I was attempting to explain to my son, Brance, who just turned six two weeks ago, why it was better to refrain from saying “Oh God!” especially around his grandparents. He didn’t understand why it was such a big deal to them and asked if “God” was a bad word.
This caught me off guard a bit. I had no reason to think that he should have known what or who God was. I half suspected that either the Mormon or Catholic set of grandparents had tried to explain it to him already. By the time I was his age I could tell you who God was and recite most of the common Bible stories chronologically. That’s what threw me off; he was never going to have to struggle with his faith and go through the anguish and torment that I did.
I had been spending so much time teaching him about evolution by natural selection that I forgot to tell him the lie he would be confronted with someday. Just a few weeks ago I had asked him what evolution was. He responded by saying, “It’s a gradual change in species that happens slowly over really long periods of time.” I couldn’t hope for a better answer from him. Talk about a proud poppa moment; almost made me cry.
I decided that it was time that he heard the creation story that I grew up with. I hopped on the internet and googled “childrens creation story.” In .2 seconds I was greeted with 2,230,000 results to choose from. I chose the top one from dltk-Bible.com. As soon as I got to “Let there be light,” he started giggling. By the time I got to the morning of the third day he was laughing quite a bit.
I read on, “So, he put all the water in one place and all the dry land in another.” He stopped laughing instantly so I asked him, “What?”
“Why do we have to save water then? Wouldn’t God make enough for everybody?” he asked. I smiled and nodded just a bit before reading on.
After I finished reading about the third day he was beginning to catch on. “So God made everything?” he asked.
“Well that’s what some people believe,” I stated, “but I don’t think so.” This sent him into hysterics.
“He made South America!” I wasn’t sure why this was so funny to him but he continued to laugh and list the things that God had “made.” Squirrels, Dr. Seuss, and cat butts had him laughing especially hard. “Doesn’t he have any brains? Cause he made some weird stuff in this world.” A six year old debunks Intelligent Design with a simple observational idea that ID proponents can’t even grasp. That had me chuckling for a moment before I read on.
When I told him about the creation of the sun on the fourth day he became serious again. He wrinkled up one eye and stated matter-of-factly, “Light has to be from the sun.” And I thought I was the only one in the room that would have a problem with light being created three days before the sun. My six year old was quickly demonstrating that he was a better critical thinker than people who believe the creation story.
“Then he made the stars to add a bit of sparkle to the night,” I read. Again the skeptical look so I waited for his comment.
“The sun is a star.” He seemed to be getting annoyed with the story now. He remained quiet as I finished through the fifth day. “Why did he make sharks?” He seemed repulsed by this idea. “And why did he even make the fish if the sharks are just going to eat them?” I laughed aloud but decided not to give him my opinion as he clearly was about to spout off another question. “How did they turn into octopuses?” - Brilliant. He had caught the fact that the bible considers everything in the ocean to be a fish and says nothing about the other phyla or classes. “Platypus, too?” He laughed hysterically when I nodded confirmation.
At this point he said, as he was running up the stairs and laughing through his words, that he had to get his animal books to see what other absurd creations God made. We read about some animals for a while before recapping and completing the Genesis story. When it was finally over he asked, “So he’s like a big daddy and we’re his children?” I mused at this observation for a moment before replying.
“A lot of people think that,” I said.
“So where’s our momma?”
“There is no momma in this story.”
“So we came out of his stomach?” I laughed again and shook my head. I could see that I was going to have to tell him the story of Adam and Eve.
After telling him that God breathed life into Adam I could see the skeptical look appear on his little face again so I waited. He clearly didn’t believe that Adam was made from molded clay but asked if he breathed life into all animals.
“No, Buddy, just Adam.”
“Not even us?”
“No,” I said.
“That’s stupid; only Adam. Why not us too? He hates us doesn’t he?” I just laughed at this query as I really didn’t feel like telling the snake and apple part of the story at this point. I continued on with the rib story. He winced and a pained look came over his face as he asked, “Ooh! Did he die?”
I chuckled once more and decided to end this conversation but he went into another rant on all the other things that God created. When he said, “And Uncle Dray, too, and the bad guys that shoot at him,” he stopped and shook his head. “Why would he create bad guy shooters?” He saw the absurdity of God allowing this. I didn’t answer (I don’t know, of course) but asked another question instead:
“So do you think this could have happened?”
“Yeah, I believe it now; I believe him,” he said, sort of reluctantly.
“Why?” I asked.
“Cause he’s such an idiot that he had to be the one that made all this killing and stuff.” I’ve never heard that one before! He decided he’d had enough of this conversation and wanted to go watch a movie upstairs. As he walked away he said, “That was a funny story though; made me laugh about four thousand times!”
Just a few moments later he returned from the stairwell and asked, “Wait; Is God invisible?” Again I chuckled and nodded. “That’s dumb. Why wouldn’t he show himself to us?” I shrugged my shoulders.
Why wouldn’t he, indeed?
We talked about the story of our beginnings that science has helped us put together for a while but he quickly became bored with this topic. Invisible sky daddies are more entertaining. He did laugh at the idea of the universe being so small at one point. I think he’s skeptical of that but he had some interesting questions about gasses and energy and what the earth was made of and how it got “painted.” After answering his questions he volunteered the following observation:
“I think the scientists are correct and the other guy sounds crazy. I think I want to be a scientist when I grow up and study water, animals, and space.” What an amusing array of choices. I had to inquire about them. “I want to find out where the water came from, for real, and dig up animal bones and put them together.”
“What about space?”
“I want to go there…”