Thursday, December 24, 2009

No, there is no Santa Claus


Jewish date:  7 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wayyiggash).

Today’s holidays:  Christmas Eve (Christianity), Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent (Roman Catholicism).

Today’s topic is the common American practice of lying to children and encouraging them to believe in Santa Claus, which gets taken to elaborate lengths, such as the Official NORAD Santa Tracker, which allegedly lets people know where Santa is during his flight in real time.  To start off the discussion, I would like to present an essay contributed to me under the pseudonym of the Weird thing of the day character Malcolm NC-17:
Is There a Santa Claus?
I take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time my great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Weird Thing of the Day:
“Dear Malcolm:  I am 8 years old.
“Some of my little friends say there is a Santa Claus.
“Papa says ‘If you see it in The Weird Thing of the Day it’s so.’
“Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon.
“115 West Ninety-Fifth Street.”
Virginia, your little friends are wrong.  They have been affected by the gullibility of a gullible age.  They believe whatever they are told, not what they see.  They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.  All minds, Virginia, whether they be grown-ups’ or children’s, are little.  In this great universe of ours humanity is like a mere insect, an ant, in our intellect, as compared with the boundless world about us, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge.
No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.  He does not exist as certainly as love and generosity and devotion do exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.  Alas! how unchanged would be the world if there was no Santa Claus.  It would be less dreary than if there were no Virginias.  There would still be childlike faith then, poetry, and romance to make tolerable this existence.  We should still have enjoyment, beyond that in sense and sight.  The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would burn as brightly as ever.
Believe in Santa Claus!  You might as well believe in fairies!  You might get your papa to hire people to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even they will not see Santa Claus coming down, and what does that prove?  Nobody sees Santa Claus, and that is reason to think that there is no Santa Claus.  The only real things in the world one can be sure of are those that both children and grown-ups can sense or leave traces that they were there.  Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn?  Of course not, and there is no evidence that they are there.  Anyone can conceive or imagine all the wonders there that are unseen and unseeable in their fantasies.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, and so any veil covering the unseen world the wisest people, or even the united wisdom of all the wisest people that ever lived, can tear it apart.  Only evidence, reason, effort, work, insight, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.  Is it all real?  Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else we can be sure is real and abiding.
Santa Claus!  Thank God! it does not matter if he lives.  A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, it will be love and generosity and devotion which make glad the heart of childhood.
To make a long essay short:  “The story of the guy who lives at the North Pole is false, so don’t believe it.  You won’t lose anything by doing so.”  Truth is widely considered a virtue, including among Christians (e.g., see John 8:32).  Every competent adult familiar with the story of Santa knows that on a literal level it is impossible (or at least requires technology so far beyond what humanity is known to have now so as to be ridiculously improbable).  Malcolm therefore says it straight (and eloquently) that there is no Santa, plain and simple.  And Malcolm is largely right.  There are no extenuating circumstances to justify lying to children and trying to make them believe something false.  No one is going to die horribly or be irreparably damaged if children are told that the stories about Santa are just stories.  Non-Christian children grow up not believing in Santa, and they turn out just fine despite it.

I do remember some claim arguing for telling children that Santa Claus is real in the name of “faith”.  But faith is a rather broad notion, and the sort of faith needed to believe something as fantastic as Santa Claus is blind faith.  Blind faith is belief even in the face of strong contrary evidence, and such faith, because it is worthless to know the truth, is faith not worth having.

Better we just tell children that Santa is a symbol of Christmas and let them enjoy the stories as stories.

Also:  No one is getting to the end of this post without first looking at a bunch of Santa-related LOLcats. (I got myself into this religious humor thing, and now you are all going to have to suffer it.)

funny cat pictures

Looks like Basement Cat”:
funny pictures of cats with captions

The lesser known reindeer,”:
funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures of cats with captions

deer Santuh Klawz:”:
funny pictures

Goin on Santa’s naughty list”:
funny pictures of cats with captions

well sinse u ask”:
funny pictures

pssst… tell santa”:
funny pictures of cats with captions

oh no!”:
funny pictures

sshhhh…… Iz hidez here”:
funny pictures of cats with captions


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