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comicalmayhem's avatar

Is believing in God the same as believing in Santa Claus?

Asked by comicalmayhem (804 points ) May 20th, 2011

I mean, think about it. There’s no evidence that either of them exist. The only difference is that Santa would be on earth and easily disprovable while God is supposedly a person up in the sky OR all around us. But how could God be all around us? You could argue that God is nature, but that’s only because it’s very hard to prove wrong and impossible to prove right.
Personally, I believe that religion is an excuse for the unexplained. Right now, I’m agnostic. A few weeks ago I was Christian. I have yet to read the Bible, but I have friends that are Christian who have debated with me on things like this. (Friendly debate). I have a feeling if I ever become Atheist that I’d do a conversion to Christianity on my death bed just cause it’s a sad fate when you believe there is no God or heaven. Just blackness. Also I feel like it’s an unaccepted/bad thing to believe or disbelieve however you look at it. But I do think Atheists are probably the most reasonable.

Alright so I have 2 questions up for debate:
1. Is believing in God the same as believing in Santa as a kid?
2. If you are Atheist, do you think you’d make the conversion on your death bed?
OR if you are Christian or any other religion that believes in God, why do you believe in God and is there any evidence that he exists?

***Disclaimer: I’m aware that this is a controversial topic and I’m not asking anyone to change their beliefs & I accept all religions. I am not trolling because I’m not looking to piss anyone off, just making a point. I will not get amused from causing controversy.***

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57 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

At least there are presents from Santa. That’s sort of like proof, albeit weak proof.

everephebe's avatar

Santa hasn’t been known to kill anyone. So he’s a better imaginary bearded fellow in my opinion. On my deathbed I’d be more concerned with coming up with something witty to say, like, “Either the wallpaper goes or I do!”

comicalmayhem's avatar

@everephebe Are you saying believing in God is worse than believing in Santa? Or the other way around?

everephebe's avatar

Yes, believing in god is worse than believing in a fat northern elf with a fondness for the color red, in my opinion.^

Mariah's avatar

I think the main difference would be that the people who tell us Santa exists later admit that they were making that up. The source of the “legend” is verifably untrue.

I’m agnostic too.

King_Pariah's avatar

Careful, this is a touchy subject, for some, God is very real and find support in believing that there is more to living than just death. And then again, you never know who’s little three-year-old is sitting on their parents lap while they fluther and see that Santa doesn’t exist.

For me, Believing in santa or god are the same and just as silly as the other. Although religion is annoying with all this my god is better than your god. However, I do find it equally annoying amongst atheists with all our my version of creation is better than your version or your version of how everything comes to an end is worse than my version of how everything will come to an end.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

For some people it is.
Either way,I couldn’t care less.;)

comicalmayhem's avatar

3. Also, how do you feel about Atheism?

EddieTheHead's avatar

God, In my opinion is WAY more important then a fat guy

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

1. Is believing in God the same as believing in Santa as a kid? No
2. If you are Atheist, do you think you’d make the conversion on your death bed?
OR if you are Christian or any other religion that believes in God, why do you believe in God and is there any evidence that he exists?* I don’t fall into any of those categories.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer What religion are you? If you don’t mind me asking.

Plucky's avatar

Hmm ..No, I do not believe it’s the same thing.

I pretty much have the same view as @everephebe posted.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@King_Pariah What do Atheists believe about creation? I thought it was evolution which is what I believe and was scientifically proven true and denied by the Catholic church or something and then true again. I don’t know where the theory of evolution stands now.

everephebe's avatar

3. Peachy keen.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@comicalmayhem None. Like you, I am agnostic. I haven’t studied any religion enough to embrace or dismiss it.

As for #3, Also, how do you feel about Atheism? I’m fine with it, as long as someone doesn’t belittle another for their beliefs.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Yeah, I think I’ll look into different religions when I go to college. I’ll give the bibles of some religions a read. The only ones I know off the top of my head are the Holy Bible and The Quran. I was raised Christian, but it was never really enforced.

mrmijunte's avatar

Funny you would ask this. When I was a child ( maybe 6 years old ), I was finally told that Santa Claus was not real, so right then and there I put two and two together and decided that God can’t be real either. Childish, maybe, but consider my age. When I was 16 years old, I finally decided to read the bible, and that really pushed me away from religion. Objectively I am agnostic, but I define myself as an atheist agnostic, as in I don’t believe there is a god but hey I might be wrong and I really don’t care. What I care is about religion defining policy but that is another story.

crisw's avatar

Both God and Santa are believed in for many of the same reasons. Many believers are offended by the comparison, and use this offense to work themselves into a state of high dudgeon rather than actually thinking critically about the issue. I haven’t really seen a good defense of why they are not of the same cloth. More to the point, there is little difference between belief in the Christian God and belief in any other god, like Zeus or Allah. As the saying goes- “As an atheist, you and I have a lot in common. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.”

I am an atheist, and I seriously doubt I would have a deathbed conversion. I try to live my life logically, and wanting something (like an afterlife) to be so does not make it so, no matter how comforting that belief is.

tinyfaery's avatar

Santa doesn’t really provide an answer to the existential questions of life, which god does.

comicalmayhem's avatar

I think it’s pretty interesting that some people who are against Atheism see Atheists as people who are in denial of the truth when to me I think it’s the other way around. They also say that the majority will make a conversion to Christianity or Judaism on their death bed. Which I think is a strong possibility.

woodcutter's avatar

The whole Santa thing is for little kids. Their parents are using the reward system to make them behave, But they are just kids and figure it out usually on their own. It’s when full grown adults start believing in something unprovable and then they use it as a base for their political beliefs is what makes it dangerous.

crisw's avatar

@comicalmayhem

“What do Atheists believe about creation? I thought it was evolution which is what I believe and was scientifically proven true and denied by the Catholic church or something and then true again. I don’t know where the theory of evolution stands now.”

How the world came to be, how life arose, and the theory of evolution are three very different things. Evolution only tells us how life diversified once it was here. And the theory of evolution has as much, if not more, scientific support than any other scientific theory. It’s as solid as the theory of gravity, or the germ theory of disease.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@crisw But doesn’t it disprove a bunch of religions? If it does then why do those religions still exist? Denial?

crisw's avatar

@tinyfaery

“Santa doesn’t really provide an answer to the existential questions of life, which god does.”

Actually, Santa does this well, in a primitive way. What happens to the good? (They get presents.) What happens to the bad? (They get coal.) Who observes and tracks our behavior? (An omniscient being.) And so on and so forth.

mrmijunte's avatar

@woodcutter believing in god ( judeo-christian ) has a reward system not so different than believing in Santa Claus. Kid, if you don’t bother daddy right now Santa will give you gifts. Kid, if you don’t hate the gays you will no be accepted into heaven. If you don’t vote republican, you will not go to heaven. Just examples, everyone calm down!

crisw's avatar

@comicalmayhem

“But doesn’t it disprove a bunch of religions? ”

No. Most mainstream religions accept evolution. It’s primarily fundamentalist sects that do not.

ucme's avatar

Nah, Santa brings you cool toys when you’re a kid. If my parents had told me god was coming on christmas night i’d have been pissed. Who wants to wake up to a bible & a lecture?
Give me a bike & a baseball glove any day! Coz i’m selfish like that.

mazingerz88's avatar

Agnostic here. Yes I would convert to any religion who would bother recruiting me in my death bed. And if no one comes I would totally convert to this religion that I have started in my own mind a few months ago. I call it the “Church of Honestly I Dont Know But If There’s A God I Hope He Likes Me” Then I will say I love you to the world, smile, close my eyes and die.

woodcutter's avatar

@mrmijunte I guess the point i was getting at is that Santa is for juvenile consumption only. Kids can’t vote for obvious reasons. When a people (adults voting) get all ginned up for religious reasons and vote based on their religious beliefs they are in effect trying to force them on others using the law. It’s wrong. Santa is not.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Santa just wants some cookies and milk. God demands your loyalty, body, and mind.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@mrmijunte I think everyone here is pretty calm.

King_Pariah's avatar

@comicalmayhem suprisingly, there is still much debate if whether or not evolution is real as there are arguments of that there are no clear points of transition to the genetic code, and that adaptation does not count as evolution. The other hand states that there has been many more extinction level events than scientists have discerned so far and each time life has come back in one form or another. I don’t know all the details but it’s something along those line for a few sides of the arguments.

And then there are also the creation of the universe arguments, More or less everyone agrees that there was a big bang but then it’s how did this big bang occur, what sparked it? Though there is also the argument (this theory as very few but dedicated followers) that the Universe, actually Multiverse, has always existed and every consequence that sprout from every possible event results in a new universe being formed in which that universe continues based on those set of consequences. This would more or less imply also that there are infinite universes and infinite you’s and me’s.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@King_Pariah That’s interesting. Evolution seems like a definite. It’s adaptation through genetic code. The strong survive and pass on their strong traits to their children. Who decides those strong traits? I don’t know. Maybe that’s why people accept evolution and God. God deciding the strong traits to pass on, controlling evolution.
And it would be really cool if there were multiple universes. Unfortunately we’re no where near the technology to prove that… if we can even travel to those universes in the first place.

beckk's avatar

How can you believe something to be true when you have no evidence to prove or disprove it?
I would say, in my opinion, that believing in God is just like believing in Santa.
keep in mind I am not religious at all, never have been, and I doubt I ever will be

comicalmayhem's avatar

@beckk it’s because believing and knowing are 2 different things. I’m not religious either.

King_Pariah's avatar

@comicalmayhem actually you ever hear of the Physicist Brian Greene? He has a theory that mathematically works (unfortunately we don’t have the tools to test it with) stating that the Multiverse is real. He also has a work in progress theory that states that everything is merely a projection of one giant equation.

When it comes to evolution, there are those who see it like you do and others who state that evolution requires a complete and utter change to the genetic code because an adaptation just makes a more and more resilient and better fish BUT can not account for the transition from a single cell organism to algae, algae to plant life and fish, fish to an amphibian, or amphibian to reptile, reptile to bird, etc.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@King_Pariah Never heard of him, but I’ll be sure to check out his work.

comicalmayhem's avatar

Another question I thought of: Are you open about your religion (or lack of) and why?

I’m not really that open about religion irl, but when a discussion about religion pops up I’ll argue my views and state I’m agnostic but not entirely sure. The reason I’m not really all that open about religion irl is I feel like I should be Christian because my family is Christian. Plus a lot of people aren’t open about religion because they feel it’s either a sensitive topic or they don’t really feel like it’s relevant.

amujinx's avatar

As a comedian I like said (Jimmy Carr), “When I was young, I had an imaginary friend. I talked with him everyday. Then I grew up and I stopped praying to God’.

Honestly though, I view the issue of god as this: if an omniscient, omnipotent being needs to create evil to be a foil to make people believe and worship him without any proof that he exists, and will judge you for eternity based on this, then that all-powerful being is just a giant petulant child.

Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god? – Epicurus

I would not make a deathbed conversion, because that would make me a giant hypocrite.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@comicalmayhem I am open about my feelings on religion, but only with those that ask. Most of my friends and family are Christians, and they seem oblivious to considering what those around them may believe. It’s quite fascinating and sad, all rolled into one.

ddude1116's avatar

As far as Santa and God, it’s a similar concept with entirely different executions.

I recently converted from Catholicism to Buddhism because I preferred their methods of practice better, not that it is actually any better, just that I prefer it. I don’t agree with everything involved, mainly the Four Noble Truths and Karma, but there’s nothing to judge you in Buddhism, except maybe yourself, and you’re rewarded with karma. Which gives you the freedom to do as you please without facing eternal damnation. I believe in God as much as I disbelieve in Him. I’m not interested in how we got on Earth, just that we are here, so I will live my life being a good person so that one day I shall find Nirvana.

Atheism is cool if you dig it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another religion, since it makes as much sense as anything. But like I said, if you dig it, then cool. Basically, as long as nobody is being put down because of their beliefs, I have no strife.

Joker94's avatar

As a kid, it’s kind of similar. But consider that you believe for different reasons. Also, when you are told that Santa isn’t really, your belief in Santa ends completely. Your beliefs in God, however, change as you grow older.

I’m a Christian, but I don’t align with any sects or branches of Christianity. I believe in God and Jesus and all that, but I don’t really practice in any traditional ways. I don’t attend church all that often, nor do I find it necessary to do so to be considered religious. Which I am not.

Asking why I believe in God seems strange to me, sometimes. It’s like asking somebody why they’re right-handed. I just kind of…do. I find evidence of God in everything, I guess. To tell me that the universe wasn’t formed by some deity seems more far-fetched than giving me scientific reasoning on how it happened.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Yep.

That’s why I say it’s not about believing in God…
...it’s about knowing God.

Pandora's avatar

Santa isn’t fictional and to me neither is God. Santa was a real guy. Saint Nicholas (Who I believe was a bishop) later became known as Santa Claus. I believe the story got started when he helped a poor man marry off his daughters by giving them gold coins for their dowry, to prevent them from being sold into slavery. He later became the Patron Saint of children long after his death.
So yes, Santa is real. However the North Pole Commercial Santa is fictional.

AdamF's avatar

I made a comment here about agnosticism that might be of interest. In short, agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive positions.

http://www.fluther.com/120620/attention-agnostics-and-atheists-what-constitutes-a-belief-see-details/

WIth respect to equating belief in god with belief in Santa Claus: It depends on the god in question and the aspect being discussed. That said, most gods I’ve ever heard defined are as irrational and unsupported as the childhood mythology associated with Santa, but far more detrimental to society. The Santa myth isn’t taken seriously by adults (hopefully) and doesn’t provide people with a ready supernatural justification for misogyny, homophobia, genocide, or slavery.

With respect to converting on the deathbed. Only if supportive evidence suddenly changes around that time, or a neural disease robs me me of my critical faculties.

I would never convert on the deathbed out of fear. Frankly the “Pascal’s wager” type of argument is nonsensical..

It’s been beaten to death over and over again, but like a zombie, just keeps coming back to eat people’s brains.

crisw's avatar

@Joker94

“Also, when you are told that Santa isn’t really, your belief in Santa ends completely.”

Well, if you told a small child that gods did not exist, wouldn’t you expect the same result?

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Pandora I’m talking about the Commercial Santa. But yeah, I didn’t know that Saint Nicholas was an actual guy. So why do you think God is a real guy?

@AdamF I think you’re saying God = Social Darwinism when you say it’s detrimental to society. It’s just ignorant people, not God. I see Pascal’s argument (and it’s a good argument), but you can’t just push people to believe something just cause you think they’ll be happier that way.

@crisw We’d have to try it out. It depends if other people have told that child that God is real. In that case, they won’t know who to believe and would have to pick sides. They may even pick your side if they recently found out Santa isn’t real because they’d find it hard to believe their parents about childhood figures. Like we could probably convince the child that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist, but that’s may or may not be as strongly enforced by others as God is.

Joker94's avatar

@crisw Do you mean if I were to tell them as a parent? That would have more of an impact, certainly. I found out about Santa from my parents, had they told me God didn’t exist, I’d probably have believed them.

If a friend told me God didn’t exist, though, I’d have a much harder time believing them. Then again, it depends a lot on the chid in question too.

crisw's avatar

@Joker94
@comicalmayhem

Just to make clear, my point is that the fact that children stop believing in Santa because their parents (or others) tell them Santa doesn’t exist, but keep believing in a god is not an indication that Santa and God are different, because the same children would also stop believing in a god if they were told as consistently that that god does not exist.

Joker94's avatar

@crisw Ah, I see what you are saying now. In that case, yes, I would agree with you. To a lot of kids raised really religiously though, I imagine the idea of the universe not having been created by a god would be harder to swallow than the idea of Santa not being real would be.

crisw's avatar

@Joker94

I think the real difference here is the amount of time spent on the story. Children typically only hear a lot about Santa during a short span of the year. If we had an entire Santa mythology with temples to Santa, Santa school, and the like, the belief would be a lot harder to change.

AdamF's avatar

@comicalmayhem “I think you’re saying God = Social Darwinism when you say it’s detrimental to society. It’s just ignorant people, not God.”

Perhaps we’re talking past each other, but I’m not really saying that at all. All I’m saying is religious myths are more dangerous than Santa myths, because associated texts anchor antiquated all too human views on morality (lacking 2000 years of insights) to dictates from supernatural entities that don’t have to justify their views. Hence these attitudes continue to influence societies well past their use by dates.

“I see Pascal’s argument (and it’s a good argument), but you can’t just push people to believe something just cause you think they’ll be happier that way.”

Similarly, not sure where the pushing people to believe something came from? Nor do I think that Pascal’s argument is even remotedly a good argument.

Several reasons found here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager#Criticism

comicalmayhem's avatar

@AdamF Yeah, religious myths are more dangerous than Santa myths because religious myths are more universally accepted.

And he’s pushing people to believe in God by telling them “they’d be happier that way, so why not”. Which is kinda why I’m not full-blown Atheist and I’m just agnostic cause I think not having faith is considered ‘bad’.

blueiiznh's avatar

They are both a self belief.
A person can believe is something no matter what age.
It also does not mean they always with have that same belief forever.
Nuf said.

Joker94's avatar

@crisw Also, people’s devotion to each of them are on totally different levels. Some people honor their gods a lot, sometimes to the point of it becoming their life, whereas we only honor the man in red once a year.

King_Pariah's avatar

@Joker94 oh yeah with the yearly sacrifice of hundreds to thousands of greenbacks.

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