We live in a God-infested society. God is mentioned in history, in literature, in movies and in comedy routines. For any child to get along in the world, she has to learn what God is and what God isn’t. Children raised by atheists, agnostic or freethinkers are often teased for their parents’ beliefs. Unfortunately, children will be told a hundred different things about God so it is up to you to give them the foundation they need to critically evaluate all of these conjectures about God.
The following is a list of what a child may ask you when you talk to them about God.
What is God?
Long ago, when our ancestor didn’t know why things happened the way they did, they said it was because of God. The word God is short for “all that we don’t know.” The great scientist Albert Einstein, perhaps the smartest man who ever lived, said he believed in the God described by philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza believed that God was only an idea and not a real thing.
Why Did Our Ancestors Come Up With the Idea of a God?
We are a species that likes to make sense of things. Making sense of the world around us helped our species to not only survive, but become good at making tools and toys and things. Long, long ago, no one knew anything about science, disease or even if the sun would rise the next day. In order to make sense of these confusing things, our ancestors came up with the idea of a great being that controlled everything. Some societies came up with many, many of these beings. Some societies came up with just one.
Does God Exist?
Remember that television show on every Halloween, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” Linus really believed in the Great Pumpkin. But in the end, the Great Pumpkin turned out to be Snoopy.
Why Do People Believe in God Today?
Because they need to. Dr. Carl Sagan said that people “crave absolute certainty” and the idea of a God gives people that certainty – even though it is dead wrong. People would rather die being wrong than admitting that they are wrong. Some people just don’t want to think for themselves but have someone else do all of the thinking for them. But some people believe in God because, ever since they were born, they were always told to believe in God. They may even get in really big trouble or get beat up if they don’t say that they believe in God.
People also like to abuse animals, pollute the environment and be bullies to other people. They use God as an excuse to do so. People want to believe that they have something that nothing else in the universe contains – a soul. But there is no evidence a soul exists. There is also no evidence that people are any different from any animal. We all are made up of the same stuff. All life on Earth is related to each other in many ways.
Sally Says that God Made Everything. Did He?
Look at this picture from a book called “Pale Blue Dot” by Carl Sagan. This picture was taken in 1990 by a space probe called Voyager. It was leaving our solar system. It turned the camera around and took a photo of home. This pale blue dot is the Earth.
Now, people will die if they live anywhere else in this picture. There’s no air in space. We can only be found on this pale blue dot. We can’t even live on the entire pale blue dot. We can’t breathe under water and we can’t live on the tops of the highest mountains. So if God thinks that people are important enough to send laws to or dictate books to, why are we all constricted to such an itty-bitty part of the universe?
John Said He’d Beat Me Up Because I Don’t Worship Jesus. What Do I Tell Him?
This Jesus told his followers about the Golden Rule. Beating someone up for any reason is not exactly following the Golden Rule. But if you think you are going to get really hurt by John, lie and say you are a Jesus worshipper. There’s no reason to get a beating if you can get out of it by lying. By the way, do you want me to talk to John’s parents?
I Think There May Be A God. Are You Mad At Me?
No. You have the right to your own beliefs, as long as you can allow others to question them. There was once a man named Buddha who had many followers he told them, “Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.”
“Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.” Carl Sagan. Ballantine Books. 1994.
“The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” Carl Sagan. Ballantine Books; 1996.
Wikipedia. “Baruch Spinoza: Philosophy.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Spinoza#Philosophy
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” (1966)