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Dear Atheist Santa…

I happened to note on Twitter that I was working on the Santa look — aging, bearded, graying, and, errrm, the cherubic-cheeked face. There’s the minor problem of the godless outlook, but then the idea came up…what about an atheist Santa? What would you ask him to get you for Christmas? What criteria would he use to judge the kiddies as naughty or nice? There are some potential ideas lurking in there.

So let’s float a trial balloon here. What would you write to Atheist Santa? Maybe it’ll spark some interesting replies. Drop your messages in the comments, or send me an email, let’s see what we get. Also, is Atheist Santa surly or philosophical? Cynical or humanist? What’s a better place for him to live than the North Pole? Babble away.

Comments

  1. Alex says

    Ask the Christians and they’ll tell you that indeed atheist Santa exists, ‘es just usually spelled in aslightly different order, is all…

  2. moarscienceplz says

    Hmmm, I never really thought of Santa as especially religious. I think I assumed that he was kinda Christian by accident of birth, like most Europeans and their descendants. The fact that he does his charity work on December 24 isn’t really incriminating – I’m an atheist and yet the bulk of my donations comes at the end of the tax year, too.
    Assuming an explicitly atheist Santa does have some fallout, though. Does he still have his magical powers? If so, I think I’d ask him to give hearts to all the members of the U.S. Congress, particularly the Republicans.

  3. Nick Gotts says

    I just signed a card with a picture on the front of Santa explaining that, for tax reasons, he’ll be merging with Amazon next year.

  4. Lofty says

    Atheist Santa lives as the CEO of a conglomerate of cheap toy manufacturers currently based in east Asia.
    My heartfelt message to Hir: “Please stop.”
    Sharing food at an annual feast is fine, buying tacky presents because of obligations isn’t.

  5. aleph says

    “Can I have a go on your sleigh?”

    Also, he clearly lives in St Petersburg. And is Russian. And has tattoos. And a pair of cavalry sabres. And okay, maybe I’ve let Rise of the Guardians influence me a bit too much, but honestly now, can you blame me?

  6. johnlee says

    What would I ask the Atheist Santa for?
    Well:
    A little bit of justice, a pinch of humanity, a splash of equality, three boatloads of freedom, and a sockfull of human rights.
    Happy Holidays!

  7. billgascoyne says

    The four stages of life:
    You believe in Santa
    You don’t believe in Santa
    You are Santa
    You look like Santa

  8. stevem says

    WHAT!!! Santa is verifiably an atheist (verifiable, cause I say so). He chose Dec 25 to hand out presents (and coal) to little kids everywhere. He was doin’ it long before the Xians came along and declared it their own holiday; they stole his day. Steven Wright, too, wonders why Jesus never does anything for Santa on Santa’s birthday.
    </snark>

    Even minus the snarky attitude, I’ve always wondered (even as a believer in Santa when I was little), why Xians are so possessive of Santa. What does Santa have to do with Christmas anyway? His magic was always his own; he never asked Gawd to do it (and Gawd didn’t do it for him), he just made it around to billions of houses in a single night, and was able to fit down everyone’s chimney (being as fat as he was), and never woke anybody up in the process. The unattainable achievement was to catch Santa; kids would sleep by the fireplace, or set up “traps” to catch Santa; but no one ever caught him. All this seemed very far removed from Xian thought, even to my tiny little brain at the time. The closest it ever came was: Santa was doing this to *celebrate* Christmas; that GIVING was the important thing (not receiving). But then; why were kids so happy from *getting* gifts when they were supposed to be learning to *give* presents? All these inconsistencies made me divorce Santa from Xianity completely, to the conclusion (QED) that Santa MUST BE an Atheist. [nevermind how creepy he was supposed to be. Is the NSA stealing Santa's "seeing"?]
    So what else is new PZ? Water is wet? </snark>

  9. fmitchell says

    Deer athiest Santa, my Mom Sayz not to expect anything from you, cause she and Dad byes most of the Gifts and I hafta work for everything else I want. I jsut want to wish you Merry Krampusmas an i hope you got all your Kmas shopping done for you and Missus Santa and the elves and all the poor girls and boys who don’t have a Mom or Dad. When I grow up I’ll let you know so I can buy gifts for all the folks you can’t get to.

    Sincerely,
    Virginia

  10. says

    SANTA BABY : Let’s first start (don’t get me started!) with ATHEISM’S CREDO (as I understand it) and as confirmed in its authenticity by reading the back cover (not necessary to read the book!) s-c-r-i-b-b-l-e-d by Atheism’s “high priest”, the brilliant British quadriplegic quantum PHYSICIST Stephen HAWKING, author of “THE GRAND DESIGN” (presumably HIS, of course, since God never WAS, is NOT & never WILL be, according to this world’s greatest of all “thinkers”!)

    Let’s not MINCE words, for in very few of them, the atheist CREDO can be read as follows:

    “MANKIND originated from a gravity-sucking, BLACK h-o-l-e of NOTHINGNESS & “God” never existed in the first place, so BELIEVERS, “get over it!”

    (*For lack of ITALICS & BOLD type on the internet, I freely use CAPS & HYPHENS to make my “point”, thank you!)

    The moment (televised!) HAWKING announced to our Planet that God is solely a f-i-g-m-e-n-t of billions of human souls’ IMAGINATION (over the history of Mankind, mind you!) I immediately suffered a case of the “WEEBIE-JEEBIES”! Why? He was pictured in this spacious, palatial setting, enscounced in a wheelchair equipped with an electronic voice apparatus that let out this EERIE s-o-u-n-d that CROAKED, claiming with great assurance (after all, he’s a SCIENTIST, right?) that “God does NOT exist!”, while I felt like I was in a very bad sci-fi flick starring a menacing, d-a-r-k DARTH VADER, ‘fer crimminy sakes!

    An “atheist SANTA”? Not possible (!) because Santa’s MYTHIC heroism must be based on a concept of all GOODNESS & all GIVINGNESS, human values one would be hard-pressed to extract from the centuries-old philosophy of our b-r-o-t-h-e-r NAYSAYERS.

    The message I consistently TWEET to non-believers is:

    “A S-E-A-L-E-D mind can never KNOW me, nor TELL me anything of significance.”

    DHANI SCHIMIZZI Visit http://www.twitter.com/SpaghettiKing and the SIX Word Memoir site http://www.smithmag.net where I’ve posted 9,269 Memoirs, BackStories & “MOMENTS” over a period of two years & where I was recently “BANNED FOR LIFE” from the site by its spunky founder LARRY SMITH (a difference of opinion is not “ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR”, Larry!). Nevertheless, interested Editors & fellow scribes can still read my “work” on that site.

  11. says

    -Santa Claus: wealth redistributor encouraging a sense of entitlement! (Socialist)
    -Mrs. Claus: feminist and CEO of Claus Enterprises
    -Elves: unionized
    -Reindeer: raised wild and on Dec 24th fed only organic, fair trade vegetables
    -Santa’s Village: all buildings LEED Gold certified
    -the sleigh: electric, charged through converted kinetic energy from unionized elf labor

  12. ChasCPeterson says

    For lack of ITALICS & BOLD type on the internet…

    something‘s lacking there, I’ll grant you that!

  13. says

    what about an atheist Santa?

    Sure. As long as atheist Santa is a foodie and a wine snob like pagan Santa.

    What would you ask him to get you for Christmas?

    I’m partial to real estate. This’ll do nicely: http://www.bhsusa.com/manhattan/midtown-east/the-residence-at-river-house/coop/9173582

    Thanks for asking, atheist Santa!

    What criteria would he use to judge the kiddies as naughty or nice?

    Supporting the status quo (permanent war, rape culture, racism, unbridled capitalism, etc) and subverting the violent patriarchokleptocracy, respectively. Of course.

    Also, is Atheist Santa surly or philosophical? Cynical or humanist?

    As long as he delivers the goods to people subverting the violent patriarchokleptocracy, he can be a total wanker for all I care.

    What’s a better place for him to live than the North Pole?

    Morris, Minnesota. Or Andalucia. It’s a tossup.

  14. says

    Atheist Santa does not sit in every shopping center in the land robbing me of 50 bucks by coercing my kid to hop on his lap to have a picture taken.

  15. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I would like atheist santa to have some scientific whiz discover a way for stroke victims to recover, even partially, from their disability long after the event. Treatment covered by medicare/insurance of course.

    In my specific case, the Redhead recovers enough hand/wrist function to resume knitting.

  16. Jackie: ruining feminism one fabulous accessory at a time says

    Dear Atheist Santa,
    Please, get me and mine hell and gone from the Bible Belt.

  17. alisonstreight says

    Dear Atheist Santa, please, please take Stephen Harper to the North Pole and leave him there. And while you are at it, take all his cabinet ministers and the Tea Party. I am sure you can find a suitable ice floe and global warming will take care of the rest. World peace and income equality would be nice too.

  18. Dhorvath, OM says

    I would that atheist santa disappears given how santa generally makes me feel. On the other hand, if they possess any power then the stroke thing from Nerd would be awesome. I have care of someone who has suffered from stroke and it’s a rough go this month.

  19. kestrel says

    Dear Atheist Santa,

    I’m sure you’ve noticed all those hateful self-made billboards the local religious people put up – the ones that say “Know God or you will Burn in Hell for All Eternity” and so on. It would be really great if you could replace those messages with kind, humanistic and tolerant messages on the 25th. I accept that you can’t change human nature, but maybe leave something extra nice for those who take time to volunteer and help out in their community, just to encourage them, and please leave not much at all for those who look down their nose at others and pretend they are “better” than everyone else.

    Also, I sincerely hope that all the pictures I’ve seen of your reindeer harness are gross misconceptions by the artists, but if not, please give the reindeer some freedom collars this year. They will pull much more efficiently if you do. Although, given that you live in the Galápagos Islands, perhaps the artists REALLY got it wrong and those are actually tortoises.

    Sorry, that’s all I’ve got…

  20. frankb says

    Oh godless Santa, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.
    My friends all have Porsches, I must make amends.

  21. cartomancer says

    There already is an atheist Santa. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, teaches at TUFTS University and goes by “Dan Dennett” when not doing his thing in late December.

  22. Sastra says

    Atheist Santa would be pragmatic and well aware that magic is make believe; we can count only on each other. In other words, every real-life Santa is in their own person Atheist Santa, knowingly, admittedly, and openly playacting the “elf” role for children in order to help other adult human beings do the actual work. I mean the Santa actors don’t unwarily slip into Clausian literalism, do they? Begin to feel faith in their ability to fly on some spiritual level with eight reindeer and a sled? No.

    After all, Santa’s rather like a magician — an honest liar. It’s an elaborate pretend game with a rational and ethical payoff when you the audience become skeptical. The whole point is that believing in actual magic is only for the very young. You’re expected to grow out of it and discover that it’s better to be grateful to the real givers — while becoming one yourself. Santa is made in our own image and there’s no illusion (or delusion) otherwise.

    I’ve known atheists who hate the whole idea of Santa Claus because they feel the figure is “God-on-training-wheels.” It encourages ‘faith.’ But I think the religious objection carries more weight: it’s subversive and discourages faith. The Santa myth is like a cultural dress rehearsal for atheistic humanism. Figure it out: there is no supernatural magic. That was just pretend. It’s only ordinary people, kiddies. Now you’re a grown up and capable of letting it go — and continuing on as a story.

    And it’s still special, isn’t it? More, even.

    So I’d treat and approach Atheist Santa the same as I would any and every Santa, and I’d expect he or she would act the same as they already do.

  23. Nick Gotts says

    Dear Atheist Santa,

    Please, please, please give Dhani Schimizzi a real brain in place of the cheap plastic imitation xe is obliged to use at present.

  24. mikehuben says

    L Frank Baum’s “The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus”, like the OZ books, has no mention of any religion.

    You can read it for free from Project Guttenberg, without the original pictures, but the Google version has them.

    http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Life_and_Adventures_of_Santa_Claus.html?id=Ml8Z1rQ74lIC

    From wikipedia:
    “Originally a Methodist, Baum joined the Episcopal Church in Aberdeen to participate in community theatricals. Later, he and his wife, encouraged by Matilda Joslyn Gage, became members of the Theosophical Society in 1892.[44] Baum’s beliefs are often reflected in his writing. The only mention of a church in his Oz books is the porcelain one which the Cowardly Lion breaks in the Dainty China Country in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Baums believed in God, but felt that religious decisions should be made by mature minds and not religious authorities. As a result, they sent their older sons to “Ethical Culture Sunday School” in Chicago, which taught morality, not religion.”

    Atheist Santa is such a great idea that it has already been done! However, I don’t know if a naturalist Santa (no fairies, supernatural beings or other fictions) could be done without changing the story too much.

  25. opposablethumbs says

    You – you mean Dhani Schimizzi isn’t a joke? Srsly????? That just has to be a piss-take, right?

    If Santa’s doing tangible objects only, small enough to fit in the sack, then I’d like some presents for my kids, please. If she’s doing bigger things and/or intangibles too, I’d like … a cure for alzheimers, one for fibromyalgia and several dozen for cancers, an end to misogyny, racism and homophobia, a massive radical redistribution of wealth from the ultra-rich to the hungry, and reproductive rights, social stability and full welfare for all throughout the world. Something tells me I may be over-reaching a bit, though.

  26. Blattafrax says

    Dear Santa,

    As a fictional product of my parents (and my) deception of their children and a clever way to get families into department stores, I hope you will be be able to excuse the tone of this message. But, I have heard that you are an atheist…

    Having now been forced to think about it, I realise this gives me a dilemma. Previously I had given you the default status I give everyone: i.e. rational until proven otherwise. But you are actually the ultimate example of the Mile High Floating Jesus Problem and I don’t think you can be atheist – you are effectively a god. So, really, are we expected to believe that you’re the only god there is? You’re deluding yourself. Get a grip. Once you’ve done that, have a word with Lakshmi for me please – it’s not working.

    Lots of love,

    B.

    P.S. Well, I suppose it is possible that you are just so technologically advanced that you are indistinguishable from a god – à la A.C.Clarke – but I did the calculations some years ago and I think magic is a more plausible explanation to be honest.

  27. twincats says

    Well, since xmas is a bipolar holiday simultaneously about both philanthropy and greed, on the philanthropic note, I’d agree with johnlee @9 and others in that vein. On the greed side, I’d beg for the annihilation of all the stupid holiday songs I hate with “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Santa Baby” at the top of the list. Also, a living wage for retail slaves so we don’t have to hate the holidays so very much.

  28. interskeptor says

    Dear Mr. Atheist Nicholas,

    …could you please refrain from using the religious term »Santa«, from »saint«, which, according to a quote in wikipedia, is used »to refer to the state of special holiness that many religions attribute to certain people«.
    It … y’know… confuses me…
    Maybe you could use something more appealing, like »Athe Claus«…
    Please think about it…

    Thank you
    IS

  29. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Dhani Schimizzi
    ZOMG! You mean italics and bold characters don’t exist on the internet?

    Who knew?

    Next you’ll tell me

    There is no such thing as comic sans

  30. jetboy says

    Dear Hoggfather, for Hogswatch this year I want you to come get me off of Roundworld. It is a silly place.They haven’t even discovered slood yet.

  31. David Marjanović says

    Where I come from, St. Nicholas (conflation of two bishops from late Antiquity) comes on Dec. 6th and brings sweets. The Krampus comes with him and used to give coal to the naughty children; now that coal is hard to come by, he has kinda vanished – and is also associated with Dec. 5th somehow. On Christmas Eve, the Christ Child comes – an angelic figure with wings and long blond hair that is at once young Jesus and a girl. Santa is Christmasman, much like Superman, and has been condemned by a loud-mouthed conservative bishop as a secular plot to take Christ out of Christmas.

  32. John Horstman says

    While I find the mythological/lying to children aspect of Santa problematic, I actually think the behavioral coercion and necessary consumerism of normative ritualized gifting in a capitalist market context (and concomitant classism) are far worse. Every single aspect of the Santa myth is a bad thing, and the entire artifice needs to be abandoned.

  33. dccarbene says

    I am unable to communicate with Atheist Santa as I cannot read, write nor speak Penguin.

    If I were able to send a message, I would ask that everyone in the world could have the benefit of the quality of education I have been fortunate enough to receive. I believe that would be the single most useful thing that gives us a hope of freedom from religion, that nasty elixir of history that poisons everything; a hope of reversing our suicidal insistence on melting our ice caps [because then where would Atheist Santa live?]; a hope that people who look differently than we do are still people [and we can learn really interesting things from them]; a hope that we can realize that commerce allows survival but culture means life, not existence alone.

    Not asking much, eh?