I am the host of Speak Atheist, http://speakatheist.com and we are planning on doing a show next week on Santa Claus and wether or not atheists should tell their children that there is one. This also hits home with me in my personal life because my wife and I have a baby on the way and all we talk about is how to raise our coming child.
I am curious how everyone feels about this. The way I see it, it could be good or bad depending on how you approach it.
I can see that it would be bad to teach your children to buy into fairytales that are simply not true. I am sure the brain is developing neuro pathways as a child and that this belief could cause to predispose the child into believing in other fairytales (God) when they become an adult. Also, knowing that your parents lied to you could be a problem, even though I have nothing but fond memories of Santa and never felt betrayed by this deception.
However, I can see this being good as well. Perhaps if the approach was taken to teach the child about the story of Santa Claus and then, when they question it, use it as an opportunity to help them logically reason whether or not Santa Claus actually exists. I could also see this behavior helping children develop a healthy level of skepticism to other claims. I mean, are flying reindeer really harder to believe than a talking snake? Also, I love every memory I have of Santa Claus. Even after I knew he didn't exist, I enjoyed pretending that he did. There is a part of me that looks forward to sharing this with my child.
What do you guys think?
Kahlil Gibran wrote about the relationship between parents and children that is both poetic and, I think, wise (the last paragraph is a bit religious, but not essential to the wisdom of the poem):
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
So basically, You are against teaching Santa Clause?
No need to "teach" it. It's pervasive come December.
We told our son the truth about Santa from the start. He told us, when he was 4, that he wanted to believe in Santa, and we told him that was fine. The next year he never even brought Santa up and has never been troubled by it since (he is now 22).
I'm for it, and here's why: It's a game.
We must first recognize that this is the true mindset of the modern majority anyway (how many of your friends who identify themselves as having a faith actually believe in magic? Furthermore, how many children truly believe in the mechanics behind the concept of Santa Claus? Aren't we playing along with all this because we want to participate?) We are not lying to them, but playing a game with them. They need to know right off the bat that this is a cheeky little game everybody plays because it's fun.
Secondly we must recognize that this is purposeful to the atheist. By engaging in all this, we are all (atheists/religious adults/children "believing"/not believing in Santa/gods, all of us are) taking part in dismantling it. Because when we face these absurd ideas with humor and good fun, we're reducing them to what they truly are. As an atheist, what kind of reaction do you usually get when you combat religious thinking? If you're like me, you encounter resistance. Senseless "debate", endless circle-talking with the dim-witted and snake-tongued alike. Like a tide crashing on Irish cliffs. Instead, take a cue from Alexander the Great. You will not win the fight on anti-reason by recognizing enemies. By "absorbing" them, we are diluting them, forcing the assimilation of "absurdity" and "recognition"-- thereby ensuring the next generation, and the one after that and the one after that, inherently recognize that these notions are absurd. This "death by absorption" was one of Christianity's greatest abilities, it's how it adapted (and still adapts, and will continue to adapt until it's virtually unrecognizable) so that it could survive and attract and grow. It's damn effective.
So I say sing the silly songs and engage in the silly rituals and tell your children the silly stories, and have fun with it. Rest easy knowing that by doing so, you're "taking" it and redefining it, effectively cheapening it and, like everybody else, playing your part in it's extinction.
It's late and my thoughts are ljfl;aj;jqoejjfa ljd l;. So instead take it from these fine gentlemen:
“I don’t want to attack religious people; it feels like a sort of unkind thing to do, to attack religious people, because, you know, it’s too easy, and it feels like the battle has already been won. But it just feels rude. Like if you’re at a party and someone says, “Oh, I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Jew,” it’s very rude there to say, “Oh, how ridiculous.” I feel at this point we have to treat people with kindness and love and respect, in the same way you’d treat a child running round a party saying, “I’m a helicopter!” And you can say, “Good for you. We’re all having fun. I’m a choo-choo train!”
(skip to 15 minutes in to get to the most relevant part)
I see no problem with a child believing in santa. In fact I think it help to feed the imagination. All kids eventually learn the truth but until then I see no need to be so .....critical is the word I guess. I don't think his or her believing in santa will have a negative impact on their I.Q. Believing made my childhood richer and finding out the truth was kind of an ah ha moment. If santa turned out to be make believe, what else could be? Anyway the plus outweighed the negatives for me. I let my kids believe and two out of three are atheist and the third says she believes but it's just a roll call sound off because of her mother, lol.
Yeah no thanks. I'm telling my children stories of a man named Darwin and his adventures in "The Origin of Species".
ha yea, lol - kk
I feel it's wrong to raise children through what is, basically, atheist propagandizing. Be sure to tell them there's no such thing as dragons or ghosts or hobbits nor any realistic possibility of interstellar space travel while you're at it. PLEASE don't let them discover these things on their own.
yeah I'll tell them dragons, ghosts and hobbits.... but as far as space travel - maybe not for their generation but come on; who knows where science will be 1,000 years from now?!!? We're just beginning to decode particles, let alone figure out how they work.
So we shouldn't teach our children anything? Just let them figure everything out on their own?
BTW, interstellar space travel may be a possibility now according to NASA http://techland.time.com/2012/09/19/nasa-actually-working-on-faster...
Teach them TO think, not WHAT to think. To do that is to treat them with respect.