I was recently at my sister's house baby-sitting her kids. We were watching some Christmas carols on television when the eldest of them, about 12 years old, asked me out of the blue "Who Is God?"
This is one of those awkward questions from children that are best avoided, right up there with "Why are children starving in the world" and "Is Santa Clause real?" How am I going to answer this question, I thought, in a fashion that isn't complete rubbish so as not to further his cynicism about adults and their inability to answer children's questions and yet also answer it in a manner that is politically correct enough so as not to ruffle any feathers when it eventually feeds back to my sister and her husband?
The easy way out would be to say "I don't know, and ask you mother or father when they get home" but as I said, at an age when children are pretty cynical about adults in general I thought I should rally and at least be seen to be making some sort of attempt to answer his question.
I began with by explaining that "by virtue of our existence and the existence of all the trees and animals there must be some sort of meaning to life that points to the existence of some sort of a god. So, I guess in answer to your question of "is there a god?" the answer is yes. But as to what form that god takes, I'm not as certain. Is there a god with a big white beard sitting in a big chair up in heaven that made the world in seven days? I'm not so sure about that, but there is definitely some sort of force in life that we can think of as God that gives a direction and meaning to life".
"What do you mean?" he said. "Well I guess the fact that the universe started off as just a bunch of tiny random bits of dust that you couldn't see even with the most powerful microscope in the world, and that that dust eventually came together to form all the planets and the trees and the animals and even you and me means that there is some sort of force that is driving life in a direction that creates more and more developed things and I like to think of that force as god".
Anyway, she seemed to be happy enough with that answer for the time being. I guess I'll need to be more prepared in future. Next time it might be something like "please explain the paradox of good and evil in human nature"!!
Dianne enjoys writing, a natural lifestyle and occasionally answering the perplexing questions constantly proffered by her beautiful niece. She recently read an essay that helped answer the question Who is God? which in part inspired this article!