Disempowering the Santa Claus Comparison

Despite planning to part ways with writing for the rest of the year, I thought it’d be fun to quickly dismantle a popular myth among the “skeptics” (a very loose term here) that Santa Claus is no different to Jesus Christ. Really?

To those unfamiliar with apologetics and the works of popular atheists, this “argument” may seem, if we’re being generous, kinda childish. But alas, not a religious debate goes by where someone doesn’t call up Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny from wherever they abide before their respective seasons. Although our skeptic friends often confuse their seasons (brother, it’s Christmas, leave the Easter Bunny out of it) it’s held fondly by many even today. Before we perform an argument autopsy let’s provide some context. What are we looking at?

When asked, skeptics define it thusly:

  1. Parents indoctrinate their children with the legend of Santa
  2. Parents also indoctrinate their children with religion
  3. Therefore Santa and religion are no different.

I’ve never related to the complaint of indoctrination. My Mom would NOT give credit to a myth over our hard working Dad, and although my parents are religious they gave me the complete freedom to make my own decisions and to think for myself. They never forced it upon me. And there’s the first major problem with the argument: it sets up a strawman. Not all who are Christian came to be so through the act of indoctrination. It can actually be quite the opposite. Take Peter Hitchens, author of The Rage Against God and brother of one of the most well-known militant atheists to put pen to paper, Christopher Hitchens. He came to Christianity, not through indoctrination, but through personal searching. Same can be said for popular apologists like Lee Strobel. Both of these men were once atheists committed to dismantling religion.

But that isn’t all this argument is pulling. It can also go like this:

  1. Santa Claus is a legend.
  2. Jesus Christ is a legend
  3. Therefore the legend of Santa is no different than religion

But this does nothing more than beg the question. It’s not presenting an argument or dismantling a claim, it’s presenting a preconceived conclusion as an established fact. It doesn’t attempt to answer why one thinks Christianity is a legend or even why one thinks Santa Claus is a legend.

Let me give a comedic example as to why I see this as a highly ineffective way to argue. Say I loved one flavor of pizza (i.e. the spicy one) but my friend loved another (i.e. Meatlovers). If I wanted to argue that my flavor is best, would it be effective to say “Meatlovers is equivalent to pig slop!”? Not really. I didn’t give a further reason than my preconceived opinion. It’d be much more effective if I said something along the lines of “The meat they use in that pizza isn’t natural.” I’m now presenting a reason as to why I dislike Meatlovers. The question is, why didn’t I just use that reason instead of my comparison at the beginning? The comparison carries little to no weight.

The Santa Claus argument adopts the same approach. In the skeptic’s mind, I’m sure it makes perfect sense, but anyone outside of his mind won’t make much sense of it. It’s pointless in the long run. If one can argue much more effectively another way by explaining why they see religion as a legend, why even bother to make the comparison to Santa Claus? Why is the argument still so popular? The answer is why wouldn’t it be? It’s a popular and humorous slogan meant to mock the opposite. What can we do about it?

We’re met with hundreds of commercials a day, I just ignore one more.

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