“Silent night! Holy night! Guiding star, lend thy light!” J. MOIER
By Alex P. Vidal
CAN prayers save us from poverty? Will there be a miracle if we pray hard for gifts and for Santa Claus and his reindeer to knock on our doors this Christmas season?
Francis Galton, the progenitor of human genetics, said in his 1872 Statistical Inquiries into the Efficacy of Prayer, that he could find no evidence that prayer is effective. Galton found no scientific grounds for believing that prayers are answered. But he conceded that “prayer can strengthen resolve and relieve distress.”
Because of poverty, many of us continue to find it increasingly impossible to enjoy “the most exciting season of the year”, the season that carries a strong emotional resonance for many Filipinos. We continue to pray nonetheless. We believe that “prayers can move mountains,” as the saying goes.
As obedient Christians, we continue to follow the church-mandated traditions on how to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is probably ideal only for those who don’t have a daily bout with financial difficulties.
Many people now begin to believe and realize that society celebrates the so-called season of the birth of Christ heavily from the commercial point of view. We equate Christmas with material possessions.
When think of gifts, decorations, parties, wines, caroling, merrymaking, vacation, etcetera, we think of extra funds and extra expenses.
Christmas has become synonymous to expenses and money. Without extra funds, many Christians tend to develop a morbid feeling of insecurity and inadequacy.
How can one actively take part in Christmas parties and gift-giving binges if he does not even have enough to buy a decent meal for his family?
However, we can always celebrate the Yuletide season on a different perspective: embracing the spirits of love, humility, simplicity, forgiveness, hope and understanding.
Expecting nothing and continue living a simple life is a key to overcoming anxiety, stress, emotional and mental anguishes if we don’t have economic capacity and abundance in life.
A very interesting piece about science and Christmas has rekindled the debate whether the scientific worldview somehow undermine the religious beliefs that are the basis of Christmas for so many people.
Science has been viewed suspiciously as a force that turned people away from God ever since 1916, according to Roger Highfield, author of The Physics of Christmas. In that year, an oft-cited survey by James Leuba of Bryn Mawr University found that 60 percent of American scientist did not believe in God.
Highfiled revealed that the finding caused a scandal at that time, prompting warnings from politicians about the evils of modernism and accusations that scientists were leading college students away from religion.
Leuba himself predicted that disbelief among scientists would only increase in the future.
“But research conducted recently, repeating the 1916 survey word for word, has proven Leuba wrong,” Highfield contends. “The proportion of scientists who believe in God has remained almost unchanged in the past eight years, despite the enormous leaps of discovery made during this century.”
Highfield cited Edward Larson, from the University of Georgia, and Larson’s colleague Larry Witham, from Burtonsville, Maryland, who questioned 600 scientists listed in the 1995 edition of American Men and Women of Science. It reportedly achieved the same results as Leuba: about 40 percent of scientists believe in God.
“The future of Christmas and Hanukkah in our increasingly technological age seems assured,” concludes Highfield.