“What happens to us when we die?” Do your kids ever ask you questions like this? You know, ones that are hard to respond to because they touch on really important topics? When a major London newspaper ran a story about the top twenty questions parents find toughest to answer for their kids, the “what happens to us when we die” question was listed as number 11. And number 13 was “Is God real?”
It’s no surprise that people think spiritual questions like these are tough to respond to. But since we as Christian parents have a Book that gives us the answers, the most difficult aspect for us may be making our answers simple enough for younger children to understand. But when we give our kids Bible-based answers, we can be confident we’re teaching them truth. In contrast, according to the article, 25 percent of parents in one survey said if they were asked, “Where do you go when you die?” they would tell their child, “You become an angel.” This correlates with another finding of the survey: When parents don’t know the answer to a child’s question, 63 percent of them will give one anyway—even if they think it might be wrong!
Most of the other questions on the list were requests for scientific explanations, such as “Why is the sky blue?” and “How do planes fly?” These can be hard to answer on the spot because we’ve forgotten (or never really understood) the scientific or technical details. But that kind of factual data is easily accessible these days. The bigger challenge for us as Christian parents is how to answers our children’s questions in a way that reinforces the biblical worldview we want them to grow up with.
When children ask questions, especially why questions, it can be a perfect opportunity to engage in biblical worldview shaping—helping them to learn to see the world and everything in it from God’s perspective. The Creation-Fall-Redemption metanarrative of the Bible has multiple layers of significance, yet it’s simple enough for even a young child to grasp:
Creation: God made the world.
Fall: People have messed it up.
Redemption: Someday God will fix it.
The key is to answer kids’ questions by telling them a small story that fits in with the big story of CFR.
Victoria Klein wrote an article in Parents magazine about questions kids often ask and how to answer them. For each of nine questions, she suggests an answer and quotes an expert’s advice on how to talk about the topic. Here are three of the questions and my suggestions for how to answer them to help kids think biblically.
1. “Why aren’t there any more dinosaurs?”
Klein cites the standard evolutionary scientific answer based on the secular worldview: Eons and eons before humans existed, dinosaurs evolved from simpler lifeforms. Then, 65 million years ago a huge asteroid crashed into the earth, resulting in climatic changes that the species couldn’t adapt to, and so they died out. But some of them “were the ancestors of today’s chickens, pigeons—even ostriches.”
The Bible tells a very different story: On the sixth day of creation, God made dinosaurs along with all the other land animals as well as Adam and Eve. So humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. Then about 4,400 years ago, there was a worldwide Flood that wiped out almost all the land animals of every species. The animals that survived had to adjust to living in a very different habitat. Climate change brought about by the Flood (e.g., the Ice Age), disease, competition from other animals, and other factors eventually resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs.
To give a more theological answer, you might explain that the main reason dinosaurs (and other species) have gone extinct is the Fall. The Flood was God’s judgment on human sin.
2. “Why are there so many languages in the world?”
Again Klein accepts the evolutionary explanation that language developed as humans evolved and assumes that the reason for different languages is that the process occurred simultaneously in various places that were isolated from each other. The fact that the English of today is so different from the English of five hundred years ago is cited as evidence of this evolution.
In contrast, Scripture indicates that language was a gift God gave Adam and Eve when He created them. There was only one language until about a hundred years after the Flood. But then people rebelled against God at the Tower of Babel, and He punished them by dividing them into groups and making it so that they couldn’t understand each other. Those separate languages developed into the ones in use today. The existence of various languages is actually a strong argument against the notion that language evolved as an aspect of the transition from ape to human.
3. “Why do people get sick?”
Klein’s answer focuses on germs and the difference between contagious diseases and other medical conditions.
The CFR perspective on disease emphasizes the idea that in the world as God created it there was no sickness, pain, or death, but once people sinned against God, the door was opened to all of those. So in that sense, all disease is a result of the Fall—we get sick because of sin. That doesn’t mean that there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between a particular illness and a specific act of disobedience. Job didn’t get boils because he had sinned, nor was the man in John 9 born blind because of his own or his parents’ sin. But any lack of good health confirms that we live in a fallen world.
What’s so important about answering from a biblical worldview frame of reference? The goal is not for children to comprehend all the whys and wherefores of the factual information we give them, but for them to absorb the way our worldview works. When they see that we examine every question in the light of Scripture, they will begin to understand that the ultimate authority is God’s Word not scientific evidence, historical documentation, or popular opinion.
What tough question has your child asked recently? Were you able to answer it from a biblical worldview perspective?