We had so many wonderful and funny entries for our contest
soliciting clever rejoinders to those who assume the world is religious (SHB,
Fall 2002) that we couldn’t rank the winners. Perhaps we just have an aversion
to hierarchy of any kind. So all the folks who took time to submit witticisms
will receive a free Robert Green Ingersoll: Humanist Hero 2003 calendar. All the
rest of you have to pay!
Me: Well, you know, after a lot of thought, I’m not so
sure about a God, but I believe in Santa Claus.
Me: Yeah. Look at how well-accepted he is over so much of
the world. And look at how much
harmony and happiness he brings to so many.
Believer: But you know there’s no Santa Claus!
Me: You can’t prove that. Maybe he doesn’t reveal
himself in any verifiable way, but I think he exists behind the scenes,
instilling all the warmth, generosity, and good cheer of the season. The glowing face of a child with the faith that he is coming
is pretty good evidence for me. He works in strange ways, but he usually gets
the job done. Furthermore, his ability to see all, and his promise of rewarding
good behavior is an irreplaceable motivator that improves the lives of families
Believer: But he is an invention of the adults for the
Me: Do you really think that the universality and
consistency of the story could be possible if there wasn’t some factual basis?
I think in the old days he really did go to every house and magically popped
down every chimney. But when the world got more populated and complicated he
either couldn’t manage enough miracles or he just got tired of it, so he lets
the parents take care of all the practical matters. Also, that way if they screw up the gifts on the lists,
it’s not his fault.
Believer: But if you can believe in Santa Claus, why
don’t you believe in God?
Me: I give Santa credit for doing a fairly good job of
establishing and promoting the pervasive gift giving of the Christmas tradition.
The only downside to the concept of Santa Claus is that some kids with parents
who can’t afford to support the myth are disappointed.
Otherwise it strikes me as a positive phenomenon. On the other hand,
throughout the ages, throughout the world, the concept of God has created
intractable hatreds, unprovoked persecutions, and all-out warfare. It seems that
if there truly were a God capable of creating this magnificent universe, he
would have prioritized peace and understanding a little higher in the
scheme of things. So Santa Claus just makes more sense