Lately, when contemplating my “Gateway Beliefs” and how these have effected me to this day, I felt the need to document my thoughts and answer a few questions I’ve been considering. Why did I apparently feel the need for Santa Clause in my life when I was young. How could I have believed in a fat and jolly Santa? How does the belief in Santa bearing gifts and watching over people in their youth compare to the belief by many adults today in an all loving and powerful God interacting with their daily lives? Why have I been so gullible to myths all my life?
When I was a child, I remember coming downstairs in our family home and heading straight to the Christmas tree to see what awesome things Santa had brought me overnight. I remember driving around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas light on years where Santa brought the gifts the night before X-mas (a story my parents concocted to accommodate family get togethers) Somehow Santa always showed up when we were out looking at X-mas lights. It astounded me how he sometimes brought me what i wanted, other years brought me something close, and on other years completely missed the mark. I’m now 53 years old and have lived through the upbringing of my own four children. I remember the many nights I stayed up late wrapping everything from small video games to even bicycles. I remember taking bites out of the cookies and drinking the milk my kids laid out the night before the big day. I remember going to church and hearing all about the birth of a God boy and how he was sent to be born, die for us, and save us all from eternal damnation. The joy on my kids faces on X-mas morning made it all worthwhile for me and my wife. I also remember the faces on my children when I revealed who Santa really was. “Santa is a hoax your mother and I were exposed to when we were children, and we consciously decided it was a good idea to impose this same hoax on you kids.” Ok, I didn’t actually put it this way to my kids because at the time I still had a belief in things outside of Santa which were supernatural. Why did I do this? What drove me to perpetuate the myth? How might I now tell my kids about things which are viewed by many as supernatural if I could do it all over again?
The reason I created this site was to examine all the “Gateway Beliefs” of my youth to see how they effect me to this day. Hopefully, by examining my own beliefs, i can shed some light not only on how these faux beliefs have effected me over the years, but also shine a bright light on how others beliefs are effected. I welcome any information from other cultures exemplifying similar indoctrination.
My belief in Santa Clause came crashing down when I was in early middle school. I remember others making fun of me for still believing in Santa. I thought at the time, “How can these people not believe in Santa, the evidence is there every Christmas?” “Why would everyone I love tell me lies and make up these outlandish stories?” “Can i ever trust my family again?” My young mind had conjured up many many questions for my parents, family, and friends over the years. Looking back, I was trying to wrap my brain around this mythical and evasive jolly guy who brought me awesome gifts every year like clockwork. I clearly remember thinking and asking people:
- How can Santa make it to every house in the world in one night?
- How does he know when I’m sleeping?
- He knows when I’m awake?
- He knows when I’ve been bad or good?
- He knows almost as much as God?
- Why can’t anyone see him at night?
- Why don’t I always get exactly what I want?
- How can he eat cookies and milk all night and fit his fat ass in the chimney?
- Is he God?
In my mind, all these questions were good ones. Much like I do to this day, I pondered and asked good questions of those around me seeking clarification and understanding of the issues, much like those above. The bigger question I should have been asking was, “How can I possibly believe the bizarre answers I’m receiving from my loved ones regarding these truth claims and the existence of Santa?” They’d tell me, Santa had a sleigh with flying reindeer… he watches you from afar…he keeps tabs on your every thought and action…he’s a very evasive person and doesn’t want you to see him … he cares about you… he loves you. he knows what you deserve… In my mind, and in the minds of many children world wide, Santa was possibly the best God ever and I even had visible proof. As a child, I had good reasons to believe Santa was true. All the available evidence supported this hypothesis. Any argument to the contrary was easily explained away.
At the same time I’m being taught all about Santa, I’m also being told (indoctrinated) into a belief in another guy who lives a little bit further North than Santa. He’s the real deal though…. He can and does see into everyone’s homes and he also knows your every thought and action. Thus, he knows when I’m sleeping, when I’m awake, when I’m bad or good, he’s invisible, he died for me, he only gives me what I deserve, he listens to my prayers and adoration for him, he gives me answers every time I ask, but only on God time and only as he sees fit, because he knows what’s best and what I actually deserve. Do you see any similarities between the beliefs for the existence of Santa and those of God?
When considering the comparison between Santa and God, i know why i was confused. I know why I had a belief in Santa. I know why up until recently i had a belief in an all loving and caring God. The difference now is, I know all the bad excuses for why I can’t see God, why he doesn’t give me what i want, why he doesn’t answer my prayers, why he hasn’t shown up for the last 2,000 years, why people have different opinions as to who God is, and why he hasn’t done more to alleviate and end suffering all over the world. It’s because, like Santa, he’s also likely a figment of our imagination. People have been making up shit about God for two millennium. People have had thousands of years of practice to refine and answer nearly all the questions one could possibly ask about God. These answers were developed to fill in the gaps of our understanding so we can believe. All these answers provide evidence of God’s existence, just like Santa. They’re equally as dependable. In the end, the toughest questions about God still require a way to fill the holes people can’t seem to resolve with reason. Somewhere along the path to understanding God, someone came up with the solution and called it Faith. Faith fills in all the holes which can’t be filled with logic and common sense. If you don’t need evidence, then faith works for you. If you need evidence, then religions have answers for all your questions. There’s no need to think critically because you don’t need to with faith. There are questions about the world we live in which we cannot answer at this time scientifically. It’s ok to say I don’t know. I’m ok saying I don’t know. Is there a Santa Clause? – No, the facts prove his existence to be false, thus I no longer have a belief in Santa. Is there a God? From what I’ve observed, the facts would indicate the likelihood of his existence is similar to the existence of Santa Clause. I cannot say God is as much fiction as Santa, but I’m ok saying, “I don’t know”
In closing, just like Santa, I now lack a belief in a God. Based upon the preponderance of the evidence, God appears to be a figment of our cumulative imaginations. All the stories made up to fill in the Santa plausibility gaps are very similar to the gaps made up to fill in the God gaps. It may be time to sit down with your kids, your family and even your friends and let them in on the secret. I want to live my life believing in as many true things and as few false things as possible. I’m nearly sure hanging onto a belief in a God will likely not help me arrive at a happy place filled with cookies, candy canes, milk and honey or even perpetual happiness. In the end, it likely won’t work for you either. I think we’ve been duped, again.