Monday, February 2, 2009

A skeptical moment with my kids

About ten minutes ago, my 4-year old son was afraid to go in his room because the light was off. "There are ghosts in there!" he said. "I think ghosts are real!"

ghostI went in and turned on the light, and asked him why he believes ghosts are real. He said that one time, one of his toys fell off a shelf, and no one pushed it. It fell by itself, and that's why ghosts are real.

I explained that sometimes when you put toys on a shelf, they might stay there for a while, but if they're not secure, they might fall off by themselves. This doesn't mean ghosts aren't real, but I didn't think it had to be a ghost just because the toy fell by itself. Sometimes that just happens.

My 6-year old daughter walked in the room and joined us. My son continued, "But Dad, Berlin [the neighbor girl] said she thinks ghosts are real!" My daughter nodded her head, confirming the story.

"Well, you shouldn't believe something just because someone else believes it," I said. "You get to decide for yourself what you believe. I don't believe ghosts are real, but that doesn't mean you have to believe that, either. It's up to you to decide."

"Do you know how I decide what I believe?" I asked. They shook their heads. "I see if I can figure out what's really happening. And if I find an idea that explains everything I can see happening, then I tend to believe it. If I don't see any reason to believe something is really happening, then I don't tend to believe it."

girl shruggingThen my daughter said something that totally took me by surprise. "I don't know yet if I believe in ghosts or not." That was an excellent answer, and I told her so. My son wasn't convinced though. He still believes in ghosts, and that's okay.

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