Saturday, August 14, 2010

Prelude to a God Post

In a future post I will prove that god exists. The proof is pretty much the same as the proof that Santa Claus exists, which I will present here. It is a "proof by redefinition", which I am finding very useful in a world where more and more of what we experience can be shown to be subjective or relative.

Proof of the existence of Santa

First, there is evidence that Santa Claus exists. Every Christmas morning, millions of children wake up to find presents that are addressed from Santa. If you axe the parents of these kids, "From whom are these presents?", many or most will say "They're from Santa Claus."

Who then is this clearly existent Santa Claus? Every Christmas, millions of parents take on the role of Santa, buying the presents, signing his name. If you allow a definition of Santa that doesn't have to be "one person", you can call this collective group of parents "Santa". In the way that Santa matters -- bringing toys to millions of kids on Christmas Eve night -- this group of parents fits the definition. They also label themselves with this definition.

You can equally easily prove that Santa doesn't exist. If you define Santa as a magical fat human who lives at the North Pole and delivers millions of toys by sleigh, sequentially all in one night, you will not find much evidence of his existence. In fact you can easily find evidence of "impostors" (parents) planting false evidence of his existence.

And so, whether Santa exists or doesn't, or can be proven or not, depends completely on how you define "Santa". Fortunately, we're given plenty of opportunity to make such definitions. Santa is based on St. Nicolas, an apparently real human who did in fact deliver gifts individually. The idea of a flying sleigh, elves, and a North Pole toy shop are all part of a myth, built around St. Nick. The myth need not have anything to do with the actual definition of Santa. Whether you define Santa as St. Nick, or as the myth, or simply as a label to describe the role that parents take on at Christmas, is up to you.

Clearly, the same idea applies to "god". There is plenty of myth surrounding the concept of god, and we choose which myths to accept and which to ignore (Does god look human? Are there multiple gods -- a god of the sun, a god of the sea, a god of lightning?). Everyone has a different (if even just slightly) definition of the meaning of "god". Most of us are free to choose what god means to each of us as individuals, and many of us incorporate what we "think" into what we believe. And, we can choose to define god as something that clearly exists, or something that doesn't, or something that is not provable either way.