[Originally published December 18, 2006.]

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From an early point in your infancy, you people have been done a great injustice. Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas—the names may differ from country to country, but the idea always remains a constant. No doubt you’ve drawn pictures of him, watched films depicting him, sung songs about him. A benevolent jolly fellow whose sole purpose is to monitor your behavior year-round by inexplicable means only to separate children into two drastically oversimplified groups: naughty or nice. With the aid of elfin employees and flying reindeer, this Good Samaritan delivers gifts to all the nice children of the world in a single evening. You’ll know him by his long white beard and belly that jiggles like a bowl full of jelly, they say. On the contrary, you’ll know him as nonsense, because that’s precisely what he is.

As a scientist, I seek the truth. Do you understand? The universe is a highly complex place, ever evolving and changing, billions of years in the making. Darwinian evolution enables us to comprehend who we are and where we’ve come from. It is only science that can provide us with these answers. Blind faith, grand design, the belief that things “just happen” without any rational explanation or evidence are all part of an alternative non-science. Santa Claus, with his long white beard and sack full of goodies, is a rather precise example of this.

If you are the sort of person who is interested in the truth, perhaps you would consider asking yourself this question: how exactly does a single elderly man not only manufacture but also deliver in a single evening what would, by all forms of logic, account to be millions of toys? Certainly, if you press this issue to its core, more difficult questions will arise, but as I have been told we are short on time, we’ll stick with the meat and bones, so to speak, of this one. Your parents and teachers will most likely say something to the effect of “Why, he has elves that help build toys year-round in his North Pole workshop.” And in response to how a man delivers all these goods in a single evening? Unsurprisingly, the response to this has not changed since I was a lad: he does it with the aid of Christmas Magic. Indeed—Christmas Magic, that wonderful, majestical force. A single drop of it allows a man to fly around the world in a sleigh led by nine tiny reindeer. Fascinating, isn’t it? Now, before I continue on, let me first make it clear that I am not claiming that the existence of Santa or wonderful industrious elves or Christmas Magic is impossible. I cannot prove that they do not exist any more than I can disprove the existence of fairies or leprechauns. What I can tell you is that statistic probability and science can provide us with a clear look at the truth, and if we are willing to be honest with ourselves as a result of this data, then we will quite quickly see that there simply is no scientific foundation for any of the aforementioned phenomena.

What there is evidence of is that it is none other than your parents who leave gifts marked “From Santa” beneath the tree, just as it is your parents who consume the milk and biscuits you so thoughtfully leave out on Christmas Eve prior to heading off to bed. If you refuse these methods and persist with the non-science of Christmas Magic—that is, if you continue to claim that Santa’s “powers” arose from some indefinable source—then you are wading in some very murky waters indeed. It is a rejection of all logic. Why not the Pink Unicorn Man or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? No rational scientist would accept any information without a source, without a foundation, and neither should you.

My goal in all of this is that, as children, you should be raised only on truth, reason, fact, and intellect. Together we should be working toward a point in the not-so-distant future where the words “Santa Claus” or “Kris Kringle” or “Father Christmas” create the same response as fingernails on a chalkboard. There is nothing wrong with disbelief in Santa. I can see that the topic makes many of you uncomfortable. However, this should not be viewed as a bad thing. You may weep now, but your tears are a positive, not a negative. You are now facing the truth, which comes in many forms and is not always comfortable. This is a fact that you will be exposed to again and again throughout your lives. If you wish to live a life that contains only comfortable information and not necessarily the truth, then yours will be a highly deluded existence. Your intellectual maturity depends on whether or not you are capable of accepting the truth at this early age. That is why there is no better place to begin than with the absurdity that is Santa Claus and Christmas Magic. Now then, with all that said, I wish to thank you for your time today, and I should like very much to open up the floor to any questions you may have.