Exactly. But then you go on to say:Furthermore, some people draw meaning from the concept of Santa Claus by using it as a metaphor for the holiday spirit, the spirit of thinking of family and friends, giving over receiving, charity and kindness, etc. So what does the statement, "I believe in Santa Claus," mean?
"To most of us"? What does that mean? What I'm saying is that the answer can become subjective if the question is intepreted in that way. How a particular individual interprets it is also subjective, it's not "majority rules". The reason this is so important is that with some questions, unlike "do you believe in Santa Claus", the very words in the question are so profound and hard to define that each person must insert their own meaning. Often when they do that, they substitute a drastic oversimplification, but they don't care, because the question needs an answer and it is too profound not to oversimplify. Science is one way to make such an oversimplification, it is the oversimplification of that which can be measured. When the questions are too profound to measure, even in principle, the line between "existential" and "metaphorical meaning" are drastically blurred.To most of us, that's the existential claim, whether or not the person stating it is using Santa Claus metaphorically.
This is a straw man because it is only a profound issue for children, so only children require the oversimplification. Then they mature and can understand charity and caring without personifying Santa. No one really needs the concept of Santa Claus as they mature. But there are many issues that continue to be out of reach of simian brains, and the oversimplifications survive. This does not make them wrong, it just makes them oversimplifications. As I said before, science also traffics in simplifications-- the "over" part is another one of those subjective issues that depends on the individual's purpose.Ken G thinks that "believing in" Santa Claus as metaphor is fine because it's not existential. I find that a load of gibberish.
That's an even clearer straw man. Yoda is clearly an invention of dramatic purpose, and is not intended to be real. To find the "reality" of Yoda, you'd have to dig much deeper-- you'd have to look at why the character exists, and what were the real reasons why this character captured our imagination. That's where you find the reality of Yoda, which is still very difficult to associate with "objective reality". The point is, the green midget came from somewhere, and for some reason, and that is it's connection to reality. Can science answer those questions without losing something in translation?Similarly, one can find meaning in the wisdom of Yoda, but saying "Yoda is real" is going to get you a funny look (at best, a funny jacket possibly).
What you mean by this is that if you set up an objective test for the existence of Yoda, like leaving cookies for Santa's reindeer, you are confident in a null result. I agree with you. But note this is all you can say about the reality or lack of reality of Yoda-- when you intersect him with objective tests, you get a null result. And what you also get, is something lost in translation.That is the position being taken by Lonewulf and Doodler and myself. I don't "believe in" Santa Claus, I don't "believe in" Yoda - they are not real, existential beings.
To see what I mean, imagine the following conversation:
Moviegoer: "Hey, are you going to check out the new movie at the Playhouse? I hear it's really good."
Rationalist: "Why would I want to see a bunch of people pretending to be someone else? You know, everything that happens is decided in advance. It's all a hoax."
Moviegoer:"I don't care about that, I get caught up in the drama and it's real enough for me. It informs my life."
Rationalist:"I don't even know why they call it "movie", nothing is actually moving! It's just a series of still shots that appear to move."
Moviegoer:"That's really interesting. Well anyway, I'll check you out after the show."
All human creations are created to give us benefit. Science, and movies, are just among those, and they have different benefits. To say that one is "real" and the other isn't is to simply adopt a rather cut-and-dried definition of reality, that is easy to apply but leaves out a lot of human existence.