Balderdash on 34th Street

TheHonestAtheistJanuary 1, 2020

Just finished watching Miracle on 34th Street (1947), and it's been years since I've seen it.


The mother of the child in the movie is very level-headed and has chosen to bring up her child without fantasy or belief in fiction. But the movie draws on "good feeling" and "sentiment" about Christmas to persuade the audience that those that try to convince people that Santa is real are heroes.

Deceit: Hero is Villain and Vice Versa

First, utter humbug, to borrow a phrase. I've decided I won't teach my kids that there is a Santa Claus or a Tooth Fairy or a deity or a magical man upstairs or angels or pixies or demons or any other fictional character. Learning about, and deceiving kids into believing something that isn't real, is, are two very different things.

I want my kids to have an imagination, to explore, discover, learn, think, dream, even fantasize, but not at the loss of losing their grip on reality. Fact and fiction have a very defined line, a chasm in fact, that divide them. A parent should not muddy the waters between the two.

I've harped on this point before: teaching kids to believe in fairy tales inoculates them to later believe in other just as ridiculous beliefs–astrology, zodiac, crystal healing, flat earth, chem trails, the list goes on.

Poor Portrayal of Reality

Throughout the film, characters are also afraid of the public's image of them if they were to denounce Santa Claus as a fictional character.

In reality, I feel any reasonable person should not hesitate to tell the truth and elucidate the perception, not carry on a lie, especially in the court of law.

Prove Santa Claus Is Not Real

Part of the courtroom scene suggests the opposition to the defense provide proof that Santa Claus is not real, an unreasonable and illogical proposal, as this is impossible to falsify a negative position. Search online for Russell's Teapot as an example.


Quite bone chilling and revealing is the movie's take on faith, very in tune with religious belief as well. The mother is of course convinced of the existence and personification of Santa Claus, and is attempting to describe the reason for her conversion. She exclaims that faith is "believing even when common sense tells you not to."

Though not dwelt on for long, I found this definition scary to say the least. Convince people to believe something even when their common sense tells them not to, and one can convince them to commit atrocities.

Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

– Voltaire, from Questions sur les Miracles à M. Claparede, Professeur de Théologie à Genève, par un Proposant: Ou Extrait de Diverses Lettres de M. de Voltaire

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