Henry Morris III has enlisted in the ranks of the defenders in the war on Christmas. In the December 2010 issue of Acts & Facts from the Institute for Creation Research, Dr. Morris presents us with “Xmas: Removing the Reason for the Season”:
Sometime during the last century (it is difficult to find an actual beginning), the word “Xmas” began creeping into public correspondence and advertisements. It was a little thing, hardly noticed by anyone, but it set the stage for a profound movement away from “Christ” in any public discourse. X is, of course, the universal symbol for the unknown.2Scary, isn't it? Morris sums up:
Quietly and unobtrusively at first, but rising to a crescendo of legal and governmental attacks against Christianity, the words and the symbols of the gospel message are being purged from open expression.Permit me, however, to register a mildly dissenting note. When it comes to scholarship, creationists have the advantage of not having to respect factual data. Morris follows this template himself, but stumbles slightly by letting the truth slip in. If you go to the bottom of his article to check out footnote 2, you'll see that Morris admitted to something that vitiates his entire argument:
2. X has long been a mathematical symbol for an unknown variable. X later came into use as an abbreviation for the name Christ because it is the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ.” To the vast majority of people in our culture, however, the X in “Xmas” would be completely meaningless, effectively removing the Reason for the season.Indeed. I was quite used to seeing the “chi-rho” in my parish church when I was a child. The chi looks like an X and stands for the “Ch” in “Christ.” It does not stand for “the unknown.”
Morris has his history all wrong. In his compendious History of Mathematical Notations, Florian Cajori points out something important in Paragraph 340:
The use of z, y, x .... to represent unknowns is due to René Descartes, in his La géométrie (1637).And “later” it became a symbol for Christ? No, Dr. Morris, you've got it all wrong—unless the early Christians occupied catacombs under the streets of Paris in the seventeenth century.
I'm sure you're accustomed to getting away with falsehoods, Dr. Morris, but you should be more careful about making a fool of yourself in your pseudo-scholarly footnotes. Have a merry Xmas anyway.