Most people I know grew up in one sort of religious household or another. Many parents of the people I know would be classified as "religious moderates," I think; they didn't really go to church all that often or even talk about religion much. Why did they feel this drive to be religious at all, then? I mean this especially in those cases where one feels the sacred texts are quite possibly not sacred, but only that they provide positive moral advice and guidance. Why not choose a favorite philosopher instead?
Perhaps they did not know any philosophers to begin with, and religion is an "easy way" to raise a child right. It's been tried and tested. It's much like a fashion; you must dress SOME way, and if you deviate too far from the norm you risk being ostracized. Ironically, it is those who choose to wear no clothes at all who stand out the most.
But I am trying to get at the reason that it is commonly viewed as not only moral but absolutely essential to lie to your children. The psychological impact of the prospect of death; becoming something that is no longer Self, deserves its own thread. I don't think it is fully realized by many yet just how much death plays into our beliefs and actions. Or genes have been selected, over many others, because ours are those that make a strong effort to avoid death. We are built on a genetic level to run each time we are near it. Since we are not mere mammals but have great powers of reasoning (by comparison), the fear of death may be greatly compounded in us. I am not sure that there is any time when one is old enough or mature enough to accept the fact that death is certain, though some are able to mitigate the fear that this thought initially causes. It follows from this belief that there is not a time when we are too young to learn of this. I spend some time pondering the fact that the vast majority of people on this planet don't actually believe that they are going to die. This is testament to the fact of death being very difficult to cope with. Many of the more rational people I know, those who are not religious generally, find it likely that there is life after death. I think it is about as likely as the sun having a core of ice. The statement itself cannot be made without contradiction.
The two things I credit for this vastly delusional idea of death are that religion keeps the idea of the afterlife in the mainstream, and equally important, we do not learn about death early enough. Many of us, while we are three or four years old, unable to tell what is fantasy and what is not, are told that our goldfish goes to "Goldfish Heaven" which is somewhere in the city's sewer system. We do not recognize death - one certainty on par with gravity - as a reality during the period that we are learning what is and is not real.
Many people, even if they knew that there was no afterlife, would STILL teach their kids that there was one. We REALLY want to lie to them about this. I do not think it is reasonable. Where do you stand on this?