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A couple of years ago I wrote about Santa Claus and why an avowed atheist would teach his children all about the┬áman in the red suit. I’ve started thinking about that again this season.

I love and adore Christmas almost more than any other time of the year (opening day of baseball season might be the closest competitor).

I have two daughters. My wife and I absolutely do the Santa thing to the hilt. I love the Santa myth because I see it as the first step toward atheism.

There’s the obvious comparisons between the big guy and the Big Guy, of course, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Here’s what I mean. When you’re a kid, Christmas is absolutely magical. If it’s done right, the transition from receiving the magic to giving the magic is a process of self-realization. The realization is this: the magic is real, but we create it ourselves. My parents loved me so much that they not only bought me all this stuff, but they refused to take credit for it, instead surrounding it in magic and mystery. The only thing they asked in return is that, if and when I had kids of my own, I’d continue the tradition. Santa, they taught me, is inside me!

This is the power and the joy of atheism. Life has meaning because we give it meaning. Magic exists – we make it ourselves. Love and family and special times are our creations – no one else’s. We did it ourselves. How anyone can fail to find that uplifting, I will never understand.

I love Christmas, Santa, and the magic of the season – and I’m a thoroughgoing rationalist and committed atheist. I believe the Santa myth helped me get there.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

My first book, called The Turtle and the Universe, was published by Prometheus Books in July 2008. You can read about it by clicking on the link above.
My second book, Atoms and Eve, is available as an e-book at Barnes and Noble. Click the link above. You can download the free nook e-reader by clicking the link below.
December 2010
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A blog by Stephen Whitt

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