How My Six Year Old Boy Debunked Intelligent Design

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 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…”


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Comment by Father Time on July 13, 2010 at 1:29pm
I am going through this with my 6-year old son as well, only he lives with his natural father and stepmother, who make him go to church and tell him about the devil and jesus, etc., which makes me furious, though I have to restrain my bitter disdain for Christianity somewhat in discussions with him.
Having been raised in church myself, I am making every effort to make it clear to him that whatever he chooses to believe is just that, a choice, and one that only he can make. I also explain that many people do not choose to believe in Christianity, and then I try really hard to make sure I am always a good example of someone who is moral, kind, compassionate, and loving without religion.
There have been a few funny situations which have come up in the past few weeks. He was at the park with my wife (his mom) and she was explaining why she didn't believe in the Jesus story. She bluntly stated that it was a fairy tale, just like the Easter Bunny.

"Then why do so many big people go to church if it's just a story? Is it, like, storytime for grownups?"

I have never heard a more succinct and accurate description of church in my whole life.
Comment by Earther on July 9, 2010 at 12:05pm
I think you are very fortunate to have had this moment of teaching and learning with your son. I don't have children but if I did i have always wondered how it would be to raise them in this environment of belief. When I watched a 30 days episode of Atheist/Christian I noticed again how believer parents speak to their children when teaching them about non-believers. When they speak about it notice their attitude. It is not logic a child looks for it is how their parents react. Children look for social acceptance, approval, sanity. Be this as it may how do you prepare your own children to confront an overwelming community of believers. How can you teach your child to continue to be strong in a world that abuses or neglect his or her attitude that the world is a natural place. This among all things bothers me.
Comment by James Golightly on June 15, 2010 at 8:02pm
Oh also, Stumble took me here, otherwise I wouldn't have found this article and I wouldn't have written that comment. It's interesting the stuff that Stumble takes you, n'est pas?
Comment by James Golightly on June 15, 2010 at 7:59pm
Your child seems very intelligent, I wouldn't have picked up on any of his points at 6. Then again I was running around playing "Dragons" and crying over gravity (bicycle accidents).
@Bryan in regards to Kevin
First off I'm not taking sides here, I'm merely expressing an opinion of my own. In addition, I won't post any more comments if anyone responds, I honestly don't care for an argument of "faith". I don't know what Kevin said in his original comment to make you use such a hateful tone, i.e "holy spy", "asshole", "Lutheran." In any case I don't think you should cultivate such animosity, no matter how terrible his words were. If anything you should greet his words with humor, after all the anonymity of the Internet allows for the most amusing and absurd experiences. And for a rebuttal you could kid him for a bit, instead of acting like a huffy rival throwing moronic chides. After all it was Oscar Wilde who said, "Forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them so much".
Furthermore, I feel, from the "holy spy" labeling, you speak the word Lutheran as I've heard people speak "nigger." I am fine for the denial of theism, but not the overt prejudice against anyone of any beliefs. Though you aren't a theist, you have faith in your rejection much as any religion of the world has faith in their beliefs. Respect faith because it takes guts to believe anything, rejections or statements. Honor faith that brings about a good productive life in contrast to one full of wasted time and hate.
Thirdly, If there is a god (I describe myself as Spiritually Eclectic, no association whatsoever with Wicca and I don't believe in a deity), do you expect him to supply your life completely with happiness? Would you say that your life would have any more meaning if you were in a world free of murder or death or sickness or sadness? If anything the things that threaten life make it even more precious, and the bad experiences we all face make us even more human. All things happen for a reason, and that is merely because they happen. No rhyme, no reason, let it pass.
I don't write these things to be contrary, or start an argument. I merely type them because I felt that they had to be said by me at the moment. Plain English, I just had to say my mind. You won't convince me of anything, my beliefs have all ready been proven mutable (Atheist, Christian, Taoist, and Occultist) and because of that I've realized what I believe. I believe in life, and the ever changing way that one should live it. No high and mighty way, just gotta keep breathin.
Comment by VanCity Skeptic on June 1, 2010 at 2:17pm
Brilliant <3
Comment by Bryanderthal on May 26, 2010 at 1:00pm
Really Kevin?

What kind of Lutheran would claim to be an atheist just to leave an asshole comment on my page?

Guess we'll be seeing an account deletion soon.

Buhbye, holy spy.
Comment by qıƃ ɟ ǝıɔɐɹʇ on May 26, 2010 at 2:52am
Here's a similar interaction I had with my then-eleven-year-old who is now nineteen. It might give a little bit of a false impression about our unschooling life, since it's the only "quiz" I ever gave. It's not *exactly* about religion, but it does brush on it quite a lot. It's a bit long, so I'll just direct you to where I posted it. (Hope that's OK)

Learning, à la Carte: Where the Explorer Asks the Questions
Comment by Tak G. on May 8, 2010 at 5:24pm
You have a brilliant little boy! What a marvelous approach... I am going to remember this story if/when I have my own kids.
Comment by Ivar Husa on May 8, 2010 at 12:40am
You are a good dad.
Comment by Meyli on April 29, 2010 at 6:01pm
(I made an account simply to post on this!) That inspiring, and almost brought tears to *my* eyes! "I want to go there..." I hope he gets to! Your son is _awesome_ (the shit, full of win...its been said before, but its true) There need to be more children like him! :-)



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