Merry Christmas 2017

The evolution of Christmas...

OK, as an evangelical Christian I'm in trouble already using the word "evolution" and "Christmas" in the same phrase. But before there was Darwin the word evolution meant "a process of change in a certain direction". The theory for the origin of the species evolved from that.

When it comes to Darwin's version of "evolution" I'm not a believer. I believe in creation or what some have now re-labeled intelligent design. I think that if Darwin had the benefit of modern science, so that he could understand the scope and complexity of the DNA found in a tiny single living cell he would have easily rejected his own theory.

DNA is the computing technology of life. It is a long, complex program that varies depending upon what life is represented by the cell containing it. Different species have different DNA and for the most part there is not a lot of cross species compatibility. You are not in danger of going to bed a human and waking up as a flower. There are many breeds of dogs, and many breeds of cats, but there is not much likelihood of successfully breeding dogs to cats or vice versa.

Believing that the long complex code that makes up DNA "evolved" from chaos (nothing) is akin to walking through the sands of the Sahara desert and finding a computer chip. Note, computer chips and sand are both silicon based. Anyway, imagine having walked through the desert, or having ridden through the desert on a horse with no name, and you come upon a computer chip. Finding it, you reach down and you pick it up. Which would best describe your reaction:

Modern man would likely look up and begin to wonder if it had fallen from an an airplane. He certainly would not try to explain it as the sand having evolved by itself.

Of course Darwin, who never lived to see an airplane, might have looked at a computer chip (the silicon wafer; something else he never saw) and without the assistance of a microscope dismissed the chip as nothing at all. But modern man, with modern technology, would see something like this:

Exploring Computer Chips Using a Microscope

As computer chips have evolved (note that intelligent design is the reason for that evolution) chip designers and manufacturers have been able to pack more and more circuits in the same amount of space, meaning that all the components keep getting smaller and harder to see. Further, modern chips have layers, they are no longer a single wafer. Chip manufacturers are stacking layers of circuits; chips have become three dimensional. If you looked at them with a powerful microscope you would only see the outside of the chip.

And yet the DNA in a single cell is much smaller with many more components. Seeing it is far more difficult than looking at a computer chip and Darwin had no clue what was in a single cell. If he had seen it, and understood it, I am convinced he would have marvelled at the intricacy of the design (as I do). The complexity of it is mind boggling. For me it clearly points to an intelligent designer and not an accident of the cosmos.

People of faith, who believe in God, have a certainty about the origin of man; God made man. Of course some religions, in particular some sects of religions (including Christianity) seem to embrace the idea that God made evolution and evolution made man. That's sort of like saying Henry Ford did not make the automobile, Henry Ford made the assembly line and the assembly line made the automobile. While for many that argument may seem a nice compromise (let's try to keep everyone happy) no one doubts that Ford was behind his car.

But I digress. While I don't believe in evolution (the Darwin kind), I do believe in evolution meaning that things change and one of the things that has changed is "Christmas".

Having been born in 1954, I was raised on the whole hog celebration of Christmas as a tree full of ornaments, under which was packed a load of presents, many marked "from Santa Claus" and the whole celebration was topped off off with a big turkey dinner.

Bob Barney - Early Christmas

There was a time when I was cute and lovable. That also evolved.

As a kid my parents often took us to a Christmas eve celebration at a church, candles and all, but for me it was not the best time of the event and I certainly did not grasp the Christian message. That changed.

A 19 I experience a "born again" conversion to Christianity and one of the things I soon reacted to was the obvious commercialism of Christmas and the celebration of Santa Claus, not Jesus. In fact I began to question most aspects of Christmas, how it was connected to the Bible and what the Bible actually taught about it. It did not take long to discover that Christmas and December 25th were not in the Bible.

As a side note most young adults during the 60's and 70's were all in full reactionary mode and questioning anything and everything about traditions big and small. OK, some things don't seem to change, young adults remain young adults.

Most of us experience a kind of personal evolution as we get older, I certainly have. The thrill of Christmas that I experienced as a child has diminished, although it is brought back to memory as I watched our children and now our grandchildren discover the version of the day that we celebrate now. Some of the celebration remains the same as when we were kids, the gifts, the tree, the decorations although in our home Jesus is the reason for the season (there are no gifts from Santa). As our children get older, and begin to celebrate their own Christmas with their own children, they too are finding their own Christmas traditions.

So like many aspects of modern American society, Christmas is evolving. As I was writing this greeting I found this article:

'Stop saying Christmas' Priest warns Christians to abandon the word

While I have to disagree with this priest, I think he makes some points that many will agree with. I fully expect the societal evolution of Christmas will continue, and there is not much chance of us returning to the good old days. In fact we are constantly reminded by strident voices that there was nothing good about the old days anyway. Former revered historical figures, traditions and practices are facing increased scrutiny and criticism and we are in the process of rearranging our history. I fear we are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

But in 2017 we still have a statutory holiday and it is still called "Christmas" and so the observance of the day continues. I can't imagine anyone wanting to get rid of the holiday but fully expect it to be turned into something else. All I can say to my Christian friends is that there was a time when Christians did not celebrate Christmas, and there will likely be a time when the observance is no more. I certainly don't think we will celebrate anyone's birthday in heaven, including Jesus.

But none of that changes the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he died and that he rose from the dead on the third day. Further, the blood that Jesus shed on the cross is still the only payment for sins, and it is the free gift of God for all who will accept Jesus and what he did as payment for their sins.

But when it comes to Christmas, let's be merry and of good cheer and give warm Christmas greetings to those we see and greet. Above all, let's remember to be charitable to others, God has certainly been charitable to us.

And for those who don't celebrate Christmas, please be thankful to the Christians who were responsible for getting you the day off, and a second chance to spend time with your family after Thanksgiving.

And hopefully no one takes offense when we wish you:

Merry Christmas
God Bless You