I enjoy listening to the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast. Skeptical investigation is necessary to find truth. But because we can’t personally investigate everything, we may be misled when we have to rely on what appear to be skeptical investigations by others. This seems to have happened to Steve Novella in episode #806 of the Skeptics Guide.
Last year, I researched the origins of Christmas and Christmas trees. I had heard claims about the pre-Christian origins of Christmas so much that I expected to have no trouble finding actual evidence for them. In fact, the claims were rumors that began centuries after the traditions had become established in Christianity. There was no evidence of pre-Christian origins for Christmas or Christmas trees.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of the delegates heard a woman ask Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin replied,
A republic—if you can keep it.
I’m afraid that some of my Christian friends have forgotten their duty to keep the republic.
I have often heard (and repeated) the claim that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday. It made sense to me because it is not mentioned in the Bible. Until now, I had assumed that the claim that Christmas was a pagan holiday would not be made unless it had a factual basis.
Some people who believe this claim argue against Christmas decorations in church, so I decided to check the facts for myself. I do not expect facts alone to settle the argument. I just hope facts will help arguments to be based on truth.