Author Topic: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful  (Read 878 times)

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Offline William

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2013, 01:56:40 PM »
But suppose you have a religion with an useful belief. Does it make it any good?

If a belief can be said to be "useful" it must be able to be rationalised as useful.  Therefore religion is not required.
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Online screwtape

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2013, 02:36:12 PM »
I really like this way of thinking.  My only problem is with the idea of using Santa as a threat, i.e. "if you aren't good Santa's not coming."  That's cruel, IMO.  But using it as a rite of passage, now I really like that!

I can see that.  However, I also understand parents need levers.  Equating good behavior with priviledges seems to be the way things are done, as opposed to a smack on the rear.  I do not see it as being any more cruel than saying they need to do their chores or they do not get to watch tv.
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Offline RubyLeo

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2013, 03:19:11 PM »
I really like this way of thinking.  My only problem is with the idea of using Santa as a threat, i.e. "if you aren't good Santa's not coming."  That's cruel, IMO.  But using it as a rite of passage, now I really like that!

I can see that.  However, I also understand parents need levers.  Equating good behavior with priviledges seems to be the way things are done, as opposed to a smack on the rear.  I do not see it as being any more cruel than saying they need to do their chores or they do not get to watch tv.

On parents needing levers we are in 100% agreement. I don't have 3 well-behaved, non-bratty kids by accident - we didn't spank or do time-outs (which I consider the dumbest parenting idea ever invented). What we did was, decide what they enjoyed doing the most, and take it away for (insert length of time depending on "crime" committed).

I still don't like the "be good or Santa won't bring you anything/will bring you coal" - because it is an empty threat. You can't actually follow through with it. Kids will figure out pretty quickly that you are FOS. 

My kids knew that if I said "you need to do XYZ or you will not be able to watch TV all week/play with your My Little Ponies/Transformers/Xbox/with your friend Ralph (etc. etc.)" - that I would damn well follow through on that. I never made a threat I wasn't willing to totally follow through with!

If I had said "if you don't do XYZ then Santa won't come" - and then the kid called my bluff - I'd be screwed. 

I learned this by watching my older sister parent.  I decided whatever she did, I'd do the opposite, and it has worked quite well.  She was (IS) the queen of the empty threat. Her kids know it, and they ignore everything she says.  Sad, but the completely natural consequence of years of empty threats.

Now, if you are willing to actually follow through and have Santa not come - well that's a different story, and I'd agree with you. But I wasn't willing to do that.  ;)


"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true. "
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2013, 03:59:42 PM »
I see the glaring flaw in my thinking now in regards to Santa:

I do not think the majority of parents (vast majority?) utilize the Santa bit, and only the Santa bit, to teach lessons regarding morality and such.  From RubyLeo, it looks like ethics and morality don't really play much of a part in how you address Santa.  From screwtape, it looks like there are certainly other beneficial aspects to the Santa myth.

Methods of discipline do not necessarily equate to methods of teaching ethics.  Perhaps it is better to look at the Santa bit as a tool for realizing discipline, but not so much as an ethical teaching tool.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2013, 03:11:45 AM »
I can't use Santa as a means of discipline, because the way I've always put in in our house is that the vast majority of the presents are from mummy and daddy and grandparents etc who had to work hard to buy them.  Only a single present, and a few little bits in the stocking, are actually from Santa.  So Santa not coming would not be that big a deal in our house.

I wonder if that will make Screwtape's lesson more or less effective?  I think it'd be more, because it makes the parallel with what god actually does a lot closer....."Santa never really gave you much at all, and now you know that really it was actually daddy...just like god" sounds like a good message.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline Jonny-UK

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2013, 04:52:25 AM »
On the subject of Santa, I remember hearing this story a while ago-

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/priest-gets-into-hot-water-for-telling-kids-that-there-is-no-santa/

Quote
Priest gets into hot water for telling kids that there is no Santa
From the Irish Times, we have an unintentionally hilarious tale of a Roman Catholic priest who got into trouble for dispelling the myth of Santa:

Children at a north Kerry school who became upset after a visiting priest implied there was no Santa Claus have been reassured by parents and staff that the priest was mistaken, and Santa does indeed exist.

The priest who made the blunder while visiting the Scoil Mhuire gan Smal in Lixnaw last week believed he was speaking to mainly sixth class pupils.

Fr Martin Hegarty, a retired priest who was filling in for the parish priest, was visiting the school to explain the message of Christmas.

During an exchange with children in the 4th, 5th and 6th classes, Fr Hegarty implied Santa Claus did not exist. A number of children got upset and at least one 11-year-old child began crying.A meeting of the board of management was called to discuss the matter.

Fr Hegarty, who is understood to be deeply embarrassed, told the Kerry’s Eye newspaper on Wednesday he did not realise the children were upset.

He also remarked to the newspaper that Irish children got more presents than other nationalities at Christmas time. “So they needn’t worry, the presents will come, whether Santy comes or not,” the priest said.

The stuff about Irish kids getting the most presents is, of course, made up, but priests are good at that. One wonders, though, whether a precocious kid will wonder who brings the presents if “Santy” doesn’t.

It’s a great pity for Father Hegarty that heaven doesn’t come whether Goddy exists or not.

But the funniest and most ironic quote from Hegarty is this:

“I regret any upset that I have caused to children and parents of Scoil Mhuire gan Smál. My intention was to talk about the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. I must admit that Santa Claus is not my area of expertise.”

What?

And the article ends with a final burst of the funnies:

Some parents told their children “the priest was making it all up,” according to one parent who did not wish to be named.

It’s a pity the parents didn’t go just one myth further!

Santa is a magical part of growing up but I do think that 11 year olds should usually know the truth.
We also did not use santa threats, instead we would always try and be subtle- eg. Do you think santa would think that was a kind thing to do.
 
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 04:54:02 AM by Jonny-UK »
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Offline RubyLeo

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2013, 08:01:37 AM »
I can't use Santa as a means of discipline, because the way I've always put in in our house is that the vast majority of the presents are from mummy and daddy and grandparents etc who had to work hard to buy them.  Only a single present, and a few little bits in the stocking, are actually from Santa.  So Santa not coming would not be that big a deal in our house.

I wonder if that will make Screwtape's lesson more or less effective?  I think it'd be more, because it makes the parallel with what god actually does a lot closer....."Santa never really gave you much at all, and now you know that really it was actually daddy...just like god" sounds like a good message.

I have to tell you, that is brilliant.  Wish I'd thought of that!
"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true. "
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Offline RubyLeo

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2013, 08:03:35 AM »
On the subject of Santa, I remember hearing this story a while ago-

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/priest-gets-into-hot-water-for-telling-kids-that-there-is-no-santa/


And the article ends with a final burst of the funnies:

Some parents told their children “the priest was making it all up,” according to one parent who did not wish to be named.

It’s a pity the parents didn’t go just one myth further!

Santa is a magical part of growing up but I do think that 11 year olds should usually know the truth.
We also did not use santa threats, instead we would always try and be subtle- eg. Do you think santa would think that was a kind thing to do.
[/quote]

that's one of the best articles I've seen regarding santa - hysterical.  I actually kinda feel sorry for that priest, lol.  Thanks for sharing.  :)
"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true. "
~ Thomas Paine

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2013, 08:30:46 AM »
On Santa:
I believe that the Santa myth is useful for a number of reasons.  It can be a concrete method for coaching good behavior for young children (if done correctly), when the kids are too young developmentally to internalize "be good because it's the right thing to do" and need something more tangible (reward/punishment from an external source).  In our nuclear family, my wife and I *do* in fact believe in Santa, but to us "Santa" is the idea of generosity/giving out of love without expecting anything in return.  I think I'm going to advocate for sitting our 9- and 11-year-olds down and having that discussion with them, as at least the 9-year-old is still showing strong signs of believing in the actual Santa guy and I'd rather open her eyes myself.

On the OP:
I disagree with the premise.  If there's a useful idea that religion could get across, it can be gotten across in another way. Fostering a lie (even for laudable goals) is unhealthy.  It's one of my biggest beefs with religion: "desensitization to absurdity"  If you're in the habit of believing something ridiculous, it's going to make believing other ridiculous things easier to swallow since you're already able to suppress/ignore cognitive dissonance.  That kind of lazy mind is malleable to a dangerous degree.

Then you have one of my other big beefs: intolerance.  If you're basing this "good" thing on a lie, there will be some who don't swallow the lie, even if they do live the good message.  What becomes of them?  "He who believes in me will have life eternal..." what does that say about those who don't?  Combine this with the previous point, and things WILL get ugly.
* Religion: institutionalized superstition, period.

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Online screwtape

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2013, 09:27:57 AM »
for the record, that was not my idea.  I read it somewhere.  I thought it was here, but I've searched and never been able to find it. So the credit goes to some smart atheist somewhere, whom I've lost track of.
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Offline Jag

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2013, 01:03:49 PM »
I was sitting in my then-local coffee shop in December several years ago. An acquaintance came in with his 2 year old son in a stroller and  - going completely off-topic - the barista came around the counter, got down on one knee and began telling the child that he needed to be good or Santa wouldn't bring him any presents. I was shocked (WTF brought that on?), but quickly recovered and told the child that she was just being silly and that he already is a very good boy.

Then I turned on the barista and gave her a hissing lecture over her inappropriate behavior towards someone else's child. She defended her actions by saying that she does the same with all her friends kids.  :o The father then told her that they (the parents) have been very careful to avoid doing what she just did because they want to teach their child about myths as myths, and thanked me for intervening.

It's impossible to keep a child fro exposure to Santa stories and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. An 11 year old bursting into tears, however, is a little disturbing - that kid is 2 years from adolescence. But I think randomly telling a very young child that he has to "be good" in order to get presents is kind of twisted. There was no context whatsoever other than it being the month of December, and what the heck does that mean to a 2 year old?
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Offline median

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2013, 01:29:06 PM »
I love Xmas and I glady celebrate every year. The Christians tried to steal it but we pagan sympathizers can take it back! The celebration of Winter Solstice and the coming of the Spring Equinox is awesome! It's very humanistic. For me it's a continuation of the celebration of being alive. No deity necessary. I just love the food, the 'spirit', the joy, the conversations, the overall mood and vibe. It's great  :D
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Offline RubyLeo

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #41 on: November 03, 2013, 01:35:55 PM »
I love Xmas and I glady celebrate every year. The Christians tried to steal it but we pagan sympathizers can take it back! The celebration of Winter Solstice and the coming of the Spring Equinox is awesome! It's very humanistic. For me it's a continuation of the celebration of being alive. No deity necessary. I just love the food, the 'spirit', the joy, the conversations, the overall mood and vibe. It's great  :D

I agree wholeheartedly!  I get as giddy as a kid, actually.  The only downside is having to see all the "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" bumper stickers.   &)
"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true. "
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Offline Antidote

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2013, 03:08:23 PM »
I agree wholeheartedly!  I get as giddy as a kid, actually.  The only downside is having to see all the "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" bumper stickers.   &)

Nothing a magic marker can't fix  ;)
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Offline RubyLeo

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Re: It doesn't matter that it's not true if it's useful
« Reply #43 on: November 03, 2013, 04:09:56 PM »
I agree wholeheartedly!  I get as giddy as a kid, actually.  The only downside is having to see all the "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" bumper stickers.   &)

Nothing a magic marker can't fix  ;)

True, true!  ;D

I think there is an alternative bumper sticker that refutes that, but I can't remember what it says.

Something like "winter solstice is the reason for the season" -- I'm making that up but it's something along those lines.

That would be fun.  ;D

There's another bumper sticker I see a lot - it's the one that says "coexist" using religious symbols.  It irritates me with it's fake piety.  &)
"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true. "
~ Thomas Paine