I‘ve noticed recently that I’ve been irritating a few believers by questioning their beliefs. Now I realize that not all believers have the same understanding of Santa since there are many different ways to interpret “The Night Before Christmas” and other Christmas scriptures, and I realize that much of the world claims to have a personal relationship with Santa and I don’t want to be the one to take the magic out of Christmas. Nonetheless, allow me to be Scrooge for a paragraph or so.
Science has recently made some pretty good progress in areas such as aerospace science. New evidence casts doubt on claims that Santa’s sleight could navigate to all homes with good children during a single night. The speed necessary would break the sound barrier, creating sonic booms that would make it nearly impossible for children to remain sleeping during present delivery. Santaists counter that Santa’s magic makes children sleep soundly through all this. However, I feel this is simply an ad hoc argument just to plug holes in an ideology that is, for some, just too beautiful to give up. When I explain to believers that the g-forces that would be encountered while making the necessary turns would most certainly cause Santa to black out and possibly cause Rudolph failure, the impassioned Santaists quickly respond that Santa could use magic to counter such forces.
But here’s something to consider. In countries that will remain unnamed, many people believe in the other major present delivery theory. Of course I’m speaking about the fairy theory. It is claimed that the same fairies that replace teeth with coins, in a coordinated and well-timed effort, deliver presents to the family members in whose cupboards they live. And this makes logistic sense to me. Instead of positing that one fat man delivers all the worlds presents by flying around frantically in an air sleigh, you have millions of fairies doing the task as efficiently as FedEx.
Here’s where the Santaist respond indignantly and make an interesting claim. They suggest that fairies cannot be real since the size of their heads limits the size of their brains to the intelligence of a cockroach. And while we do see cockroaches, no one has ever seen a cockroach delivering presents, (though they have been known to drink the milk and eat the cookies). I commend the Santaist on their application of science and logic on this point.
How do the Fairitarians respond? “It’s magic!” they say. Intelligence is magically packed into their little brains to a density that rivals that of derivatives bankers and some poodles. The Fairitarians then accuse the Santaist of illogic in their theory by pointing out the girth of Santa, and the diameter of most chimneys. “Superior magic” the Santaist declare.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Both sides are invoking magic to remove objections to their theories. So what is the logical next step? I mean besides suicide-bombers and drone missiles. You guessed it! Attack the magic-deniers! Neither theory is losing believers to the other theory. They are losing believers in droves to the insidious concept of amagicism.
That’s right. They now have a common enemy. Led by the “4 hoarse men of the pot collapse” (it’s a long story), there has emerged a movement that dares to suggest that magic does not and never did exist! “Blasphemy!” the faithful cry. “Of course there is magic! What else could there be?”.
Well, how about this idea. When little children are sleeping, their parents take the presents they have hid in the closet, place them under the tree, eat the cookies, drink the milk, exchange high-fives, then play reindeer games before falling asleep themselves. Just a thought.
“Ha!” the world’s magicists exclaim. “That is the least interesting theory we’ve ever heard! There is no magic! You can’t have Christmas without magic!” To this I would suggest that their reasoning is a bit circular. Why is magic necessary? True, it is necessary to resolve many incoherencies in their theories such as tiny brains with large intelligences, and fat men sliding down chimneys like butter, but where does this idea of magic come from other than a strong desire for it? Is there any evidence that magic exists? Has there ever been a single substantiated case of real magic?
Could there be an issue here with an inadequate standard of evidence? Do we apply a high standard of evidence to other magical theories that we don’t apply to our own theory? Or should we perhaps consider the level of innate credulity among others in the assessment of our own level of credulity? Is our belief in magic largely based on the authority of parents or tradition rather than evidence? Is the “magic” that we feel actually outside our imaginations? Does our longing for magic prevent us from seriously asking whether magic really exists?
Some say “How can you experience the beauty of a snowfall and still deny the existence of magic?” To this I respond that a snowfall is evidence of a snowfall, and our emotional response to it is evidence of emotions; not of magic.
Others say, “Are you going to deny the many historical references to St. Nicholas?” Certainly not. But when you or your historical documents start saying that St. Nicolas could fly, or slither down chimneys, or could wear a red outfit every day and still be straight, I’m going to say “Where is your evidence?” Is that too much to ask? And if you don’t have evidence, stop telling little children that they should be good so they get presents from Santa on Christmas! You should be teaching them to be good without the expectation of rewards or punishments!
Well, to you Santaist out there, what more can I say? I guess I’ll conclude by suggesting that, once you give up your Santa belief, your perspective will expand to take in a world much bigger than the imaginary world of Santa, Rudolph, elves and the many other fictions that delight you now. And while that world lacks the magic of Santa, the reality of it is just as amazing.