The Philosopher's Eye

News and brain candy for the philosophy community

Science, Santa Claus, and Philosophy

If you are one of those Santa-skeptics (you know–the kind who thinks Mom and Dad are responsible for all those presents under your Christmas tree) then there’s a book written just for you: The Truth About Santa, by Gregory Mone.  This book is for readers who respect science enough to know that the traditional story of Santa Claus faces serious and familiar challenges.  For instance, according to animal physiologists, reindeer can’t fly; a thorough study of satellite images fails to reveal a workshop at the North Pole; and rudimentary mathematical skills are enough to confirm that a journey to two-hundred-million chimneys takes 190 years (not one night) if each stop lasts only thirty seconds.

How, according to Mone, does Santa do it?  Simple: very advanced technology.  By the clever use of robot spies, worm holes, scanners, light-deflecting shields and many other gadgets, Santa can accomplish, without resorting to magic, what seems impossible.  Mone offers cutting-edge scientific research (ranging from RNA inhibitors to gravitational distortions that connect the present to the past) and, refreshingly, employs this research with respect for philosophy (noting that Santa cannot travel to the past to tell himself he can sleep in, since he’s already delivered the presents!).  The book is an entertaining way to explore the limits of what is possible through the most current science and some careful philosophy. Click here for a discussion of the book on NPR.

Related Articles:

Science and Religion: Philosophical Issues

By Alan G. Padgett , Luther Seminary
(Vol. 2, November 2007)
Philosophy Compass

Computer Simulation and the Philosophy of Science

By Eric Winsberg , University of South Florida
(Vol. 4, September 2009)
Philosophy Compass

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