How Can Children be Atheists?

I just got back from 2 weeks with my great grandchildren, and what a refreshing time it was.  I love how simple and honest children can be.  They strip all the fanciful veneer right off us.  We think we’re so many wonderful things, and they see right through all our hypocrisy, see all our vulnerabilities, and even manage to love us anyway.  No wonder Jesus said we had to be like them to even see the Kingdom of Heaven.  Adults have too many prejudices, too much pride, and too many blinders on.

The kids say things like–“why don’t you talk to me in your telephone voice”, meaning, how come you can yell and me and then pick up the phone all sweet.  They will tell the embarrassing truths about you, the ones you hoped no one would notice.  I love the story, I forget who told it, about the little boy who was totally unruffled about evolution.  When the speaker asked, how could God create a world in 6 days when its obvious the world is millions and millions of years old?  The little boy answered “Easy, He put it on fast forward.”

Kids do a number of things atheists could never do.  First, they expect order.  In fact, they absolutely demand it.  One of my little great grandsons has a tee shirt that says:”Feed me or nobody sleeps.”  Thats truer than true.  Kids expect to be fed, cleaned, and to have their discomforts fixed.  No random processes for them, and random processes are the only explanation left for the atheist who rejects the very idea of design.  Second, children learn to talk and all you hear (and all I heard for two weeks) is why? why? why?  They will take your answer trustingly, even if you have to fudge a little because you really don’t know.  What you can’t do is say “I don’t know”,  you certainly can’t say to them “There is no answer”.  No, you’d never get away with that one!  Science can tell us “what”, it can sometimes tell us “how”, but it absolutely can’t tell us “why”, and that was the child’s question, “why?”  Third, children have an almost exaggerated sense of justice.  You hear constant complaints of “No fair!”  “Thats mine!”  and so on.  You can ask them to work it out themselves, but you can’t tell them there is no fairness in the world, or that nothing belongs to them, really, or anything else that implies there is truly no justice in the world.  They just won’t buy it!  Now justice requires moral order, and in a random universe with no design and no God, there is no moral order.  The very idea that humans make up their own morals shows there is no justice, and no fairness, because the strongest of the humans will be the ones who make up the legal system.

I suggest if you really want your children to grow up atheists because their significant adults (we can’t say Mommy and Daddy anymore, can we?) are atheists, you should prepare them for living in a random universe.  You should buy five or six jigsaw puzzles, open all of them, pour them into a big bag, shake them all up, and then divide the shaken up pieces among the empty boxes and give them to your children.  It won’t make a picture, and the pieces won’t fit, but tell them to make their own meaning out  of it.  Then make up some puzzles with no solution.  (I’ve seen some Sudoku puzzles that feel like this).  Let them hack away on those for awhile, and then tell them to make up their own solution.  This will prepare them for the real world as you, the adult see it.   You had better be prepared, they will ask you “why?”

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One Response to “How Can Children be Atheists?”

  1. michellespagefornonni Says:

    I have received several posts from contrarians. Normally I print all comments when I have time to post a thoughtful response. However, I have learned not to bother with people who argue for the sake of argument. Its endless. No matter what you say, how well thought out or presented, they have some kind of argument. They aren’t really interested in thinking or pursuit of truth, just putting others down. Its obvious by the way they set up caricatures of others beliefs, they haven’t done their research. They are often disrespectful of huge groups of people, writing them off with their simplistic descriptions. For the record, I have studied biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology, arguments for and against evolution, comparative religions, bible research and arguments for and against intelligent design, all at the college level. I have decided the best evidence is on the side of a creator. I have also decided the evidence for both the historicity and claims of Jesus Christ are compelling. This is for each of us to decide. There are two opposing worldviews that can’t be reconciled. One is the naturalistic, godless evolutionary worldview. The other is the creator God worldview. They travel in opposite directions, and once you decide on one or the other, your life choices will reflect your starting point. All I can advise is study deeply and honestly, and choose wisely.

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