I'll hand the reins to Tekton ministry associate Nick Peters again today -- I had planned to anyway, but after we had a little mishap at the house that left water all over one room, I'm feeling pretty beaten up and grateful for the break. Back Monday with Part 2 on Buddha and Q.
Once again, I approach this subject just confused. I do not wonder if
it is my own mindset or not, but I am just wondering how it is Carrier
expects me to take him. Does he think that these arguments show
theistic arguments to be silly? Does he already know that they are
silly? One can't really say for sure. However, let's look at the
argument from the Christmas Spirit.
To begin with, it's the kind of argument that is based on a more
subjective phenomena and not one I would use. For instance, I would
not use Bill Craig's argument about God being personally experienced
through the Holy Spirit and it's not a surprise to me when atheists go
after this argument. However, let's look at the first premise:
1.Every Christmas season everyone the world over experiences the
Now if we had had something like "Every year, all over the world,
everyone at the time we call December 25th has a certain experience"
we might have something interesting to explain. As it is, I really
don't know what Carrier expects me to get from this. What does it mean
to experience the "Christmas Spirit"?
Carrier doesn't explain any of this. Again, if this is to be a parody
of an argument, it doesn't really work if we don't know if we're even
supposed to laugh.
Premise 2 gets even shakier:
2. Santa Claus is by definition the Christmas Spirit.
No reference is given to this. I have not heard of Santa Claus being
described as the Christmas Spirit nor do I think he could be seen as
whatever Santa Claus is: he is a material being and a material being
cannot be an immaterial being like a spirit.
3. Therefore every Christmas season everyone the world over
experiences Santa Claus.
This would follow of course if the first two premises are true, but
really, none of it makes any sense whatsoever.
4. It is extraordinarily improbable that six billion people would
simultaneously, the same time every year, hallucinate exactly the same
Well, yeah. Of course, I have no reason to believe that any of this is
going on.... (JPH note: And aside from that, a substantial portion of those six billion -- now much closer to seven billion, actually -- don't observe Christmas.)
5. Therefore Santa Claus is not a hallucination.
This would depend on what is meant by a hallucination exactly. Does it
mean some external experience or some internal experience? Thinking
you see or hear something could qualify. Feeling something, I do not
believe does. I do not doubt, for instance, that many Mormons have
prayed the prayer in Moroni 10:4-5 and experienced something very
strong. I question the content of that experience however, but not
that the experience happened. If all the world feels something, that
would not make it real, though it could lead to some strong reasons
for why we could think it real.
6. That which is experienced and is not a hallucination, is real.
Based on what I said earlier, I am not sure. For instance, I could say
I am experiencing right now the thought of a unicorn being outside my
door. Because I am experiencing thinking about opening my door and
seeing a unicorn, it does not mean that when I open the door, that
there will be a unicorn.
Furthermore, how many people have to experience something before it is
real then? Everyone? Suppose half the world experienced something and
the other didn't. How could we tell who was right? The obvious way is
simply to look at the real world the best that we can. Perhaps those
who think they see something could take pictures and see that what
they thought they saw wasn't real.
From this, Carrier concludes that Santa is real and Santa exists.
I, however, conclude that Carrier just doesn't know what he's talking about.