What came first? Man? Or his Gods? Most religions would have you accept an origin myth where a God or Gods have always existed since the beginning of beginnings, and then, whether through design, or desire, or hideous accident, at some point in their reign over nothingness, or pure chaos, or whatever the material universe consists of before the imposition of Godly order, they create the world, and populate it with humanity.
I find this theory rather unpalatable, for multiple reasons, some as simple and poignant as the fact that for a creature supposedly created in God’s image, residing on a world supposedly created for us specifically, humans are hilariously weak, fragile, and ill-adapted for our surroundings. You would think that an all powerful, omnipotent, omnipresent God or cabal of Gods would have at least given their favored creation gills, since he/they saw fit to provide them with a world surface that’s over 70% water. Instead we crowd around on the small bits of exposed land, and pat ourselves on the back, even as we die in droves when the weather gets slightly too hot or slightly too cold for our soft awkward bloated bodies.
A more logical argument follows that Man came into being through the accumulation of chance and the causal effects of natural laws over time. Once Man reached the tipping point of sentience which separated him from the rest of the beasts, he found himself to be both curious and frightened about the world around him. In his quest to understand natural phenomena that he did not have the scientific wherewithal to truly explain, it seems clear that he would imagine the presence of mysterious divine powers. Basically, Mankind felt a need to question, and when we couldn’t then find answers, we made them up. We created Gods.
As our understanding of the world progressed and evolved, so too did our Gods. Elemental Gods for the first time took human form. Entire pantheons of Gods were created aspected to specific human needs. For example, instead of worshiping the wind as a God, man decided that the wind itself was not a god, but was simply the hot farts of Crepitus, Lord of Flatulence, who was a God.
As our control over our surroundings increased, the need for multiple specific Gods decreased, and we introduced the idea of a one-size-fits-all God of Gods, such as the one prominent in Judeo-Christian faiths. Even this particular God has evolved with the changing needs of his followers, from a scary, vengeful arbiter of divine wrath, to an all knowing, all forgiving, merciful, benevolent savior.
As an atheist, I don’t believe any of the thousands and thousands of Gods man has created over the centuries are actually real, but what if they were? What if the collective power of human imagination, and the psychic potency of prayer and worship and belief was enough to actually create a God, whether as an actual separate sentient entity, or even as just a discernible measurable force? Would a God’s power be based on the amount of people who believed in them? If worship ceased, would the God then die?
Most importantly, would Santa be a God?
Santa is immortal. Santa is omniscient. Santa is, at least on Christmas, omnipresent. Santa is fervently believed in by millions of children. Santa is prayed to. Santa is believed to reward virtue and punish evil. Santa’s holy doctrine is “if you’re good, you’ll get a prize”. Santa has counterparts, like Black Peter, and the mighty Krampus. Santa has servants, like the elves and reindeer. Santa demands cookie sacrifices. Every December, Santa’s faithful flock to his holy temple, the Mall, and commune with his high priest the Mall Santa, who provides a direct conduit to the real Santa for their prayers of bicycles and Red Ryder BB guns. By all important measures of such things, Santa is very much a God, and a powerful one at that.
Santa is a God created by and for the modern man. He is the God of Consumerism. Long may he reign.