Last November my son figured out there was no Santa Claus...as silly as that sounds the event made me think. If my son can see through the inconsistencies and come to the conclusion that Santa is a fake then why was I still holding on to my beliefs in God?
From my son's perspective there was FAR MORE EVIDENCE that Santa was REAL than I ever had for God. Santa made appearances at the mall. Santa delivered presents. His reindeer ate the food he left for them. All that evidence and still, he doubts! Why? I asked him and he said it was inconsistencies in the way Santa looked when he went to see him each Christmas. Sometimes he wore glasses, sometimes not. Long beard vs. short beard, etc.
I wonder if we had laws banning Santa appearances if that would strengthen children's belief? Islam probably does well by banning any representation of the prophet Mohamed.
I asked him if he worried that he would no longer get presents if he told us he didn't believe and he didn't seem to care. We all exchange presents with each other, anyway, so missing one from Santa wasn't a big deal. His belief wasn't tied to any threat of harm.
When I compare this to how I felt when I really asked myself if I believed in God I think he had it easy. To not believe in Santa might mean you miss out on a present, but to not believe in God means you burn in hell for ever and ever and ever. Unless you're Jewish. They don't have a hell. The creators of Christianity must have figured out that a simple carrot on a stick wasn't enough. You mush dangle that stick over a large precipice and give the person only a narrow board to walk on. This board gets MUCH thinner by the time Islam rolls around.
It's believe or suffer. You want proof? You can't have any. You must have faith that God is there. We, as adults, are presented with no evidence and are asked to believe in God while children are given ample evidence of Santa and can figure out that he is a ruse.
Every bit of my body asks for evidence at all times of the day. It is how we form our view of reality. When the different senses don't come to the same conclusion we get confused. Like when you are sitting in a car in traffic and your car is stopped but a car just in the periphery of your vision moves forward slowly, you sometimes think you are moving backwards! It takes you a second to resolve the other senses and decide that it is not you that is moving but the other car.
But when our spiritual selves are sitting in traffic what other senses do we have to fall back on when something doesn't make sense? I read creationist/believer forums and apologetic responses and I chuckle when they get so bent out of shape that we unbelievers have such a hard time with the lack of evidence. They don't understand how we just can't have FAITH. Perhaps we are defective? Perhaps normalcy for humanity is the innate ability to believe without evidence and we inherited defective Believer Genes?
With Santa, the carrot is a present that we open once per year. With God the carrot is an indescribably wonderful afterlife that we are promised we will get once we die. And we must believe in him or we suffer an indescribably horrid afterlife. But like I said before, I don't think my indescribably wonderful afterlife would be so wonderful knowing someone I love got the horrid reward.
But I'm getting way ahead of myself. My son realizing Santa is not real started me thinking. That was 7 months ago. In that time I have sought out others like me and found that I'm not alone. I've read the "new atheists" works from Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. I plan to read much from the "old atheists" and freethinkers like Thomas Paine.
I've overcome most of my fear. I think that is something I want to talk about more later...
With that I leave you with the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.