“Another Santa Claus post,” some might groan, and “is this going to be an annual thing?” some might ask. Well, Santa is still alive, and I might write a post every year until he is no longer such. “What? You can’t possibly still believe in Santa. You even admitted that your proofs for his existence that mimic the theological proofs for god’s existence do not prove anything. The only proof you stand by is that it is fun to believe in him. Isn’t that like a believer in god accepting as proof for god’s existence his or her faith?” some might declare.
Yes, there appears to be a surface resemblance between belief by fun and belief by faith. So, here in this post I will examine what I feel are the similarities and differences between these two types of evidence supporting the existence proofs. Since my sole reason for believing in Santa is fun, I will present some of the ways that make it fun to believe in him. Finally, I will explore whether I still want to claim his existence based solely on fun.
First, let the fun begin. One of the reasons this atheist enjoys Christmas is the fun I have making up things about Santa Claus (Santa for now on). I have recently thought of how Santa might use technology. Did you know you can now email him? He still does accept snail mail for those who have no internet access. He also uses a huge database on his own cloud. This of course, allows him to keep track of who’s naughty and nice. Oh, and if you want a job as Santa’s little helper, you can upload your resume and application to Santa.com (there is an actual website with this address). And now he is able to give holographic images of himself worldwide. This might explain all those mall Santa’s
Are you all aware that Santa uses intermediates to get your gift request. I give mine to Bette. She must get them to Santa because every year there are always presents under the tree. But, you do know that you have to be asleep when he comes—he will not under any circumstances leave your presents with you in the room. Ideally, you should be sleeping. I use NORAD’S Santa Tracker (https://www.noradsanta.org/) to make sure I am in bed right before he arrives at my place. As I write this Santa will leave the North Pole in thirteen days and nineteen hours. To be perfectly safe you should go to sleep now.
Santa as you might imagine is a very busy dude. His is a year round operation. Beginning January 2nd the elves start on making the toys (elves get vacation time despite what you may have heard about slave labor). The elves are under Santa’s direction (which they need to prevent much mischief) make many and varied toys. They have to be well stocked by Christmas Eve to answer all the letters from all the nice people. People? That is right, people. Sending letters to Santa is not just for kids; it for all those that belief. Santa also has to mind his home at the North Pole as well as maintenance on his sled. The caring for his reindeer takes a good deal of time too.
The North Pole. This appears like the biggest obstacle of all the stories about Santa—his living at the North Pole. How could this be? The North Pole is almost 14,000 feet underwater; that is over two miles. How does he break through the ice? Does Santa need scuba diving equipment? How does he get the sled and reindeer down there? What about all those pictures of snow all around his abode? Do the elves come up for air? And a million other questions, which I cannot claim to have the ability to answer.
My best guess is that the North Pole lies in a different dimension in space and time. String theory posits that there are more than the four of ordinary space-time. It would have to be in a hidden space dimension. If it were in a hidden time dimension (although I have not heard about any theorized extra time dimension in physics) that would go along way to explaining how Santa makes it to all the homes in one night. Hidden dimensions would also help explain how he gets into all those homes, even ones with no fireplace.
So what else can I tell you about Santa Claus? That he is fat and jolly you probably already know. Does anyone know his waist measurement? How does he remain so jolly? Laughing gas? I do not know exactly, but helping all those girls and boys (even us adults) is no doubt capable of keeping him jolly. David Hume wrote that acting morally good to others is done (among other things) because it feels good to do good. Think of somebody acting out of anger; there is certainly no joy there.
Now let me explore what similarities there are between belief proved by fun and belief proved by faith. One thing they share in common is that there is no physical evidence for either one of them. On the other hand that makes the beliefs less likely to be contradicted.*
But the differences out way the similarities. Fun is usually pleasurable (at least in the short run), while faith is often accompanied by fear of hell for any lapse in a person’s faith. Of course, some kids fear what will happen if their naughty. Santa after all only gives toys to good boys and girls. But, fearing for your salvation is not fun, so the similarities stop here as to the object of fear. It is also fun to believe in Santa because of all that joyful anticipation of getting the toys. The reward of faith—heaven—does not sound all that attractive to me. Nobody ever talks about the fun they will have in heaven. Fun also happens a lot in spontaneous moments, while, except for that initial turn of faith for some, faith is lived out in fear and trembling, or so says Paul.
So, if, as I claim, faith is not a valid reason for believing in god, is believing in Santa because it is fun any different. Both do not provide any necessary or sufficient arguments in their proofs. But, there are differences too. Faith is more passive, while fun is more active. Faith is about trust, where there is always a degree of doubt, while fun is about joy and carries no negative feelings with it.
Do these difference make one a better proof than the other. I doubt it to be honest. Proof must use evidence of a natural kind, that is no supernatural evidence, and valid reasoning. In addition all premises stated or unstated need to be true. As a metaphysical naturalist I rule out all supernatural phenomena. I have very good reasons to do so (but I will not go into that here^). This may seem to be unfair to those that accept faith as evidence, but that is the way I see it. But, just like faith fun does not provide a proof either.
So, I am stuck with just fun, and fun cannot prove anything other than your having fun. But, as far as Santa is concerned that is all that counts for me. So, I will keep on believing in Santa because it is fun. I just hope I can remain on the nice list and stay off the naughty list. Baxter vacillates between the two. It is hard at times for him to stay off the naughty list. After all he is cat, and as such he is prone to mischief. Bette is always on the nice list, Santa is very good to her. Every year I manage to make it on the nice list because he is very good to me also.
Well, I will leave you by saying you better be nice, which includes having fun, and you better be asleep when Santa comes to your place. Do not pout either.
Any suggestions for next year’s Santa post?
* Okay most kids lose their belief in Santa for some reason or another.
^ This will be a topic for a future post.