Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Problem of No Presents

Richard Carrier blogged a rather amusing post about the arguments for the existence of Santa.

I, of course, disagree with his arguments for Santa. Before I write about why those arguments are so wrong, let me introduce an argument which I believe conclusively proves there is no Santa. It's called the argument from no presents.

Santa proponents fervently believe that Santa is all-knowing (he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake). They believe that he is completely benevolent, that he is not evil in any way. They further believe that he has the power to create and deliver enough presents for everyone. And finally, they believe that Santa is a super-intellect (who else could orchestrate a trip around the world in a single night to deliever presents to children on every single content).

These beliefs are stunningly incongruent with the fact that many children the world over don't recieve presents on Christmas.

An ancient philosopher named Epic-Scrooge-us put it this way: Is Santa able and willing to give everyone presents? Then whence cometh the phenomenon of presentlessness? Is Santa willing to give everyone presents but not able? Then Santa would be impotent. Is Santa able to give everyone presents but not willing to? Then Santa would be malevolent. Is Santa neither able nor willing? Then why call him Santa?

Santa believers have come up with a myriad of excuses for this problem. Some say that those who didn't get presents were deliberately left off Santa's list because they were naughty. But surely that doesn't make sense. What about young, innocent four and five year olds who don't get anything for Christmas?

Philosopher Grinchard Swinburne suggests that Santa doesn't give some kids presents on purpose so that we will have the opportunity to donate to Salvation Army and buy them presents. It allows us mere mortals an opportunity to be kind, which is a good in and of itself. But surely this excuse doesn't make sense. There are more children without presents than we could possibly provide for, even if all of us were super-generous.

Other Santa propopents shirk the problem altogether by telling us that at some point in the future there will be an ultimate yule in which Santa gives needy kids more than enough presents to compensate for all the Christmases when they didn't get anything. Of course this doesn't explain why those kids are getting any presents now.

We have seen that all of these attempts to explain the phenomenon of presentlessness are bad, ad-hoc explanations. Dare the Santa believers embrace the truth: that the problem of no-presents means there is no Santa?


Anonymous said...

Don't presume to know the mind of Santa.

Steven Carr said...

But Santa Claus was a real historical person! St. Nicholas really did exist.

So Santa Claus did exist, unless you are one of those insane mythcisists.

By the way, there is a possible world in which not every house has a chimney.

In that world, Santa Claus cannot deliver presents to every children.

Therefore, the Logical Problem of Presents has been refuted.

Besides which, a-Santa Clausists do not have the foundation to decide what is an objective act of altruism and what is not an objective act of altruism.