Welcome to the first Thinking Family blog! Thinking Family has been created as a resource for parents, in conjunction with the Thinking Series by Andy Steiger of Apologetics Canada. The Thinking Series discusses five important questions about life:
- What is the meaning of life?
- Does God exist?
- Why is there evil and suffering?
- Do all religions lead to God?
- Did Jesus rise from the dead?
Thinking Family addresses these questions in the context of family, the greatest place to engage both our children’s hearts and minds. We believe that our children’s faith will be strengthened by safe and open discussion that leads to confident and thoughtful responses to these foundational questions. In this environment, our children will learn much sooner how to think through these worldview issues, how to begin settling key Christian beliefs in their minds and hearts, and will be better prepared to respond to questions of faith.
About the author: I must begin by saying that I am not an expert. I am a parent, like you. There are many expert apologists who will and have provided amazing arguments for each of these core questions. I am not one of them! My desire is to encourage parents in our journey of building confident faith in our families. I hope that Thinking Family will be a helpful resource by providing ideas, discussion starters and references to additional resources.
Following the Clues
Thinking Family: Does God Exist?
Do you enjoy a good mystery? Often kids do! Lately our family has been enjoying the adventures of the Hardy Boy brothers as they follow clues to solve a mystery, asking good questions along the way. Children are naturally curious and come up with great questions. One that we may encounter is “How do we know that God exists?”
As true with any question raised by our children, answering with the most integrity comes when we speak out of our own heart, experiences and journey. To do this, I must ask myself, “Why do I believe that God exists?” Many parents will feel that ‘I just know’. This ‘knowing’ comes out of experiences, knowledge and information that we have gathered. So we can begin by pointing our children towards those same things.
For some, pinpointing and articulating exactly what it is that draws us to the existence of God may be really difficult. It may be helpful then to become familiar with some of the common types of arguments for the existence of God. In this list, you may identify something that has been significant for you. You may also see something that might be helpful to the unique nature and temperament of your child. Either way, there are resources (some listed at the bottom of this blog) that can help you become more familiar with any given argument.
Lee Strobel, in his book titled Case for a Creator For Kids, approaches the question of the Existence of God like detective work. He encourages kids to gather information by looking, thinking and asking and then to put together everything they have learned. He explains that though you might not be able to ‘prove’ your conclusion, you can get enough information to make a very good guess.
All the arguments for the existence of God are like clues that, put together, form a very strong case for the existence of a powerful, loving God. Timothy Keller refers to these clues as “Divine Fingerprints”. He explains that every argument for God can be rationally avoidable at some point, but cumulatively form a compelling case. Here are some of the most commonly referenced clues:
- Design: This argument claims that our experience shows that design indicates a designer. Many examples can be given, which one speaks to you most from your experience?
- Cosmology: the study of how the universe was formed. The universe had an origin which scientists call the Big Bang. Kalam’s argument is applied to show that everything that has a beginning has a cause outside itself. Therefore the universe has a cause outside of itself, which is a clue that there is something other than the natural world.
- Physics: the study of how things work in the world. The Fine Tuning / Anthropic principle describes how the universe appears to have been created in exactly the right way to let human beings survive. Moreland and Meuhlhoff illustrate using a ‘life on Mars’ illustration and also use ‘number doodling’ that shows the improbability of life as we know it happening by chance.
- Beauty: Our hearts sense there is something more when we experience beauty, though our rational minds may say that beauty, love and truth are illusions. Keller goes on to say that this heart response is not just a feeling, but an appetite or desire. St. Augustine reasons that these unfulfillable desires are clues to the reality of God.
- Morality: Though we may be taught that all moral values are relative to individuals and cultures, we can’t live like that. We live under a set of external moral standards and believe in human rights and the inherent dignity of each individual. This is a clue that there is moral code given by a Creator.
There is not one argument or experience that will ‘work’ for every person, including for our kids. It may be helpful to write down your story as a parent(s). Note what convinces you that God not only exists but also is looking after you. Share that story with your kids, including lots of illustrations from your life and experience. As we as parents share our story, our children will begin forming their own story.
Family Discussion Starters:
- Have you had to solve a mystery lately (such as missing TV Remote?) How did you look, ask, think and decide?
- What do you think is the most sensible way to explain how the universe started, and why?
- Puzzle Illustration: Solving a big question like this is like putting together a puzzle. No one piece alone tells the story. Which pieces fit together best to create a picture? When we put together all the pieces that point to the existence of God, we get a more reasonable picture. How do you feel about the puzzle?
- Lee Strobel. Case for a Creator for Kids. Zonderkidz, 2010.
Parents and older kids may also enjoy the Case for A Creator DVD by Lee Strobel.
- YouTube “Think for a Minute, Does God Exist?” by Apologetics Canada
- J.P. Moreland & Tim Muehlhoff. The God Conversation Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith. Intervarsity Press, 2007
- William Lane Craig. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/kalam (Video explaining the Kalam, Cosmological argument)
- Andy Steiger. The Thinking Series. Apologetics Canada. https://www.apologeticscanada.com/thinking-series/
- Reasons To Believe. www.reasons.org A website that focuses on the relationship between science and faith.
- Timothy Keller. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Dutton, 2008.