Should parents “lie” to their kids about Santa Claus? If they teach their children about the very real Saint Nicholas and the lessons they can learn from his example (e.g., secret acts of kindness), sure! If they can work in a lesson on advanced quantum mechanics, even better!

Every time Christmas rolls around stories pop up as to whether it’s healthy or appropriate to teach kids to believe in Santa Claus. Inevitably the question of lying comes up, and what it teaches children to start them off at a young age in what is, arguably a cruel hoax. When I have kids, I’m actually inclined to be pro-Santa with a scientific twist. I’ve talked about Barack Obama Wormholes, so it’s only natural that Santa use them as well!

Santa clearly uses wormholes, the tunnels through space and time that allow travelers to jump from one side of the cosmos to the other or—in this case, from one neighborhood to the next. But trying to give your kid a primer on relativity, gravity and negative energy would be pointless. Instead, take a piece of paper, draw a picture of your house on one half, then a friend’s home on the oppposite one. Trace a line from one side of the sheet to the other to represent the standard path—the route Santa would take in an airborne sleigh. Now fold the paper down the middle so the two houses are back-to-back, one on either side.

You don’t have to get into the curvature of space-time, but you can tell your kids that Santa uses deep scientific knowledge to see a different map of the universe, one that contains roads most people don’t know about.

When I was a kid, my belief in Santa came to a halt when I noticed that many of the gifts from him had Toys-R-Us stickers attached. It didn’t scar me in any way to realize he wasn’t real. Sure, it was a let down, but I’ll always have the memories of going to bed excited, wondering what Santa would leave under the tree.

The question at the heart of the Santa dilemma seems to be: Is it ever okay to lie? As with anything, it depends on what the underlying motive is. If you act in a way where the root motivation is to deceive another to benefit yourself, then it is wrong. A person who “lies” to their friend in order to buy time to set up a surprise party has done no wrong. A person who lies to their “friend” to buy time for a surprise party—knowing their friend has hormephobia (the fear of shock)—might be a really big jerk.

Kids today seem to have almost no window of time where they get to be a kid. They’re bombarded from the very beginning by a culture that seeks to strip them of their innocence, and to me the “lie” of Santa allows them to suspend disbelief, if only for a few moments each year. Thomas Hobbes said that life is “nasty, brutish, and short,” and he was right. I’d like to think that as long as the real meaning of Christmas is conveyed to a child, there is nothing wrong with a Santa charade.

Does the anti-Santa truth brigade stop the child who pretends to be a superhero or a princess and say, “Stop lying to yourself. That’s not real. That’s make-believe. It’s weird. Live in the real world,”? Of course not. It might be funny on some level…but no one says that. A child that dreams and pretends is healthy. They can have a sense of wonder about tall tales of fiction, and can glean very real, very practical lessons from them. Likewise, the child who realizes that Santa Claus isn’t real can be encouraged to figure out who Saint Nicholas really was, why he did matter (e.g., secret acts of kindness), and how the way he ran his life is important to their own.

I would even argue that when the Communist Chinese—openly unfriendly to religion—start to embrace the commercialized depiction of Santa they’re really just opening the door for millions of citizens to look into his origins. And when they look into who Saint Nicholas was, many of them will be led to that which China is notorious for stamping out—faith.

When I have kids, Santa’s tale will be told, but he’s generally going to avoid chimneys and opt for wormholes and advanced quantum mechanics. Hopefully yours will too!

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

12 comments

  1. “If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him”– Voltaire.

    Would you say that sums up the position of the Trans-Humanists quite well?

    1. I first learned that Santa wasn’t real in a similar way: I remember seeing Wal-Mart, K-Mart and other stickers on my presents after I opened them. But I wasn’t traumatized, nor was I angry with my parents. I moved on pretty quickly. I was in second or third grade when I realized the truth about Santa.

    2. I think people pretend they are God all the time. We are like gods in that we are creators, but we mistake being able to engineer a stunning building or compose a beautiful piece of music as proof of something that simply isn’t true. We are not God — we exist because of Him. Pride can be nasty; it leads people to believe all sorts of false things about themselves.

      I know there are predictions about melding humans with machines, downloading our consciousness into other organisms, etc. in the future. That may very well happen, but that doesn’t change the fact that God exists.

      I’d be lying to you if I said I was a trans-humanist scholar, and I don’t want to come across as a pretentious douche-nozzle … so in that sense I don’t know if I can give you a “yes” or “no” answer to your question. I know that there are those who would like to turn themselves into a god, and I know that there are those who “invent” gods (i.e., false idols) on a regular basis, because it’s easier to be subservient to someone or something than it is to be free and take responsibility for the missteps and failures in your own life.

    3. 1. Darn. The reason I asked is because, if you’d played that game, then you’d have Trans-Humanism in a nut-shell.

      2. Well…errr…cloning people to use as soldiers without the clones getting a say, modifying people genetically or cybernetically for purposes of war, and etc are all big hall-marks of it, both in science fiction, and though the naive optimists would deny it, in real life if it ever came to pass.

    4. As technology continues to advance, prepare for some really weird, but really cool stuff. Just like anything else, tremendous good — and evil — will come out of it all.

    1. Then why does your post appear right beneath by question as though you were replying to it? Also, snappy much? Also, Doug said if I wanted to talk to him about things related to the topic of a blog post but not covered in the an actual blog post, that I could choose an old one and discuss it with him there.

      Since Trans-Humanism deals with science, and this blog entry is about science and is two years old, well, you know.

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