When we are children, our parents go to great lengths to perpetuate a fantasy that is seen as an inalienable right of childhood. We are told, from our first Christmas onward, that a man lives at the North Pole, employs elves, rides a deer-driven sled, and traverses the earth once a year to reward good children with gifts while punishing bad children with coal. On average, children buy into this fantasy, much to the delight of their parents, for between 5-8 years. The shedding of their adherence to this myth is as much a right of childhood as the belief itself is; their emergence from this Platonic cave of make-believe is a chrysalis moment that is shared by millions of people regardless of education, socio-economic status, race, or even language-- to a degree.
Parallel to this fantasy is the often similar indoctrination of a similar myth… That there is a heavenly father-figure who sent his son to earth via the womb of young, Jewish virgin and that son eventually died on a cross to absolve humanity of its sins. The story has many parallels to the Santa Clause tale, and it is just as fanciful and metaphorical as the former. But for some reason, children often retain their belief in this artifice while gleefully and glibly relinquishing the other.
Why? Aside from the heft and import that is carried by the tradition of religion. Aside from the tendency of the story to grow richer as one’s capacity to understand the nuance grows. Aside from the inferred implications of disbelief, or non-belief. Aside from reasons endemic to the story itself, why do people cling to that belief longer than the other belief? From a purely logical standpoint, it would stand to reason that a child would be more likely, from a cognitive standpoint, to believe in the Santa Clause myth for a longer period of time than they would the Jesus myth. After all, there is real, tangible (though still false) physical evidence in favor of the Santa myth. Parents take their kids to the mall to SEE Santa. Gifts appear beneath the tree FROM Santa. Cookies are left half-eaten on the coffee table, and occasionally, a lump of coal is tucked into the toe of your stocking to remind you not pick on your sister.
Sure, it’s all bullshit… and one could argue that the zest on the part of the parents to engage in this theater may wane over time, allowing doubt, followed by certainty, to creep in. But even that argument is flimsy, seeing as how a child tends to stop believing long before a parent is willing to give up on trying to create the illusion year after year.
The existence of “a God” aside… what compelling reason is there to continue the belief in the Jesus myth, in a complete absence of evidence, while ceasing to believe the Santa myth in the face of mountains of contrived evidence? Each is equally fantastical, but the “evidence” certainly favors one “guy in the sky” over the other… and yet, he gets the shit end of the stick… and stale cookies. Sphere: Related Content