Notes From Babel

Why Do Atheists Confuse God with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Slimy Custard Man?

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Tim Sandefur links to this story, in which Lydia McGrew explains “Why I don’t teach my kids that Santa Claus is real.” As Sandefur synopsizes, it’s because “when kids realize there is no Santa Claus they might also start wondering about God.” He complains that “McGrew gives no principled reason for believing in the existence of one but not the other; no explanation of why the arguments that apply to one would not also apply to the other–nothing but a bare assertion that God is ‘different. He’s real.'”

I am always befuddled that otherwise hyper-intelligent folks fail to grasp that God is a fundamentally different kind of being than Santa, or the Tooth Fairy, or aliens studying Hegel on Mars. When you talk about a claim, such as the existence of God, which, when rejected, undermines the possibility of making intelligible all other claims, that’s fundamentally different than rejecting the existence of the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. As Greg Bahnsen once put it, if I reject the idea that there are so many pounds of Cocoa Puffs in the world, that claim doesn’t have an effect on many other things. But when I reject the transcendental basis for causation, induction, and an objective morality, that’s extraordinary.

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Written by Tim Kowal

May 22, 2009 at 5:34 am

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