Winding down for a very quiet Christmas allows me plenty of time to read and one of my favourite places to read for news and comment is the Guardian. I like it because it was founded in 1821 as a moderate pro-business paper and morphed into a more radical stance with the arrival in 1872 of C. P. Scott as editor and later owner. Later, ownership was transferred to the Scott Trust (now the Scott Trust Endowment Fund) to ensure editorial and financial independence. That the online version is fully-financed and free to all is a bonus, too. I should declare a personal interest as a fourth generation descendant of C. P. Scott is a family friend.
This article set me wondering about credulousness, belief and scepticism. Regarding Santa’s visits, my older brother punctured my belief in Santa but suggested we should keep quiet as we risked the possibility of presents not turning up on Christmas morning. Unlike the author of the Guardian article I don’t recall the revelation that Santa wasn’t real as sudden or traumatic, though I do recall being, as a child, sceptical of stories I was told by children and adults. I’m not sure whether Santa was pivotal or peripheral in the development of that scepticism in my own case but the article author suggests her lack of religious belief was influenced by her Santa experience.
I wonder whether learning stories in childhood presented as true (with snowy footprints and carroty teeth marks as evidence) that we later discover are myth is an element in decisions to reject the religious faith of our family and culture. Is that why young Earth creationism is such a heavily ring-fenced culture? Pull out a stone and the edifice crumbles?