Question about Faith

one atheist said that believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus. what is the answer to this?

The analogy only works if God is a legend people tell children to inspire good behavior in the hopes of rewards. That’s a simplistic and cynical view of Christianity and not how any Christian describes their faith, but he/she is entitled to his/her opinions.

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Atheists are people who are young souls IMO. They don’t yet have enough awareness to experience themselves as something apart from the body. Only a person, who is aware of their spiritual nature is going to realize that God exists. There is no answer you can give them that will give evidence. They have to find it in their own experience, in their own being.

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I agree with the atheist and go further to say it is like believing in fairies, UFOs, psychics, ghosts, healing with crystals, reiki and such. There is no objective evidence for any of these things… which means you have no basis for a reasonable expectation that other should agree that they are real. But this doesn’t mean people cannot know such things are real because it is demonstrable that people can know things for which they have no proof or evidence.

Furthermore there is also the similarity in which all of these things can (and should) be modified so that their existence agrees with the objective evidence. This is what makes them unfalsifiable and therefore something which science can say nothing about.

They can make a better argument that theists are people with the souls of toddlers.

Of course, I am a theist, and I think the reality is far more complicated but with some truth to both claims. Scott Peck’s theory was that there are spiritual stages something like this…

  1. self-centered, chaotic, non-social
  2. institutional, legalistic, religious, social
  3. skeptical and deconstructing assumptions
  4. mystical, spiritual, and transcending reason

I think it is probably a lot more complicated than even this where people may go through these stages in different aspects of their thinking and perhaps it is also an endless spiral of development as well.

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This made me think of Pascal’s Wager.

Edited to add:

@Altair Its kids who believe in Santa. Adults, including some of the greatest and most prolific thinkers in history, believe in God. The comparison is a caricature and that is being generous.

Vinnie

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I guess nitche ,aristotle ,platon,origen ,tertulian,newton etc etc spent their lives believing or debating if such a beign exist .Too bad they had the mind of a “kid” who belives in Santa.Ohh well

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‘Interesting progression of development, and I can relate with my own spiritual journey. It seems many stop in step 2. Of course, stage four in this thread might be covered in the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

He proposed this to explain why he was seeing so many of his counseling patients making progress by conversions in both directions (theism to atheism and atheism to theism). There is of course another simpler explanation. This is that people can often deal with their problems with a change of worldview and there doesn’t have to be anything superior about the new worldview at all. Though I suppose there could have been more data supporting the idea of stages than just this. For example, perhaps he could see important differences between a 1 to 2 transition and a 3 to 4 transition, requiring a very different sort of shift of perspective.

Oh… I remember that he observed that people he considered to be stage 2 had a very hard time understanding people in stage 4.

Interesting stages and here you aren’t suggesting that atheists are further along than believers so much as debunking that either as a group is fixed at just one stage.

I can certainly think of periods in my own life when I could fairly be described at each of these stages … and they don’t all line up consistently in a chronological way. But I can think of atheists I’ve known who seemed doomed to remain in stage one, and some of the believers one meets are stage two only on the surface. People aren’t objects.

Scott Peck’s stages 1 to 3 have to do with personal self. And as a psychiatrist this is probably the influence of his training.
I think it is more to do with the degree to which we identify with conscious being as against our identity as personal self which is tied to an identity to body-mind.

Our identification with body-mind is strong because after all the physical reality is attractive, fascinating, so we become enchanted by it. I can’t find it now, and it may have been on another forum, but I gave the example of playing a computer game. I used to play games like Diablo I and II and Wheel of Time etc. And I took the game play very seriously. In one game I recall where I was suddenly confronted by an enemy firing arrows at me. In trying to dodge the arrows I nearly fell off my chair lol. Such was my identification with my avatar on the screen. But when my phone rings, then I immediately identify again with myself and not the avatar on the screen.

So in a similar way we are enchanted by the physical reality, but when something happens that is outside of this reality, even a subjective experience of joy, which is really the expression of conscious being, we gain a glimpse of our true self, not the body-mind, but conscious being, our soul. This is what allows us to become aware of something more than the physical reality. And that something more leads us to a realization of God, our creator. People relate to the words of a prophet or saint etc., because what they have to say rings true for them when they have had enough awakening to their true self.

No, people are not objects. From my experience at least, people are souls or conscious beings. If you look at my answer to mitchellmckain you will see what I mean.

Another ridiculous analogy, others already explained why. I was actually thinking about starting a thread on the most ludicrous examples and how to overcome them because some literally leave you speechless. But then I realised that would be unkind to atheists, besides some theist apologists are using some too.
Anyway here’s one I came across on one of the older threads:
Personal experience tells you every single day that sun goes around the Earth which is clearly untrue. So you can’t trust your personal experience when it comes to God(I assume the author was talking about feeling loved and small miracles in people’s personal life).
I’m not sure what I’d reply to that one.

Ps - I’ve never ever believed in Santa, wonder what that says about me…

It just means that we can and are often fooled by our own sensibility and that incredulity isn’t all that reliable when it comes to understanding complicated things or solving historically intractable questions. All that is true enough. It’s why scientists pursue reproducibility, universally empirical observations, and consensus whenever they can to help reduce the probability that “we’re being fooled”, and why Christians pursue corporate (not just private) experience and accountability to a wider community (and churches in turn being accountable to wider denominational entities). When you have a “one-leader” show who calls all the shots, claiming to have some privileged access to “the spirit”, that’s when things go bonkers on the religious side and we have cults. Diversity is important. Because sometimes norms and “powers-that-be” need to be challenged.

Me too. It probably means your parents never really played that game with you. It was just a cultural amusement not much remarked upon in our family.

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It works if the analogy is that Santa Claus is for kids but God is for grown ups, ‘inspiring’ good behaviour with the stick of terror and the carrot of eternal reward.

I would also add that if we NEVER trusted our personal experiences, we couldn’t function. It’s not sensible to assume that we’re wrong ALL the time, that would be path to madness. Yes, that attitude works for science but real life is nothing like a chemistry lab, or is it?

That’s just the thing, they did and I told them to stop it!lol I didn’t believe in Santa because I realised very early that poor children weren’t getting same type of toys as me or weren’t getting anything at all😢 hence Santa couldn’t exist

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Good (and very necessary) point! Certainly we are trusting our experiences all the time in a daily (and even regular life) sense. In some cases we trust because certain senses are almost always quite dependable. I trust my eyes every time I walk somewhere or put one foot before the other trusting my eyes that report solid ground is there. Or alternately, we trust because there isn’t much anything at stake. If somebody informs me that it’s raining in Cincinnati, I’ll probably happily believe them because I have no reason to to care about that. When the stakes get higher, though, … so does our desire for, and attention to evidence. (Think of the Indiana Jones scene where he thinks there is a glass bridge there to hold him up if he steps into the yawning chasm.)

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