The Big Bang and the playground
Updated: Apr 27, 2019
My eight year old daughter is always keen to ‘talk about God’ with me. Sometimes our discussions are about what heaven will be like, about what God thinks and feels and about how we got here (were created) physically.
One days she told me she was having doubts about Christianity, because of things her friends were saying. Now my daughters friendships aren’t always the most stable, and in the playground plenty of things can be said merely to upset or wound. But what she described didn’t sound that petty. She said she was starting to believe in something else. I listened carefully to hear what it was that was troubling her, and she told me: “I believe in the Big Bang”.
I was fascinated, not least because she wasn’t able to articulate what exactly the Big Bang was, nor how it contradicted her understanding of Christianity. It was enough to know that her friends believed it, and their confidence spoke louder than the content of their ideas.
So how does the Christian faith grow in a child? In what sense, and at what age can they be said to possess a faith of their own, rather than that of their parents? Inherited beliefs might be like hand-me-down garments from an older sibling. Useful enough before you develop a sense of your own self-respect, becoming increasingly restrictive until discarded in favour of something more fashionable. No doubt this is true to some extent.
I grew up in small Anglican church in Dorset, England. My parents used to take me at first, but when they stopped going, a neighbour took me instead, and just before I hit adolescence I decided to become a Christian. But the faith of my neighbour’s family was also changing. They discovered young earth creationism, and deluged me with materials that I found implausible and fantastic. I couldn’t accept them. It was a crisis of faith, and actually quite painful as I had to disagree with them about their interpretation of Genesis, and they didn’t take it well.
As I look back, I can see that the experience strengthened my sense of having my own belief. But adversity can break as well as strengthen a faith. What I needed was a wise head to confide in, and I fortunately I found it through my church youth group.
So I wanted to be that wise head for my daughter, and discussing the Big Bang was actually quite easy. I taught her the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and she became enthusiastic about our discussions, and about relationship with Jesus.
Moreover, it was a very meaningful process. My daughter and I felt closer afterwards, we had both grown in trusting God as a consequence; we had built something together. So I decided to make it a regular thing. We meet, we pray, we learn bible verses, we listen to bible stories, and we also learn reasons to think that God exists. And my daughter has already started to stand up for what she believes, even with the atheistic parents of her school friends.
It seemed like time well spent. I hope you agree.