If we’re willing to concede that Santa Claus is a myth, writes Bill Risby, why do we continue to reward our children for blindly following a religion?
After reading a recent article on the struggle of “religious” children to separate facts from fiction, I felt compelled to respond.
While all children are a product of interaction and education from their parents, including the children of religious, secular and atheist parents, some parents teach their children how to think rather than what to think. History has shown that in order to perpetuate the myths and false consolations of religion, religious parents are inclined to tell their children what to think – what is “true” according to their own beliefs, backgrounds and place of birth. Many of these stories are taught as truths and some as metaphors, but all are taught as part of an unprovable world view of creation, redemption, punishment and reward.
In contrast, some children are taught to think critically – to question everything and test ideas and concepts analytically. They are taught Socratically. Their questions are answered with a question until the truth rises to the surface and becomes self evident.
Children who are told at worst, lies, and at best, history unverified by anything other than repetition by those they trust more than life itself will understandably have a problem reconciling their instinct for truth and reality with the tripe offered so carelessly by their parents and peers.
Certain aspects of religion have very real similarities to the myth of Santa Claus – the only difference being that at a certain age, parents concede this particular myth. Yet they continue the idea of reward for “good behaviour” within their religion, complete with all its powers of control over their children’s minds.
A parent’s intent should be noted here, as I will readily admit that many (perhaps most) parents believe their religion to be absolute truth, because it was taught to them in the very same way that they are now teaching their children. Rarely will they subject their faith to the same tests of truth and integrity that they subject almost every other aspect of their lives. Parents aren’t intentionally dishonest, they just lack critical discernment between fantasy and reality, and are breeding yet another generation of young people untethered from the truth. Their world view is unvalidated by evidence, science, experience, and their natural surroundings, so a conflict grows inside them between their real life experience and their religious indoctrination.
What is most sad here is a child’s desperate desire to want to believe what their parents teach them as truth, and consequently their child’s need to lie to themselves, despite their much better instincts. Evidence of this lasting loss of reality amongst these now grown up children can be seen in every religious country in the world.
When we are faced with the most vulnerable and precious people on this earth, and I mean literally LOOKING into their face, a betrayal of trust like this is unforgivable.