People are typically very superstitious by nature, and as such, are very receptive to myths about Santa Claus as they are children. Children are taught that a jolly character named Santa Clause arrives on the eve of December 24th, and brings gifts to all of the children who behaved, and brings coal for all of the children did not behave. There are elaborate stories of Santa commanding a tribe of elves in the wonderful wintery abode known as the North Pole, complimented by reindeer who can fly and help Santa to deliver gifts to every child in the world, arriving by plummeting through the living room chimney. Sometimes this type of belief is mockingly compared to belief in religion, and belief in God. So is belief in God like belief in Santa?
Of course, this is to say that the Bible, and God, are absolute myths, just like belief in Santa. Just as we are fooled by belief in Santa, so we are also fooled by belief in God. As we tell elaborate stories about Santa that are ultimately not true, but nonetheless dear to the hearts of children, so people also keep stories that are ultimately not true despite how much passion they hold about these beliefs. So when a child comes to learn that Santa is not real, they should also come to understand that God is also not real, assorting him with the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy.
With that in mind, this is how many children regard the existence of God when they are taught about Santa. When parents make metaphysical claims that are not true, children sometimes make the connection to other metaphysical claims that are made. When parents tell children to believe in giant bunnies, elves, flying deer, and are found to be lying, their children sometimes think that they are also lying about the existence of God. This comparison is drawn not only by children, but many adults. So then, is belief in God like belief in Santa?
Why Do We Not Believe In Santa?
This comparison between belief in God and belief in Santa is not really an argument against the existence of God. Rather it is to say that we do not believe in Santa, because there are no good reasons to believe in Santa. We cannot disprove the existence of Santa, but are all rational to accept that he does not exist. So the same with our belief in God. The problem, though, is that this does not represent our non-belief in Santa.
The reason that we believe that Santa does not exist is not because there are no good positive reasons to believe in him. But instead, the reason that we do not believe in Santa is because there are good reason to believe that Santa does not exist. If Santa existed, he would necessarily show up in the living room of every child in the world. He would necessarily be at the north pole, and the north pole would be occupied by a giant toy factory and a society of elves. But since we can check both of these conditions, and see that neither of them are fulfilled, we can rationally conclude that Santa does not exist. So you see, we disbelieve in Santa, not because of a lack of evidence, but because there is good evidence against the existence of Santa.
However, in the case of God, he is a free creature, who is under no logical obligation whatsoever to provide evidence of his existence. In this way, God may exist, even if he provides no evidence of his existence. In contrast, Santa would have to provide evidence of his existence. But God would not.
Atheists make this claim to avoid giving any arguments for their disbelief in God. They will say, “we disbelieve in God for the same reason that you disbelieve in Santa Clause.” But the reason that we disbelieve in Santa Clause is because there is good evidence against his existence. So, give us some arguments leading to the conclusion that God does not exist. If the existence of God cannot be explicitly disproven, then belief in God is not like belief in Santa.
Who Believes In God?
I have never done a demographic study about who believes in the existence of Santa Clause, but I would probably be justified in the assumption that only children believe. There are no people, that I know of, who come to believe in Santa Clause as adults, nor are there people who maintain belief in Santa Clause into adulthood. In contrast, there are plenty of people who come to believe in God as adults. Many people come to believe in God as adults, or carry that belief into adulthood.
Many of these people who are convinced of the existence of God are eminent philosophers and scientists, sometimes even atheists. Now I have never met somebody who did not believe in Santa Clause, who later came to accept that he existed. Belief in God varies from the uneducated to even the highly educated. Scientists such as Anthony Flew and Robert Jastrow come to believe in the existence of God on the basis of the evidence of the physical world. Dr Frank Tipler said of his belief in God, “I have been forced into this conclusion by the inexorable logic of my own special brand of physics.”
Many scientists believe that there is strong evidence for the existence of God. They will cite the fine-tuning of the cosmos for intelligent life, or the DNA molecule, or the absolute origin of the universe. These reasons for belief in God are so compelling as to leave many scholars of science aghast, and only those who are already dogmatically committed atheists are not intimidated by what Robert Jastrow called, “the best evidence for the existence of God to come out of science, ever.”
Now, this is not to say that these arguments all work. However, belief in God is nothing like belief in Santa, because extremely skilled scientists people believe in God on the basis of scientific evidence (whether that evidence works is a different story). Is belief in God like belief in Santa? Only if there are eminent scientists who think that evidence for Santa has come out of science.
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