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Santa and God: The Nature of Belief

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posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 08:15 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Nevertheless, the child lacks the requisite cognitive capacity to evaluate truth claims on a par with an adult.


Apparently some adults lack the same cognitive capacity, then. But that doesn't stop them from having FAITH. And it doesn't stop the child either. You can type all day, and reason with words, but you cannot convince me that a child is incapable of having FAITH.

Faith is belief without proof and a child has that in SPADES! About Santa and about God, too. You can go into the child's cognitive capacity and try to skirt the issue and confuse the issue with words, but I'm not buying.




posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 08:56 AM
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You can type all day, and reason with words, but you cannot convince me that a child is incapable of having FAITH.

Neuroscience has progressed quite nicely without your patronage, and hardly needs my advocacy, either. A six year-old's cognitive capacities are less developed than her parents'.

Of course, you already know that, else your swipe


Apparently some adults lack the same cognitive capacity, then.

would be even more inane than it already is.

But I oughtn't be Scroogish in a thread about Santa. If some Christians get to have their own biology, because real biology is inconvenient for their religious opinions, then I suppose some atheists deserve to have their own neuroscience, for the same reason.

It's only fair to treat all religious opinions equally. Merry Festivus, and may Santa bring you a CAPS LOCK key that works.



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 01:11 PM
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Originally posted by eight bits
A six year-old's cognitive capacities are less developed than her parents'.


That is true. But you claimed that a six-year-old doesn't have the cognitive capacity to experience "faith". That's what I'm disagreeing with. Children CAN and DO experience faith. Faith is belief without proof and kids experience that, no matter what you say.


If some Christians get to have their own biology, because real biology is inconvenient for their religious opinions, then I suppose some atheists deserve to have their own neuroscience, for the same reason.


No clue what you're talking about. I do not have my own neuroscience.



may Santa bring you a CAPS LOCK key that works.


The one I have works fine, thanks.



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 02:10 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


Faith and gullibility require no cognitive skills, they are a suspension of disbelief. Now it may be true that as a person grows up their beliefs get more rooted into their minds, more tied into their thought processes but that is just an extension of faith. Allow a child to continue believing in Santa into adulthood and you'll likely get the same thing.



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 04:30 PM
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reply to post by Titen-Sxull
 


Your post got me to wondering if there are adults who still believe in Santa Claus. I don't mean in the magical way, but in a real way. My search took me to this very good blog entry about why people believe in God, Santa and the Government.

Blog



When you see a chair, a pattern of electrons flows from the eye through to the brain, through the synapses to a neuron where that pattern is stored. The more chairs you see, the more neurons there are with that pattern stored. The more neurons created with that impression, the more likely that pattern will be stimulated the next time you see a chair, thus you recognize that object as a chair. This is how we learn.
...
But the brain at birth is an empty database. The baby see's mommy, but, as yet, no neurons have been created with the pattern of mommy for comparison. Thus no recognition.
...
Governments and religions have known this concept (if not the mechanics) for thousands of years. So they have manipulated society in such a way to take advantage of these mechanics to solidify their control of the masses. Children in their formative years are sent to school (it's the law) to learn life the way the government wants them to learn it. Religion makes sure parents teach their kids what they want during these years also. Whatever children are taught during these formative years is how they will perceive things for the rest of their lives. Children believe in a god because it's what they are taught, they don't have enough experience (enough information in their database), to be able to reason what is and what isn't.

edit on 12/13/2010 by Benevolent Heretic because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 05:29 PM
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BH


But you claimed that a six-year-old doesn't have the cognitive capacity to experience "faith".

Claim? I pointed out the fact that six year-olds lack fully adult cognitive capacity. Whatever you might call "faith" in a six year-old is phyisologically, neurologically, epistemologically, and in many other ways different from what any adult would call "faith," and especially different from religious "faith" as adult Christians experience it.


Faith is belief without proof

Really? Anybody who believes there is no god has no proof of it. So, that conclusion can only be based on faith?

Definition needs work. And you're not even close to the Christian conception of belief in God, which the original poster has reminded us is the topic of this thread.


I do not have my own neuroscience.

Sure you do, if you believe that six year-olds have the same cognitive capacity as adults, or even remotely similar higher order intellectual functions.


TS


Faith and gullibility require no cognitive skills, they are a suspension of disbelief.

Suspension of disbelief is a phrase which refers to the cognitive capacity to distinguish electively between fantasy and reality. I think you'll find it hard to argue that anyone who believes in Santa Claus has that capacity.


Allow a child to continue believing in Santa into adulthood and you'll likely get the same thing.

How do you propose to prevent the child's central nervous system from developing into an adult's central nervous system?

Speaking of fantasies, you seem to believe that adults disagree with you about a matter of opinion because they were told something in infancy. That Santa stories don't even survive throughout childhood, much less into adulthood, ought to tell you that your cognitive theory is simply untenable.



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 06:03 PM
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Originally posted by eight bits
I pointed out the fact that six year-olds lack fully adult cognitive capacity.


No, you didn't. You moved the goalposts to that point, but you started with six-year-olds not having the capacity to experience "faith". In this post.

I never claimed that a child's cognitive capacity was the SAME as an adult's in any way. That's your red herring.



Definition needs work.


If you don't like my definition of faith, maybe you could share yours?




And you're not even close to the Christian conception of belief in God, which the original poster has reminded us is the topic of this thread.


"I'm not even close"? I'm sorry, I don't understand what you mean by that. Are you saying that I'm off topic? How?



Sure you do, if you believe that six year-olds have the same cognitive capacity as adults, or even remotely similar higher order intellectual functions.


But I don't believe that and I haven't said that. That's your red herring.



How do you propose to prevent the child's central nervous system from developing into an adult's central nervous system?


Oh! I see! So you are of the opinion that a person just naturally would stop believing in Santa as he matures and his cognitive capacities mature... Interesting concept, but from my point of view, if all 7 or 8 year olds were told that God wasn't real, just as we are told that Santa isn't, we wouldn't believe in God today. And if people were continually told that Santa WAS real, they would still believe in him, too.


When parents tell their children that Santa is NOT real, but God IS, with the same amount of evidence to support each (zero), you have cognitive dissonance. The objective evidence to support the existence of God and Santa is the same.
edit on 12/13/2010 by Benevolent Heretic because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 08:08 PM
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No, you didn't. You moved the goalposts to that point, but you started with six-year-olds not having the capacity to experience "faith". In this post.

Baloney. In that post, I asked the OP to produce empirical evidence to back up his claims that what he called "faith" in six year-olds is comparable with the corresponding "faith" in adults. I pointed out a severe and obvious methodological problem in his complying with my request.

I also correctly predicted that he would produce no evidence, that he was "blowing smoke." If the OP now has some evidence after all, then he will find the "goal posts" just where they always were. But the conversation has moved on.


I never claimed that a child's cognitive capacity was the SAME as an adult's in any way. That's your red herring.

CAPS LOCK stuck again? Sure you don't want Santa to bring you a new one?

Anyway, who said you had claimed that a child's cognitive capacity was the same as an adult's?

That was one of two disjunctive conditions whose implication I discussed. I didn't say you satisfy both. I didn't know your view on one of them, and didn't say I did. You do, however, satisfy the other condition (making arguments which require that adults and young children have "even remotely similar higher order intellectual functions."), and so argue contrary to uncontroversial science about how children develop cognitively. One is enough. Actually, one is too many.


If you don't like my definition of faith, maybe you could share yours?

Why? We have been instructed by the OP that in this thread, the religious belief we are discussing is belief in the Christian God. I have already discussed the usual attributes of faith according to the major Christian religions. More details are easily searchable on the web.

Other matters arising: No, I was not saying you were "off topic." Your conception of what faith means to a Christian, in contrast to what it means to you, is on-topic. Just as the differences between what faith means to a six year-old and what it means to an adult are on-topic.

And, of course, you are entitled to your speculation about what would happen if all young children were told that God doesn't exist, or continued to be told that Santa was real. However, in the absence of evidence, or even a way to do the experiment, there isn't much for us to discuss.

As to your final paragraph about what actually happens,


When parents tell their children that Santa is NOT real, but God IS, with the same amount of evidence to support each (zero), you have cognitive dissonance. The objective evidence to support the existence of God and Santa is the same.

The objective evidence against Santa is overwhelming, and unequivocally supports the conclusion that everybody reaches. The objective evidence for or against God is meager, and what little evidence there may be is equivocal. The two cases, then, could not be more different.



posted on Dec, 13 2010 @ 08:26 PM
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It is a good realisation you make. But how much further can you go?

People who make the point Santa and God are similar, and therefore both as absurd as each other are not incorrect. But they are missing a big piece of the puzzle.

Santa (Satan-Saturn) is an archetypal representation of the planetary consciousness that governs mechanical interface in our universe, sometimes intertwined with Jupiter or Lucifer the bringer of illumination.

Santa, like Jesus is in part a complex symbol for the shamanic experience.

His red and white costume alluding to the Fly Agaric mushroom that induces oob states.

You know, fly agaric mushrooms that elves and gnomes are always sitting on?

He comes down the chimney stack, representing the portal or tunnel so often described in near death experiences.

He flies in a sled, quite alike the magic carpet idea or nowadays.....the ufo or merkarba vehicle.

He lives in the North Pole, we hear a lot of myths about this place.

What about other cultures perception? There is this theme of a character who steals children and replaces them dolls if they are not good (indigo concept?), much like the strange stories of alien insemination and changelings we hear today.

We have mixed things like time control and materialistic beliefs with obscure saints, christian dogma and pagan flavours.

In short there is more to this.
edit on 13-12-2010 by Majestic23 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 08:32 AM
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eight bits, I'm just done with your semantic games and worthless whatnot.


reply to post by Majestic23
 


Some very good points. Your Santa (Satan, Saturn) point would be well received here on ATS (I think), but in general, Christians don't see Satan as an archetypal figure, but as a specific personality who's in competition with Jesus for our souls, having nothing to do with planets or Christmas. But I tend to think that the fantasy of Satan (like other gods and figures) came from other parallel stories.

But I agree with you, there's MUCH more to this! Very interesting!



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 02:59 PM
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reply to post by Titen-Sxull
 


How can you make a comparison between a contingent being (Santa Claus) and a non-contingent being (God)?



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 03:35 PM
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Originally posted by spinechilling
How can you make a comparison between a contingent being (Santa Claus) and a non-contingent being (God)?


I would argue that God is also a contingent being.
We created God in our image.



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 04:16 PM
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reply to post by Benevolent Heretic
 


In what way can finite beings create and infinite being in their image?
edit on 14-12-2010 by spinechilling because: spelling



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 04:26 PM
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Same exact thing. Good post. Good points.
I do not see how you can argue with this, take a minute to let go of your extremest beliefs and read the post in plain black and white. Makes sense huh? Weird once you lift the veil how much you see..



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 04:26 PM
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reply to post by spinechilling
 


I'm an atheist. I don't believe in this 'infinite being' you speak of. I think man made God up to answer the questions he was having about where he came from and where he's going. It's all a story.



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 04:31 PM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
reply to post by spinechilling
 


I'm an atheist. I don't believe in this 'infinite being' you speak of. I think man made God up to answer the questions he was having about where he came from and where he's going. It's all a story.


Agreed. We, as human beings, need to have an answer to everything. It scares us when we dont, we hate the fact that there still may be some unknown out there, hence the perfect, impervious answer. God. I cannot think of an easier cop out to the unknown than that simple three letter word. Lets all wake up, you think your religion is right? Well so does the Scientologist down the street who believes that a supreme ruler put the souls of aliens into volcanoes. Get real people.



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 05:32 PM
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I think man made God up to answer the questions he was having about where he came from and where he's going.

Do you believe on that the basis of evidence, or is it something that makes sense to you and is consistent with other things you believe about other questions, or maybe you have some other warrant?

I remember I first heard that story as a child in grade school. The teacher never explained why she believed it (of religions and gods other than her own, of course).



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 05:33 PM
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reply to post by Benevolent Heretic
 


If people were to have invented the God of Christianity, it is unlikely that it would be the demanding God of the Bible.



posted on Dec, 14 2010 @ 09:19 PM
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reply to post by spinechilling
 


God is contingent as Benevolent Heretic explained and there is no evidence to suggest that any god(s) exist.

The God of the Bible has a lot of contradictory characteristics, being both merciful and just for instance (mercy is a suspension of justice), being both Love (which is not Jealous) and being a jealous God. Being filled with wrath and planning on punishing people for eternity yet pretending to be benevolent.

As for God's infinite nature, God is our opposite in a lot of ways.

We are finite - God is infinite
We are limited in knowledge - God is unlimited in knowledge.

So God is just a person with their characteristics pushed to infinity, its not a hard thing to imagine in our minds. Most gods are merely super-men, they have some characteristics we have only multiplied (some also have unexplained aspects of nature).

The point of my OP isn't that Santa and God are exactly alike but that they have a lot of similarities and the biggest similarity is the mechanism of the belief - FAITH. Faith is the basis for a belief in Santa and the basis for a belief in God.



posted on Dec, 15 2010 @ 05:46 AM
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Faith is the basis for a belief in Santa and the basis for a belief in God.

Hmm, well, if you say it enough times, ...

Let's talk about parole evidence, then. Somebody tells me something and I believe it; respectively, I don't believe it. A perfectly adequate and completely rational reason for believing in something is to find a report about it credible.

I believe in a place called Iceland, for example. I have never been there. Much of what I have read about it is bizarre. Supposedly it's lousy with volcanoes. Steam rises out of the ground, like from manhole covers in Manhattan, except there are no manhole covers.

Iceland is in the middle of the ocean (how convenient). The people there drive cars powered with hydrogen instead of gasoline. And they're epic fails as bankers. Speaking of which, all the pictures I have seen of Iceland could have been taken in Switzerland.

Nevertheless, I believe in Iceland.

Now, it's all very well to say that I could go to Iceland and see for myself. But the fact is that I haven't, and I believe anyway. Besides, why would I believe that I could go to Iceland, except that I already believe there is an Iceland to go to?

Not to be indelicate, but I am not made of money, either. I can think of lots better ways to spend the limited resources I have available, than to investigate whether or not Iceland exists. It really costs me nothing if I believe in Iceland and I happen to be wrong. And hey, I kind of like the idea of Iceland. I'm in no rush to drop it from my belief corpus; it's a pleasant fiction, if fiction it is. No skin off my nose if it's just another silly example made up by Bertrand Russell.

Judgments of credibility, however rational, are inherently subjective. So, speaking for myself, I think Mohammed made the whole thing up. But about a billion other people obviously think he didn't. None of us was there, so while I am confident that I am right, nevertheless, I happily concede that I have no objective basis for feeling the way that I do. Just because we disagree is no reason to conclude that either of us, Muslim or Infidel, is irrational.

The six year-old who is told that Santa brought her presents may well exhibit some simulacrum of rationality in believing what she is being told, regardless of why she thinks her source is credible. The actual reason she finds her parents credible has nothing to do with rationality, but rather that she literally has no choice but to believe people upon whom her life still depends, one day to the next.

Barring severe child abuse, however, she will soon inevitably encounter evidence that Santa is a seasonal charade enacted for very young children by adults and older children. By an amazing coincidence, she will encounter this evidence at just about the same time that she begins to develop the physiological capability of evaluating evidence in general.

If she is especially observant, then she will realize that there is nothing new about much of this evidence. It was always there, but she lacked the neurological capacity to evaluate it until her brain developed sufficiently for the task.

As to what she has been told about Jesus, she will never encounter any one-sided evidence about that, one way or the other. Perhaps, in her teens, she will read some web atheist telling her that her belief in Jesus is indistinguishable from her discarded belief in Santa.

Not being a moron, she will see that a "belief" which she dumped as soon as she had the physical ability to do so cannot possibly be "indistinguishable" from a belief that she has retained, or remained open about, as have most of the people whom she knows. She has, in fact, distinguished the two "beliefs" by discarding the one and not the other.

What she will eventually conclude about Jesus remains to be seen. What she will conclude about the web atheist is that he can't make a distinction that she made as a seven year-old.

She will not be impressed.



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