During my holiday break, I practiced one of the most valued and celebrated holiday traditions – I went shopping with friends. Being the cheap person I am, I just sat on a bench waiting for something free to fall on my lap. As I was patiently waiting, I noticed a small winter oasis localized in the mall’s hub. This garden of enchanted trees, fake snow, presents and screaming children surrounded what is known as the almighty Mall Santa Claus.
I thought about how wonderful it was that kids get to enjoy a figurative replication of their mythological idol in their local malls. Then I thought about how adults get absolutely nothing, it’s downright ridiculous. Why are there no Mall Gods, but plenty of Mall Santa Clauses? Imagine a Mall Jesus cruising around the mall giving people high-fives, break dancing, forgiving sins left and right, or just standing around handing out discount coupons. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Oh wait … the lack of Mall Gods isn’t actually a problem. Why, do you ask? Because religious people know Mall Jesus isn’t the real Jesus. If anything, they’ll think a Mall Jesus pretending to be the real Jesus is a mockery of their religion and would be offended. However, using faith as the tool to justify beliefs, Santa Claus is just as real for kids as God is real for adults. Religious adults find it so cute that their children believe in a fictional deity. Well I find it absolutely adorable how more than 90 percent of the American population believes in God. Santa Claus, i.e. God for kids, surprisingly has a lot in common with the Western concept of God.
Santa Claus judges kids on whether they have been naughty or nice. In his holy scriptures he claims you should be good for goodness sakes. Similarly, God will judge your behaviors on the merit of “because I said so.” Both deities punish bad behavior; the thought of receiving coal for Christmas is no worse than hell for a young child. But don’t fret – they will both listen to your repenting via telepathy or the U.S. Postal Service. And if communicating with them isn’t enough, you could always express your love for them by singing Christmas carols or Christian rock music.
The same people who believe humans once lived amongst dinosaurs find the Santa Claus hypothesis absurd, two beliefs that have the same infinitesimal probability of being true. At the same time, they understand that kids eventually need to grow up and detach themselves from comforting lies. When the kid starts living on his own he will experience a rude awakening when presents don’t magically appear under his decorative tree. These parents know that faith alone does not make something true. It takes some real mental gymnastics to believe this and still believe a dead man can read their minds.
I recently read an article (on the telegraph.co.uk website) about a teacher being disciplined by her employer because she told a classroom of 9-year-olds that Santa Claus isn’t real. The 9-year-olds cried to their parents about it, who, in turn, cried to the school about it. Here is a perfect example of religious people and their doublethink. Parents drag their kids to school because they want them to learn things that are true … but simultaneously want them to believe a red-suited fat-ass breaking into their house is perfectly normal.
What makes kids eventually stop believing in Santa Claus? Is it the mounting pile of evidence that contradicts his existence? Or do they just discard faith as a valuable tool to justify their beliefs?
Neither. Their parents just tell them Santa isn’t real. Not only do their parents deny his existence, but so did their friends, siblings, community and entire society! Eliminating faith might require more strength in numbers than in knowledge. Strength in numbers will only happen when our society decides we need to grow up too.
LIOR GOTESMAN doesn’t understand how parents can tell their kids Santa Claus isn’t real and still use faith to justify their beliefs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.