© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2008 DOI: 10.1163/156770908X289251 Journal of Cognition and Culture 8 (2008) 149–161 www.brill.nl/jocc Why Santa Claus is Not a God Justin L. Barrett Centre for Anthropology and Mind, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, 58A Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS, United Kingdom e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract Th rough the lenses of cognitive science of religion, successful god concepts must possess a number of features. God concepts must be (1) counterintuitive, (2) an intentional agent, (3) possessing strategic information, (4) able to act in the human world in detectable ways and (5) capable of motivating behaviors that reinforce belief. Th at Santa Claus appears to be only inconsistently represented as having all ﬁve requisite features Santa has failed to develop a community of true believers and cult. Nevertheless, Santa concepts approximate a successful god concept more closely than other widespread cultural characters such as Mickey Mouse and the Tooth Fairy, in part explaining Santa’s relative cultural prominence. Keywords God concepts; cognitive science; religion; Santa Claus; belief Cognitive science of religion has sought to explain the cross-cultural recur- rence of beliefs and practices that might be labeled “religion” by appealing to essentially universal features
Journal of Cognition and Culture – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2008
Keywords: GOD CONCEPTS; COGNITIVE SCIENCE; RELIGION; BELIEF; SANTA CLAUS
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