On Matt McCormick’s blog "Atheism: Proving the Negative" he discusses the Santa principle which is an attempt to disprove the existence of God in addition to Santa and the Tooth Fairy. He writes:
A person is justified in believing that X does not exist if all of these conditions are met:
- the area where evidence would appear, if there were any, has been comprehensively examined, and
- all of the available evidence that X exists is inadequate, and
- X is the sort of entity that, if X exists, then it would show.
I agree that these premises follow in the case of Santa Claus or Bigfoot because these beings are said to be physical entities that should be found on earth. If they did exist then we can assume that we would have discovered physical evidence of them by now.
However, in the case of God, there are flaws with premises 2 and 3. The flaw with premise 2 is that it doesn’t take into account the origins of a finely tuned universe. Why is there something rather than nothing? It’s one of the great questions. The universe was formed ex nihilo through the big bang. It was likely God who sparked the big bang, as at this point we don’t have a natural explanation for why and how the big bang began. During the big bang the physical constants such as the speed of light, gravity, the magnetic constant, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force were set with such precision that had they just been slightly different life as we know it would have never formed. The odds of this happening randomly are astoundingly unlikely. This indicates that God fine tuned the universe. So, we see God's work surrounds us.
The flaw with premise 3 is that it assumes that God would have to be a physical entity who resides in an observable physical place. God is said to be a spiritual entity who resides in heaven. Since we can’t see or touch the spiritual realm it doesn’t follow that God would be visible like we would expect Bigfoot to be. Although, there have been numerous claims that God has reached out in a physical way (such as speech) in the physical world. However, God was clearly visible at a certain point in history--it was when the God/man Jesus Christ walked the earth. Josephus, the first-century Romano-Jewish historian, the Koran and the Bible all discuss Jesus. The Bible reports that Jesus performed many miracles and claimed to be the son of God. The fact that the early church didn’t crumble after Jesus’ crucifixion shows that he actually rose from the dead as the Bible claims. Why would the apostles have gone on to be martyred for proclaiming the name of Jesus if they knew he was a fraud? The fact that we haven’t found Jesus’ remains supports the claim that he did ascend into heaven where he is no longer visible.
Since premises 2 and 3 don’t follow we can’t conclude that God doesn’t exist. The Santa principle only works for physical entities that can be observed like Santa Claus.