Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Santa skepticism

Every year, around this time, some Christians engage in the perennial debate over Santa. Now in this post I'm not taking a general position on the propriety or impropriety of parents who play along with the Santa mythos. Rather, I'm targeting a specific, popular objection:

I never want my children to have this existential monologue in junior high: “Daddy told me about a six day creation, virgin birth, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, angels, and fairies. Then he said he was only joking about half the stuff. I felt gullible for falling for it. Mmm. I wonder if my science teacher is right about Evolution? What other nonsense has been fed to me as fact?”
i) What possessed pastor Archer to imagine that's a good argument? Why does he even think that's a good argument?
It's fine for your four-year-old to believe in Scripture because daddy told him. It's not fine for your fourteen-year-old to believe in Scripture because daddy told him. Kids are supposed to outgrow that implicit faith in whatever their parents tell them. 
Why does Archer imagine it's appropriate to ground faith in the Bible in faith in your parents? Would Archer apply the same argument to Muslim or Mormon or Hindu parents? What if  your daddy is Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens? 
ii) Ironically, Archer is parroting the exact same argument atheists use. Atheists routinely compare faith in God to faith in Santa. Why does Archer support that parallel? 
Your daddy was not an eyewitness to the Exodus or the life of Christ. Your father's personal credibility is irrelevant to the credibility of Scripture. Credibility is only relevant in a witness. Your father was not a witness to Biblical events. He wasn't there. 
Faith in Scripture should be grounded in the credibility of the Bible writers, not your parents. If you have a teenager who lost his faith in Jesus because he lost his faith in his father, that's because his faith in Jesus was built on a sandy foundation. He never really had faith in Jesus. Rather, he had faith in certain adults in his life.  Children should be taught the difference between trusting Jesus and trusting mommy or daddy. 
Now, there may be other (better) objections one can raise to perpetuating the Santa mythos. But don't think you do your kids any favor by reliance on this objection.  


  1. Perhaps his motivation in using the argument is the harm done to the heart of the child and the emotional hurt resulting from the perception of a violation of trust.

    1. Well, that overprotective attitude is part of the problem. That's a mark of immaturity.

      Also, it assumes that kids are harmed or emotionally hurt by the Santa mythos.