Big questions

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Big questions

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oct. 1, 2009, 12:02pm

I have a very inquisitive 5 year old. She is already asking the BIG questions: why are we here? How did everything get to be as it is? Where did the first people come from? I thought I would have at least a couple more years before these started popping up, so I hadn’t prepared any “quick” answers. Obviously I’m being facetious, I realize there aren’t any “quick” answers – except for “God made everything.” It’s so simple and easy, no wonder so few people ever question it.

I started trying to explain the concept of evolution to her, and either it’s too complicated for a 5 year old to understand, or I don’t understand it as well as I thought I did to be able to explain it to a child (probably the latter.) So I’ve started looking for children’s books on evolution to help out, and have found a few. Unfortunately none of them are in stock at any of the bookstores in my area (go figure), so I will have to order them.

We seem to be surrounded by “believers” in my subdivision, and I’m beginning to understand how it feels to be a minority. It’s going to be a difficult struggle to keep my daughter from being unduly influenced. We’ve already had to turn down an offer from a neighbor’s kid who wanted her to go to church with them.

Any advice?

oct. 1, 2009, 1:08pm

Hi mdworaczyk, I'm not a parent myself, but a version of this discussion took place recently on a thread in the Pro & Con (Religion) group. There are books and resources and comments there that you might perhaps find helpful.

As I mentioned also in that thread, it may be useful to touch base with your local atheist/agnostic/humanist group, if you have any. Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, or even just checking for atheist meet-ups on It might be a good source of support and resources, as well as pleasant to be among like-minded people and parents who wrestle with the same issues as you.

oct. 1, 2009, 2:24pm

Essa: thank you very much! I just now took a look at that thread, and believe it will be quite useful.

oct. 1, 2009, 3:40pm

Kudos for not letting the infection spread :)

Editat: oct. 1, 2009, 5:08pm

> 4 It's interesting that you would use that exact term -- Wed., Oct. 7., the Secular Student Alliance of one of our local colleges will be hosting a lecture by Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus. I've not read the book, and am not sure I'd agree completely with its premise, but I can't resist such an inflammatory/intriguing catchline, and the fact that it's being held in the Eliot Hall Chapel is beautifully ironic. :D So I plan to go and hear him.

oct. 1, 2009, 11:27pm

Years ago I heard Richard Dawkins describe religion as a disease which infects the young and promulgates itself in such a way that it attacks people when they're much more vulnerable to it...i.e. when their minds are still developing and they don't have the mental wherewithal to defeat it. Needless to say, I've never found a better explanation, and it has stuck with me ever since.

On another note, you're lucky that your local schools would even allow such a lecture. My school has people handing out bibles in front of the student union, and fire and brimstone people screaming about Jesus and how you're going to hell over in the "free speech zone".

Apples and oranges, I guess.

oct. 2, 2009, 12:08am

I believe I recall reading that in Dawkins' The God Delusion, if I'm not mistaken. I must admit, it's a very powerful, not to mention accurate, way of putting it.

I would love to be able to see Dawkins, Dennett, or even Mr. Ray, (although I'm not familiar with his books), give a lecture, but alas, I live in Texas. I did see Gould some years ago. Although I have to side with Dawkins in his criticism of Gould's NOMA principle.

oct. 2, 2009, 12:56pm

Regions of the country -- and even areas within a region -- can vary enormously in terms of culture, flavor, mood, tolerance, etc. I'm in an urban area of Oregon, and although there's plenty of religion around as well as plenty of secular people, I just don't experience or witness much, if any, hostility having to do with religion or lack thereof. I do try to be grateful for this as it really does seem that people in some parts of the country do not have such an atmosphere. :-/

mdworaczyk, Center for Inquiry does have an Austin chapter. There are also American Humanist Association groups in Austin, Carollton, Fort Worth, Houston, and Spring. I've also heard of the North Texas Church of Freethought, although am not much familiar with them. So maybe those would be of some help.

oct. 2, 2009, 1:24pm

Also in Austin is the Ethical Society of Austin. MrsHouseLibrary and I were members of that group several years ago. We left for 2 reasons. The primary reason was that my father-in-law needed help in caring for his wife, so we were away every weekend. The other reason was that the meetings started taking in an air of 'churchiness', and we made them aware of that. I understand that things have gone back to 'normal', but we have not been back yet.

They've got a web site,, if you care to check into what they're about. I just went to the web site and read the newsletter. They ~had~ been meeting at Laguna Gloria every weekend. They've got a new meeting place, but I can't tell whether they have actually started meeting there yet.

oct. 2, 2009, 1:31pm

My niece is the only kid in her cohort in school NOT going to catechism. I've bought several DK books on animals and biology for her, there's also one on evolution. I think the series is Eyewitness Books... Ah, this one:,,9780756650285,00.html?strSrchSql=evoluti...

The text is above 6-year old level, but then you'd probably need to follow and explain some anyway. Personally, I think it's important for them simply to have these books around, to look at the pictures and become acquainted with the ideas, however vaguely. It's not necessary to lecture them, after all, even adults have trouble understanding the minutiae and nuances.

oct. 3, 2009, 11:19am

Wow! I received a lot of great tips and leads I need to follow. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Thanks to everyone who posted.

Lola, you made an excellent point about not lecturing her. I caught myself starting to do that.