There are rituals connected with this belief, such as visit to Santa’s representatives, asking for toys and putting cookies and a glass of milk under the Xmas tree.
Research shows that, in the USA, 85% of 4-year-old children believe in Santa (Laura Sanders, Science News, Dec. 22, 2017). This belief is introduced by the parents or caregivers at an early age. At the age of 8, only 25% still believe while 55% is starting to have doubts and 20% are not believing. Researchers have found that around 8 years of age children enter what is called “the concrete operational stage of thinking” and start questioning the impossible things, such as flying reindeer, distributing toys in one night all over the world and so on. It is an end of an era when critical thinking starts to develop. Parents admit it was a myth which was mostly enjoyable and helped discipline their offspring. If someone refused to let go of the myth and still believed in Santa at age 16, we would take the afflicted individual to the psychiatrist to treat this delusion.
Now substitute “God” for Santa and we see a similar story. God is eternal, lives somewhere high up were we cannot go, knows everybody and records their good deeds or bad ones, mandates reward and punishment and establishes rituals and wish lists. Parents teach their children this myth while other cultures will indoctrinate their children with different myths. Since the development of the young mind is similar in all humans, any myths, if we would let nature take its course, would enter this “concrete operational stage” of development and would be the subjects of critical thinking which would result in the questioning of “impossible things”. Why is this true for Santa Claus but not for religious deities?
In most religions, doubts are not tolerated. There is enormous pressure by the religious leaders to conform. Questioning the tenets of the religion is not only considered a sin but can result in being ostracized from the community or, in some places, even result in death.
To prevent any indoctrination from becoming reality, it is very important that we promote the development of a secular education system that emphasizes training in critical thinking starting at around age seven, so that the natural development of the brain prevents these indoctrinations to become cemented and have less impact in the following generations. That will be tough to implement but it must be done. It will need a massive effort by all of us but it is the only way to get rid of many negative aspects of our current society.
PS. Since so many read only the first part of a post and then comment, without reading the whole post, and ignore the “see more” or “continue reading” buttons, I only will take your comments seriously if you prove that you read it all by typing “Read All” in your comment, since you obviously came this far. Constructive criticism is highly appreciated. Hope you don’t mind. Thanks for your interest!