERRY CHRISTMAS?”
    “Oh, well, I was trying to include Hanukkah, but if you WANT to be anti-Semitic, I guess I won’t stop you.”

  174. #174 Sastra
    November 12, 2008

    To go along with the “I won’t apologize for saying Merry Christmas” buttons worn by the religious right, we should make buttons saying “I won’t apologize for secularizing Christmas.”

    Christmas — it’s not just for Christians anymore! (Nor was it ever exclusive to them)

    ThatOtherGuy #140 wrote:

    Every time a kid’s show has a Christmas special where they say that the point of the holiday is loving, giving to, and sharing with the people around you, it’s another nail in the coffin of these crazies.

    Exactly! The more Christmas is linked to loving actions towards other people here on earth, the less significant the religious meaning becomes. Christians didn’t expect this — partly because they had trouble seeing outside of their own particular world view, where Goodness automatically equals God, and philosophy and ethics are translated into one narrowed doctrine and story.

    They thought it would be the other way around. When you see and experience the value of charity, kindness, good will, and peace, you will then be forced to acknowledge the importance of religious belief, specifically Christian religious belief. Instead, we can recognize that these things have merit on their own. You don’t have to believe in Jesus, or even God. When the Grinch “stole” Christmas, it came anyway — without a word about Jesus and the atonement. It wasn’t in the material things, nor was it in the Christian dogma: it resided in people caring about people, for themselves.

    So Jesus has nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. Religious belief in general is irrelevant. If you’re looking for harmony and the end of division, that’s where you find it. Humanist values.

    So an early Merry Christmas to PZ Myers and spyderkl and GK4 and JM and all the Pharyngulites — and an extra special enthusiastic Merry Christmas to Pete Rooke!

  175. #175 Medusa
    November 12, 2008

    Io Saturnalia!

    The early Christians stole (and renamed) the holiday from the Romans. Time to steal it back!

    I actually like the Christmas season; lots of gifts, food, and bright decorations in the middle of a dark, cold time of the year.

  176. #176 Sastra
    November 12, 2008

    Mena #167 wrote:

    It *would* be a nice gesture to reach out to everyone but now a bunch of fundies and pundits who seem to be the living embodiment of Teh Stoopid have made it into a crusade against atheists in order to impose their radical Christianist agenda on everyone else.

    It’s going to be impossible to make a crusade against atheists out of saying “Merry Christmas,” if most of us have no problem secularizing the term. Usually, the people who are excluded by “Merry Christmas” are the people in different religions, who won’t or can’t reframe it as applying to their particular dogma.

    seamaiden75 #156 wrote:

    How about Happy FARTFAT (Finding A Reason To Fry A Turkey) Day. ?Yum yum fried turkey!

    Um … how do you fry a 20 lb. turkey?

    Here in Wisconsin, it’s popular to use the term “fry” to mean “grill.” I haven’t heard it used to mean “roast” before. Assuming that’s what you mean, and you’re not sticking it in a fry pan with oil.

  177. #177 Wayne Robinson
    November 12, 2008

    Personally, I am a bit conservative and a traditionalist. I much prefer to reply when someone greets me with “Merry Christmas” with a cheerful “Christmas bah humbug!”.

    http://www.angelfire.com/oh/BahIHateChristmas/DifSongs.html
    has a good selection of Christmas carols to sing at Christmas.

  178. #178 Karnalis
    November 12, 2008

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties. No religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” – Albert Einstein

  179. #179 Eric Atkinson
    November 12, 2008

    “Um … how do you fry a 20 lb. turkey?”

    Pretty good.

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

    We rednecks fry every thing at some time.

  180. #180 Brad D
    November 12, 2008

    Um … how do you fry a 20 lb. turkey?

    Deep fry, in oil, they sell propane burners with large pots for this. I was checking them out as beer-making equipment at one time. (When I had time for hobbies)

  181. #181 Kate
    November 12, 2008

    Actually, Sastra, you deep fry it in a VAT of oil. Seriously. You fill up a metal bucket of sufficient size with oil, apply heat with caution and fry that sucker until it’s crisp and tender and juicy. (No breading or anything… Just Turkey, heat and fat. YUM!!!)

  182. #182 tsg
    November 12, 2008

    Um … how do you fry a 20 lb. turkey?

    In a turkey fryer.

  183. #183 Ishindri
    November 12, 2008

    I’m using “Merry Cephalopodmas” from now on.

  184. #184 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    As a turkey frying master, I can tell you that 20 lbs turkeys are too big to fry.

    Sure you can do it but a 12-14 lbs bird is the better range.

    Peanut oil for the frying

    Inject your favorite flavoring into the bird, many people go cajun style for this

    Fry for 3 1/2 mins per pound at around 350 degrees F.

    I like to use a probe thermometer inserted into the dark meat between the leg and breast of the bird. You can verify it is ready when the temp gets around 170.

    DO NOT over fill the fryer.

    I’ve tried brining the bird for frying, I don’t suggest it.

    Smoking a turkey on the other hand…..

  185. #185 Pablo
    November 12, 2008

    So what? We use the word “Easter” without making explicit reference to the goddess Estre, we don’t care about the technical definition of “Halloween,” and any use of the word “saint” in “St. Valentine’s Day” is purely ceremonial.

    And don’t forget Thor’s Day, and Woden’s Day, just to name a couple.

    I mean, how can anyone get through the week without recognizing all the old Norse gods (they are norse, right?)

  186. #186 Ron Sullivan
    November 12, 2008

    Sam in #101: Why be good? What is this “goodness’ sake” crap, anyway?

    Well, you’d better watch out.

    And a hat tip to the best Poe-faced Poester on Scienceblogs: …”Thankgivingisize” Christmas returning it to a purely religious celebration with a emphasise on the nuclear family …

    Over the river and through the woods,
    To nobody’s house we go!

    Keep Saturn in Saturnalia!
    Keep No in Noel!
    But don’t Wein about Weinachten.

    Axial Tilt Is the Reason for the Season.

    But the scripture quote in #108 clinches it: The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

    See? It all comes back to cephalopods.

  187. #187 Jadehawk
    November 12, 2008

    well, I was gonna explain the turkey-frying, but I guess that’s all taken care of now, heheh

    we’ll be having fried turkey for Thanksgiving. I suppose for Christmas too, but I’ll expose my Polish-Catholic roots here when I say meat for Christmas is weird to me. And it sort of kills the special-ness of Christmas Dinner (and Thanksgiving Dinner) if you eat exactly the same stuff for Christmas that you eat for Thanksgiving. I always used to look forward to Christmas more for the food than the gifts, because we’d never have Christmas food at other times (too much of a hassle)

  188. #188 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    we’ll be having fried turkey for Thanksgiving. I suppose for Christmas too, but I’ll expose my Polish-Catholic roots here when I say meat for Christmas is weird to me. And it sort of kills the special-ness of Christmas Dinner (and Thanksgiving Dinner) if you eat exactly the same stuff for Christmas that you eat for Thanksgiving. I always used to look forward to Christmas more for the food than the gifts, because we’d never have Christmas food at other times (too much of a hassle)

    We stick to turkey for Thanksgiving. i usually Fry one, Smoke one and Roast one (big family)

    For Decemberween we do something different each year. Last year was Prime Rib, leg of Lamb a few years back, Year before last that was Brassato al Barolo, this year still not sure. As I am the one who always does the most of the cooking I want to try something new.

  189. #189 Jadehawk
    November 12, 2008

    We stick to turkey for Thanksgiving.[…] For Decemberween we do something different each year.

    see, this is sort of what I expected when I moved to the U.S., but for some reason, almost all the families with whom I had both seem to be making the same food (or nearly so) for both days. I found it somewhat disappointing, to be honest.

  190. #190 bernard quatermass
    November 12, 2008

    “I think I could have some fun with BillO; I suspect I’d wind up counting how many veins I could get to pop out of his forehead.”

    It makes me wonder about all the blood that goes up there from his heart – it must be awfully disappointed to find there’s nothing to feed.

  191. #191 Arnosium Upinarum
    November 12, 2008

    “If we are each ourselves defining what’s good, it’s going to be a crazy world.”

    Is he fucking blind???

  192. #192 Sastra
    November 12, 2008

    Eric Atkinson; Brad D; Kate; tsg; Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM; Jadehawk;

    Ah, ok, thanks — I stand corrected. Never tried frying a turkey in a turkey fryer. Come to think of it, I’ve seen them for sale at Fleet Farm.

    That’s what’s so nice about scienceblogs. Make a mistake on some esoteric bit of technical practice, and experts in the field rapidly set you straight. And if it’s about food, we end up making ourselves hungry.

    Now I want fried turkey.

  193. #193 Kel
    November 12, 2008

    Why are you yanks always at war with something?

  194. #194 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 12, 2008

    Now I want fried turkey.

    as well you should!

  195. #195 SC
    November 12, 2008

    Why are you yanks always at war with something?

    Them’s fightin’ words.

  196. #196 Kel
    November 12, 2008

    Them’s fightin’ words.

    Just as long as it stays as a fight (or maybe at the worst escalates to a brawl), bring it on. Just don’t declare war on me, unlike abstract wars like the war on drugs, the war on terror or the war on Christmas, I exist as more than a meaningless catchphrase.

  197. #197 SC
    November 12, 2008

    Just don’t declare war on me, unlike abstract wars like the war on drugs, the war on terror or the war on Christmas, I exist as more than a meaningless catchphrase.

    That’s what the people of Latin America and the Middle East thought. Not to the US, you don’t.

  198. #198 Sven DiMilo
    November 12, 2008

    That’s it. Last straw. I am declaring War on Deep-fried Galliformes, who’s with me?!

    I say, Who’s with me??!!

  199. #199 Oldfogey
    November 12, 2008

    Just wanted to say….

    Happy Hogswatch!

  200. #200 Kel
    November 12, 2008

    That’s what the people of Latin America and the Middle East thought. Not to the US, you don’t.

    Yeah, but they were casulties in a war on the abstract concept. Drugs can’t fight back, drug trafficers can’t. Just like terror can’t fight back but terrorists can. I however am not an abstract concept, I’m a semi-anonymous entity that exists on the internet that is presumed to be a human at a keyboard. I’m fleshy and can be harmed, whereas drugs can still be manufactured (or extracted), Christmas will exist in some form, and the war on terror only generates more terror. I’m the only one that can be harmed!

  201. #201 SC
    November 12, 2008

    War on inquiry!

  202. #202 Nerd of Redhead
    November 12, 2008

    Earlier tonight I declared war on some chicken parmesan, bow tie pasta with tomato sauce, and Italian green beans. The enemy was wiped out.

  203. #203 Brad D
    November 12, 2008

    War on turkeys! Arm yourselves with pots of boiling peanut oil, and trays of stuffing. Show no mercy! Bake pies! Most importantly, be thankful… that you are not a turkey.

  204. #204 Fernando Magyar
    November 12, 2008

    Ouchimoo @36

    Santa Claus a Humanist? Sheesh, don’t you know anything?!

    Santa Claus wears a Red Suit, He must be a communist.
    And a beard and long hair, Must be a pacifist.
    What’s in that pipe that he’s smoking?
    Santa Claus comes in your house at night.
    He must be a dope fiend to get you up tight.”
    – Arlo Guthrie

  205. #205 wicked-witch-west
    November 12, 2008

    I tell you what, I will use my pagan symbol of everlasting life, my candles to light the dark of solstice, and my representation of the god Thor at the end of the year any way I want, and you are welcome to do the same.

    Won’t somebody please put Sol Invictus back into Christmas?!?

  206. #206 Everbleed
    November 12, 2008

    Happy Newton Day!

    December 25, 1642

  207. #207 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    #163- Ok I didn’t find anyone who caught themselves on fire saying god punished us but I found someone who attributes his not catching himself on fire to a “miracle” while frying a turkey. He actually was very lucky since he overfilled it and caught it on fire. Guess they had burnt fried turkey for dinner.

    Witness the miracle of my not having to go to the Grossman Burn Ward.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I7EDsY3Ftc

    here’s another comment I found athough from a different vid:

    Woah lucky bastards.. the oil didnt catch fire and if it does, the propane next to it will explode and u will have to eat ur turkey in heaven

    I noticed that people in the comments when they say how to measure the oil keep neglecting to mention the fact that after you fill it 1 inch above the turkey you TAKE THE TURKEY OUT and then mark the line for your oil.

    Anyway, I just went and bought a turkey fryer today! Woo Hoo my husband finally gets to help me make Thanksgiving dinner! But we will follow the directions and I will attribute not catching myself or him on fire to using our brains. :)

    We had fried turkey for the first time at my husband’s Navy reinlistment ceremony and it is wonderful!!!

    Hmm I usually make Ham for solstice I wonder what deep fried ham tastes like. I would think not as good as turkey.

  208. #208 Everbleed
    November 12, 2008

    Post 121 Posted by: Greg Peterson

    Succinct. Nicely put. Kept it.

  209. #209 Charlie Foxtrot
    November 12, 2008

    What the!?? Christmas is all about the molluscs!

    Its a stinking hot day outside, the family heads into the restaurant for the Christmas lunch, we muscle up to the buffet (mussel?) and the race is on to see if the serving staff can keep the Oysters Naturale coming out faster than we’re eating them!
    That is a Christmas!

  210. #210 Pete Rooke
    November 12, 2008

    Happy Newton Day! December 25, 1642

    You will find that Jesus was born several hundred years earlier. Any other birthday is merely incidental and will be less than fully celebrated given the significance of the occasion.

  211. #211 Feynmaniac
    November 12, 2008

    The War On Abstract Concepts !

    My favourite Onion headline: DRUGS WIN DRUG WAR!!!

  212. #212 Nerd of Redhead
    November 12, 2008

    Pete, “well meaning fool” Rooke, who appointed you guardian of our holidays?

  213. #213 Kel
    November 12, 2008

    You will find that Jesus was born several hundred years earlier.

    And the chance of Jesus actually being born on December 25th is probably the same as him being born 1CE. His birthday was tied to the solstice where there was already celebration. Christmas is just an amalgamation of pagan traditions and Christian concepts. We could have celebrated his birthday on any day of the year, it wouldn’t matter. No-one knows the real date, and no-one really knows if he was even real.

  214. #214 Black Centaur
    November 12, 2008

    Best Christmas/Solstice carol ever (NSFW Warning)
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=yRfvSOuwM_4
    ‘Fist Me This Christmas’ by The Wet Spots.

  215. #215 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    Pete if you’d bother to crack a history book not biased toward your religion. You’d find that Christians stole “Christmas” from the Pagans “Winter Solstice”. They INVENTED the idea to use Jesus’s birthday (if such a person by that name even existed) as a way to incorporate their religion into the Pagan festival in an attempt to convert them into christianity.

    http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=Minisite_Generic&content_type_id=1252&display_order=1&mini_id=1290

    Pope Julius I chose December 25. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

    Fast Fact from History.com
    -Christmas wasn’t a holiday in early America–in fact Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the country’s first Christmas under the new constitution.

    – Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, 1870.

  216. #216 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    I imagine Pete is probably closing his eyes and plugging his ears and screaming, I’M NOT HEARING THIS, I’M NOT HEARING THIS! IT’S ALL JUST LIES TO TRY TO DECEIVE ME!

  217. #217 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    oops sorry forgot to add LA,LA,LA I’M NOT HEARING THIS!

  218. #218 Steve_C
    November 12, 2008

    Jesus? Really? Did he even exist? Why isn’t Moses’ or Noah’s birthday a bigger deal?

  219. #219 Carlie
    November 12, 2008

    Why isn’t Moses’ or Noah’s birthday a bigger deal?

    Well, ’cause we don’t know when their birthdays were, but Jesus’ is right there on the calendar so it’s easy to celebrate. Duh.

  220. #220 Derek
    November 12, 2008

    Well, I know what I am getting Tim Wildmon for Christmas: a shiny new helmet.

  221. #221 Malcolm
    November 12, 2008

    Pete the vile replying to @206

    Happy Newton Day! December 25, 1642

    You will find that Jesus was born several hundred years earlier. Any other birthday is merely incidental and will be less than fully celebrated given the significance of the occasion.

    The evidence for the existence of Newton is fair conclusive. Evidence for Jesus; not so much.

  222. #222 Malcolm
    November 12, 2008

    That should be “fairly”
    DOH!

  223. #223 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    Why isn’t Moses’ or Noah’s birthday a bigger deal?

    (ok you have to imagine this part in a big booming fundamentalist preacher’s sermon voice).

    Moooses led his people out of Egypt and Noah led his family and allll of god’s animals into the ark and then back onto the dry land when the waters subsided.
    But Jeeeesus led his people to saaaalvation! Haillilua! Jesus came to die for alllll the sinners that they might be sent to heaven so that they could worship and praise the almighty god for all time. Amen.

    LOL- I don’t think I’ll ever understand why anyone would want to go to heavan just to kiss someone’s ass for all eternity. Sounds more like Hell to me. Booooring!

  224. #224 Kel
    November 12, 2008

    LOL- I don’t think I’ll ever understand why anyone would want to go to heavan just to kiss someone’s ass for all eternity.

    Given that we are expected to kiss Yoshua’s arse in this life, surely you’d expect him to return the favour in the next. It’s meant to be a relationship, it’s hardly a relationship if you receive but never reciprocate.

  225. #225 seamaiden75
    November 12, 2008

    LOL Kel- My husband likes to watch wrestling and I just had the most hysterical mental imagine of God as Mr.McMann having to kiss a bunch of asses. Whoot!

  226. #226 Jadehawk
    November 12, 2008

    You will find that Jesus was born several hundred years earlier

    quite… except that he wasn’t born on Dec. 25th. the nativity story plays in spring, not in wither, so you’ve got two options:

    1) the nativity story is true, and Jesus was born in spring

    2) the nativity story isn’t true, and we have no idea when he was born or if he even existed.

    either way, 25th of December ain’t it. Christmas is a conflation of the Saturnalia, Sol Invictus and Mithras worship, and eventually also the Northern European Solctice celebrations.

  227. #227 SteveM
    November 12, 2008

    Pete Rooke,

    Newton was actually born on Dec. 25th, whereas Jesus (if he really existed), according to the Bible, was born in the spring. Don’t you know anything about your own dogma?

  228. #228 Evolving Squid
    November 13, 2008

    Newton was actually born on Dec. 25th, whereas Jesus (if he really existed), according to the Bible, was born in the spring.

    2000 years ago, precession of the equinoxes would have made the Vernal Equinox fall somewhere around what is now mid-May. What we now call December 25 would have been mid-autumn, like what we now see in late October/early November.

  229. #229 Evolving Squid
    November 13, 2008

    I noticed an error in my back of the napkin calculation there (leap years, which we have, but the Jewish calendar of the time did not), what I’ve said there is technically incorrect. In any case, the idea is that the seasons as we know them now wouldn’t have been quite the same 2000 years ago.

  230. #230 seamaiden75
    November 13, 2008

    And a Happy Hogswatch to you Oldfogey.
    Long Live Terry Pratchett!

  231. #231 Jadehawk
    November 13, 2008

    squid, i think the point was that christmas was derived from various solstice celebrations, but the nativity takes place in seasonal (as opposed to calendric) spring, i.e. the two could not be anywhere near close.

  232. #232 Reynold
    November 13, 2008

    You people do realize that the North Pole started it.

    In the meantime, here’s some Lovecraft Christmas Carols to tide you over.

  233. #233 Dunc
    November 13, 2008

    In any case, the idea is that the seasons as we know them now wouldn’t have been quite the same 2000 years ago.

    The seasons would have been exactly as they are now, it’s the calendar that was different.

  234. #234 Mike
    November 13, 2008

    Santa Claus is better than God or Jesus! If you are bad, Santa gives you a lump of coal, God on the other hand is the epitomy of cruuelty as he strikes you down and makes you rot in hell for all eternity. I say worship Santa, he deserves our praises.

  235. #235 SteveM
    November 13, 2008

    Squid,

    I think you are thinking of the precession of the zodiac, not the seasons. Or the Julian calendar, which did not keep track of leap years and (un)leap centuries. So in the Middle Ages there had to be a realignment to put the vernal equinox back in March. But 2000 years ago, Decemeber was indeed in winter and the month of the solstice and the equinox was in March.

    As for the precession of the zodiac, that has resulted in the equinox no longer occurring in Ares but has been moving through Pisces and heading for Aquarius (“This is the dawning of …”).

  236. #236 Paper Hand
    November 13, 2008

    Squid:

    2000 years ago, winter solstice was on December 25*, hence the use of that particular day. The precession of the axis only moved the solstices and equinoxes by a few days.

    *I’ve never understood why December 25. When Caesar regularized the calendar, why’d he set up January 1 to be a week after the winter solstice and not the winter solstice itself?

  237. #237 Heather
    November 13, 2008

    I love Christmas, though I was thinking of putting up an evolution tree (using different species for ornaments) this year to celebrate surviving another year.

  238. #238 Anton Mates
    November 13, 2008

    Why isn’t Moses’ or Noah’s birthday a bigger deal?

    Well, ’cause we don’t know when their birthdays were, but Jesus’ is right there on the calendar so it’s easy to celebrate. Duh.

    Don’t be silly. Moses was born on Yom Kippur and Noah was born on the first day of Kwanzaa; everyone knows that.

    *I’ve never understood why December 25. When Caesar regularized the calendar, why’d he set up January 1 to be a week after the winter solstice and not the winter solstice itself?

    The Romans didn’t really care about January 1–it had no seasonal or religious significance. It was only chosen as the start of the calendar year when they started electing consuls on that date.

    According to Macrobius, Caesar tried to set up the calendar to preserve as many traditional festival dates as possible. Saturnalia and Brumalia were already synced to Dec. 25 as the solstice, so the date stayed that way.

  239. #239 Watchman
    November 13, 2008

    That’s right, Mike. If you’re bad, Santa gives you a lump of coal for Christmas, and gives you another chance the following year, whereas God uses you as a lump of coal for all eternity.

    Echoing some of the above comments, I’d like to declare war on the practice of piping Christmas music into stores in October. That goes for November, too. Radio stations that play “holiday music” before Halloween will also be under siege.

  240. #240 chuck
    November 13, 2008

    I have been wishing people “Happy Zappadan”

    The festival of Zappadan runs from the date of Frank’s (Zappa) death, 12/4, through the date of his birth, 12/21

  241. #241 Watchman
    November 13, 2008

    Zappadan should run from 12/21 thru 12/4 of the following year.

  242. #242 Jadehawk
    November 13, 2008

    I love Christmas, though I was thinking of putting up an evolution tree (using different species for ornaments) this year to celebrate surviving another year.

    that is an awesome idea. and an excellent excuse to start playing with Polymer clay again… maybe if/when i start doing christmas again, i’ll do that

  243. #243 Brownian, OM
    November 13, 2008

    No, Evolving Squid is right; If we were to keep counting our years in the way that we do (either forward or backward), we’d find that the equinoxes and solstices would slowly move from their current dates. The sidereal year, the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun once, is ~365.24 days. The tropical year, or the time it takes the earth to rotate from one vernal equinox to the next (well, the time it takes to achieve the exact same seasonal position) is about 20 minutes shorter. Thus, if in some given year the the vernal equinox occurred at exactly noon on March 21, the next year it would occur at 11:40 on March 21, at 11:20 on March 21 the next, and so on. If my back of the envelope calculations are correct, the solstices would be on average a week later than they are today.

  244. #244 Brownian, OM
    November 13, 2008

    Okay, my numbers are off, but my post and the wiki link should shed light on why Evolving Squid and Paper Hand are correct.

  245. #245 TLP
    November 13, 2008

    AOL has a POLL on this!

    Attention, PZ, POLL ALERT :D

    http://news.aol.com/article/holiday-ads-ask-why-believe-in-a-god/245127

  246. #246 noncarborundum
    November 13, 2008
  247. #247 Jeanette
    November 13, 2008

    Please note: In addition to the American Humanists Association and British Humanists Association ad campaigns, there are also billboard campaigns by the ffrf (“Imagine No Religion”).

    And various groups around the country are sponsoring ads that say, “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” These ads include links to local groups, so that those who are not already part of a (real, physical, not-online) community can become involved.

    Here in Colorado, these billboards are being sponsored by COCORE (The Colorado Coalition of Reason), an umbrella group that includes most of Colorado’s secular groups. The ads include the web address of COCORE, whose website includes all of our info. They are scheduled to start going up as soon as next week. Like the other ad campaigns, they’ll be around for the rest of November through much of December.

    Just today, there have been news stories in two local newspapers and on two local t.v. channels. I’m sure this is going to escalate as the billboards actually start going up.

    COCORE: http://www.cocore.org/
    (COCORE is very Google-able if you lose the address.)

  248. #248 Eliza
    November 14, 2008

    This song perfectly sums up christmas for me
    White wine in the sun, Tim Minchin

    probably the best christmas song ever!

  249. #249 melior
    November 14, 2008

    Jeannette@247 said:

    And various groups around the country are sponsoring ads that say, “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.”

    I’d like to see, “I’m just pretend. -God”

  250. #250 SteveM
    November 14, 2008

    No, Evolving Squid is right; If we were to keep counting our years in the way that we do (either forward or backward), we’d find that the equinoxes and solstices would slowly move from their current dates.

    I read the article you linked to and I don’t think it is entirely consistent. Yes, the position of the sun against the celestial background will precess, but “summer” is not defined by where the sun is in the zodiac, but by the summer solstice (the earth’s tilt). Evolving Squid was claiming that the solstice and equinox would be precessing through the seasons. That is just wrong. I and everyone else who corrected him agreed that what he probably meant is that it would be precessing through the calendar.
    And speaking of calendar, our current Gregorian calendar of leap years and unleap centuries (except if its divisible by 400) is designed to account for that precession, keeping the vernal equinox around March 21 over long periods of time. If we project our current calendar back 2000 years the equinox will still be March 21 or 22.

  251. #251 Articulett
    November 15, 2008

    I think it would be cheeky to have a sign that said:

    All religions are fairy-tales (except for yours)

    Who could complain?

  252. #252 fenita Arzate
    November 19, 2008

    Interesting Read! Very detailed blog,thanks for sharing

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