virus: Re: Santa Claws

Tim Rhodes (
Sat, 20 Feb 1999 12:47:26 -0800

TheHermit wrote:

>This thread started when I attacked (very gently :-) ) the idea of the
>paedophile's delight, Santa Claws, the arbitrary awarding of presents by a
>"thing" that nobody need bother to thank, the fake world-view that it
>promotes, and the "gimme" mentality it seems to foster. It seems to have
>drawn a fair amount of fire. Whether because I am attacking an Ikon, or
>because of a fundamental disagreement with my contentions, is still

(Is two responses "a fair amount of fire"? But that's another discussion entirely... )

Personally, I had a disagrement with the causality you invoked to support your contentions. And, too, I get tired of seeing Santa troted out by Atheists as a proof of the "horrible deception" that faith can be. If nothing else, it's just a badly constructed argument.

Although I have no children yet, I have many friends who raise their's to celebrate X-mas as a pagan Winter Solstice and to look at their Christian classmates as simply doing the same rituals only with a different cast of characters

I guess that's why I tend to have more respect for most (notice the qualifier here) self-proclaimed "pagans" than I do for many (again, as above) equally self-proclaimed "athiests." In my experience they both are equal in their value of rational thought and the quest for knowledge, but those who identify themselves with the pagans tend be more willing to extract the sociologically useful aspects of religion from the "God" mumbo-jumbo rather than simply reacting negatively against all of it as a whole. (Tossing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.)

BTW, the NPR program on PRAYER AND MEDICINE that KMO suggested is really very good and quite relevant to much of what we've been taking about here. Also, you can hear some of the same dynamics that are at work as are here on this list. (For instance, I would suggest that Michael Shermer is showing as much of an irrational bias as any religious person in this interview with his repeated insistance that the M.D. not use words like "prayer" to accurately describe what Christians _think_they_are_doing_ when they put their hands together and speak to their "god". I think he comes off looking as bad as any other zealot when he does that.)

I suggest that anyone with a RealAudio player check it out and then come back here and share they're thoughts about it with the rest of us:


Behavioral Medicine Division Chief, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Founding President, Mind/Body Medical Institute, Boston

Author, Why People Believe Weird Things
Publisher, Skeptics Magazine
Director, Skeptics Society, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena California

Recent studies appear to indicate a relationship between prayer and healing; between faith and health. But some scientists call the relationship dubious. Is the correlation Well-founded? Or is it gaining acceptance because of the growing popularity of "alternative" medical techniques? Join Ray Suarez and guests for a discussion of religion and medicine.

-Prof. Tim