Social Question

iamthemob's avatar

How is god like Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, faeries, etc. (DETAILS FOLLOW)

Asked by iamthemob (17123 points ) September 19th, 2010

And why is it okay to say that?

If it’s not simply a dismissive thing to say, what are the definitions that you’re working with, and exactly how are they comparable?

If it is dismissive, see question one…

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84 Answers

Ltryptophan's avatar

People don’t believe in Santa because there is no corporeal evidence that points to his existence. The acts that are purportedly his doing are widely known to be the contrivances of benevolent, human, parents. He is a sort of tool that is used to create a certain charmed time for children.

Many, would say that those same characteristics apply almost overlappingly to God.

This is of course false. Although God is austere in the sense that He is not always in your face corporeally, He is very much in your life caring, and paying close attention to everything you do. He sees you when you’re sleeping.

I think it shows that God is utterly polite that He discreetly keeps Himself from interfering in our lives when He could.

I think it is also funny that Santa(saint) is a historical christian figure and that seems to go unnoticed. Santa acted as an agent of God. He might not exist today, but historical evidence suggests he did. There are also many people who have acted in the same benevolent slant throughout these two millenia.

That separates God and Santa from the other totally mythical critters. The easter bunny and faeries are seemingly fictional in origin. They help holidays in the same way as Santa, but outside charming children they have little functional value.

poisonedantidote's avatar

that would depend on what god we are talking about, for some gods the comparison would only be valid when it comes to the lack of empirical evidence, for other gods there would be more similarities.

iamthemob's avatar

@Ltryptophan

At the same time, faeries and other mythical figures have been used to explain what at the time may have been natural phenomena that the people of the time had no way to methodically observe, which were later explained. Although there is a difference between that and god, isn’t that a valid similarity if we assume the argument that science can eventually explain all of the things we don’t understand now?

iamthemob's avatar

@poisonedantidote

That’s what I’m asking, though. If you don’t know what god you’re talking about, and exactly what version of that god, you’re kind of just being childish – or is there something more?

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob well, there have been millions of gods over the years, from Ogo a god who was raped and sodomized in to existence inside of an egg, to apollo, mars and all kinds of others ones. if you are not going to specify a particular god as if there has only ever been one that people believed in, then my comparisons would have to apply to all of them, something that is quite impossible. you could get in to thousands of gods before you even got out of tribal african ones.

obviously i suspect we are talking about the abrahamic god, but i find whenever i make that assumption it tends to come back and bite me in the ass.

iamthemob's avatar

@poisonedantidote – That’s my problem with the comparison. I see it all over the place on this site, and in arguments theoretically contrary to theist arguments. But it seems not only derisive, but harmful both to (1) a continued conversation about moral philosophy and (2) the feelings of people who hold a belief in god sacred. Therefore, it has both general and specific effects on the ability to intelligently converse.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob If you dislike the comparison, you can always dismiss it by calling it a fallacy, in this case an appeal to mockery.

you will probably find the people who use that argument are usually not that serious about it, its normally a response to theists when they get in to using circular logic when it comes to burden of proof.

i also find its an argument made usually by atheists who have not been atheists for very long, (along side arguments about suffering)

ucme's avatar

God along with the Easter bunny & fairys are fakes. Wheras Daddy Christmas, now he has real presents…....excuse me, presence :¬)

iamthemob's avatar

@ucme – see above at @poisonedantidote.

@poisonedantidote – see below at @ucme.

This is social, so humor is of course more encouraged. But again, what if a religious person reads through the thread?

ucme's avatar

@iamthemob Oh I wasn’t joking, why every upstanding citizen worth their salt knows Santa is very real. He is in fact alive & well & living in Wolverhampton, England. I know his Mother, nice woman spoils him rotten though!

iamthemob's avatar

@ucme oh, I know Santa’s real. I don’t really know why I included him in the above. But my comment is still applicable to your comment about god. :-)

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob well, i really cant bring my self to see much wrong with things that are offensive. no one has a right to not be offended. I think it was only yesterday that the pope called atheists nazis, i my self am an atheist. but, you just have to brush stuff like that off.

as a human, i have just as much capacity to be offended as any religious person, there are some things that i hold as “sacred” so to speak. for example this video is something i hold in the highest regard. and if someone mocked it i would be quite offended, but still, i invite you to mock it if you wish. it will not affect anything, i am the one who gets to enjoy the message and realize its truth.

if someone seriously tries to compare god to santa then just hammer them, they are basically giving you a “win a debate free” card. having said that, not always. it is possible to make real connections between santa and certain gods. specially if its a debate dealing with disproving negatives or double negatives.

for example, if someone says “you cant disprove god” then it is quite acceptable to say “you cant disprove santa either”. personally i see that as a valid point. its a good analogy on how burden of proof works, and makes a good point towards not believing things just because you cant disprove them. but yes, if being used for mockery then just shut them down.

iamthemob's avatar

@poisonedantidote

well, i really cant bring my self to see much wrong with things that are offensive. no one has a right to not be offended. I think it was only yesterday that the pope called atheists nazis, i my self am an atheist. but, you just have to brush stuff like that off.

True. But we’re not talking about people’s rights not to hear something. This is about whether you should say it. Again, you have the right to say whatever you want, as well (well, within some limits). But if you’re saying something that’s pretty much just an insult…there’s no content value. It’s violence, in essence. So you shouldn’t be concerned about how the other person should take what you say, but why you are saying it (all yous in the preceding should be considered general ;-)). Also how you take things personally, because of that, is beside the point – if you’re looking to make a statement, is there content or is it just noise?

for example, if someone says “you cant disprove god” then it is quite acceptable to say “you cant disprove santa either”.

I see what your saying, but it’s actually different I think. You can more reasonably assume that Santa doesn’t exist considering that he’s easy to define, we can easily see examples of how commercialism helped push current perceptions of him along (anyone want a Coca-Cola?), the theory is he exists withing the finite space of the earth, and in a particular and previously explored part of it, how satellites haven’t mapped his travels, how EVERY child is clearly not visited by him (regardless of their naughty/nice quotient), etc. So there some almost (if not clearly) objective measurements we can take to show that he’s not there. It’s similar on the “magic” front, but different if we consider that he’s really supposed to show up, be visible, etc. in certain places.

God doesn’t have those parameters. I accept that if we are talking about a literal interpretation of religious texts, totally similar. But that’s not what people mean when they say god for the most part – it’s generally a pretty personal thing.

“win a debate free” card

I think part of the problem, and the context where this comes up, is that faith discussions between people of different beliefs are perceived as debates. Why is this necessary?

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob before i respond, is there any chance you could label your beliefs for me? just so i can use the most appropriate terminology. im guessing deist.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Because Gawd is an imaginary being just as Santa, the easter bunny, etc. There is about the same amount of proof for them all. They are also alike in the fact that they are all constructs of man..

iamthemob's avatar

@poisonedantidote

I don’t think it’s relevant – but in case it is…in the most technical way, I’m an atheist I suppose.

iamthemob's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet

Please see posts above. And details.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob well, its kind of relevant, im trying to build a “point of view gun” so to speak, to help get my point across. ok, here goes…

ucme's avatar

@iamthemob Oh okay, in response to your comment “what if a religious person reads this thread”? I answer this way, shit a don’t give I…..or something similar. They would dismiss it out of hand, i’d imagine. I mean it’s nothing they haven’t heard before right?

iamthemob's avatar

@ucme – I’ve also been called a faggot before. That doesn’t mean that, when I hear it again, and although I won’t let it change or affect me in some permanent manner, it will affect me again.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob as for the first part, people regulating what they say. I think we can all admit that religious discussion is not exactly the most trivial emotionless topic out there. this is a big factor in this.

as an atheist, there are times when im discussing something with someone, or debating them. and it gets to the point where we just blow off steam. all sides do it, the atheists will call Jesus a zombie, the theists will say oh your going to hell anyway, and so on.

being an arrogant idiot is not exclusive to any particular brand of religious beliefs or lack there of. its basically a human thing. and while that does not make insults ok, you can kind of see how its inevitable at times. i think its quite reasonable to expect people to say things like this when they get to a point that they feel like they are banging their head against the wall. they have had enough of what they see as nonsense and just throw it out there. its not really reasonable to expect humans to always be polite and considerate, its just not in our nature. we are much more similar to the savages we where a few millenniaia ago than we would like to admit. hence, i think the main thing is to concentrate on people not having a right to not be offended. sure, try to be a better person, but dont be too disappointed when we fail.

as for santa and being able to objectively disprove him, i would argue that many gods can be refuted with similar observations. and the existence of santa can be defended by using the same excuses and counter arguments that people use to defend the existence of gods.

e.g. “santa moves in mysterious ways, obviously he does not have time to visit every child individually, thats just a metaphor and allegory. and yes, santa does not visit every single child on earth, because some children just dont believe in him enough. as for parents being responsible for gifts, that is partly true, but its really just santa working through the parents. as for satellites, they wont ever find santa because he has powers, he exists outside of our time and reality”

a lot of theists will use these exact same arguments to defend the existence of their god of choice. you could point out, to say for example a christian, that the story of the ark, the tower of babel, and the garden of eden have been shown to be false by science, with them then responding saying its allegory or metaphor. but really, they have only been considered metaphors and allegory since science dealt blows to those stories. by moving the goal posts you can more or less defend anything.

this brings us back to the beginning, if i seriously made the argument that i make above about santa, would it really be unreasonable for you to call me an idiot out of frustration? i dont think so. when you come up against something that you personally see as stupid when compared to what you “know” or believe, its not that unreasonable for there to be some mockery.

they key is probably trying to see things from the other side. like, while i am an atheist, i can perfectly understand how some theists could dismiss my arguments by claiming im working for the devil or what have you. specially when they have believed what they believe for a long time. really, i dont see much difference between seriously comparing jesus to a zombie or god to the easter bunny and seriously saying someone is working for the devil.

ucme's avatar

Okaaaaaay, we move from god, santa clause & the easter bloody bunny to you being called that awful derogatory word by some odious individual. Yeah, that’s me moving on!

iamthemob's avatar

@poisonedantidote

as for santa and being able to objectively disprove him, i would argue that many gods can be refuted with similar observations. and the existence of santa can be defended by using the same excuses and counter arguments that people use to defend the existence of gods.

I totally agree. Where you do understand the person’s concept of god, then you might get closer to making a comparison. However, when people are asked…“Do you believe in god” the reaction is often “No” and the answer to why(on posts on here) is something akin to the “fake” “not real” “Santa Clause” statement, which assumes so much about the discussion that it ends up shutting it down.

I think atheistic viewpoints are important, but this doesn’t help us get to the actual discussion. It is, rather, the conclusion of it.

My problem also comes from the expansion of this conclusion when it becomes the basis of the hard atheist argument against the existence of god. When the assertion is “god does not exist” there’s a lot of unpacking that should be done, and the statement needs to be supported with something more than why they don’t believe in the contrary.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

How is it not like all of those creatures?

iamthemob's avatar

@ucme

It’s the same topic though – if the statement is derogatory, then it is the same thing for some people. If there’s a reason why it objectively is supportable, then how?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob Um, I did – you were great, as usual. But, again, and this is not a derogatory connection for me, god is like santa or my sex life with Anjelina Jolie because all of the above are human constructs. You speak of commercialization of Christmas as contributing to the fact Santa’s not real – before we had advertising, we had prophets.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@iamthemob personally, i am a hard atheist, and i do have very good arguments (if i do say so my self) in support of “god does not exist”. but using santa in this context is just, well, retarded, and probably more suited to some turd pit like yahoo answers. trust me, if i saw someone using santa as an attempt to back up a positive claim that there is no god, i would be the first one to take them on. that kind of argument has to be put forwards with a series of very careful logical observations and points. otherwise you will just look a fool.

while i would gladly debate the existence of a god from a point where the burden of proof is on me as the hard atheist, that will have to wait for tomorrow or some other day, i have been awake for a good 30 hours now. so its one more cigarette for me then sleep.

but yes, if someone wants to make the statement “there is no god” then they best have something more up their sleve than santa. as soon as you do that you are giving every theist in a thousand mile radius a chance to totally destroy your credability. that kind of discussion requires your ‘A’ game. and is more or less impossible to have with people making short dismissive statements. (on either side)

EDIT: anyway, off to bed for now. cya all laters.

muppetish's avatar

Honestly, I have used the comparison before because it’s the easiest way to relate my childhood experiences to people who don’t understand. I’ve attempted to write more than one paper about this, but have been unable to find the right words. Maybe I’ll take a crack at it again in the future.

In my house, there was no Santa Claus. We knew that our dad bought our presents because he wanted credit for forking over the money. No harm done. We didn’t miss having Santa in our lives. The Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy were only known to us through cartoons and schoolyard chatter. We were the sort of kids who get annoyed with our parents for condescending to us – creating make-believe characters, passing them as real entities… it’s basically lying to children. It’s not a horrible, life-ruining lie, but it’s a lie nonetheless.

They did, however, teach us about God, heaven, and prayer. It was part of our routine, but not a big part of our lives. It felt like one of those traditional things you just do.

When I was eight, I stopped believing in God (for various reasons I won’t get into here.) More or less, I grew out of the necessity to believe in a creator / savior. Much in the same way a kid grows too old to believe in an imaginary character who delivers presents to houses. It’s a nice thought, but it’s not true. After I got over the basic hump of realizing I didn’t believe, I began questioning my parents. They were the ones who had told me about God. If God didn’t exist, that meant they had lied to me. Again, it wasn’t a life-ruining lie (at least my parents were the sort that only taught God is loving and protective) but it was still a lie.

So in my experience, I’m not drawing the parallel to be insulting at all. It’s simply because the experiences are feasibly comparable based on the principles associated with Santa and God (watchful, giving to the good, encourages you to behave as a morally-correct human being, etc.) and the feelings of realizing neither exist. It may be difficult for someone who still believes in God to come to terms with, but to a non-religious person it is perfectly rational.

I apologize for not reading the previous responses yet. I just woke up.

iamthemob's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: You were great too…(oooh, dirty…;-)).

The difference is that you have to make a great many assumptions about what god could be that aren’t necessary with something like Santa Clause, etc., (assuming that we are speaking to other people from a similar cultural perspective, etc.). You can fairly assume the image you’re communicating when you say “Santa” as opposed to the one you communicate when you say “god.”

Therefore, I wonder if there’s a real use to the comparison other than its derogatory nature.

iamthemob's avatar

@muppetish

You added something new – so no need to apologize. :-)

The problem is unless you tell that entire story (which does show a reasonable comparison because it demonstrates a personal understanding of your transition in belief), the objective elements can only be construed in a minimalistic fashion. That’s how it’s used most of the time I’ve seen it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@iamthemob God like Santa Clause or fairies looks different in each believer’s mind – that doesn’t make it an insurmountable construct…in fact, it helps my point – nobody even has an idea what this creature is like…in some ways, this weakens its strength as a construct, even.

Fairylover78's avatar

I am with @muppetish 100 % those are my reasons pretty much when I have compared the 2 as well. In my house, we pretty much knew that Santa didn’t really bring us presents,we found the stash every year But my parents still used Santa as an excuse to get me in bed early and be a good little girl or I would get a piece of Coal instead of presents…. well, I found church to be very similar… I better be a good little girl or no streets of gold for me, I will not be permitted into the gates of Heaven, but rather cast into hell to burn for eternity with a devil with horns and eternal pain and all that jazz…. Geez a little harsh huh? Way scarier than the whole coal thing! Just like getting a piece of coal for not going to bed RIGHT NOW, Going to Hell for any number of ridiculous things is just as silly. “Santa” ( and the others that you mentioned) go back centuries, in all different cultures and religions told in different ways.Just like Jesus, I think—maybe sort of—Santa could have even been a real little boy too at one time, did many good things the both of them, were admired by many…. BUT have you ever heard of Grapevine or whisper down the lane where you get a line of people and the first person starts by telling a short story to the next and it gets passed along until it gets to the last person, by the end it only shares similar vital points of the story, and before you know it snakes are talking, reindeer are flying, people oh sorry person are walking on water and some big dude in a red suit is fitting down a chimney I don’t even have….( And that’s just a line of 20 or so people, imagine what that turns into after Centuries of retelling… oh wait I just did!!) So I guess what I’m trying to say is that when I make the comparison it’s not meant rudely or even as an argument as to why I don’t believe in god rather simply by comparing them, it can help make a point.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Santa and the Easter Bunny are extremely God-like.

BoBo1946's avatar

It’s okay to make a blanket statement like that, but it’s not something to direct at a person directly.

As far as belief, believe what you want to believe.

BoBo1946's avatar

@Ben_Dover that was good. How true. let them figure it out!

Ben_Dover's avatar

@BoBo1946 It seemed self-evident!

BoBo1946's avatar

@Ben_Dover exactly….there is a definite correlation between God, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus.

truecomedian's avatar

Their all invisible to us for the most part. Though if there is a God, I feel like it’s possible, just not necessary. I sometimes wish I believed more in God, a God, and wonder about the people that seem to. I think there is enough fact to not need faith, but you don’t need to believe in a God to believe that there is a lot we don’t know and maybe something greater than ourselves. Sorry to give such a douchey answer, I’m only on my second beer.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Because of the hypocracy inherent in all religious discussions on this site or any other arena. All the discussions end the same way particularly if the “believer” doesn’t get their way in the discussion. Also the testifier usually is someone who was Just born again and can’t wait to use this great internet to tell the world about the glory of god.

I think if you want to have a religious discussion in an open forum you should try to be less judgemental and more open to the ideas of the world. Remember your working off of something thats 2,000 yrs old(most of it much older but I will try to stay on topic). Learned individuals have found the flaws in the books logic and cannot wait for the same tired argument.

Why don’t you try an approach that incorporates your religous belifs in a way that is not offensive to one third (at least) of the individuals that would like to use sites like these to further educate and evolve, rather than rehash a 2,000 yr old fairy tale.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

Unfortunately, this statement shows the hypocrisy behind many who hold contrary to Christian beliefs (I assume that the “you” is directed at Christians).

Now, let me ask…your entire statement is based on an assumption that God should be interpreted as the Christian, biblical God, correct? If so, you need to read the rest of the thread. Ironically, by discussing only new testament issues, you didn’t stay on topic, but went completely off of it.

thekoukoureport's avatar

Reading the rest of the thread shows me that you will not be specific just like every other religous discussion on this site.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

How is this a religious discussion? It’s about a tactic used in some religious discussions, true…but it isn’t about religion per se.

thekoukoureport's avatar

not many people disuss muhammed and Allah or Visnu or Buddah or Yaweh usually it’s just the Christian god.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

That still doesn’t say why this is a religious discussion.

thekoukoureport's avatar

How is god like? Evoking the name of god in a disussion about being offended when someone refers to god in religous discussions on this site. But this is not a religous discussion.

BoBo1946's avatar

I don’ t attack anyone for their beliefs. None of my business. I just state what I believe.

iamthemob's avatar

@thekoukoureport

You’re not making sense.

muppetish's avatar

@thekoukoureport I interpreted @iamthemob‘s question as one regarding symbolism and etiquette. The word religion is not even in the post description nor is it one of the tags. I can understand how it might come up in answer to the question, but it is not the main focus of this discussion. There are plenty of questions on Fluther about religion itself. I suggest you search for those if you are looking for a debate.

Paxan8's avatar

I do believe that god is like Santa, the Easter Bunny and Fairies since I feel they are all human creations to either explain what we have not found scientific proof for or as a means to control a certain population. That being said, if someone truly believes in a god and they receive meaningful fulfillment from that, who am I to take that away from anyone. It is not my responsibility to explain why I feel there is no god just as someone else should not have to explain why they do believe in a god. No one should push their beliefs onto anyone else.

iamthemob's avatar

@Paxan8 – I think it’s an excellent point that you can feel it without expressing it. However, don’t you think that there’s a benefit to a discussion where you explain why you don’t believe, and how you still can find meaning/purpose/etc. in life?

If there is utility to the comparison, I think it’s valid. However, if it represents more how people who don’t believe group together what they believe to be fictional creations, then there is validity in criticizing that comparison. But that’s not possible without full, open discussion.

Paxan8's avatar

I find when religious people start discussing their faith it’s easier for me to just be quiet or leave the room because they are much more passionate about the topic than I am. Neither of us are going to change the other’s mind so why bother? I know I have meaning in my life and have much higher morals than most “religious” people as well so I don’t feel the need to explain myself. What I am passionate about it is when politicians attempt to create laws based on religious beliefs or outsiders attempt to push their beliefs on the children in my life. I feel many religious beliefs are immoral and I do not want the prejudices instilled in my children. I live in America and our Declaration of Independence and Constitution states there should be a distinct spilt between church and state. This so rarely happens and that distresses me, unfortunately the only route I have is to vote for the people that share my beliefs. But if people want to believe there is a magic man in the sky that cares about you and what happens to you…hey good for you, whatever floats you boat.

iamthemob's avatar

@Paxan8

Neither of us are going to change the other’s mind so why bother?

That’s the purpose of a debate. Not a conversation. Can’t neither of you change your minds, but both of you end up with a better understanding of your beliefs?

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@Paxan8 I know I have meaning in my life and have much higher morals than most “religious” people as well so I don’t feel the need to explain myself. A bit sanctimonious don’t you think? I find that very insulting to most “religious” people. That is a pretty outrageous statement to make without factual data to back it up. Personally, I have a very high standard of morals, but I would not say they were higher than anyone else, unless I knew for sure about that individual.

Can we prove there is not Easter Bunny, well I would say yes. Can we prove there is no God? Can we prove there is a God? Can we prove there is or is not an end to outer-space? Can we prove there is or is not a real UFO? I would dare say the point is if you can’t prove it, you can’t disprove it either. That I think we all can agree on for the sake of debate. However, it is interesting to see why people think what they think and why.

iamthemob's avatar

@RANGIEBABY

I don’t think that @Paxan8‘s response was sanctimonious so much as just direct at this point. Please note that he has expressed his desire to show respect for people’s belief as their own.

However, @Paxan8 – to claim that you have much higher morals than most “religious” people is really asking for this sort of response. Our own moral standards are very, very difficult to judge objectively – and how successful we are living up to them depends on chance as much as our commitment.

Paxan8's avatar

@RANGIEBABY I can understand where you are coming from and since morals are subjective it’s not easy to validate that statement. What I mean by “most” is the the majority of religious people have some prejudices against other people who don’t belong to their religion, race, creed or sexual orientation or some combination of each, I find this to be immoral. Majority or most merely means more than 50% world wide. So you very well may not fall into that “most” category.
@iamthemob I’m a female:) What about my little leo avitar said guy :)

iamthemob's avatar

@Paxan8 I generally use “he” as the universal third party pronoun. But my question is…what is it about your sex that makes you not a he? ;-)

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@iamthemob Thank you for informing me of Paxan8’s desire to respect for people’s belief as their own. I just don’t feel one has to degrade anyone to make their point. All she has to say is I have very high morals and as long as I check myself and live by them, then I am and those I come on contact with are happy. Or something to that effect.
The word most applying to the religious people that you know would have been better. But, when referring to a majority of religious people, perhaps the word some would be a safer choice.
I know of a number of religious folks that are out and out hypocrites, but I would not give that a percentage.
My appologies to Paxan8, if I misunderstood what I read.

iamthemob's avatar

HAVE WE ACHIEVED CIVIL DISCOURSE? :-)

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@iamthemob I do believe we have. I love debate, but I also love civil discourse is the process, which I don’t find very often on this site, unfortunately.

Paxan8's avatar

@iamthemob I have a vajaja and not a penis. That’s pretty much what makes me a female:)
@RANGIEBABY I was thinking in the grand scheme of things about religion throughout the entire world, all Christians, Catholics, Jews, Islamis, Hindu…all religions. Actually “most” of the relgious people I know aren’t prejudice or hypocrits and are very “moral” people.
But that only matters if you think respecting everyone for who they is a moral responsibilty, which I do. So morality is extremely subjective.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@Paxan8 sorry, I could not have known the grand scheme of things you were referring to. Thank you for clarifying that for me.

fundevogel's avatar

I’m not going to read all of the above so forgive me if this is redundant.

When I hear God being compared to Santa Claus or if I compare him to Santa Claus my understanding of the comparison comes from my personal experience regarding belief in both entities.

When I was a child my parents taught me about both God and Santa Claus. They didn’t provide me with any evidence to justify belief in either, the fact that they were telling me it was true was all I needed to know it was true. To me this is the basis of the comparison. Neither belief is passed on by the strength of any verifiable evidence or even a philosophical argument. Both are primarily perpetuated by teaching them to children before they are able to critically evaluate a claim, but are credulously accepting of what trusted authority figures tell them. The only difference is belief in Santa Claus has an expiration date where as belief in god is expected and reinforced no matter your age.

Personally this is the part about religion that left its marks on me. It hurts that my parents took advantage of my intellectual immaturity to get me to believe something before I was smart enough to look at claims critically. As far as I’m concerned that is dishonest and underhanded.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@fundevogel I am sorry you feel that way about your parents. But, can you actually prove that they were wrong? Can you?

fundevogel's avatar

@RANGIEBABY The whole point is I don’t think it that just because it something can’t be disproven means it merits belief. You can’t disprove Russell’s teapot so by your reasoning belief in it is just as valid as belief in god. So this raises the question. If the fact that god’s existence can not be disproven is all it takes for for you to belive in him, why does the equivant reason for belief in a teapot orbiting the sun not something you believe and defend? Is it simply that you were taught to believe in god, and not the teapot? If this is the case you should understand that the fact that you were taught to believe in this particular unfalsifiable claim does not make it any more or less valid than another, equally unfalsifiable claim that you weren’t taught to believe.

The point is, in order for a belief to be justifiable it isn’t enough for it to unfalsifiable, it actually needs to be supported.

They took advantage of my youthful credulity to secure my belief when all it required was their assurances. You can get kids to believe just about anything if it’s their parents are the ones telling them it. The fact that their parents happen to believe it doesn’t make it any more legitimate if the only reason they have to believe it is that their parents secured their belief when they were also credulous children.

I very strongly believe that holding ideas that are consistent with with reality is preferable to holding ones without basis in in reality. I think you will find that this prevents me from subscribing to any ideology that is not consistent with what can be demonstrated to be true about the universe.

So when you ask me “But, can you actually prove that they were wrong? Can you?” as a defense of believing an unsupported thesis, to me it is no more reasonable than asking me to believe in any other unsupported claim simply because it is unfalsifiable. If you wouldn’t expect me to accept this as a reason to believe in leprechauns, than you shouldn’t think it is a valid reason to believe in anything else either.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@fundevogel First, I am not asking you to believe in anything….I was just saying maybe your parents believed and it was a good thing in their life, but could not explain the unknown to you, but thought they were doing a good thing for you. You sound angry at them for that. If you have children, I hope they grow up being okay with what you tell them.
Obviously there are more reasons for my belief in God than just you can’t prove he doesn’t exist. Those beliefs are personal and I don’t need to share all of that with you.
So tell me what is your belief of “the truth about the universe”?
Let’s knock of the easter bunny and leprechaun stuff and get to some thing worth our debate.

fundevogel's avatar

“I was just saying maybe your parents believed and it was a good thing in their life, but could not explain the unknown to you, but thought they were doing a good thing for you. You sound angry at them for that. If you have children, I hope they grow up being okay with what you tell them.”

If I were to have children I would not want to impress my will or instruction on them solely by my authority, no matter how well inentioned. I would want my instruction and direction to be something that I could always justify to them. Children deserve the best and the best is always justifiable.

“Obviously there are more reasons for my belief in God than just you can’t prove he doesn’t exist. Those beliefs are personal and I don’t need to share all of that with you.
So tell me what is your belief of “the truth about the universe”?

Funny that you would make your belief off limits and then ask me about mine. Oh well, I don’t mind. I’ve put a lot of thought into them.

I don’t think that is a question that can be quickly or easily answered. The universe is a marvelous and complicated thing. For the sake of brevity I will say that I will never completely understand the universe and I am fine with that. I do however think that the fact that I will most certainly never understand the whole universe is not reason to believe that it is beyond understanding. Humans have come a long way in understanding the universe by the sweat of their brow and commitment to learning, if this continues as long as mankind exists I will be happy (not really because I’ll be dead, but the idea brings me pleasure while I’m alive).

I’m certain that humankind’s presence and by extension my presence in this universe is something of a happy accident for us. The universe is not concerned with my existence and beyond mankind’s concern for its own existence the universe will not suffer when we are gone. However I am thrilled that I am here, accident or not, and that I get to experience the wonder of existence at a time without polio or witch trials.

RANGIEBABY's avatar

@fundevogel I gave you a great answer and truly appreciate your taking the time to express that to me. I believe each and every person has a view point on this big and wonderful place we find ourselves. My beliefs of why I believe in God are not off limits, but knowing we don’t share the same belief, or any where near the same, I wish not to try to explain the long and sorted details of my experience, that reinforced my belief.
It has been a pleasure communicating with you, and thus find you a very interesting individual.:)

fundevogel's avatar

@RANGIEBABY – Thank you, I enjoyed conversing as well. I look forward so seeing more of your answers on fluther.

iamthemob's avatar

MORE CIVIL DISCOURSE!

PS – @fundevogel – I know that it’s not really appropriate to ask someone to “prove the contrary.” But I reel the question can be rephrased as “Can you show how the universe could be created, and end up in such a perfectly ordered manner it seems, without some form of creator?”

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “Can you show how the universe could be created, and end up in such a perfectly ordered manner it seems, without some form of creator?”

Well that’s a job for a cosmologist. I’ve got a degree in fine arts, asking me to explain the origins of the universe is like asking a plumber to explain the Large Hadron Collider. I’m not qualified and my inability to explain complex physics has absolutely no bearing on the validity of such physics.

However! Stephen Hawking does address that exact question in his latest book as I understand it. Sadly since I have not read the book yet (it was released just this month!) and I suspect that when I do get around to it Hawkings will still be better at explaining it than me maybe you should check it out for yourself.

iamthemob's avatar

@fundevogel

I actually can’t wait to read the new one…although I’m kind of afraid. The scientific view of the origins and fate of our universe just gets less and less rosy…;-)

But it’s, in many ways, the same issue when there’s an athestic demand pushing the burden of proof onto the other side – essentially, sitting back and demand a theist show he or she is worth listening to…

…because all that the vast majority of people who actually have a vague understanding of the various unprovable (but totally believable) theories of how the universe was created, etc. can really say is “well, I’m told it’s like this, and it sounds right, and Hawking (or Dawson, etc.) is wicked smart.”

I am not saying that’s what you are trying to do right here, but when it’s approached as a debate, neither side will win, and it always seems to be a descent into “you’re being irrational” and “you just don’t have faith.” I feel like if one side just admitted that they can’t know and prove that god exists, and the other that observations of the natural world has gotten to how a lot of things might work, but the facts shown don’t provide evidence either way as to the why of it all, we could start talking.

I mean, can’t we all just get along?

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@fundevogel Well said…On all counts.

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “I actually can’t wait to read the new one…although I’m kind of afraid. The scientific view of the origins and fate of our universe just gets less and less rosy…;-)”

Eh, I don’t select ideologies based on how they make feel. Though honestly, the naturalistic origins don’t get me down. I mean, as Carl Sagan put it, “we are made of star stuff”, how amazing is that?

But it’s, in many ways, the same issue when there’s an athestic demand pushing the burden of proof onto the other side – essentially, sitting back and demand a theist show he or she is worth listening to…

The burden of proof always falls on whoever is making the positive claim. I don’t specifically endorse any one theory of how the world came to be. In my totally unqualified ways I actually suspect that it never began, that it always was. The fact of the matter though is believing that the universe can be understood through naturalistic forces is the only claim I’m making. And that is a claim I can defend. The burden of proof is not on me to disprove someone else’s positive claim that god created the universe. If someone wants me to adopt that belief they need to provide evidence that supports it.

”…because all that the vast majority of people who actually have a vague understanding of the various unprovable (but totally believable) theories of how the universe was created, etc. can really say is “well, I’m told it’s like this, and it sounds right, and Hawking (or Dawson, etc.) is wicked smart.””

Well yeah. I think that they are the most qualified to answer these questions, but I hardly think they have closed the book on the matter. Scientists are constantly reevaluating and updating their theories. Believe me, these are the last people in the world to say “This is how it is, period”. It is the religious that claim to have ultimate understanding of the universe (God did it) and refuse to reconsider it in light of new knowledge. The fact is, if you were to disprove evolution or the big bang or whatever scientists would just move on to the next credible naturalist explanation. That’s the history of science. It wouldn’t make god an any more credible explanation than it was before.

“I feel like if one side just admitted that they can’t know and prove that god exists, and the other that observations of the natural world has gotten to how a lot of things might work, but the facts shown don’t provide evidence either way as to the why of it all, we could start talking.”

I have already admitted that I cannot prove that god does not exist. However, that does not mean that belief in god is just as reasonable as disbelief in god. I believe a lot of things about the world, I believe them because based on my knowledge they are consistent with reality. However, the existence of God, particularly a loving one, seems to me to be completely inconsistent with the reality I live in. Thus to me it seems belief in him comes down not to evidence, or even a lack of evidence to the contrary. To me belief in god seems to rely on explaining away the things about this world that seem to defy the claims of religion. Any idea that requires the sort of mental gymnastics that religion does probably wasn’t actually founded on reality to start with.

Let’s be honest. To suggest that if scientists are wrong the answer must be god is a false dichotomy and the idea that if we can’t prove you wrong you must have a valid theory is an appeal to ignorance. I try pretty hard to keep my ideologies fallacy-free so those aren’t pleas I’m going to respect.

iamthemob's avatar

I never said or suggested that the failure of one to prove the other. I tried to make a very clear statement about what I felt was an issue with the discussion and not the argument of one side or the other – I think it should be a discussion and not an argument. I also tried to state that I wasn’t saying any of what I was talking about was your claim.

But nevermind.

fundevogel's avatar

What happens when you move beyond that?

iamthemob's avatar

You mean, how do we have a discussion about why we believe what we do, and how we benefit from it, or why we’re not sure what we believe, and how that makes no difference and meaning can be drawn from other parts of life, with no one party claiming that they have the answer to that?

I don’t know – I don’t have the answer to that. ;-)

fundevogel's avatar

I don’t see how you can excise judgment and criticism from that discussion, even when it’s poorly based. There’s a reason we think the way we do and all of that has to be open for discussion for a discussion for be valuable, especially if we don’t know our reasons are bad.

fundevogel's avatar

I guess I’m peeved because I made a case based on reason and feel like I’m being written off as just argumentative or bitchy because I think some positions are demonstratively better than others.

iamthemob's avatar

Alright. I’ll make you a deal. If you can show me a single productive conversation where they kept that judgment and criticism and did not move on until it was settled that one was right and the other was wrong, and moved on to have a productive conversation about how their individual approaches to larger questions in their life, and I’ll rescind.

And your frustration is warranted because that’s just what happens when it just stays on these points! One side (atheists/science focused folks/observation people) ends up making smarmy Santa Clause comments and getting argumentative and bitchy because they lose their cool when the other side won’t admit that their arguments are valid to show how the majority of the assertions of religion can be refuted through reasoned analysis, and the other side looks like holier than though Bible beating “I’ll pray for you” irrational fundamentalists because they are having treasured, central beliefs about God attacked, when rational and reasoned argument can’t touch the larger why’s right now – and we need to include religo-philosophical arguments into the mix.

It’s like one side has all the facts and doesn’t get the point, and the other side can’t assimilate the facts into the debate because they’re focusing on the point.

And then I have to look like a hippie HR style douchebag trying to get at people’s “interests” instead of their “positions” ;-)

fundevogel's avatar

@iamthemob “If you can show me a single productive conversation where they kept that judgment and criticism and did not move on until it was settled that one was right and the other was wrong, and moved on to have a productive conversation about how their individual approaches to larger questions in their life, and I’ll rescind.”

I thought I was doing that. Although, and perhaps this makes all the difference, I don’t debate until someone changes their mind. I debate until there is no more to be said (or it becomes clear that nothing I can say matters). What the other person does with what I tell them is up to them, I certainly don’t expect anyone give up their faith right there for everyone to see so I can feel proud of myself. That’s a private personal thing. I just want to present ideas and arguments that whoever can think about on their own.

“One side (atheists/science focused folks/observation people) ends up making smarmy Santa Clause comments and getting argumentative and bitchy because they lose their cool”

I’ve already explained my thoughts on Santa Claus and used leprechauns and regardless of how mean it may sound the comparison is not without purpose, despite what you seem to think. This is a matter of perspective. You wouldn’t be hurt if belief in Thor was compared to belief in Santa Claus and yet it would be serving the exact same purpose. It’s just that you (or whomever) are personally invested in your god and think that your god deserves respect and are consequently upset when people that don’t agree don’t show god the respect its followers expect. I posit that it would be just as offensive to believers in Thor, it doesn’t make it any less valid though. Respect for god comes from belief, without it you can’t very well expect others to respect god. Isn’t it enough that we respect each other?

What I can agree with is that people shouldn’t be douches, I just think that making an argument the other side finds offensive doesn’t make you a douche. I’m not interested in walking on eggshells because my reasoning could distasteful to some people. They’re reasons, they are why I think the way I do, is it fair that my reasons be criticized not for their validity but for whether or not they make someone angry or uncomfortable?

BoBo1946's avatar

after writing all those words, has anyone convinced anyone they are right????

Fairylover78's avatar

@fundevogel I don’t find you Bitchy at all sir!

Why should anyone have to “convince” anyone here of anything? He has expressed his opinion and explained it as much as he needed to, there is no right or wrong in a discussion like this. We all have our own thoughts and feelings and should not have to prove anything to anyone or be asked to do so. To each their own. Everyone has a right to disagree and express their own opinions, that is why it is called a discussion. But asking someone to prove why they believe something is just plain silly. When you believe what you believe there is no explanation neccessary in my opinion, because it is a personal thing for us all. Discussions are great, that’s why we are here… we are not here to take a test.

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