Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Santa Apologetics

At this time of year, we are reminded that there's a war on Christmas. Belief in Santa, although prevalent in children, is seen as something irrational for an adult to believe in. Lots of effort goes into maintaining the belief for children, but there's marginalisation and persecution of adults who believe in the Jolly Fatman.

So I'm here to defend belief in Santa.

A rational enterprise?
People call a belief in Santa irrational, but they are missing the point of what a belief in Santa is. Santa is a nonrational proposition, so it would be making a category error to assess belief in Santa by rational grounds.

Reasons to believe?
Yet there are reasons to believe that Santa exists. The first argument is the moral argument for the existence of Santa, as concepts like naughty and nice wouldn't make sense without Santa to be able to determine what naughty and nice are. A materialist worldview can give subjective definitions of naughty and nice, but Santa is needed to make the enterprise objective - as they clearly are.

Personal testimony is another reason to believe. There are numerous sightings of Santa from all around the world. Legends are written about him, and those stories match the experiences individuals have. Of all the descriptions that could be given of Santa, they fit the same pattern.

Children around the world see Santa's hand when presents are left. Each year on Christmas, children wake up to presents that were not there the night before. The idea that parents are doing this violates occam's razor as only one entity is needed if Santa really does deliver presents.

But most of all, Santa is a properly basic belief. That is, if one experiences Santa, they have acquired knowledge of Santa. If we were to dismiss this, we would dismiss the grounds we have to experience the external world.

But how does Santa visit all the houses in the world in one night? Flying reindeer are absurd!
This question assumes that Santa is a natural being, yet Santa is supernatural. So applying naturalist assumptions is a sign of being closed-minded. No-one believes that natural reindeer fly, so of course they have to be supernatural! Flying reindeer aren't a species of reindeer, but analogous to reindeer.

Is it naughty because Santa deems it naughty, or because it is naughty?
Santa deems it naughty, but because Santa's nature by definition is the judge of naughty / nice, Santa's decisions are necessarily right. If Santa says it's naughty, it's naughty, as Santa cannot violate his own nature.

Why doesn't Santa fairly distribute gifts?
Santa's decisions may seem arbitrary and capricious, but we only make that judgement because we are finite beings incapable of seeing the reasons behind Santa's perfect judgements. We don't expect a dog to comprehend Moby Dick, let alone what a book is, so why should we expect our imperfect assessment of fairness impugn Santa's perfect fairness capacity?

But I saw my presents in my parent's closet!
Santa works in mysterious ways. There's nothing to say that Santa cannot work through natural means to achieve his ends. Who are you to limit how Santa does his work?

If Santa is real, then why doesn't he show himself?
But Santa does show himself, as many can attest to. Are you suggesting that all those sightings around the world, all on Christmas eve and of the same thing, could be mistaken? Even if some were genuinely mistaken, you cannot prove that all are. The weight of testimony weighs in favour of belief.

The personal testimonies differ!
Of course they will differ in fine details. Each person has their own fallible view, shaped by their personal experiences and cultures. But there is a core of the story that is common enough among all Santa sightings to see a common thread. That common thread is Santa. If there was no Santa to give those shared commonalities, then the accounts would vary more than they do. Santa testimony has just the right amount of variation.

Why is the belief lost in adulthood?
There's a concerted campaign among aSantaists to discredit belief in Santa, as part of their War on Christmas. They hate Santa and want to see Santa purged from our society, and they brainwash people into not believing in Santa through their so-called education system. Children start believing in Santa, go to school, then come out as a Santaists. Children also have an innocence about them where their belief is pure, and untainted by cultural forces. They are the only effective judges in a society that has taught itself to reason Santa out of existence.

If Santa is a perfect judge, then it makes no difference whether I believe.
A belief in Santa won't affect Santa's assessment, but it will affect on how you look at your behaviour. If you take Santa into your heart, you'll be more mindful of being nice and avoiding being naughty. Hence a belief where naughtiness isn't punished will lead to more people being naughty, so it is better for society to have the belief. Without a belief in Santa, we are personally and societally worse off.

A matter of faith?
While there are reasons to believe in Santa, and in my view they are better than the reasons not to believe, it still takes a leap of faith. Seeking the reasons to believe in Santa is reasonable so long as it accords with the faith. But when reason fails, that's where faith takes over. But I contend it's a much smaller leap of faith to believe in Santa than not, because the aSantaists have to explain how all of it happens by accident without the intervention of supernatural beings. Christmas without Santa would be a bigger miracle than Christmas with Santa.