July 14, 2024

Which is worse? Lying to children? Or being truthful with them?

In this Skeptrack panel, Someone told me I was a big meanie for making a little girl cry at the Reason Rally.
I told a story about a little girl at the Reason Rally who was passing out CDs about Jesus. She handed me one and I handed it back, saying “I only accept truth”. She said, “This is truth”, and I explained, “If you can’t show that it’s true, then you shouldn’t call it truth.” I wasn’t mean to her. I spoke very softly and kindly. But I did tell her a solemn truth in conflict with the dogma of her sect. The first time someone experiences that, it will burn a bit. It’s a shock. So there will always be an emotional reaction that first time. But I still maintain that I did the right thing. I don’t think it is good to lie to children and I shouldn’t be reprimanded for helping them to be honest, nor for helping them to understand when someone else is not being honest with them. In this case of course, it turned out that her parents were the ones who had been lying to her. But I had just addressed her parents about that a moment before, and I think they completely understood my criticism. I told them the same thing I told the little girl, that while there are many things that I can show to be true of evolution, there is not one thing they can show to be true of their religious alternative, and that consequently there is literally no truth in that at all. I was mean to them, and they both shut down in shame. But I was not mean to their kid. In fact I helped all three of them. 

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