Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ex-Christians: How Did You Figure Out Santa Was B.S.?

I was just talking about this with someone today. I'm sad to report that I'm probably at the late end of the distribution and didn't even figure it out on my own. At age 9 on the school bus the day after Easter, a kid in the next grade told me I was stupid for believing in the Easter bunny and that it was just my parents. When I got home I hesitantly asked my mom if she and my dad were really the Easter bunny, and when she admitted yes, at least I made the connection and asked if they were Santa and the tooth fairy too.

I was raised atheist, since both my parents are, but we're "ethnic Lutherans" as I often say, so we kept the tradition. I'm debating whether I'll do that for my own kids; I'm trying not to be influenced by a desire to live vicariously through them and have them redeem my own poor performance by figuring it out earlier than I did.

But for the ex-Christians and ethnic Christians out there, when did you figure it out? How? For people from other religions - did your parents tell you to play along and not say Santa was fake or that the Christian parents would get mad? Did you ever wonder that your Christian friends at school were delusional when they talked about flying fat people breaking into their houses through the chimney?


vjack said...

I don't remember exactly when, but like you, I think I first heard about it at school from older kids. Moderately Christian parents didn't really seem to mind but sort of wanted me to play along for awhile.

Michael Caton said...

I knew a kid who still believed when he was 12, maybe 13, and everybody played along to not disabuse him. I thought this was horrible, but then again, I played along too. I also started wondering if there was anything in my own life that I believed but other people were just "playing along" about, and as it turns out there was, but it was the kind of thing that no amount of critical thinking would have uncovered.

Joshua said...

For a while now I've wondered whether teaching kids about Santa and such makes the kids more likely to become atheists or agnostics later in life. One could see it as prepping them to believe in magical thinking and so making them more religious. Alternatively, one could see it as possibly causing them to be more likely to be skeptical after they learn it is false. (Jack Chick has multiple tracts about how if kids are taught that Santa is real when they find out he is a lie the next thing they'll do is reject Jesus. No, he doesn't seem to realize he scored a goal for the other team there).

There's also a related set of Cectics about this. See and a few after that.