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Jesus and Santa Claus

What is Christianity?  And how does Santa Claus help?Harriett Hall (the SkepDoc) wrote a clever story about two kids trying to figure out whether the tooth fairy really exists or not.  Inspired by that, and in keeping with the season, I’d like to imagine two kids arguing about Santa.

It was early December, and little Jerry had begun to doubt the existence of Santa Claus.  He made his case to his younger brother Kyle.

“I don’t think Santa is real.  I think it’s just Mom and Dad buying us presents,” Jerry said.

“Prove it,” Kyle said.

“Okay, why are there all those Santas on the street corners ringing for money?  How can Santa be at all those stores at once?”

“They’re not the real Santa, just his helpers,” Kyle said.  “And maybe they’re just testing us to see if we’ll still believe.  I’m going to believe, because if you don’t, you don’t get presents.”

“But I recognized one of them—it was the father of one of my friends.”

“Then those are just ordinary people imitating Santa, raising money for a good cause.  Anyway, I’ve seen Santa on TV at Thanksgiving—everyone has.”

Jerry sees that he’s not making any progress, so he gives up.  On Christmas afternoon, he’s alone with Kyle and tries again.  “Remember that video game that you told Mom about and then you forgot to tell Santa?” Jerry said.  “But you got it anyway.  Mom must’ve bought it and written on the package that it came from Santa.” 

“Mom just told Santa,” Kyle said. 

“But how can Santa get around the world in one night?”

“My friends all say that Santa is real.  Anyway, Santa has magic.  And the cookie plate we leave out for Santa always has just crumbs on Christmas morning.”

“With the Junior Detective kit that I got this morning, I dusted the cookie plate for fingerprints, and they were Mom’s.”

“Mom set out the plate, and Santa wears gloves.”

Jerry gives up for the year.  On Christmas afternoon the next year, he tries again.  “Lots of the older kids don’t believe in Santa.  They say that their presents only come from their parents.”

“Sure,” Kyle said.  “Santa only gives presents to those who still believe in him.”

“A few months ago, I was snooping in Dad’s sock drawer, and I found every letter we ever wrote to Santa.”

“Why not?  Santa didn’t need them anymore and each year just gives them to Mom and Dad for keepsakes.”

“The only fingerprints on our presents are Mom’s or Dad’s.” 

“Mom and Dad always get up early on Christmas.  They could’ve rearranged them.”

“Last week, I found all our presents hidden in a corner in the attic.”  Jerry pawed through some of the torn wrapping paper.  “I wrote my initials on the bottom of each package.  And look—here they are.  That proves that Santa didn’t bring them here last night.”

“I asked Mom, and she said that Santa is real.  Anyway, how do I know you didn’t write your initials on the wrapping paper this morning?”

Like little Kyle, if you’re determined to believe something, you can rationalize away any unwelcome evidence.  (By rationalize, I mean taking an idea as fact and then selecting or interpreting all relevant evidence to make it support that idea.)

It’s tempting to list the many ways Christians rationalize.  They rationalize away contradictions in the Bible, the oddity of a hidden God, or why so much bad happens to the people God loves.  They can find a dozen reasons why a particular prayer wasn’t answered, even though the Bible promises, “Ask and ye shall receive.”  But the Christian says that he’s simply defending the truth: “I’m not rationalizing; I’m right.”

In five minutes we can see flaws in others that we don’t see in ourselves in a lifetime.  Perhaps this episode with Jerry and Kyle will encourage us to see our own rationalizations.

I recently came across the Galileo Was Wrong; The Church Was Right blog.  That’s right, it argues for geocentrism, an earth-centered universe.  With a little work, even the nuttiest theory can be given a scholarly sheen, so imagine what a few thousand years of scholarly work can do to a religion.  Any Christian can point to centuries of scholarship to give a patina of credibility to their position (but, of course, so can Muslims, Hindus, and those in many other religions).

I can’t prove Santa doesn’t exist.  Nor can I disprove the existence of leprechauns, Russell’s Flying Teapot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or God.  The thoughtful person goes where the evidence points rather than accepting only the evidence that supports his preconception.

And Jesus is Santa Claus for adults.

Photo credit: Robot Nine

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Retro

    “And Jesus is Santa Claus for adults”

    C’mon Bob! Everyone knows that Santa was a scheme created by Satan to teach children to doubt the existence of God and Jesus!

    Think about it, Santa… Satan… all you gotta do is rearrange ONE letter!!!

    Can’t you see that Santa is the antichrist? Satan Claus cares if you’re naughty or nice, why? Why would a jolly old fat man that lives at the North Pole care if children obey their parents or eat their vegetables? Well I’ll tell you why Bob, it’s because he wants to distract children from caring about Jesus!

    Unlike Jesus, Santa teaches children to be moral for selfish reasons Bob, they do it so they’ll get good stuff. That’s why Jesus threatens children with eternal Hell. No kid is going to believe in Jesus just to get presents now are they Bob?

    Obey your parents and eat all the vegetables you want children, but if you’re really doing it just because Satan Claus wants you to… you’re still going to go to Hell!!!

    Ever read the Bible Bob? (No, I didn’t think so.) Well, the Bible says that God will send a great deception in the End Times, and that great deception is… could it be… SANTA?

    To ward off this evil overweight maniacal menace, just place a Bible in your fireplace and he won’t be able to slip into your home through the chimney. Try it Bob! I did and Santa has never entered my home since I started doing this, so it must really work!

    Thank you for helping expose this evil-bearded-jolly-soul-destroying-monster called Santa!

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      Can’t you see that Santa is the antichrist?

      Wait a minute. You mean that that Landover Baptist article about how to take back Christmas for Baby Jesus and Santa being Satan in disguise was for real??

      the Bible says that God will send a great deception in the End Times, and that great deception is… could it be… SANTA?

      • Retro

        Just remeber Bob, Santa’s greatest acheivement is getting you to disbelieve in his existence. If he can get you to believe he doesn’t exist then he can work in your life with no interference from you.

        Of course, if you believe in Sanata’s existence, that’s just as bad, so you’re really screwed either way. The best thing you can do is join a church and give them lots of your time and money… it’s the only hope you have. (Of course I should point out, not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” and does miracles will get into heaven either, so maybe you should just make the best of what little life you have left before you enter that perpetual deep-frier.)

      • Retro

        Oh, I almsot forgot… Merry Christmas!!!

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Merry Christmas!

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        That picture of Sa(n)ta(n) is somewhat scary. It probably will give me nightmares.

  • Rick T

    Way to make up a great story that ruins Santa for me. Of course, no atheists believe anything contrived or silly.

    Sooo… what are your opinions on directed panspermia and exogenesis?

    AND BTW, Merry Christmas!

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      what are your opinions on directed panspermia and exogenesis?

      Creationist interviews that I’ve heard like to pick up on the lampooning that the movie Expelled did on these ideas, but this just shows their ignorance of the topic IMO. I’ll bet that Dawkins (when interviewed for that movie) was quite aware that panspermia (primitive life coming to earth from elsewhere in the universe on an asteroid) didn’t resolve the problem of abiogenesis (the origin of life), but it does broaden the initial conditions.

      Suppose biologists come up with a plausible mechanism for abiogenesis, but it turns out that the conditions under which this occurred were not present on earth 3.8 billion years ago (when life is thought to have emerged). If you throw the panspermia hypothesis into the mix, suddenly you can consider the initial conditions from a far wider number of worlds

      • Rick T

        OK. So in your opinion, Dawkins and Crick are ignorant. Because they support these looney ideas, but represent the mainstream of atheist thought. But wait. You said Dawkins is so smart he only said he was for it but was really against it? And that makes it so? Because you assert that is the case? Thanks for clearing that up for me!

        And according to your “Suppose biologists…” story, you support panspermia, or not? I can’t tell. Can you clear it up?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        I have no idea what you’re talking about. Perhaps you’re responding to a different comment of mine.

        I said that Dawkins didn’t think that panspermia resolved the abiogenesis problem. I assume we agree?

        I have no opinion about panspermia. Why–is it a scientific consensus?

    • Retro

      I also posted these on a previous entry, but I’ll repost it here as well:

      As far as panspermia is concerned, I’d have to say that I’m not aware of a large amount of evidence supporting the theory. I would have to look into it, but it doesn’t currently seem to be a very popular theory.

      With that said, there is good evidence that comets contain organic molecules. (These organic molecules can be formed by natural chemical reactions unrelated to life.) Meteorites found on Earth contain a several molecules, including amino acids, which are used by life here on Earth.

      These organic molecules and amino acids are NOT life, but they simply are the raw materials needed for life.

      Here’s where I’d like to hear your thoughts about the origin of life on Earth Rick.

      If God specially created life on Earth, what purpose would God have for littering our Solar System with comets and meteors filled with these organic molecules and amino acids?

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        Maybe … to trick us and test our faith??

  • RandomFunction2

    to all,

    While evolution is not proven, it is not because of weaknesses in the theory, but because a scientific theory does not admit of proof. However, it’s no less true that the most interesting versions of creationism and intelligent design ARE disproven or don’t even meet the requirements of science. All that is left is to claim that God made things appear as if they evolved to test our faith (as Bob said).

    • Retro

      I was once a Christian, and accepted that somehow God created everything. The how’s and why’s didn’t matter so much.

      Now, even though I am an atheist, I can honestly say that I’d still be open to the possibility of a supernatural component to creation IF there was a good reason to consider it.

      Not knowing how or why something happened is not a good enough reason to consider a supernatural option. Ignorance is the worst reason to believe in something. All arguments from ignorance are inherently deistic. These arguments will tell you nothing about more about God than the simple fact that He exists.

      If God does exist, and He actually cares whether I believe in Him or not, I think God would be smart enough and powerful enough to find a way for me to believe in Him.

      Until then, I’m simply going to be the best person that I can, and take care of my friends and family the bast that I can. I will treat strangers with kindness, and claim no right for myself that I will not freely extend to others.

      If God does exist, and He will send honest and kind people like myself to eternal conscious torment in Hell, then He is not a God worth worshipping.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        If God does exist, and He actually cares whether I believe in Him or not, I think God would be smart enough and powerful enough to find a way for me to believe in Him.

        “If an entity as all-pervasive and all-powerful as God really DID exist, wouldn’t it be trivially obvious to everyone? I mean, even blind people know the Sun exists, and this God guy is supposed to be WAY more impressive than the Sun.” (Richard S. Russell)

  • Bob Calvan

    Retro, Retro, Retro, Tsk, Tsk ,Tsk.

    You said:

    ” I was once a Christian, and accepted that somehow God created everything. The how’s and why’s didn’t matter so much…”

    No, you were never a born again Christian with saving faith. If you were you would still be one. Salvation is a special supernatural gift of God.. Where you become a new creature. Where your heart of stone is taken out by God and a new heart of flesh is given too you. It is a Spiritual birth given by the Holy Spirit..Of course you will neve runderstand this, unless it happens to you by the Grace of God.. But you were never a true Christian. What you had was an intellectual understanding and acceptance of the Chrisitian religion. But you were never a regenerated child of God,.

    You said:

    ” If God does exist, and He actually cares whether I believe in Him or not, I think God would be smart enough and powerful enough to find a way for me to believe in Him…”

    You are falsely assuming God can not find a way to save you? Well you claimed to be a Christian and you do not understand the doctrine of Soteriology? Hmmm? As I said you were never a Christian.

    We have three premises:

    1. God could save everyone

    2. God could save no one

    3. God could save some.

    God is Holy, Just, Love, and Grace. God to show all His attributes and His freedom chooses # 3.

    If God saved everyone (1) we would see His Grace and Love

    If God saved no one (2) we would see His Wrath and Justice. ( We all have willing broken God’s law and all deserve Hell)

    If God saves those He chose’s we see all His Attributes His Holiness, Justice, Love and Grace. And that is what God freely does, He chooses those He wills to save..The rest He leaves in the sins..And leaves them where they want to be in rejection of Him..As you and Atheist Bob are.

    You said:

    Until then, I’m simply going to be the best person that I can, and take care of my friends and family the best that I can. I will treat strangers with kindness, and claim no right for myself that I will not freely extend to others.

    Well that’s nice. Of course you can not account for Human Dignity? Why bother being nice to other bags of protoplasm? Who cares what molecules in motion do to other bags of molecules in motion?

    All those nice things you are doing to your family and friends are a stench in God’s eye. All those nice things you are doing are filthy rags ( Kotex) in God’s eyes.

    Because all those things you do you do not do for the Glory of God. You do for yourself. ( Idolatry)

    Good works in your religion of Human secularism are an abomination to a Holy God. That is why you will spend eternity in Hell, because you are sinning against an eternal infinite being.

    • Retro

      “No, you were never a born again Christian with saving faith. If you were you would still be one.”

      So anyone that disagrees with you MUST be wrong. It’s the classic “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

      “Of course you will never understand this, unless it happens to you by the Grace of God.”

      Which makes it totally POINTLESS for you to be debating people about it. It’d be much better for you to pray that God might give me the grace to understand than for you to waste your time blathering on just to hear yourself talk.

      “Why bother being nice to other bags of protoplasm? Who cares what molecules in motion do to other bags of molecules in motion?”

      Which is more noble: A man who does good for goodness sake, or a man who does good because he desires a reward and fears a punishment?

      “All those nice things you are doing are filthy rags (Kotex) in God’s eyes.”

      Then doing good is a completely meaningless concept.

      “Because all those things you do you do not do for the Glory of God. You do for yourself.”

      Since when does an infinite God need anything? Since when can an infinite God be harmed?

      You doing things for an infinite God is meaningless and pointless.

      PEOPLE have needs. PEOPLE can be harmed. Doing things to fulfill people’s needs and to minimize harm is the only logically possible way to do actual “good”.

      “That is why you will spend eternity in Hell, because you are sinning against an eternal infinite being.”

      An truly infinite being could never be harmed by an infinitesimal creature like myself. Your God sounds less like an infinite being, and more like a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        An truly infinite being could never be harmed by an infinitesimal creature like myself.

        It’s like punching Superman.

    • RandomFunction2

      To Bob C,

      You say: “Because all those things you do you do not do for the Glory of God. You do for yourself. ( Idolatry)”

      It’s perfectly thinkable that atheists do those things for other people, altruism is natural, even animals are capable of altruism. Evolutionists have models explaining how altruism can evolve. And no species is as altruistic as ours.

      You say: “Good works in your religion of Human secularism are an abomination to a Holy God. That is why you will spend eternity in Hell, because you are sinning against an eternal infinite being.”

      What you call holiness I call maladjustment. Good works are good works, whatever the beliefs of the one doing them.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      No, you were never a born again Christian with saving faith. If you were you would still be one.

      What do you think, Retro … No True Scotsman?

      You are falsely assuming God can not find a way to save you?

      (1) God loves me more than I love myself. (2) God wants me to avoid hell even more than I do. (3) God knows what it would take to make me believe. (4) He hasn’t done it.

      Kinda puts God in a bad light, eh?

      If God saved everyone (1) we would see His Grace and Love

      If God saved everyone, it’s just what you’d expect from a God who wants everyone to avoid hell and is a perfect communicator (and can therefore communicate his message plainly and perfectly to every hear).

      Of course you can not account for Human Dignity? Why bother being nice to other bags of protoplasm? Who cares what molecules in motion do to other bags of molecules in motion?

      Evolution explains human morality quite nicely; thanks for asking. And (bonus!) it’s 100% natural. Way, way more plausible than a supernatural explanation, don’t you think?

      Because all those things you do you do not do for the Glory of God. You do for yourself. ( Idolatry)

      The atheist does good just because he thinks it’s good. That’s it–it’s not to earn brownie points, and it’s certainly not to please an imaginary deity.

      Good works in your religion of Human secularism are an abomination to a Holy God.

      Which certainly makes the Christian view an odd one. Goes quite against Man’s natural programming.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Retro,

    You say, “Which is more noble: A man who does good for goodness sake, or a man who does good because he desires a reward and fears a punishment?” But then, how does goodness fit into a naturalistic worldview? If all that exists is matter in motion and its derivatives (like consciousness), where are moral values? What is their mode of existence?

    Also, believers are not supposed to be good because they are afraid of hell. They are supposed to do good because they love God and accept his friendship. If you are good for your friend, it is not because you are afraid of a punishment, but because you care about your friend and you want to keep your bond with him or her.

    • Retro

      “But then, how does goodness fit into a naturalistic worldview? If all that exists is matter in motion and its derivatives (like consciousness), where are moral values?”

      How does the supernatural actually explain the existence of moral values? All you’re simply doing is bypassing an explanation by saying that “God did it.”

      In other words, all you are really saying is that God exists simply because God exists. This doesn’t explain God’s existence at all. Likewise, saying that moral values exists because God exists isn’t really an explanation either.

      “Also, believers are not supposed to be good because they are afraid of hell.”

      Then why does God mention Hell at all then? If we don’t know about Hell at all, then we couldn’t do things out of the fear of going there.

      “If you are good for your friend, it is not because you are afraid of a punishment, but because you care about your friend and you want to keep your bond with him or her.

      What would you say if I held a gun to my friend’s head and threatened to kill them unless they kept their bond with me? What if I threatened to torture my friend unless they got down on their knees and accepted my friendship?

      If I did this to you, what would you do, and how would you feel about me?

      • RandomFunction2

        To Retro,

        You should know that God did not “create” values. Values are in the essence of God. Just like any other eternal truth. So God is himself the perfect standard of right and wrong. Which does not mean that God has revealed his will to earthly prophets… But everyone has some idea of what God demands by turning inward and ask their conscience for advice.

        Also, your picture of hell is inaccurate. Not all believers share it. Hell just means life without God, without his friendship, it’s a life in which the person tries to make his or her own happiness by him or herself. If there is any pain in hell, it can just be self-inflicted pain. The torment of hell is actually the torment of the one who won’t let God help one grow happy, of the one that looks for happiness in contingent and cheap things.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        RF2:

        Also, your picture of hell is inaccurate. Not all believers share it.

        I can appreciate that believers have different views of hell, but those who imagine hell to be merely separation from God must then deal with all the fiery imagery in the NT about hell. Letting the NT speak for itself sure paints a more unpleasant picture of hell than your view.

  • Retro

    RandomFunction2,

    “Which does not mean that God has revealed his will to earthly prophets… But everyone has some idea of what God demands by turning inward and ask their conscience for advice.”

    Calling it God explains it no better than calling it something natural. What you call God I could simply call the human mind. If they choose, humans have the ability to judge themselves and others from an objective, 3rd person, point of view.

    “Also, your picture of hell is inaccurate. Not all believers share it.”

    I agree not all believers share it, but many do hold this picture, and for them it is accurate.

    “Hell just means life without God, without his friendship, it’s a life in which the person tries to make his or her own happiness by him or herself.”

    Many people live happy lives without any belief in God and His friendship.

    Your picture of God may allow for non-believers to live good and happy lives. I’m fine with a picture like this. Obviously, other commenters on this blog do not share your picture of God.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Retro,

    Well, God won’t compel you to become his friend, and he won’t use cheap threats for a fake friendship. I don’t quite know what it’s like to be in hell, but I do think life in heaven, in God’s presence, is better.

    • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

      But why imagine that either one exists?

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        Heaven and hell are the results of OUR decision before God, who would like to be our friend and needs an answer from us.

        However, there may exist many intermediate levels between heaven and hell, depending on how much one takes God and ethics seriously.

        There is some dualism in the traditional account of heaven and hell, but even in the Bible, there are hints that heaven and hell are not the same for everyone.

      • http://galileounchained.com Bob Seidensticker

        RF2:

        Yes, you can pick and choose your verses to put together the idea of a customized afterlife, but you can pick a different set and make the case that the afterlife is binary–bliss in heaven or torment in hell.

        What do we make from this? IMO, any book that can be cameleoned into whatever I want it to be is no source of absolute wisdom.

      • Paul

        And you imagine coming from monkeys is better?
        Will your Scientists find the answer Bob? I don’t think so! They rely on financing from governments that are going broke, or do you think they will be noble enough to work for free to save mankind?
        They offer no REAL solutions Bob. Just more crutches to prop the system up while it is doomed to failure.
        And THAT is what the Bible says.
        Lift your head out of the sand Bob. We are ruining a beautiful gift (the earth) from God and he will hold mankind responsible. Use your God given intellect and think man.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Paul:

        And you imagine coming from monkeys is better?

        Better than what? Keep in mind that the pleasantness of a worldview is uninteresting to me and irrelevant to this conversation. We’re trying to find out what’s true. I don’t know about you, but that’s all I’m interested in.

        “OK, it’s not true, but isn’t it a nicer story?” doesn’t hold any interest for me.

        Will your Scientists find the answer Bob?

        The answer to the question, “Why is life on earth the way it is?”? Yes, I think they’ve already found the answer. It’s “evolution.”

        Lift your head out of the sand Bob.

        Why accept the Yahweh hypothesis? Why not Shiva or Quetzalcoatl? There are lots of gods to choose from.

        What do you say to the guy from the other religion (Scientology, Bahá’í, Jainism) who makes the same challenges to you? I’m guessing: shake your head and wonder how he could be so gullible.

        Welcome to the club.

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