Reposted from November 2009…my thoughts are generally unchanged since then…
Well, the holiday season is upon us again…
As some of you may know, I am no fan of Santa Claus. It is immoral to lie to children and to abuse their credulity. Some argue that we are not lying to children but are rather pretending that Santa exists with them. I doubt that most people are pretending, but if they were I would agree that there is nothing morally wrong with that.
I have also argued that a non-religious person shouldn’t celebrate christmas because it is a Christian holiday. But I came to be convinced that really there are two holidays that happen to fall on the same day and happen to have the same name. There is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus and there is the secular celebration of charity and family. The birthing pains of this new secular holiday also goes by the name ‘the war on christmas’. The latest contraction is here in the form of an ad campaign by the American Humanist Association that says “No God? …No Problem!” and encourages people to “be good for goodness sake”. I very much like this. It suggests that the secular holiday is a celebration of the Good Will (roughly in Kant’s sense), or of the virtuous person’s recognition that a virtuous action is done, in part, because it is virtuous and we recognize aiming at virtue as an intrinsic good.
So I say viva the war for (secular) christmas!