This piece is part logical and part fantasy. The logical part covers existence proofs for Santa Claus. The fantasy part explores how Santa Claus might do some of the things he is said to do.
I will say right from the start that I believe in Santa Claus (sometimes I will refer to him as just Santa), and I am not even a Christian or any type of believer.
My existence proofs consist of a cosmological argument, which involves the causal relation of that which exists, an ontological argument, which involves the necessity of a thing’s or person’s existence, and a design argument, which involves the observation of an existing thing or person based on analogy of something else which exists. Those familiar with logical proofs of god will recognize these kinds of proofs; I just supplied the necessary changes (mutatis mutandis).
The fantasies will be about a proof of Santa Claus, how he manages to be in hundreds and hundreds of stores and malls at the same time, how Santa Claus manages to get around the world in one night, what about the presents under the tree, how he compiles his list, and my use NORAD (The North American Aerospace Defense Command).
My first argument for the existence of Santa Claus is the cosmological one. First there has to be a giver of gifts. But, there had to be a giver before this giver and so on. Now this cannot go on because it would lead to an infinite regress. So, there must have been a first giver of gifts. This person we call Santa Claus.
The second argument for the existence of Santa Claus is the ontological one. There must exist a perfect gift giver. Now for someone or something to be perfect one of his/hers/its attributes must be existence. So, necessarily, a perfect gift giver must exist. That perfect gift giver is Santa Claus.
The third and final argument for the existence of Santa Claus is known as the design argument, which falls under the moniker of natural theology. You find a gift. It appears to be a perfect gift. When you make a gift it is not perfect. Well, who made the perfect gift? Santa Claus the perfect gift maker.
In addition to these three logical arguments, Santa Claus also circumvents the problem of evil (also known as theodicy) because he is not considered to be all-powerful or all-knowing, but certainly is considered all-good. He is not considered all-powerful because he only does certain powerful actions, and he is not consider all-knowing because his ability only extends to who is naughty or nice. If a being is all-good, but not all powerful, she or he cannot give hers or his goodness to all. If a being is all good, but not all knowing, again he or she cannot give his or hers goodness to all. A friend of mine when I told him that Santa circumvents the problem of evil, asked me “what about Santa giving out lumps of coal?” My answer then was mute, but now I have come to think that giving a naughty child a piece of coal is far less egregious than damning someone to eternal hell, like some monotheistic gods. Matter of fact in my mind Santa’s behavior doesn’t even come close to this level of badness.*
Are you ready for some fantasying?
There is another proof of Santa Claus (appearing her because of its fantasy nature) associated with him delivering all the presents in one night. In the original Miracle on 34th Street, the lawyer proves that Kris Kringle is Santa Claus by having all the dead letters to him delivered to the courthouse. His argument is that if the United States government acknowledges Santa Claus by delivering the letters to Kris Kringle, than the authority of the United States proves that Kris Kringle is indeed Santa Claus. The judge promptly agreed, and declared Kris Kringle to be Santa Claus! Now, NORAD tracks Santa in his sleigh every Christmas Eve. NORAD is an official agency of the United States just like the Post Office (at least when the movie was made). QED – Santa Claus exists.
Kris Kringle was Macy’s store Santa Claus in the movie, which brings up the question: How does Santa manage to be in so many stores and malls at the same time. There are at least two possibilities. One is that Santa has multiple personalities. The other is that they come from other universes. Somehow Santa can make them interact. Most cosmologists who favor the multiverse think that they cannot interact; they are forever disconnected. But, still. It could also be a combination of the two.
Another question is: how does Santa Claus manage to visit every good little boy’s and girl’s (including us adult believers) house (apartment?) in one night? The simple answer, or not, is that he is capable of folding up space just like the navigators in the Dune trilogy. What about the apartments or houses without a fireplace. Since, He can fold up space, creating a fireplace is doing some additional folding – origami I suppose.
What about all the presents under the tree before Christmas Eve? This can be solved if Santa Claus has the authority to deputize anyone with a wish to give a gift to do so on his behalf.
The last thing I would like to consider is how Santa Claus is able to compile his list of whose been naughty or nice. While Santa is not all-knowing, he has an excellent theory of mind. He does not need much to figure out the intentions of every girl or boy. But, how does he gain access to their minds? Why, virtual reality. Santa is an excellent computer programmer (think of all those computer gifts).
By the way, I use NORAD at http://www.noradsanta.org/ mentioned above to track Santa Claus, so that when he is coming to my place I can jump into bed and be asleep before he comes.
There is one last proof:
because it is fun.
* For those interested in the arguments for god that have been adapted for this blog I provided the introductory paragraph from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy below in order of the arguments in the main part of the blog, which can be access at plato.stanford.edu (search the particular argument), except for the problem of evil, which is at www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/ (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
The cosmological argument is less a particular argument than an argument type. It uses a general pattern of argumentation (logos) that makes an inference from particular alleged facts about the universe (cosmos) to the existence of a unique being, generally identified with or referred to as God. Among these initial facts are that particular beings or events in the universe are causally dependent or contingent, that the universe (as the totality of contingent things) is contingent in that it could have been other than it is, that the Big Conjunctive Contingent Fact possibly has an explanation, or that the universe came into being. From these facts philosophers infer deductively, inductively, or abductively by inference to the best explanation that a first or sustaining cause, a necessary being, an unmoved mover, or a personal being (God) exists that caused and/or sustains the universe. The cosmological argument is part of classical natural theology, whose goal is to provide evidence for the claim that God exists.
The “classical” conception of God includes God’s necessary existence (see Plantinga 1974a, 1974b, 1980; Adams 1983; Morris & Menzel 1986; Morris 1987a, 1987b; Wierenga 1989; and MacDonald 1991). Perhaps the strongest motivation for thinking that God exists necessarily is perfect-being or Anselmian theology. On an “Anselmian” conception of God, God is the greatest possible being; it is in the very nature of God that he essentially (and necessarily) possess all compossible perfections. Necessary existence is a perfection, it is thought, and therefore God must possess it. One should note that denying God’s necessary existence does not entail that God or anyone else can commit “deicide.” It is far more plausible to think that for any world W that is such that God exists at some time in W, God exists at every time in W. Anselmian theists also typically think that God is essentially (and thus necessarily) omniscient, omnipotent, and maximally good.
Some phenomena within nature exhibit such exquisiteness of structure, function or interconnectedness that many people have found it natural—if not inescapable—to see a deliberative and directive mind behind those phenomena. The mind in question, being prior to nature itself, is typically taken to be supernatural. Philosophically inclined thinkers have both historically and at present labored to shape the relevant intuition into a more formal, logically rigorous inference. The resultant theistic arguments, in their various logical forms, share a focus on plan, purpose, intention and design, and are thus classified as teleological arguments (or, frequently, as arguments from or to design).
The Problem of Evil (Theodicy)
The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a serious challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were all-knowing, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were all-powerful, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet we find that our world is filled with countless instances of evil and suffering. These facts about evil and suffering seem to conflict with the orthodox theist claim that there exists a perfectly good God. The challenged posed by this apparent conflict has come to be known as the problem of evil.
There are problems with all these arguments.
There at least two problems with the cosmological argument I would like to point out. The first is that god does not necessarily stop the infinite regress, and the second is somethings do not need causes. With the first it can still be asked: what caused god? With the second quantum events are among these somethings, and if applied to the universe as a whole, which started out at the quantum level, no cause is needed.
One objection to the ontological argument, which is rather technical or semantical, is that existence is not a predicate. My own objection is: if existence is needed to complete a perfect being, than it also proves that a necessary being does not exist. This is obviously a contradiction (unless the law of excluded middle is nullified, which is a whole other story) so that the ontological argument fails.
The design argument fails because the universe contains many imperfect things. Living things top the list. Natural selection selects organisms that work in their environment, but not perfectly so. The assumption that god is a perfect being (which is already proved wrong) implies that everything in the universe should be perfect. This not being so, shows that the design argument is unsound.
The problem of evil is the opposite of the three above proofs because it is used to argue against the existence of god. I have never come across any reasonable argument that allows evil and the existence of all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient), and all-good (perfect) attributes of god to co-exist. So, the choice is evil does not exist, or god is not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. It is obvious that evil exists (even most believers admit this), therefore god is not perfect or does not exist. The better choice is that god does not exist. A major reason why this is the best choice is that belief in an imperfect god does not fit the needs of the believer.
Baxter under the Christmas tree