Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Little Girl in the Airport: Santa, God and the moon

Mike Dunford has an interesting story about a woman at the Johnson Space Center lying to (or grossly misinforming if you like) her child about the moon. She tells the poor child the moon was created by God on the fourth day. Really. Think of what wonder and mystery that robs the child of. No huge planets careening through gazillion miles of space to collide in an explosion we cannot imagine. Instead, magic man declared "let it be", and it was. How utterly boring.

Yet people still wonder why Richard Dawkins suggests religious indoctrination a form of child abuse. Certainly not at the level of smacking the kid with a 2x4, but then again, that would heal in short order. Ignorance can last a lifetime.

Isn't the irony rich in that those most rabid about "family values" are also the ones that most mean to damage their children this way via homeschooling regimines chock full of such lessons?

This brings to mind an experience of mine years ago. I was sitting in an airport at the end of a gruesome business trip, and was in a very foul mood. Several of us were scattered across the chairs on the aisle, down which this little blonde girl was skipping. She looked to be about 5, and she was stopping by each person and asking them if they knew about God, and chatting about it before moving on to the next potential convert. Her mother was watching from a short distance, beaming ever so proudly.

Not being in the mood for this in the slightest, and ever annoyed at people who let their lovely children bother those of us who clearly chose not to have our own, I concocted a plot Mom would like none too much.

When the little girl got to me, and asked me if I knew about God, I smiled and said "Yes, I do. Do you know about Santa Claus?" She smiled and nodded her pretty little head. "Good" I said. "They kind of go together don't they?". More nods. "Santa and God, Santa and God, just remember that."

About this time it dawns on Mom that her baby was speaking to an evil evil man, and swooped in, took the little girl by the arm, and whisked her away with a glare and a soft admonition to her about not bothering the man. A gent near enough to hear chuckled, another huffed at me.

"The man" had a mighty laugh, and returned to his nap, secure in the knowledge that the seeds of doubt had been planted, and that one Christmas some 15 years hence, a young girl home from college was going to announce over Christmas dinner, to her stunned Christian family's amazement, that she is an atheist, and she doesn't believe in God or Santa or anything like that any more. And Mom will think of the man in the airport.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?


Anonymous said...

That is a REALLY great story. Thanks!

ScienceAvenger said...


Glad you enjoyed it. We should all make an effort to spread the word.