Question of the Week: Children and Imaginary Beings

Question of the Week: Children and Imaginary Beings

Every week we ask a question of our audience to stimulate discussion and critical thinking about an issue or topic relating to science, skepticism, technology or religion. Our favourite comments are discussed on our podcast, The Pseudoscientists.

It’s approaching Christmas time! Or the Holiday Season if you prefer, I guess. Whether or not non-​​religious people should celebrate a holiday that has roots in religious traditions is another topic entirely… but I do want to focus on one aspect of Christmas — teaching children about the existence of Santa Claus. Does this activity harm children, in the sense that they may be more open to suggestion about the existence of other non-​​existent beings, or does the inevitable realisation that they have been lied to make them more skeptical as adults?

Is it ethical to teach children about the existence of something that doesn’t exist?

Are Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny harmless, cultural fun? Would it even be possible to change this cultural tradition? Are you an asshole if you get your kids to spoil all the other kids’ ideas about these things? Let us know what you think!

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by dietaydeporte]