Thomas Nast’s most famous drawing, Merry Old Santa Claus, from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly. [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
This is an old atheist garden variety chestnut from the playbook. It came from the combox of my predictably controversial post, The Atheist Obsession with Insulting Christians. The words of MountainDewFan4 will be in blue. The words of Casey will be in green. Both are atheists.
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Here is my “deconversion story”. At the early age of 8, I determined that Santa Claus could not possibly exist, that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t the one leaving me money, and that God was not real.
The same logic which I used to tell my 8 year old self that Santa could not possibly exist, was the same logic that my 8 year old self used to determine that God could not possibly exist.
I have never once since that day thought … “Well perhaps there is an invisible being who can see you when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake, and can know the thoughts of every child across the world, and can give everyone presents at the same time”. So therefore I still do not believe in God.
Why do atheists insult Christians? Well, think about what you would say to a grown man who told you that he HONESTLY TRULY believed in Santa Claus. I’m sure that even you would not be able to hold back an insult or two.
I realize that YOU do not see God and Santa Claus as being even close to the same. However, try to keep in mind that many atheists view them similarly. We feel that there is just as much proof for God as there is for Santa. We feel that the amazing feats that Santa is supposed to be able to pull off actually pale in comparison to the feats that God is supposed to have pulled off.
Therefore we view people who believe in God similarly to how you would view people who believe is Santa.
I don’t care if atheists equate Santa Claus and God. I know that is ridiculous for the reasons I have stated many times: Santa Claus isn’t the topic of many thousands of great theologians and philosophers through the centuries. Santa Claus is for children, not grown adults who have full rational capacities.
If all these great minds think they have more than ample reason for the existence of God, God can’t be dismissed by the wave of a hand.
Now you may not give a rat’s rear end about the history of philosophy or of theology or science (overwhelmingly begun and furthered by theists) or ideas in general. I do, because I respect thinkers other than myself.
And that is one reason why we come to different results. I think like an adult, familiar with the history of philosophy and what the vast majority of great thinkers have held.
You think [when it comes to God] like an eight-year-old and haven’t (apparently, by your own admission above) advanced beyond that. :-)
Wouldn’t this be one of those insults you are referring to in this very post?
No, this would be humor. See the smiley icon? Those are important in online discussion. I know “mountain” a bit. You guys need to lighten up.
The smiley doesn’t negate the fact that you just insulted someone’s intelligence, the very thing you are railing against. It’s not just tone that makes an insult, but also content.
You miss the point. He himself said that his views about God came about when he was eight, and have remained the same ever since. I was simply stating back to him a little more pointedly, what he said himself. He set himself up for that one. It was an easy retort.
It’s okay for him to “argue” that adult Christians are acting just like kids who believe in Santa Claus (you haven’t said one peep about that), but if I turn it around and make the obvious point that he is an adult whose views of God haven’t advanced since he was eight (by his own admission), all of a sudden this is a huge insult.
If mine is such an “insult”, so is his, just as much. But instead you insist that mine is, and ignore his remark of the same nature.
It’s humor. People have to lighten up. If you don’t like sarcasm and satire and a rather pointed wit at times, you won’t like my writing, so I recommend that you stop now, to avoid further frustration.
I absolutely disagree with his assertion that Christians are like children who believe in Santa. The only reason I pointed this out is that the comment smacked quite a bit of insult, and you had just written an entire post about how how insulting atheists are. You didn’t say he held the same position as he did when he was eight. You said that he hadn’t progressed. Two different things, although I admit it is a fine line.
Whatever. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I’m glad to hear you don’t make the same equation.
I think that your comment however is not valid. You learned that 2+2 = 4 when you were 8 years old (or hopefully earlier). Since then nothing you have seen or read about in life has made you change your mind. You still to this day believe that 2+2 does in fact equal 4. Does that mean that when you are balancing your checkbook that you are thinking like an 8 year old? Of course not.
I have heard and read plenty of arguments for and against the belief in God (and Santa) since I was 8 years old. However, none of them were strong enough for me to start believing in either of them.
You bring up philosophy and theology and seem to claim that since some smart people claim that it might be possible that a god can exist, therefore it must be true.
However, you fail to mention the millions of scientists, biologists, physicists, etc. who have done years and years of research, studies and experimentation and conclude that life was not started by some paranormal means.
I don’t have the answers, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the complex quantum mechanical theories involved in some of the things I have read. However, that does not mean that I should suddenly start believing that God did everything.
The lack of an answer does not instantly mean that God is the answer!
My point is that, given the fact that many thousands of philosophers, theologians, and scientists have believed in God, but not in Santa Claus, it’s rather silly to put God and Santa Claus in the exact same epistemological boat. There is a plain, obvious difference there. It’s a reason to more closely consider theistic arguments, not a proof in and of itself of God’s existence.
No matter how many atheists are also prominent in philosophy and science does not overcome my point, which is that the sharp folks who believed in God did not place Santa Claus in the same category of likelihood. That goes against your breezy, casual claim that the two beliefs were equivalent and equally compelling (which is, not at all).