Welcome to my Atheist Parables series. In the tradition of Plato, Jesus, and Aesop, I will use stories and allegory to examine issues of faith, reality and reason.
I thought I was doing the kids a favor when I taught them to believe in Santa Claus.
They didn’t have much, here at the boarding school, and it seemed like a story of magic and wonder would cheer them up.
Santa is about hope—hope for the future and hope that things will get better. Hope that those who are good will get what they deserve somehow. He’s also a convenient introduction to ethics; you better be good if you want Santa to bring presents!
I knew the kids would get a lift from their belief in Santa. It would be harmless, and they would grow out of it naturally as they got older.
And it worked, too; the kids were happier, and they seemed to clean up their behavior. Some of them became really passionate about the whole Santa Claus thing, studying all the songs, poems, and movies they could find about Santa Claus.
Later on, as I was teaching geography, I was surprised to find just how strong their ideas about Santa had become. Continue reading