Over the weekend, comedian Ricky Gervais was profiled on 60 Minutes Australia, and the show just posted bonus footage in which he discussed his atheism. A lot of it is material he’s said in other interviews, like the moment he stopped believing in God, but I love the way he explains why the lie is so believable: God works as an unpaid babysitter.
… I understand why, you know, at the time, it seems like a good lie. You know, to a working class mom, Jesus is an unpaid babysitter… If I’m not watching you, someone is… They do it for good reason…
Religion’s greatest trick wasn’t making people believe there was a God. It was telling you you shouldn’t ever ridicule the idea. That it was sacred… and, of course, it’s not.
It’s a fair point. If kids act better around Christmas to get on Santa’s good side, why not use God to get them to behave year-round? The problem with that kind of parenting, though, is that you’re teaching kids to be good for all the wrong reasons. Better to have them behave properly for ethical reasons instead of fictional ones.