Today is the December solstice (winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere).
As Deists we can take great comfort from knowing what we celebrate is based on reality, and not on myth. It is the winter solstice that Christmas is indirectly based on. This is because the ancient Romans celebrated both Saturnalia (a religious holiday) and dies natalis solis invicti (a civil holiday) on or around December 25th due to the solstice.
The first time Christmas was recorded being celebrated on December 25th was in 336 CE, during the reign of the first Roman emperor who was a Christian, Constantine. (Constantine paid Christian clergy leaders to decide which writings would be included and which would be excluded in a final Christian canon.)
The solstice is one of many examples of the reliable designs found throughout Nature and the known Universe. It is by studying and learning from these designs (which is science) that we are able to improve our lives. This is how we made, and make, very real progress in medicine, computers, travel, communication and in virtually all aspects of life. Thomas Paine did a great job of pointing this out when he wrote in The Age of Reason:
The scientific principles that man employs to obtain the foreknowledge of an eclipse, or of anything else relating to the motion of the heavenly bodies, are contained chiefly in that part of science which is called trigonometry, or the properties of a triangle, which, when applied to the study of the heavenly bodies, is called astronomy; when applied to direct the course of a ship on the ocean, it is called navigation; when applied to the construction of figures drawn by rule and compass, it is called geometry; when applied to the construction of plans or edifices, it is called architecture; when applied to the measurement of any portion of the surface of the earth, it is called land surveying. In fine, it is the soul of science; it is an eternal truth; it contains the mathematical demonstration of which man speaks, and the extent of its uses is unknown. … Man had no more to do in the formation of these properties or principles, than he had to do in making the laws by which the heavenly bodies move; and therefore the one must have the same Divine origin as the other.
Happy solstice – enjoy and learn from Nature which points us to Nature’s God/The Supreme Intelligence!
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Bob Johnson is a freelance writer in the Tampa area of Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after a stint in Marine Corps infantry and reading Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason he became a Deist.
In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists, and in 1996 he launched the first website devoted to Deism. He is the author of God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. He has also written the introduction to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and Principles of Nature by Elihu Palmer.