Believe it or not this is my Christmas post, and all these names have something in common. Richard Dawkins is a world-renown scientist who is also known as Darwin’s Rottweiler because of his radical position on Darwinism. He is also vehemently opposed to any hint of deity being involved in the here-and-now or the hereafter.
Dawkins and his supporters also frequently parrot something like, “Sure, people have the freedom to believe in God, and we do not want to take this away. They also have the freedom to believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy.”
Well Mr. Dawkins, let’s solve the simple controversies first. The Tooth Fairy is an early European myth, and some think that it came from the tooth mouse that had more or less the same mission. No one really believes in this person into adulthood. There are no theological or philosophical books written about him or her, and there are no temples devoted to worship. This character never existed.
Santa on the other hand did sort of exist. He does not live at the North Pole despite Hollywood’s never-ending attempt to make us believe. Nicholas of Myra – no relation to my wife who is also Myra – lived in what is now Turkey which is a little further south. He usually tried to forego using reindeer to crash-land on roofs, but he was known to have done much for humanity in the name of God simply by walking on foot. Many aspects of his life are worthy of emulating even from a secular perspective.
Dawkins is a contemporary figure who is quite brilliant even though I believe his presuppositions are extremely prejudiced. You really need to have your ducks in a row – or primates in ascending order – to hang with this guy in a debate. I would however ask him why he stands so firmly against the God that Nicholas followed in a desire to do good, and I would ask him what moral questions he has against a man, namely Jesus, whose life brought about the greatest positive change in human history and whose birth and death have come to define our cultural landscape.
When it comes to the aforementioned names it is better to focus on just Jesus and Richard Dawkins for the sake of comparison and contrast, but Saint Nicholas without the reindeer is still worthy of mention having made a significant impact on natural history because of what he believed and did.
The final question is this. Does what we do or don’t believe about Christmas cause us to make a significant positive contribution to the moral evolution of our species, or do we just adhere to survival if the fittest in a hurting and needy world?