There’s a quote you may have heard that goes something like this: “If you understand why you reject all the other gods, you’ll understand why I reject your God.” It sounds good, but there’s a problem. As soon as you say that to an actual believer, they are likely to inform you that they reject all the other gods because the Real God™ told them the others were false. What was not derived by reason and evidence cannot be refuted by reason and evidence.
With that in mind, I’d like to propose a new game that might have a better chance of achieving the same goal. It’s called “Proving Santa,” and I think it has a better shot at giving believers a chance to experience what it’s really like to be a skeptic in a religious debate.
The game works like this: I’ll be the one who believes Santa is a real, magical person who actually delivers presents to children on Christmas, and you have to prove to me that he isn’t, subject to the following rules:
- The burden of proof is always on you. I am allowed to assume that Santa must be real, as the default proposition.
- I can make up any rules, at any time, in order to refute your arguments.
- If you find any inconsistencies or self-contradictions in my argument, I am allowed to conclude that you are just saying that because you hate Santa.
- I am allowed to reject any evidence or testimony coming from people who do not believe in Santa, on the grounds that they are biased by their hatred for Santa.
- I am allowed to take unbelief in Santa, in itself, as evidence that people know he is real, since they hate him.
- I am allowed to take any real-world phenomenon, attribute it to Santa, and use it as evidence that he is real, whether or not I can articulate exactly what Santa has to do with it.
- I am allowed to invoke the supernatural and/or magic at any time in order to “explain” any practical difficulties in what I believe.
- I am allowed to assume that if you are at all reluctant to believe in Santa, it is because of some moral defect on your part.
- I am allowed to change the subject at any time in order to prevent you from making a point.
- No matter what I do in Santa’s defense, it’s ok, because I’m defending Santa. This includes lying, slandering, trolling, deliberate use of logical fallacies, and other questionable activities.
- I am the final judge of whether or not you have or have not proven that Santa is a myth, and the only way you can win is if I admit that you have proven it.
- I am never under any obligation, legal, moral, or intellectual, to admit that you’ve proven your point, no matter what.
I think that would be a pretty fun game to play, as long as you were the one defending Santa. “If you understand why you do not believe in Santa, you will understand why I do not believe in your God.”