WHY TIME with NannyGranne

“Does God Know About the Dinosaurs?” (Part Two)

As we watched his little brother and preschool friends color the bills of their dinosaur hats, I realized my young friend was probably confused by his classroom schooling in evolution. Change (evolution) is an obvious reality in biological and archaeological science, but it is confusing when the lessons go beyond scientific fact and claim to be the mechanism for the origin of all species.  True science, because of DNA and mathematics, has debunked the theory of life’s origin beginning with a single primordial cell. But academia always lags behind in teaching the latest scientific advances. Thus, a child might think that, if the existence of dinosaurs proves evolution, then teachers might be right about our ancestors being rat-like creatures scurrying around the feet of the dinosaurs.

So, in answer to his opening question “When did God make dinosaurs?” I said to him, “God made the dinosaurs before He made us, that’s for sure.”

“Then why did He make the dinosaurs and then just kill them all?”  He’d been thinking about these things for a while.  He needed to be heard and taken seriously.

“You ask an important question.  I can tell you’ve thought about this quite a bit.”

He nodded soberly, never taking his eyes away from my own.

“You’ve thought about this, so tell me how you think God killed all the dinosaurs.”

“The scientists think a huge asteroid crashed in Mexico and killed them all.”  He was well versed in the school-book rhetoric.  He’d passed the tests.

“Yes, they think a huge asteroid did crash into Mexico and wiped out about 70% of all the creatures on the earth.  But some scientists think the dinosaurs were beginning to starve out already and others think there were dinosaurs left on the other side of the earth from where the asteroid landed.  They argue all the time over what happened because it’s really hard to know for sure—it’s been so long ago.”

I wanted him to think about where the blame lay for the loss of dinosaurs.  “But I’m wondering if God is the one who killed them off.” He raised his eyebrows, then nodded. He wanted to hear what I had to say. “If a bunch of nuclear bombs or a weird disease killed almost everyone on earth, would that be God’s fault?”

“I don’t know.” He was guarded, not sure where this was leading.

“If the wiring in your house wore out and caused a fire that burned your house down, would that be God’s doing?”

“No, it would be an accident,” he corrected himself.

“When anything bad happens, whose idea is it according to the Bible?”

“The devil’s?” He also remembered what he had been taught in Bible class.

“I want to show you something.  Is that OK?”

“Sure.”

I grabbed my phone and pulled up my favorite Bible app, selecting an easy-to-read version for his sake. “Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve and how they listened to Satan and did the one thing God had asked them not to do?”  He nodded “Yes.”  “That’s where all the bad began.  Before that, God said everything was good.” I added with a smile, “Except that Adam needed help.”  We both laughed.

After reading God’s response to the fall in Genesis 3:14-19, I explained, “After Adam and Eve got into trouble–and Satan, too–God sentenced Satan to a miserable existence and doom to come.  Then he sentenced Adam and Eve to pain and hardship and physical death.  But God also indicated that One Day He would make things right again for those who wanted to be friends with Him again.”

I stopped and faced him and, putting my hand on his shoulder, continued.  “But there’s more to the story.  Did you know that the earth suffered, too, from Satan getting involved and poisoning everything he touched.”   Turning to Romans 8:21-22 we read, “…the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now.  Not only this, but we ourselves also…groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, making our bodies free.”

He looked at me, somewhat confused but also intrigued.

“So you see, God didn’t kill all the dinosaurs. The whole universe was broken by Satan. But just for now.”  Turning to Revelation 21:1-5, I showed him where God promises to make all things new..not just our bodies, but an entirely new world with Him.

He sat for a moment, mulling over all this new information.  But he had more questions.  And since we were on a roll, he continued.  “But when did He make them and why weren’t there any on the Ark?”

That question will be answered in Part III.  Meet me there next week.

 

 

Does God Know About Dinosaurs? (Part One)

It was his 3rd birthday party and he loved dinosaurs! He ate dinosaur cookies, played dinosaur games, wore a dinosaur shirt, slept on dinosaur sheets with his dinosaur stuffed companions.  And he had totally nailed a young dinosaur’s roar!  The party was dinosaur dynamite!

As we sipped on dinosaur swamp water (lime punch) and munched on dinosaur bones (cookies), his older brother turned to me to ask a question.  I could tell he was hoping for a real answer, and was a little worried there might not be one.

“When did God make the dinosaurs?” he ventured.

Others have asked dinosaur questions, too, just in different ways.  It was time for some answers.  This boy was serious.

Actually, I have a question, too.  I wondered to myself, “Where has our culture’s ‘dinomania’ come from?  Why the saturation by an extinct life form in every corner of childhood from toddler toys to classroom exposition over almost every other scientific topic?”

Brian Switek, in The Guardian article “Why Do We Love Dinosaurs So Much?”, Sept 5, 2014, said, “Dinomania is so powerful that it has become a cultural institution.”  He went on further to say,”…a gigantic Sauropod…excavated in Southernmost regions of Argentina…is an amazing testament to the wonders of evolution.”

He goes on to say that perhaps children’s imaginations are captured by dinosaurs because they are “big, fierce, and extinct” and therefore thrilling, but safe.  Kids don’t have to worry about one getting into their house because, after all, there aren’t any scary ones still alive.

Sometimes I wonder if the multitudinous emphasis on dinosaurs serves to highlight the void of information about them in the Bible school classroom, leading to a lethal seed of doubt in the minds of our young.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I still believe in Satan’s ploys…and God’s truths.

This discussion is a vital one.  Join me next time for Part Two of “Does God Know About the Dinosaurs?”

When Is God’s Birthday?

She was about seven years old, curly blonde hair bouncing in the breeze as she glided to a stop in the driveway that crisp fall day.  The sun had been warmer than usual and we were in our lawn chairs out front in the cul-de-sac watching the neighborhood kids playing together.  They’d congregated in our driveway because we had a tricycle/scooter/skateboard obstacle course laid out for them.

The kids were already talking about what they wanted for Christmas.  Thanksgiving was just days away.

“So when is God’s birthday?” she asked.  “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.  When is God’s birthday?”

“Wow, Jade!  That’s a good question!” I encouraged. “In fact, it’s really a very important question.  When is your birthday?”

“It was July 29th. I got to have a swimming party!”

“What do you like about Jesus’ birthday, Jade?”

“Getting presents!!”  The other kids chimed in now, announcing their own wants for Christmas.

“What does Jesus get for his birthday?” I asked.  Noticing right away I’d thrown water on their paradejm I asked a less confusing question, though still a challenge.  “Why do we have birthdays?  Does anyone know?”  Met with quiet expectant faces, I smiled.  They were waiting for the answer to my riddle.  “When you have your birthday, everybody celebrates that you were born.   Your birth is the day you were born.  That’s why they call it a birth-day!”

A collective “Oh…OK!”

Then came the hook. “That’s why God doesn’t have a birthday.”

Shock and chagrin! “What?!”  “Why?!”  “Why doesn’t God get to have a birthday!”

I offered everyone gum, gathering around closer.  Speaking mysteriously, I continued. “Because God was never born…in fact God has always been God.  He’s the one that made everyone else to be born.”  Looking at each face, I whispered, “In fact, did you know that Jesus is God, too?”

Jade looked at me sideways…had her doubts.  “But Jesus has a birthday.  How come He gets a birthday and God doesn’t?”

“Well, God decided that Jesus needed to come be a human baby, then a kid like you guys, then a teenager..and then a grown-up man so He could show us how to be the best kids, teenagers, and grownups we can be.  So, He had to be born like us, too.  That’s how he got to have a birthday.”  I left unspoken the ultimate reason He came; His death and resurrection would be for another discussion.

“Oh.”  She saw what I said, but something still bothered her.

“Do you think it’s OK for God to not have a birthday?” I offered

“I don’t know.” She seemed resolved to the unfortunate situation.

“You know what, Jade? I want God to be happy, too.  You know what He wants more than anything?”

Her eyes lit up now.

“He just wants us to find out as much as we can about Him and how much He wants us to be His forever friends.  He says, if we really want to be friends, He tells us everything we need to know. He’ll never stop hoping and waiting for us to do that because He’s actually going to have the biggest celebration in the world and He wants everyone there.  But a lot of people just don’t want to be friends with God and won’t be at His house for the party.”  Then smiling and waving to them all, I announced, “But you are all invited!”

“Hooray!!” “Whoo Hooo!” “Yea!!!”  They all jumped up and down festively.  Jade, being the oldest and wisest among the preschoolers and kindergarteners, just smiled, climbed onto her bike and glided away. Veering up the street toward her house she turned, smiled and waved.  I waved back and prayed she’d be there.  I prayed they’d all be there.

What Is Faith (1)

(Today’s guest blogger is Tim King, who is preparing a study guide for teens and college age entitled Apologetics 101.)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1; emphasis added).

Whether you are aware or not, you operate on faith all the time.  When we converse with people, we generally take their experiences and stories as truth even though we were not there to witness them.  We learn through faith in others’ experiences.  Otherwise. all of us would have scars from touching a hot stove, or being stung from messing with beehives, or electrocuted from touching the wall socket.  (Okay, some people have to learn the hard way.)

How many of you believe that I, the author of this article—or any other person—has a brain? Have you seen it?

A scientist once asked a colleague, “How can you believe in God?”   The man replied, “The same way you believe that the earth’s core is iron. You nor anyone else has been there to see it, but you were told by reliable sources who have studied the evidence that is the case, and you believe what they say.”

The fact is, there are realities we accept as true that we have not necessarily seen or personally experienced.

Even so, there are fundamental realities in our lives that we accept by faith. By fundamental realities, I mean answers to questions like “Where did everything come from?,” “Why are we here?,” “Where are we going?,” and “How should we live?”  Science cannot provide satisfying answers for these questions, but faith has good answers for each one.

Back to Hebrews 1:1: What is the “unseen” reality behind everything? Here it is: God is the creator. He created everything out of nothing; He created the visible out of that which is unseen.

Does faith in God make any difference? If we think everything is just the random product of chance, we may decide nothing we do matters.  If we think that when we die, we die and that is the end, we may live irresponsibly. What we believe makes a great deal of difference!

(More later)

 

Why Won’t Johnny Play Again?

It was a Tuesday morning and my just-turned-three-year-old charge was looking at his pet garden snails.  He has five, painted different colors, named–all blissfully multiplying in his dime store fish tank.  One had been recently buried in the flower pot on the front porch.  He looked up at me wide-eyed and said, “I miss Johnny. I want to put him back in here.”

“Honey, Johnny died.  Only his shell is in the flowerbed.  If you put his shell back in your tank, he wouldn’t play or eat with the others because he’s not in his shell anymore.”

“Why?”  Then he waited for an answer.  He couldn’t understand.  In his games, when his dinosaurs killed each other, they got back up.  Why could Johnny not get back up?

Death is a subject that children sometimes accept more quickly than the adults in their lives.  They’ll believe whatever we tell them.   Sometimes we tell them pets are “gone to live with Jesus,” thinking this makes it easier for them.  Then when they’re taught that we are just animals, they’re confused further.  We should tell them the truth because the truth for us is far better and we are more than animals.  We are eternal.  We can believe that what we believe is really real.  Jesus truly was raised from the dead; therefore,  what He has told us about death is valid.

Death by definition means “separation.”  It’s a separation of our life force from our physical bodies. When animals die, their life force leaves and they return wholly to the elements.  Their atoms blend with the earth to be used in nature’s work.  But there is more for us.  We are created to be like God…in God’s image.  Our essence–the core of our elemental nature–is eternal.  It’s well documented and observed that humanity has an innate need to look to something greater than itself.  God, as revealed in scripture, is the only Being capable of completely fulfilling that need.   Though our physical bodies decay, our essence relocates to the place of the living where Jesus and the thief on the cross visited on the day of their crucifixions. “Today you shall be with me in Paradise,” he said.  The Wiseman tells us, “Your body came from the earth.  When you die, your body will return to the earth.  But Your spirit came from God, and when you die, it will return to him.” Eccl. 12:7

But so often we miss the greatest wonder of all:  our own resurrection!   Jesus will return with our spirits to gather up our remains, remake us immortal and then we will be relocated by God to our eternal place.  If we have chosen His world in life, He will welcome us there in eternity.

“Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like other people who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and came back to life. We also believe that, through Jesus, God will bring back those who have died. They will come back with Jesus. We are telling you what the Lord taught. We who are still alive when the Lord comes will not go into his kingdom ahead of those who have already died. The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life. Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord. So then, comfort each other with these words!” I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Did you see it?!  “God will bring back those who have died.  They will come back with Jesus…First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life.”  THAT’s the thrilling part.  After we die, our conscious essence will go to be with other God followers to wait in Paradise for the Resurrection.  Though our guilt or innocence is concluded at death, “passing of sentence” by the Judge happens when Jesus comes back and we are sent to our eternal place with God.  “So then, comfort each other with these words.”

With all this in mind, I smiled at the little upturned face before me waiting for my answer.

“Johnny can’t play anymore because only his shell is left.  Johnny’s body turned to dirt and is helping the flowers to grow now.   But when we die we don’t stay in the dirt.  Our bodies are our shells and are buried, too, but our “selves” go to be with Jesus. And one day he’s going to come back and wake our bodies up and take all of us who love Jesus to be together at his house.”

He returned his gaze to the other snails, quiet for a few seconds.  Then he said, “Frankie has Joey and Turbo and Herbert to play with, so it’s ok.”  Then he looked back up and asked, “Will Johnny be in heaven?” I smiled.  I could tell him what he hoped to hear.  But one day that answer might confuse him more.  He needed the truth.

“God is the one who can answer that question.  I’ll ask Him and tell you what He says, OK?”

He smiled.

WHO IS GOD and WHAT IS HE LIKE?

(Our guest blogger this week is David Roper)

As I started work on the first Zoey book, I envisioned Zoey learning that God created everything and then asking, “But who is God?” I asked my Facebook friends how they would answer a four-year-old who asked them that question. I received many excellent responses. It was obvious that they had given this question serious thought. Let me share a few of their answers. Perhaps their thoughts will be beneficial as you explain God to your children or grandchildren.

Richard Lovinggood: “The world we live in was created by God: the birds, the fish, the animals, trees, mountains—and even you and me. God loves us and blesses us with food and the things we need in life. God is good and God is love.”

Jamie Davis: “God is the creator of everything—and can do anything. He made the world, the sun, the moon, and the stars. God made every person special and loves you and me.”

Margaret Brandon: “God is the creator of the world. Everything you see, feel, hear, taste, or smell was created by God—even the air we breathe. You and I and all people are creations of God and made by Him. We were placed here in His created world to please Him.  Everything we think, say, think, or do should please Him.”

Carrol Bullock: “God has always been. There is no beginning or end to God. He created everything. He is our heavenly Father. He knows all about us. He knows our name, where we live, our friends, what we think and what we are going to say before we say it. He knows how many hairs we have on our heads. He loves us and gives us what we need. He listens to our prayers. That is how we talk to Him. He is always with us.”

Micah Domina (to my child): “Option 1 – God made everything. He made you and He made me. He is our Father in heaven—just like Daddy is your father here. God loves you and wants you to obey Him. Option 2 – God is the perfect friend. He is always ready to play and sing with you. He is always ready to help you. He can answer any question and solve any problem. He always listens to you and, best of all, He always has time for you.”

John Domina (three approaches): “God is like the sun. He watches over us, helps us grow, and even reminds us that sometimes we need to cool off . . . Sometimes I picture God as a really cool Grandpa. He loves us, gives us gifts, can answer any questions and solve any problem, and always wants to spend time with you . . . God is the Father of Jesus. He created our whole planet: all the animals and plants and even us. God is all the good things in life. As you grow older, your understanding of what ‘good’ is will deepen.”

Coy Roper: “God is a person, but He is unlike any person you know. He is in heaven, but He is also near us, though we can’t see Him. He made everything. He wants us to be good and eventually will punish people for being bad. But He is more loving than you can imagine. He loves you as much as, or even more than, your mother and dad.”

How Can We KNOW Anything?

 

What does one do when expected to provide answers to the big questions in life?  Can we be sure of any answer? Are there many answers? Does it matter whether there are answers at all?

One of the commentaries on our current culture lies in the fact that we seem adrift philosophically, at war with ourselves emotionally, and at war with each other ideologically. We seem to be benevolent with differing opinions, but merciless with differing convictions. So how do we answer our children’s sincere uncertainties?

To respond with “That’s just the way it is,” or “Because I said so” or even “I don’t know” is to involuntarily give an answer whether we mean to or not. “That’s just the way it is” or “Because I said so” both could be understood to mean “You don’t need to know” or worse, “I don’t like you to ask questions.” Both responses declare DON’T ASK WHY!

A dismissive “I don’t know” could leave the child ambivalent about your trustworthiness or even whether there is an answer at all. Maybe a better way to say it is “I don’t know, but let’s try to find out together,” or “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out for you and we’ll talk again. OK?” It takes time to answer questions. But it’s time well spent.

Sometimes the answer, and the lesson, are both beyond a child’s ability to fully comprehend, but trust in truth and what’s right–even if hard to understand–is in itself a life lesson. Be cautioned, however, to never underestimate the ability of a child to understand the basics of life, integrity, reality, and yes, even death.

We have to be honest. Sometimes it’s us, the adults, in the scenario who don’t know the answer. But this doesn’t mean there is no answer, that it’s wrong to wonder and search, or that we’re deficient in some way. It simply means there is more to learn and explore…and ultimately share with our progeny.

Greater minds than mine have long sought answers to the big “Whys.” A cursory search of Wikipedia tells the story of philosophers–many you may have studied– whose ideas ring through the ages and have woven into our lives with no realization of their origins.  Here are a few examples. See if any of any of these sound familiar.

“I’LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT.”  Four hundred years before Christ arrived on earth, a teacher named Plato–himself a student of Socrates– debated with his own student Aristotle over the meaning of knowledge. Plato defined knowledge as Justified True Belief and declared that it was discovered through thought and ideas. Aristotle vehemently argued that knowledge could only be discovered through observation of things. (Aristotle’s idea echoes in our phrase “I believe it when I see it.”) Plato was a teenager when Jeremiah the Prophet died and was thought to have met and been influenced by him in Egypt. Though seeing is not always believing, knowledge is gained by thought and observation in tandem.

“I FEEL SO SURE…THEREFORE IT MUST BE TRUE.” A thousand years after Plato, Rene Descartes, a Frenchman, declared that all philosophies prior had to be discarded and reality discovered afresh.  He experienced a vision that convinced him that his life’s mission must be to find the one truth that left no room for further investigation…leaving no more Whys. Science! Math! Philosophy! All left him with more questions. Finally, one day, he realized that reality existed because he could think it. “I think. Therefore I am.” He also wrote, “Of all the ideas that are in me, the idea that I have of God is the most true, the most clear and distinct.”

IS IT REALITY or A VALUE (an idea)?   Another hundred years passed when a Scotsman, David Hume, offered that our knowledge was tainted by reason because only concrete reality could be trusted (cue Aristotle here).  This philosophy became known as Hume’s Fork.  He believed we must separate FACT and VALUE. That only FACT was reality. VALUE wasn’t to be trusted.

Allow me to invite you to do a little personal experiment.  Mentally–or better, on paper–draw a line down the middle of a page. Title the left column “FACT.” List a few items in reality below it. (i.e. earth, body, air, etc.).  Label the right-hand column “VALUES or ideas” and beneath that a few obvious items such as Santa Claus, the Tooth fairy, Nirvana, etc.   Now, with pen in hand, choose which column fits the following entries: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or the Bible. Unsettling, isn’t it, the effect ideas have had?

WE ARE ANIMALS, AFTER ALL. A hundred years more passed after Descartes, giving time for the world to develop the ideas that what mattered was reality and that the “myths” of religion held no value. A German boy named Charles lost his mother at the age of 8. She was a devout Christian. His father was religious but argued over doctrine. Young Charles was sent away to boarding school after his mother died. Disillusioned by religion, he chose to learn all he could about the world and how it worked. He wrote his ideas in a book called The Origin of Species where he supposed that all of life on earth had evolved from a single life form escaping from a primordial soup of chemicals, changing, adapting through time until every living thing we see today came to be. Darwin expected that more fossil finds would prove his theory by uncovering transitional creatures that existed between species.  It’s been over 150 years and there has been no verified, proven existence of even one; nevertheless,Darwin’s idea continues to be clung to in academia….in hope, I think, that it will be true that we don’t need God to provide our answers. Frankly, some don’t want to hear many of God’s answers.  After all (they say), as animals, we have no choice but to follow our instinctual inclinations in survival of the fittest, domination for success, satisfaction of all appetites, and consider all other animals as equal to ourselves. This leads to the acceptance of human abortion and the denunciation of hunting or consuming animals.

“WHATEVER….” Friedrich Nietzsche was fifteen years old when Charles Darwin died. He’d lost his dad at the age of 5 and his younger brother only six months later. Friends of his father paid for him to go to boarding school at the age of 10. However, Fredrick didn’t do well and stayed in trouble until graduation. College was different. He immersed himself in the writings of the ancients as well as his contemporaries, finally concluding that there was no hope for humanity because EVERYTHING was driven by a will to power. He declared that God is dead and there existed nothing other than what you could see or touch.  Man must either overcome his humanity or else become an apathetic creature who has no great passion or commitment, who is unable to dream, who merely earns his living and keeps warm. At the age of 44, Nietzsche collapsed into a state of insanity and was cared for by his aging mother, and after her death his sister. Nietzsche lived consistently with his beliefs.  He saw no hope for humanity, no reason for existence, and no desire to live. After his death, his sister published his works, adding her own perception of prevailing German politics, creating the doctrine that influenced a young boy named Adolf Hitler, only a toddler the day Frederick died. History would have been much kinder had Adolf and others–rather than subscribe to the teachings of this troubled thinker–chosen to follow the teachings of a Man whose life defined history with good and remains the centerpiece of time itself, Jesus Christ.

WHY IS ALL THIS IMPORTANT FOR US HERE?

BECAUSE IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES and, once their fruits are revealed, you can recognize the origin of many morally illogical ideas your children WILL BE introduced to. The idea that we are “born in the wrong body” stems from the idea that God isn’t real and the Bible isn’t trustworthy and personal feelings rule in all situations. The penchant for death pacts, the sense of hopelessness, the rise in violence in our children are the out-workings of Nietzsche’s disillusionment. His conclusion that all of reality is driven by the Will to Power feeds our current self-centered culture’s disgust for all things Christian, Democratic, American, or any call to excellence or moral discretion, declaring that it’s all just a play for power.

BECAUSE CHILDREN ARE BRILLIANT. They deserve to have discussions with you. At school, educators deem 5th graders competent to study pre-algebra, the periodic table, American History and the character of her citizens, and to consider the meaning of Anthropomorphism. They are capable of weightier discussions than we give them at home or even in Bible classes.

So learn with us. Then talk with your children and when they ask Why, tell them you’re glad they asked. Their question is important and you will find an answer.  Then search, ask, and learn and love your child enough to keep that promise.