There is more evidence for Santa than there is for god. Millions of children firmly contest the existence of father christmas their belief is well founded as unlike those who profess a belief in god the santa faithful have ample evidence to back up their claim. Once a year without fail Santa provides real solid gifts often to precise requests. Prayers to god rarely achieve such remarkable and replicable results. Indeed the children’s faith can hardly be called that. This is peer reviewed evidence based experimentation. The proof of Santa’s reality is confirmed by playground conversations all over the world.
That later in life the firm acceptance of Santa diminishes in no way reduces his reality for those same individuals in their earlier life or indeed for the contemporary children. We believe something because there is overwhelming evidence for it. When later an alternative explanation is presented by what we accept as authoritative voices we can accept that our earlier belief was misguided though no less real at the time, we cannot after all change the past or what we believed in the past.
The opposite effect to the belief in Santa is the belief in the self. We start life with no sense that we have an individual self, it is not until around five that we start to recognise that the sound associated with us is in fact our name and that this name identifies us as a wholly separate individual being from the others and indeed from the world. This is simply proved by a thought experiment. When did your self appear? At conception? As an embryo? On the day you were born? When you uttered your first word or took your first step?
One thing is clear: there was no on/off switch for the self. The alternative therefore is that the self developed over time. Once this is accepted then the only question left is when? And the answer does not really matter. What is irrefutable is that at one point the person you call you did not have a self and at other times it did. Thus the self is not like other physical attributes, arms, ears, liver, toes, etc but more like language, painting, running, logic, faculties you did not have and then you did. And like language one the self has been established it cannot easily be forgotten, diminished or dismissed. But again like language it can be accepted as an ability, a faculty that can be seen for what it is and used wisely, or otherwise.
Like the belief in Santa which was there at one point and not there later at one point the self did not exist and later it did. And like Santa the self is a belief. A very convincing belief but a belief all the same. The strength of conviction of the reality of a self though does vary with individuals. Those with the strongest beliefs in their ownership of a self are the most dangerous. For they require enormous resources to fulfil the requirements their selves demand.
Selves have become an accepted part of most societies and the rights of individual selves have been enshrined in laws.