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Old 01-08-2019, 09:20 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
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Why should Santa be regarded differently than God?

Tangential spinoff of the recent thread where a teacher was fired for telling students that Santa didn't exist:

There was considerable outrage on Facebook over the incident as well - I would guesstimate that about 75% of the several thousand commenters were opposed to the teacher and that relatively few took her side. I can't help but think, though, that a significant number of these posters wouldn't have a problem with someone proclaiming "God does not exist".

It's even more incongruous given that the existence of God is debatable whereas Santa obviously does not exist, yet people were getting upset over the latter being declared as fake but not the former.

AIUI, the major (and perhaps only) difference is because of "the innocence of children." People were largely upset over the teacher telling students that Santa was fake, but wouldn't be upset about adults telling adults that God doesn't exist, because children need holiday innocence preserved but adults do not need religious innocence preserved - something to that effect.

So is that really what it's all about? We need to preserve a myth about Santa because kids' sensitivities need it?

(I am a Christian and believe in God's existence, but for this thread I would particularly like to hear opinions from atheist Dopers about why Santa and God should be treated any differently from an atheistic perspective. All other Doper perspectives welcome, too, though, of course.)
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:28 PM
steronz steronz is offline
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You're overthinking this. It's fun for parents to play Santa. A teacher spilling the beans ruins that fun. It's a dick move is all.
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:54 PM
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I think the problem is that parents are considered to have the right to indoctrinate children as they see fit in non-academic areas. So adults telling adults about God doesn't fall into this category.
I doubt that many of the posters would be fine with a teacher saying to a class that God does not exist. If someone did that, the shitstorm would be 20X the Santa one.

Hell, I was going to show a second grade science class pictures of prehistoric man, but my friend who taught it warned me off, because the father of one kid was a Seventh Day Adventist creationist, who threatened to sue if anyone implied that any of that evilution stuff was true. And I'm in California.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:46 PM
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Santa is a happy, innocent myth. Believers in Santa aren't running around with suicide vests, or voting for white nationalists, or flying planes into buildings, or going to war with believers in the tooth fairy.

Also if a teacher told a room full of kids that god didn't exist, there would be a huge outcry. Much bigger than if they said Santa doesn't exist.

Also apostasy is punishable in many muslim nations, so adults telling other adults that god doesn't exist does have major ramifications.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 01-08-2019 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:20 AM
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Santa isn't God. He is A god. There is a difference.
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:58 AM
Malden Capell Malden Capell is online now
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My stepsister is a devout Christian and she's told all her kids Santa doesn't exist. I'm atheist and my two year old believes in Santa. My stepsister's kids however blurt out that Santa isn't real at every opportunity at Christmas, as they're those kind of Christians, and I find it such a shame. Honestly, I'm half-tempted, if they break my daughter's heart, to tell them God doesn't exist, either.

Last edited by Malden Capell; 01-09-2019 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:27 AM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is offline
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I actually think Santa is sort of a mock lesson for kids to walk them through their eventual disbelief in god.

You're convinced someone magical is out there. He knows everything you do. He'll reward you if you're good and punish you if you're bad. Everyone around you seems to believe in him too, reinforcing that belief.

And then you realize that something you believed so hard, something you took for granted as being true, was actually a mass delusion inflicted on you by your society. And you realize you were fooled.

That's very similar to the steps you take as a kid on your way to rejecting a belief in god after seeing it for what it is.

Funny enough, you're actually given much more evidence that Santa exists than God does. Someone gives you those presents every year. It's fraudulent evidence, but it makes more sense to believe it to be real than something with no evidence at all.

I'm a little surprised no one else seems to realize this, and that religious parents don't discourage a belief in Santa from the start to prevent this pathway from forming in their child's mind. I guess we see that even with this lesson, most kids turn out religious anyway, but certainly among at least some of the unbelieving, this lesson formed part of the cognitive toolset they used to get to where they are.
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
I actually think Santa is sort of a mock lesson for kids to walk them through their eventual disbelief in god.

You're convinced someone magical is out there. He knows everything you do. He'll reward you if you're good and punish you if you're bad. Everyone around you seems to believe in him too, reinforcing that belief.

And then you realize that something you believed so hard, something you took for granted as being true, was actually a mass delusion inflicted on you by your society. And you realize you were fooled.

That's very similar to the steps you take as a kid on your way to rejecting a belief in god after seeing it for what it is...
Wow! That's a fantastic post. Really.

ETA: What if I shared some of this on FB. I'm not sure I will, but what if I did?

Last edited by Leaffan; 01-09-2019 at 04:49 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:30 AM
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I'm against teachers telling students,young enough to believe in santa, 'there is not santa' and 'there is no god.' I don't see a difference to debate one is ok and the other isn't.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:37 AM
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Belief in Santa is a harmless delusion that nobody expects a teenager still to have. Belief in god is a harmful one that people keep to adulthood and should be called out and corrected as soon as possible.

Last edited by Mr Shine; 01-09-2019 at 06:39 AM.
  #11  
Old 01-09-2019, 07:28 AM
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... I would particularly like to hear opinions from atheist Dopers about why Santa and God should be treated any differently from an atheistic perspective....
I am atheistic/agnostic Doper and do not treat the cases much differently, nor, I would guess, do the others you complain of.

I would tell an adult of my belief that God doesn't exist, but I wouldn't tell a child.
I would tell an adult of my belief that Santa doesn't exist, but I wouldn't tell a child.

(I don't keep a scorecard of Dopers, but this and a few other recent posts have altered my blurry impression of Velocity.)
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:16 AM
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My stepsister is a devout Christian and she's told all her kids Santa doesn't exist. I'm atheist and my two year old believes in Santa. My stepsister's kids however blurt out that Santa isn't real at every opportunity at Christmas, as they're those kind of Christians, and I find it such a shame. Honestly, I'm half-tempted, if they break my daughter's heart, to tell them God doesn't exist, either.
If they were that rude, in my house, I would have no qualms about it.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:33 AM
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ETA: What if I shared some of this on FB. I'm not sure I will, but what if I did?
Sure, go nuts.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:36 AM
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OP, is it your position that if the teacher told the class that God doesn't exist, there would be less of a shitstorm? Because, I'm about that.

Addressing the OP, there's more evidence for Santa, so they aren't exactly equivalent. But then belief in God or gods has more effect on society, so they aren't equivalent that way either. My lack of belief in one is the same as my lack of belief in the other, or in the tooth fairy or the flying spaghetti monster. I lack belief in supernatural entities, so in that sense, they are the same.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:49 AM
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It's even more incongruous given that the existence of God is debatable whereas Santa obviously does not exist, yet people were getting upset over the latter being declared as fake but not the former.
That isn't why people were upset.

They were upset because the teacher inserted himself into an area of parental discretion where he should not have. He acted, in SDMB terms, like a jerk.

No one was upset at the guy for not believing in Santa, or saying so to fellow adults, because it would be ridiculous to be upset about that. The analogous act to religion isn't debating the existence of God. It would be barging into a Sunday school and telling a class of small children God was a big fat lie. Even as an atheist, I would never dream of doing something so vulgar and offensive.

That said, as Wesley Clark points out, the analogy between Santa and God is limited. Santa Claus is a sort of collective performance art that we put on for children. It's harmless fun and I have no time for the cheerless Grinches who bitch about it. Religion is a destructive force that once served a purpose but in modern society does an incredible amount of real harm to real human beings. Belief in Santa harms no one. Belief in God harms many.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:54 AM
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I can't help but think, though, that a significant number of these posters wouldn't have a problem with someone proclaiming "God does not exist".
I think this is the issue. Do you have any evidence that this is true or do you just feel that it's true?

Quite frankly, a lot of Christians in America seem to feel that they're being persecuted even though there's no basis for this belief.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:03 AM
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Santa is one of the most wonderful, harmless, joyous myths there is, surely to put a smile on most children and adults faces, generally it unites us all. Can't say the same for Jesus and other god myths which causes division after division and polarizes groups against others.

The first grade teacher shouldn't have told kids at that age about Santa not being real, he realizes in hindsight he made a mistake. Had he said this a few grades up, it wouldn't have been any big deal.

But I do think children probably realize much earlier than most people think that adults are just playing along, or at least I think that's how many adults went about it with their kids. Most, as far as I know don't push Santa too hard, they let kids go at their own pace. I would guess quite a few start to figure it out in first grade, if they haven't already, when they start talking to a larger number of other kids, and by second grade, I would think most know.

If a child still believes in Santa a few years after that age, maybe the child is mentally challenged, or the parents have perpetuated the myth for all of its worth at the expense of their mental development.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:07 AM
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ETA: What if I shared some of this on FB. I'm not sure I will, but what if I did?
Are you asking if you'll be put on the Nice List or the Naughty List?
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:09 AM
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Oops, she, not he.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:12 AM
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Relevant Terry Pratchett Quote:

Quote:
“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"

MY POINT EXACTLY.”
― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:17 AM
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I can't help but think, though, that a significant number of these posters wouldn't have a problem with someone proclaiming "God does not exist".
Why would you think "a significant number of these posters" would think and/or do such a thing? It is not the atheists that make it a habit of trying to convert schoolchildren when it comes to religious beliefs.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:41 AM
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The only case where a teacher should be telling students that God does or does not exist is if the teacher is at a school with that specific purpose. This applies even at the college level, where the students are adults. Likewise for someone telling it to their work subordinates, or any other situation with a power imbalance.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:06 AM
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Why would you think "a significant number of these posters" would think and/or do such a thing? It is not the atheists that make it a habit of trying to convert schoolchildren when it comes to religious beliefs.
He probably thinks that because there are quite obviously more religion haters around here than Santa haters. I disagree with his thinking but I don't doubt that's where it's coming from.

Anyway, the OP is backwards. Santa and God are two different things, so why should they be treated the same? Because they are both supernatural? Should a lucky rabbit's foot also be treated the same as God and Santa?

Santa is a game we play with our children. God is a cornerstone in many people's life, with massive tendrils throughout society - which many zealous atheists think is a cornerstone for much of the bad in society. Why in the world would you regard them the same?

Last edited by CarnalK; 01-09-2019 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:14 AM
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I actually think Santa is sort of a mock lesson for kids to walk them through their eventual disbelief in god.

You're convinced someone magical is out there. He knows everything you do. He'll reward you if you're good and punish you if you're bad. Everyone around you seems to believe in him too, reinforcing that belief.

And then you realize that something you believed so hard, something you took for granted as being true, was actually a mass delusion inflicted on you by your society. And you realize you were fooled.

That's very similar to the steps you take as a kid on your way to rejecting a belief in god after seeing it for what it is.

Funny enough, you're actually given much more evidence that Santa exists than God does. Someone gives you those presents every year. It's fraudulent evidence, but it makes more sense to believe it to be real than something with no evidence at all.

I'm a little surprised no one else seems to realize this, and that religious parents don't discourage a belief in Santa from the start to prevent this pathway from forming in their child's mind. I guess we see that even with this lesson, most kids turn out religious anyway, but certainly among at least some of the unbelieving, this lesson formed part of the cognitive toolset they used to get to where they are.
I think you may be making a mistake I've seen quite a few atheists make: you're assuming not only that God isn't real (which of course is what makes you a nonbeliever) but that people (at least, thinking adults) who genuinely believe in God aren't real either (which is demonstrably false).

When you learned that Santa Claus wasn't real, you learned that all the grown-ups who were telling you that Santa was real were playing make-believe, and that what Santa supposedly did was really done by your parents pretending to be Santa. The people who were "deluding" you were not themselves deluded: they knew the truth and expected you to know it too, later if not currently.

But that's not what belief in God is, so you couldn't have been "seeing it for what it is." That's why "you're actually given much more evidence that Santa exists than God does": when you actually believe something is real, you don't have to manufacture fraudulent evidence for it.

Yes, there are some Christian parents who do worry that the Santa Claus myth will undermine belief in God. And yes, there are some nominal Christians who don't actually believe in God. But there are also plenty of sincere Christians who don't worry about Santa because, well, apples and oranges. They no more think "If my kid finds out Santa isn't real, they'll think God sin't real" than they think "If my kid finds out Harry Potter isn't real, they'll think Harry Truman isn't real," or "If my kid finds out Luke Skywalker didn't really land on Dagobah, they'll think Neil Armstrong didn't really land on the moon."
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:44 PM
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For the record, I'm an atheist who lives in a country that supposedly has a constitutional separation of church and state, and would be quite bothered by a first grade teacher telling their students that gods don't exist as part of their class instruction. (I'd also be bothered if the teacher taught that gods do exist, obviously.)

Regarding persons who are not acting as agents of the state, whether one should spill the beans about God or Santa depends heavily upon the circumstances of the statement and the expected outcome. I consider the Santa myth much less harmful than the christian myth, and so am happy to avoid actively refuting it - though if I were asked straight-up whether I believed I would have to say no, because I'm not a liar. If they just asked whether he's real I'd promptly turn it around and ask the kid whether he's real, and let the kid answer her own question.

I don't go around telling kids that God isn't real because I don't want their parents pissed at me, but if the kid asks me directly I will be much less likely to dodge a flat 'No' answer. If the kid is old enough to ask then they're old enough for their parents to have to work a little harder to indoctrinate them.
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:40 PM
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I'll get worked up about this, or about a teacher telling children that there is no God, once we start enforcing the constitution and separating church and state. But as long as teachers can have the 10 commandments hanging on their wall, or as long as textbooks continue spewing drivel about intelligent design in public classrooms, I find this pretty hard to get worked up about.

If these kids have such a tenous grasp on religion that being exposed to a single teacher who doesn't buy into it makes them lose their faith, they weren't all that religious to begin with.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:09 PM
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. But as long as teachers can have the 10 commandments hanging on their wall, or as long as textbooks continue spewing drivel about intelligent design in public classrooms, I find this pretty hard to get worked up about.
Where are these classrooms?
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:16 PM
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Where are these classrooms?
Here is a map from a couple of years ago showing where Creationism is taught in public and private schools.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:35 PM
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Where are these classrooms?
My wife is a teacher in Southern California and in the last 5 years she's seen:
1) A science teacher who skips teaching Evolution in his middle school life science class every single year, claiming he just doesn't have time but bragging to his colleagues that he's doing it on purpose because he doesn't believe in evolution (he also does the same thing with global warming)
2) A PE teacher who wrote a letter to all the science teachers at her school asking them not to teach evolution
3) At her current school alone, 5 teachers with one or more of the following hanging in their classroom: poster with the 10 commandments, a crucifix, religious painting
4) one of the teachers from 3 is always pushing for class prayer time. Thankfully their principal is sane.

So to answer your question-- it happens in SoCal, and I'm sure it happens in 49 other states too.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:51 PM
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Belief in Santa is a harmless delusion that nobody expects a teenager still to have. Belief in god is a harmful one that people keep to adulthood and should be called out and corrected as soon as possible.
I don't believe Jesus is The Savior, but if somebody starts trying to convince me he is I'm not going to try and ruin his faith. Honestly doing this is just as bad as Jehovah's Witness in my opinion.

Last edited by furryman; 01-09-2019 at 02:51 PM.
  #31  
Old 01-09-2019, 03:02 PM
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Going down the "Santa origins" rabbit-hole lead me to this 1821 poem, with the verses


Quote:
To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.
So "You'll shoot your eye out, kid." goes way back!

Last edited by Darren Garrison; 01-09-2019 at 03:03 PM.
  #32  
Old 01-09-2019, 03:24 PM
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My wife is a teacher in Southern California and in the last 5 years she's seen:
1) A science teacher who skips teaching Evolution in his middle school life science class every single year, claiming he just doesn't have time but bragging to his colleagues that he's doing it on purpose because he doesn't believe in evolution (he also does the same thing with global warming)
2) A PE teacher who wrote a letter to all the science teachers at her school asking them not to teach evolution
3) At her current school alone, 5 teachers with one or more of the following hanging in their classroom: poster with the 10 commandments, a crucifix, religious painting
4) one of the teachers from 3 is always pushing for class prayer time. Thankfully their principal is sane.

So to answer your question-- it happens in SoCal, and I'm sure it happens in 49 other states too.
None of those examples are about classroom textbooks teaching Creationism and there's no dots on California in the article Czarcasm linked. Still, I must say, I am a little surprised by the extent of it given it would take one angry parent to call the ACLU to get it into court.

Last edited by CarnalK; 01-09-2019 at 03:25 PM.
  #33  
Old 01-09-2019, 03:53 PM
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My stepsister is a devout Christian and she's told all her kids Santa doesn't exist. I'm atheist and my two year old believes in Santa. My stepsister's kids however blurt out that Santa isn't real at every opportunity at Christmas, as they're those kind of Christians, and I find it such a shame. Honestly, I'm half-tempted, if they break my daughter's heart, to tell them God doesn't exist, either.
Can I ask you about the bolded part?

Why would this bother you so much?
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:56 PM
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Belief in god is a harmful one...
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Religion is a destructive force...Belief in God harms many.
I find these statements...interesting. Since human society has nearly always been permeated by religion, from where are you drawing your comparisons to make such claims?
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:00 PM
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I actually think Santa is sort of a mock lesson for kids to walk them through their eventual disbelief in god.

You're convinced someone magical is out there. He knows everything you do. He'll reward you if you're good and punish you if you're bad. Everyone around you seems to believe in him too, reinforcing that belief.

And then you realize that something you believed so hard, something you took for granted as being true, was actually a mass delusion inflicted on you by your society. And you realize you were fooled.
That's quite a cartoonish caricature of the concept of God and belief in God.
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:08 PM
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I find these statements...interesting. Since human society has nearly always been permeated by religion, from where are you drawing your comparisons to make such claims?
I find those statements wrongheaded but your rebuttal is inane. Human society has been permeated by lots of stuff, that doesn't mean all that stuff is judgment proof. Do we need an alternate reality to draw a comparison so that we may condemn racism, sexism and brutal government crackdowns on dissent? Those have nearly always permeated human society to this point.
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:38 PM
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Santa Claus doesn't exist? To quote that guy from Avenue Q, "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Am I supposed to just accept that Michaela HASN'T been on the Naughty list for the past 23 years? Well who was SUPPOSED to be giving her presents for all those Christmases?

...

oops.
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:47 PM
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I think this is the issue. Do you have any evidence that this is true or do you just feel that it's true?

Quite frankly, a lot of Christians in America seem to feel that they're being persecuted even though there's no basis for this belief.
To be fair, there seem to be quite a few things that they believe despite there being no basis for the belief...
  #39  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:47 PM
EscAlaMike EscAlaMike is offline
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I find those statements wrongheaded but your rebuttal is inane. Human society has been permeated by lots of stuff, that doesn't mean all that stuff is judgment proof. Do we need an alternate reality to draw a comparison so that we may condemn racism, sexism and brutal government crackdowns on dissent? Those have nearly always permeated human society to this point.
Inane? Sheesh, sorry.

My response was not a rebuttal, but a question. I did not claim that religion is judgment proof. On the contrary I believe religious claims should be judged and examined very closely.

I think it's fairly easy to demonstrate how racism, sexism, and oppressive governments, in and of themselves, are bad for humans. I'm interested in how one could demonstrate that religion, in and of itself, is bad for humans.

Last edited by EscAlaMike; 01-09-2019 at 04:48 PM.
  #40  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:50 PM
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That's quite a cartoonish caricature of the concept of God and belief in God.
No. It's accurate and truthful actually.
  #41  
Old 01-09-2019, 04:53 PM
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I find these statements...interesting. Since human society has nearly always been permeated by religion, from where are you drawing your comparisons to make such claims?
Really? Seriously?
We need to spell out the destructiveness of religion to you? Really?
  #42  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:02 PM
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None of those examples are about classroom textbooks teaching Creationism and there's no dots on California in the article Czarcasm linked. Still, I must say, I am a little surprised by the extent of it given it would take one angry parent to call the ACLU to get it into court.
Ever been a pariah in your own town? Ever receive tons of hate mail and receive physical threats directed at you and your family? How do feel about being on the national news, triggering people from all over the country(and some religious organizations) to "strike a blow against persecution"?
  #43  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:03 PM
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Really? Seriously?
We need to spell out the destructiveness of religion to you? Really?
An atheist spelling out the "destructiveness of religion" is a lot like an anarchist spelling out the "destructiveness of government".

You can demonstrate how people have used religion as a tool of oppression, just like an anarchist can demonstrate how people have used government as a tool of oppression. But that will not prove anything regarding the de facto value of religion or government. It will only prove that humans use all sorts of means of power to oppress each other.

The issue is, how can you claim that religion is the problem per se unless you can provide an alternative example? What is the "no religion" alternative? What is the "no government" alternative, and what do they look like?

Last edited by EscAlaMike; 01-09-2019 at 05:05 PM.
  #44  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:08 PM
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No. It's accurate and truthful actually.
Then you have been greatly cheated.
  #45  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:29 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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I think you may be making a mistake I've seen quite a few atheists make: you're assuming not only that God isn't real (which of course is what makes you a nonbeliever) but that people (at least, thinking adults) who genuinely believe in God aren't real either (which is demonstrably false).

When you learned that Santa Claus wasn't real, you learned that all the grown-ups who were telling you that Santa was real were playing make-believe, and that what Santa supposedly did was really done by your parents pretending to be Santa. The people who were "deluding" you were not themselves deluded: they knew the truth and expected you to know it too, later if not currently.

But that's not what belief in God is, so you couldn't have been "seeing it for what it is." That's why "you're actually given much more evidence that Santa exists than God does": when you actually believe something is real, you don't have to manufacture fraudulent evidence for it.
Or provide authentic evidence, apparently.

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Yes, there are some Christian parents who do worry that the Santa Claus myth will undermine belief in God. And yes, there are some nominal Christians who don't actually believe in God. But there are also plenty of sincere Christians who don't worry about Santa because, well, apples and oranges. They no more think "If my kid finds out Santa isn't real, they'll think God sin't real" than they think "If my kid finds out Harry Potter isn't real, they'll think Harry Truman isn't real," or "If my kid finds out Luke Skywalker didn't really land on Dagobah, they'll think Neil Armstrong didn't really land on the moon."
Actually, Luke kinda more crashed than landed.

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 01-09-2019 at 05:30 PM.
  #46  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:37 PM
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An atheist spelling out the "destructiveness of religion" is a lot like an anarchist spelling out the "destructiveness of government".

You can demonstrate how people have used religion as a tool of oppression, just like an anarchist can demonstrate how people have used government as a tool of oppression. But that will not prove anything regarding the de facto value of religion or government. It will only prove that humans use all sorts of means of power to oppress each other.

The issue is, how can you claim that religion is the problem per se unless you can provide an alternative example? What is the "no religion" alternative? What is the "no government" alternative, and what do they look like?
If I'm parsing you right, your position is 'no places (large enough that I count them) exist without religion (only counting complete universal atheism here, not European disinterest) and thus, lacking a functioning perfect alternative to compare against, religion cannot be criticized'.

Is that close? If not, please explain what is barring us from evaluating the influence and effects of religion.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:44 PM
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If I'm parsing you right, your position is 'no places (large enough that I count them) exist without religion (only counting complete universal atheism here, not European disinterest) and thus, lacking a functioning perfect alternative to compare against, religion cannot be criticized'.
No, religion can be criticized. But unqualified assertions/wholesale condemnations of religion like those I quoted in Post #34 are absurd. I am waiting for someone to show me otherwise.

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...please explain what is barring us from evaluating the influence and effects of religion.
Nothing. I am all for evaluating the influences and effects of specific religions, though I don't know if it's possible to evaluate "religion" in and of itself, because what are you evaluating it against?

Last edited by EscAlaMike; 01-09-2019 at 05:49 PM.
  #48  
Old 01-09-2019, 05:44 PM
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The similarity to religion is simple: we don't all agree on whether or not we should teach either a particular religion or the Santa myth to children. Since neither fact-based, there is no principle of teaching facts that is involved. As such, it is considered outside the domain of teachers to teach.

The difference is why we don't think it is the teacher's purview. With religion, people think being taught the wrong one at an impressionable time is dangerous. (This includes atheists, BTW. The wrong one just happens to be any of the God-based ones.) With the Santa myth, it's the opposite: it's considered a bit of harmless fun, and we don't want others to ruin it for those who wish to teach it to their kids.

The main reason it causes ire is that people remember how much fun they had as kids believing in Santa. People enjoy the idea of a childhood where you can believe things that you have to stop believing as an adult. They find this experience to have been pleasant or even beneficial to them, so they want to preserve it.

Societies have taboos. Consider how upset parents would be if the teacher swore in front of them. We have a custom that such words are not to be used in front of children. And we have a custom that you don't spoil Santa Claus. Parents, of course, are free to agree with their own kids.
  #49  
Old 01-09-2019, 06:02 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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No, religion can be criticized. But unqualified assertions/wholesale condemnations of religion like those I quoted in Post #34 are absurd. I am waiting for someone to show me otherwise.
I read assertions such as those as brief summaries of positions, not the whole sum argument for the positions.

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Nothing. I am all for evaluating the influences and effects of specific religions, though I don't know if it's possible to evaluate "religion" in and of itself, because what are you evaluating it against?
I compare it against all the instances where religion isn't having an effect. As I don't live in a cult compound such situations aren't hard to come by. In fact it's possible to compare people with different levels of religious belief and observance and observe different levels of effect - there are some things where a mild amount of religion seems to function as a good thing but cult-level amounts do not, such as its role as an opportunity to meet people and build societal relations.

Oh, and in my area "religion" means Christianity, all flavors. This may vary for others.
  #50  
Old 01-09-2019, 06:29 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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I actually think Santa is sort of a mock lesson for kids to walk them through their eventual disbelief in god.

You're convinced someone magical is out there. He knows everything you do. He'll reward you if you're good and punish you if you're bad. Everyone around you seems to believe in him too, reinforcing that belief.

And then you realize that something you believed so hard, something you took for granted as being true, was actually a mass delusion inflicted on you by your society. And you realize you were fooled.

That's very similar to the steps you take as a kid on your way to rejecting a belief in god after seeing it for what it is.

Funny enough, you're actually given much more evidence that Santa exists than God does. Someone gives you those presents every year. It's fraudulent evidence, but it makes more sense to believe it to be real than something with no evidence at all.

I'm a little surprised no one else seems to realize this, and that religious parents don't discourage a belief in Santa from the start to prevent this pathway from forming in their child's mind. I guess we see that even with this lesson, most kids turn out religious anyway, but certainly among at least some of the unbelieving, this lesson formed part of the cognitive toolset they used to get to where they are.
Its possible, but religion is negatively correlated with wealth, education and intelligence.

The kinds of people who live in societies where people are wealthy and stable enough to celebrate christmas are probably more prone to secularism to begin with.

I think one reason santa isn't believed is we know santa isn't real. If your parents don't put presents under the tree, then the presents don't go there. But you can't prove or disprove god anymore than you can prove or disprove there are giant squids living in the 6th dimension. Theres no way to prove or disprove a deity.
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