Salvaging Santa

December 28, 2009 at 9:07 am 19 comments

This year has been a bit disappointing for Santa believers. Fewer and fewer souls seem to be taking the Santa story seriously. Anti-santaists have been enticing young minds away from the Christmas magic that has been essential in the maintenance of a healthy society. They ridicule Santa as a myth, along with all the accompanying concepts that have given us warmth and comfort for all these years. They actually suggest that the notion of a Santa rewarding only “good” children is not necessary to rearing well-behaved children. They are constantly asking for evidence of our Santa, not understanding that there would be no magic if Santa was subject to scientific scrutiny.

If we are to save our Santa culture from this insidious secularism that makes mockery of our faith, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses, and adapt to the changing cultural climate. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Place Santa out of the reach of science.
    Some point to what they consider the absurdity of a voluminous man descending a narrow chimney and other mysterious aspects of Santa. Here are a few ways to deal with this form of persecution.

    • Announce that Santa’s magic is far above human understanding. Santa, in his infinite magic, can fatten flues at will, create chimneys where there are none, and leave everything intact as if he had never descended from the roof at all. Ask the secularists how they even dare with their puny minds to question the magic of our Santa.
    • Call problematic parts of the Santa story figurative. Suggest that the notion of “descending the chimney” is a metaphor of Santa’s intent. He actually may come through a window. What matters is that the presents are there in the morning. In doing this, never submit a standard for discerning between literal and figurative elements of the Santa story. That will make it convenient for you to choose which is which as aplogetics needs arise.
    • Remind non-believers that, if the Santa story could be tested and confirmed, we couldn’t employ the faith that feeds the magic. Accuse them of not listening to the clear voice of Santa that each of us carries deep in our hearts if we only listen with open minds.
    • Affirm the magic. Point out all the cases in which reindeer dung was found on roof tops. Suggest that any father who would simply throw dung on his roof in an attempt to create the illusion of a rangiferine landing would have to be either a lunatic or liar. The only sensible inference is that Santa’s sleigh had indeed visited your house.
    • Belittle science and its tools. Point out that science is often wrong and is therefore not an appropriate method to assess the magic of Santa. Claim that statistics are a silly invention, and strongly affirm the idea that anything can be “proven” through statistics. The stronger you affirm this, the more true it will become. In this way, reports that suggest poorer (not misbehaving) children receive fewer presents can be dismissed. If secularists suggest this is not logical, claim that Santa logic is not the same as secular logic, but don’t bother explaining how.
    • Suggest that science and magic fall into two non-overlapping domains. Declare that scientific methodology cannot assess the wonderment of magic. When asked about specific claims of Santaism that seem to fall within the reach of science, offer evasive permutations of the particular doctrine to make it impotent and thus unassailable. Fudging a bit on exegesis is forgivable if the net result is an increase in believers.
    • Disparage the notion of belief based on “evidence”. This is becoming one of the most troubling issues that has already led to the apostasy of thousands. You’ll hear secularists claim that the degree of confidence in an idea should match the degree of the evidence. Where is the magic in that? Evidence only goes so far and is largely linear. How can belief be linear? Choose a side! Unless we go beyond the evidence with faith, we would be left saying “I don’t yet know” on many questions, a wholly unacceptable option.
  2. Exercise the right to arbitrarily define true Santaism.
    You’ll often hear accusations that Santanists do not behave any better than non-believers. Here you’ll want to point out the fallacy in this accusation by simply explaining that those who don’t act like Santanists are not real Santaists. This will prevent your opponent from citing anecdotes, and require him to lean on statistics that require a substantial sample that you can then simply dismiss as not representative of Santaism. If your opponent then demands positive evidence for superior behavior among Santaist, simply offer a few anecdotes as proof.
  3. Appeal to what people already know in their hearts.
    There are times when you may simply ignore the anti-santa arguments. Every person knows deep in his heart that Santa is real. Presuppositional affirmations are the way to go. This is economical in that it minimizes potential cognitive dissonance that may creep in through cracks in your counter-arguments, and eliminates the expenditure of contemplation that distracts from faith in Santa, and may even lead to doubting.
  4. Emphasize emotions.
    Fortunately, Christmas is replete with salient sensations that easily form a sense of identity, of belonging, and also address dozens of other emotional needs. We know through a feeling of certainty that emotions are a legitimate validator of what is true, so regardless of the apparent power of the secularist’s arguments, this emotional validation is what will vanquish the doubts that have destroyed the magic in so many young lives. And perhaps the greatest argument you can make is to ask weak believers if they would want to live in a world that had no magic. Ask them if they want to grow up to become merely scientists restricted by the parameters of materialism. Emphasize the rigor and critical thought required by those who have abandoned magic and have endeared themselves to rational thought. Above all, emphasize the personal relationship believers have with Santa. Have them make psychological investments by writing Santa letters for years, then remind them of this and of all other psychological investments at any point in which their faith is weak. Remind them that Santa’s apparent silence is simply a test of their faith or an indication that their requests are selfish. And always return to the assurance that emotions are a legitimate way to confirm the truth of their faith.

If we can only employ these noble tactics, Santa will not dissipate into a distant cultural memory as has the Easter Bunny. May Santa bless us all.


Entry filed under: Phil Stilwell. Tags: , , , , , .

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19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Laura  |  December 28, 2009 at 9:59 am

    hehe, nice. . . 😀

  • 2. Quester  |  December 28, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Well done, Phil. Well done. No coal in your stocking.

  • 3. James F. McGrath  |  December 28, 2009 at 10:28 am

    This is a wonderful bit of satire. And yet I cannot escape the sense that there are indeed ways of appreciating both Santa and science, that it can be appropriate both to affirm the scientific impossibility of ‘Santical literalism,’ and yet to acknowledge that talk of Santa can indeed make room for a ‘magical’ way of looking at the world that doesn’t have to compete with science.

  • 4. BigHouse  |  December 28, 2009 at 10:55 am


    So long as your idea of “magic” doesn’t seek to make Santa into a real being, one that if you don’t believe in, causes you eternal torment and suffering, I think you’ll get no quarrel here.

  • 5. James F. McGrath  |  December 28, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Great! I wasn’t sure if I was dealing with ‘fundamentalist asantaista’ or not. 😉

  • 6. atimetorend  |  December 28, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Phil — excellent job! Well, I’m off to start the Santa Historical Institute. I think the problem with Anti-Santaists is the presuppositions they bring into the debate. They just have a different starting point (worldly wisdom) than Santaists (uh, “T’was the Night Before Christmas”?).

    James, your more progressive form of Santaism does sound healthier and is probably more conducive to finding common ground with Anti-santaists. Though probably the fundamentalist asantaists would wonder why anyone would want to retain a belief in Santa at all at that point.

  • 7. Phil Stilwell  |  December 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks everyone. Of course I’m just bitter about not getting that firetruck many years ago…

  • 8. UNRR  |  December 29, 2009 at 7:18 am

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/29/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  • 9. Lucian  |  December 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Place Santa out of the reach of science.

    Be in Jerusalem on January 19, and visit the river Jordan.

  • 10. exrelayman  |  December 29, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Very nice. Of course we realize that nasty aSantaists could not even argue against Santa without their Santa-given brains.

  • […] of their lost loved ones."(tags: atheism christianity heaven religion hell william-lane-craig)Salvaging Santa « de-conversion"If we are to save our Santa culture from this insidious secularism that makes mockery of our […]

  • 12. breakerslion  |  January 3, 2010 at 10:49 am

    You know of course that more people in the world know who Santa is than will ever know who you are. Santa has done more to change the cultural and retail landscape than most living persons, even R. H. Macy! In that way, he’s more real than you are! 😉

  • 13. BigHouse  |  January 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    You have a funny definition of real, breakers.

    By your definition, Thor is more real than you are.

  • 14. Volly  |  January 4, 2010 at 7:14 am

    I think all we can do is pray for the antisantaists. If it weren’t for my belief in Santa, I’d have nothing to live for — I mean, isn’t that simple common sense? And how do they think PRESENTS get here?! Lightning striking a snowdrift, perhaps? How sad they must be, thinking that presents simply appear by accident. Just look around you…Barbies, firetrucks, Tinker Toys, video games, iPods…all of this stuff somehow just made its way to our Christmas trees? And that line about “parents!” Well, all you smartypantses, how about kids who DON’T have parents? Who else but Santa could hear their whispered wishes for gifts? People who don’t believe in Santa are just … I don’t know, depraved!

    I’m sure Edward Current would understand!

  • 15. Eupraxsophy  |  January 7, 2010 at 5:47 am

    All Santa would need now is a place of worship, like a large buildings, and some ancient book of testimonies written by people that are dead now, so that no one alive could cross examine them, and Santa should be pretty much on his way in having people believing in him again. And then when he has gain enough fame there might even be television programs about him in which all they would do is to glorify him and when something goes wrong then it must be that nasty old anti-Santa, better known as Santa Claws. And also you could even have believers of Santa go door to door and hand out pamplets and tell others who may not have heard of the All Mighty Santa Claus and all his greatness. One last thing maybe Santanist could convince others that our founding fathers intentions were to base this countrie’s moral values on Santa’s Ten Commandments, like the first commandment could be; “You better be good for goodness sake”.

    All praise the All Mighty Santa.

  • 16. Eupraxsophy  |  January 7, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Side note to BigHouse,

    Who the f*ck is Thor?

    Has Thor ever left presents under the X-mas tree for you like Santa does?

    You better watch out and you had better not cry, you better watch out I’m telling you why. Because Santa Claus is coming to YOUR town bud.

    Be good for goodness sake, or it’s a lump of coal for you.

  • 17. Victor Bermudez  |  January 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Hi, thank you so very much for sharing your heart with me. Let me introduce myself I’m a born-again Christian who is currently in the process of writing a manuscript I entitled “Why Do Christians Walk Away from Jesus Christ”–pending title might change with notice.

    On Feburary 1, 2010, I’ll be taking interviews online and was wondering if deconverts are interested if I interview them.

    Have you wonderful weekend!

  • 18. Ubi Dubium  |  January 30, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Well, Victor, you could try asking some questions here and seeing what kind of answers you get. But I’m interested in your motives in writing this. Are you genuinely trying to understand how a de-convert reaches their conclusions? Are you actually here to listen and learn? If so, great, and I’d be happy to talk.

    Or are you writing a “don’t let this happen to you” book, or a “don’t worry this could never happen to us” kind of thing? Or worse, a “here’s how to re-convert these poor misguided souls” thing. If that’s your purpose, I’m not interested.

  • 19. Opposing Fundamentalist Asantaists  |  November 24, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    […] today I read a witty bit of satire on the blog de-conversion, in a post entitled “Salvaging Santa.” But the more I thought about it, the more I […]

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