I know I’ve done a bit of rabble-rousing with my last few posts, but this is another one that was spurred by the ethnography I recently read about Mormonism. Â In it, the author talks about how Mormon parents think about their kids in discussing the life trajectory of Mormons as relates to Mormonism. Â The part that struck me as so interesting was the fact that so many Mormon parents believe that their kids are “closer” somehow to god or Jesus or that the veil isn’t as “thick” (whatever “thick” means relative to the “veil”).
The book included an account of a mother talking to her infant (less than 1 year old) and saying the word “Jesus.” Â The infant then happened to look at a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. Â The mother interpreted this as evidence that the child “knew” who Jesus was. Â Of course, the 10,000 other times she said “Jesus” and the infant looked at the dog or the TV or her husband were conveniently forgotten. Â This is clearly confirmation bias. Â But the mother had no clue that it was.
The same book included stories about how slightly older kids will say things that suggest they are familiar with Jesus, like, “Jesus taught me to do that.” Â The parents, of course, interpret this as the kids being closer to Jesus and/or god. Â But having a 3 year-old who has an imaginary friend (his friend is a monster) has illustrated to me that kids simply say things like this. Â My son’s friend monster has taught him all sorts of things, told him to do some pretty crazy things, and, strangely, makes stuff disappear whenever my son can’t remember where he put it. Â So, if you convince your kid that some guy named Jesus is actually their invisible friend, why should you be at all surprised then that kid then starts attributing things to Jesus? Â Yet, the parents don’t make the connection: They are the ones who taught their kid to believe in this guy Jesus (and/or god), so why are they surprised when their hyper-creative child starts saying Jesus taught them things?
This, of course, leads me back to the title of the post: Do they not realize that they are self-deluding?