Theology and Kids

On Saturday, the family was walking into our favorite restaurant  and Rebecca said, “There’s something that’s been bothering me all day.”

Figuring it was about her impending week at camp, I settled into my comforting mom role. I had all the answers in my pocket. It’s natural to be worried, scared, sad, etc. The words almost flew out of my mouth, but then she blew my mind.

“The bible and science can’t both be right. How did the world start?”

Can I have a drink before I tackle that one?

We have been intentional reading the bible with our kids, taking them to Sunday School and Church, VBS, church camps. We want them to know the Bible.

They also understand evolution. Rebecca understands it better than me through her study of the Timeline of Life in school. And the past summer we have been watching Cosmos together. Which led to our conversation and a topic I didn’t want to deal with until I was an adult.

Here is my almost 10 year old daughter examining Biblical Truth vs Science.

I grew up believing the Bible to be literal. That is how they taught it. Adam and Eve, Jonah and the Whale, Noah. At some point I realized a whale didn’t really swallow Jonah.

And if the whale didn’t swallow Jonah. . .

And the world wasn’t created in 7 days. . .

And the world wasn’t covered in a flood. . .

Did Jesus resurrect?

When I hit that wall, I stumbled through my teenage and young adult years wondering about the questions I had and not finding answers from my church or school. Because both told me they had the answers and theirs was the only right one.

For the past several months, I have been reading Rob Bell’s blog What is the Bible. And for anyone who struggles with what the Bible says, or doesn’t say, this is a good place to start.

It helped me answer my own questions, and I hope it gave me solid ground when I answered Rebecca’s question.

Who’s right? The Bible or science.

And to me? They both are.

Rob Bell quotes Frederick Buechner who said, “All theology, like all fiction, is at its heart autobiography.” Rob Bell’s series isn’t out to prove that the stories in the bible are true. In fact, he always tells the readers the bible is written by people who have experienced the divine. He cautions readers not to start with the assumption God wrote the bible, because that leaves you with a lot of questions that don’t have answers.

If God wrote the Bible, why did he allow people to be slaughtered?

Why would he ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Why would he allow an entire nation to be enslaved?

Why does he allow a mom to die of cancer, leaving behind her kids?

Why does he allow war to continue in Gaza with no end?

Rob Bell challenges his reader to read the bible and start with human experience. How does a nation respond to enslavement? How does a king handle disharmony in his family caused by his own infidelity (lookin’ at you David)

When I answered Rebecca, I had no clear answer. I do not believe one source over the other. I believe both. No, I don’t believe the world was created in 7 days. The world is older than 6000 years. We know that. Science proves that.

But, when you think about the sheer impossibility of our existence in this universe, to me, that is all God.

How many times life rebounded from the edge.

How intricate and wonderful the entire universe is.

It’s infinite. Ever growing and ever changing.

To me that is proof of God.

When I think about what my own life was 10 years ago, and what it is now, I believe Isaiah when he says beauty comes from ashes. Hope exists, even when the world tells me it doesn’t.

I don’t think the bible and science are mutually exclusive. And I won’t teach my kids because we are Christians, science doesn’t matter. And I won’t teach my kids because science matters, the bible doesn’t.

Each teaches us something about what it means to be human. Science is the mechanics, but religion brings humanity. What is our experience with the human condition in 2014? Is it any different than a small tribe making their way through the ancient world, persevering in a world that is hard and devastatingly beautiful at the same time.

Read those stories in the bible again. See if our lives are much different.

Teaching your kids the bible is literal has them wrapping the Bible around the world and at some point the binding will break. It keeps their world small, yet unmanageable. Teach your kids to question and then explore. Always. Because they deserve a real dialog when it comes to faith and the world.  It does mean difficult questions and exploring places you may not have been yourself.





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