Sunday, November 1, 2015

Deep Conversations With My Nine Year Old

I was in the car last night, driving back from a boy scout event with my middle child. Now, in my family, any trip longer than a half hour is usually filled with spiritual questions, and given that my kids are as weird as I am, those questions are generally pretty deep.

The ride back from Alaflo last night was just shy of an hour! ;-)

Usually, it's my oldest daughter, the eleven year old, that asks the question, but being as it was just me and the boy, that duty fell to him. Like a trooper, he delivered ... and it was a doozy.

I don't remember how we got on the subject -- I'm sure it had something to do with Halloween, and fear, and the like -- but he told me that he sometimes doubts that God exists, not so much because he doesn't see Him working in this world and in our lives, but because he can't understand Him. The example he gave is "Who made God? Where did He come from?"

Like I said -- we go deep. I mean, my kids get their weirdness from me, so I can't recall them EVER asking me an easy question.

Of course, I told him that God was never made, that He didn't "come from" anywhere or anyone, but that answer didn't satisfy him. He brought up how scientists think the universe started with a Big Bang, and how it produced all this gas that came together to form the stars and planets and stuff, and maybe that gas made God too. So I asked him if that was true, where did the materials for the Big Bang came from? He said, "I don't know. It haunts me."

His words. Seriously. What nine year old talks like that?!?

Anyway, it occurred to me that some aspects of our conversation might have good apologetic value beyond me and my son. Granted, this thought is not on the level of my more learned apologist brothers, but it's the best a shade-tree like me can come up with.

The thought is, actually, pretty simple. My argument to Caleb was that God has always been -- ever existing, without beginning. That's what scripture teaches, and it's perfectly in keeping with ancillary truths in scripture regarding the nature of God, so that's what I believe.

Atheistic thought -- as represented by Caleb's argument, the question that "haunts" him -- is that the whole universe was created by a Big Bang. This Big Bang COULD be seen as the beginning of reality, or as simply the continuation of a previous reality. The Big Bang singularity point explodes, throwing out the boundaries and materials of the universe. But where did that singularity come from?

The atheistic community addresses this question in myriad ways, but all of them come back to the same theme -- the universe has no beginning. Kinda like God, ya know?

Oh sure, the universe might've started with a Big Bang, but where did the singularity come from? A previous universe, or a parallel universe, of course. So where did THAT universe come from? Another universe ... and another ... and another, ad infinitum.

Or maybe the Big Bang is the next step that follows a Big Shrink? This universe stops expanding, and winds up contracting, falling back in on itself until it once again becomes that singularity point, ready to explode and do it all over again.

Or maybe time itself is a continuous loop (the central theme to the AWESOME Wheel of Time series, by the late Robert Jordan)? In simple terms, yesterday feeds into today which feeds into tomorrow -- the essence of linear time -- but at some point in the distance, tomorrow loops back around and feeds into yesterday.

There are other arguments, but they all seem to end the same way -- the universe created, and creates, itself. Like a phoenix, this universe rises anew from its own ashes, a paradoxical child ultimately becoming its own parent.

The thing is, the atheistic community finds a self-creating universe perfectly reasonable, and yet they find an UNcreated God complete nonsense.

Ultimately, neither argument can be truly and empirically substantiated, not even the scientific one, as we are caught in the box of THIS universe and totally incapable of looking outside the box into any other universe. All we have available is what we see, which we use to inform our beliefs on what we DON'T see.

Funny, there's a passage of scripture that sounds that way...

Hebrews 11:1, 3 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.... Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

Usually, when speaking of faith, people stop at verse one, and that's perfectly fine, but I found verse three particularly applicable to this question that "haunts" my son. Watch what happens when we substitute God for nature....

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the worlds before, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

With just that small change, the argument for God becomes the argument for nature ... and both of them perfectly and inexorably linked to faith. For all of the atheistic community's arguments, for all the evidence and logic and math problems that they work through, their argument comes from the exact same place in their thought process that ours comes from. They see what they CAN see, they believe about what they CAN'T see, they argue from faith. Just like us.

So once more, we find that the argument against God is no more logical than the argument for God, and ultimately, our faith comes down to a choice, a leap of logic from what we DO know to what we CAN'T know (with any certainty) -- whether an eternally uncreated God created the universe, or whether an eternally self-created universe created the universe. Both possibilities are far deeper than we can fathom, but it's remarkable to me that one might be considered more inherently believable than the other.

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