Search Episodes
Listen, Share, & Support
Listen to the latest episode
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via RSS
Become a fan
Follow on Twitter

Support Us:

Please consider making a donation to help make this podcast possible. Any contribution, great or small, helps tremendously!

 
Subscribe to E-Mail Updates

Related Readings
  • Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
    Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science
    Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science
    by Massimo Pigliucci
Sunday
Nov292015

RS 148 - David Kyle Johnson on "The Myths that Stole Christmas"

Release date: November 29, 2015

David Kyle JohnsonWe're all familiar with Santa Claus -- but how much do you *really* know about that jolly old elf? In this episode, Julia interviews philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson, the author of "The Myths that Stole Christmas." Kyle explains the little-known, and somewhat sinister, origin story of Santa Claus -- and then Kyle and Julia debate whether it's ethical to lie to your children about the reality of Santa Claus (and possible alternatives to explore). 

Kyle's Pick: The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum

Kyle's Course on "The Great Courses": Exploring Metaphysics

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

 

Full Transcripts 

 

Reader Comments (17)

When Kyle listed "megalodon" along with bigfoot and mermaids in his list of fake documentaries, I was all set to fire off an e-mail that Carcharodon megalodon was a giant prehistoric shark that really existed. But then I checked the Wikipedia page: "Later, in August 2013, the Discovery Channel opened its annual Shark Week series with another film for television Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives,[75] a controversial[76][77] docufiction about the creature that presented alleged evidence in order to suggest that Megalodon is still alive.[78] This program received criticism for being completely fictional; for example, all of the supposed "scientists" depicted were paid actors.[79]."

For shame, Discovery Channel.
November 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJared
I've listened to most of them and the episode on the Simulation Argument is probably my favourite. It's ingenious of some theists to embrace it as an explanation of the problem of evil. That's if I remember right.

It would've been nice to have heard more discussion about the rights and wrongs of the "Santa lie". I can agree it's generally wrong to lie, but it doesn't feel to me as though this amounts to much with Santa. It may be one of those moral issues where a seemingly small difference in what someone does, can make a profound difference on whether something is thought right or wrong. There's probably a difference between playing along with the Santa lie when the kids are excitedly going along with it, and playing along with the Santa lie if they ask you straight out, did Santa really deliver those presents or did you put them out in the night? If any kids actually ask things like that.

In the abortion debate, some people say that using a condom is acceptable, because it prevents conception, but that the morning after pill is unacceptable, because for those people personhood begins at conception. The morning after pill for them is a kind of wrongful killing.
December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSimulated
(I didn't copy and paste all my post - doh - can someone delete the earlier post and this bit in brackets, thx)

I've listened to most of them and the episode on the Simulation Argument is probably my favourite. It's ingenious of some theists to embrace it as an explanation of the problem of evil. That's if I remember right.

It would've been nice to have heard more discussion about the rights and wrongs of the "Santa lie". I can agree it's generally wrong to lie, but it doesn't feel to me as though this amounts to much with Santa. It may be one of those moral issues where a seemingly small difference in what someone does, can make a profound difference on whether something is thought right or wrong. There's probably a difference between playing along with the Santa lie when the kids are excitedly going along with it, and playing along with the Santa lie if they ask you straight out, did Santa really deliver those presents or did you put them out in the night? If any kids actually ask things like that.

In the abortion debate, some people say that using a condom is acceptable, because it prevents conception, but that the morning after pill is unacceptable, because for those people personhood begins at conception. The morning after pill for them is a kind of wrongful killing.

I'm not saying the two cases are equivalent, but one idea underlying them seems similar: that the rightness or wrongness of something might turn on what to most people might seem like a small difference.
December 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSimulated
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" is the classic example of keeping the lie going after the kid raises doubts. Every part of it makes me retch:
"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
...Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus...
...Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there...
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

A couple years later: "Err, no Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, that letter was one big stinky pile of bullshit, but God is still totally real."
December 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMax
I'd think that after learning that Santa doesn't exist, kids would question whether God exists, but evidently many people grow out of believing in Santa but continue to believe in God, who is like Santa, only he rewards and punishes people after they die, especially for not believing in him, when it's too late to take corrective action.
December 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMax
afsasfas
February 4, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterasfsa
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 16, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe
Comment5
February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIntense Desire Doe

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.