How My Six Year Old Boy Debunked Intelligent Design

I was attempting to explain to my son, Brance, who just turned six two weeks ago, why it was better to refrain from saying “Oh God!” especially around his grandparents. He didn’t understand why it was such a big deal to them and asked if “God” was a bad word.

This caught me off guard a bit. I had no reason to think that he should have known what or who God was. I half suspected that either the Mormon or Catholic set of grandparents had tried to explain it to him already. By the time I was his age I could tell you who God was and recite most of the common Bible stories chronologically. That’s what threw me off; he was never going to have to struggle with his faith and go through the anguish and torment that I did.

I had been spending so much time teaching him about evolution by natural selection that I forgot to tell him the lie he would be confronted with someday. Just a few weeks ago I had asked him what evolution was. He responded by saying, “It’s a gradual change in species that happens slowly over really long periods of time.” I couldn’t hope for a better answer from him. Talk about a proud poppa moment; almost made me cry.

I decided that it was time that he heard the creation story that I grew up with. I hopped on the internet and googled “childrens creation story.” In .2 seconds I was greeted with 2,230,000 results to choose from. I chose the top one from dltk-Bible.com. As soon as I got to “Let there be light,” he started giggling. By the time I got to the morning of the third day he was laughing quite a bit.

I read on, “So, he put all the water in one place and all the dry land in another.” He stopped laughing instantly so I asked him, “What?”

“Why do we have to save water then? Wouldn’t God make enough for everybody?” he asked. I smiled and nodded just a bit before reading on.

After I finished reading about the third day he was beginning to catch on. “So God made everything?” he asked.

“Well that’s what some people believe,” I stated, “but I don’t think so.” This sent him into hysterics.

“He made South America!” I wasn’t sure why this was so funny to him but he continued to laugh and list the things that God had “made.” Squirrels, Dr. Seuss, and cat butts had him laughing especially hard. “Doesn’t he have any brains? Cause he made some weird stuff in this world.” A six year old debunks Intelligent Design with a simple observational idea that ID proponents can’t even grasp. That had me chuckling for a moment before I read on.

When I told him about the creation of the sun on the fourth day he became serious again. He wrinkled up one eye and stated matter-of-factly, “Light has to be from the sun.” And I thought I was the only one in the room that would have a problem with light being created three days before the sun. My six year old was quickly demonstrating that he was a better critical thinker than people who believe the creation story.

“Then he made the stars to add a bit of sparkle to the night,” I read. Again the skeptical look so I waited for his comment.

“The sun is a star.” He seemed to be getting annoyed with the story now. He remained quiet as I finished through the fifth day. “Why did he make sharks?” He seemed repulsed by this idea. “And why did he even make the fish if the sharks are just going to eat them?” I laughed aloud but decided not to give him my opinion as he clearly was about to spout off another question. “How did they turn into octopuses?” - Brilliant. He had caught the fact that the bible considers everything in the ocean to be a fish and says nothing about the other phyla or classes. “Platypus, too?” He laughed hysterically when I nodded confirmation.

At this point he said, as he was running up the stairs and laughing through his words, that he had to get his animal books to see what other absurd creations God made. We read about some animals for a while before recapping and completing the Genesis story. When it was finally over he asked, “So he’s like a big daddy and we’re his children?” I mused at this observation for a moment before replying.

“A lot of people think that,” I said.

“So where’s our momma?”

“There is no momma in this story.”

“So we came out of his stomach?” I laughed again and shook my head. I could see that I was going to have to tell him the story of Adam and Eve.

After telling him that God breathed life into Adam I could see the skeptical look appear on his little face again so I waited. He clearly didn’t believe that Adam was made from molded clay but asked if he breathed life into all animals.

“No, Buddy, just Adam.”

“Not even us?”

“No,” I said.

“That’s stupid; only Adam. Why not us too? He hates us doesn’t he?” I just laughed at this query as I really didn’t feel like telling the snake and apple part of the story at this point. I continued on with the rib story. He winced and a pained look came over his face as he asked, “Ooh! Did he die?”

I chuckled once more and decided to end this conversation but he went into another rant on all the other things that God created. When he said, “And Uncle Dray, too, and the bad guys that shoot at him,” he stopped and shook his head. “Why would he create bad guy shooters?” He saw the absurdity of God allowing this. I didn’t answer (I don’t know, of course) but asked another question instead:

“So do you think this could have happened?”

“Yeah, I believe it now; I believe him,” he said, sort of reluctantly.

“Why?” I asked.

“Cause he’s such an idiot that he had to be the one that made all this killing and stuff.” I’ve never heard that one before! He decided he’d had enough of this conversation and wanted to go watch a movie upstairs. As he walked away he said, “That was a funny story though; made me laugh about four thousand times!”

Just a few moments later he returned from the stairwell and asked, “Wait; Is God invisible?” Again I chuckled and nodded. “That’s dumb. Why wouldn’t he show himself to us?” I shrugged my shoulders.

Why wouldn’t he, indeed?

We talked about the story of our beginnings that science has helped us put together for a while but he quickly became bored with this topic. Invisible sky daddies are more entertaining. He did laugh at the idea of the universe being so small at one point. I think he’s skeptical of that but he had some interesting questions about gasses and energy and what the earth was made of and how it got “painted.” After answering his questions he volunteered the following observation:

“I think the scientists are correct and the other guy sounds crazy. I think I want to be a scientist when I grow up and study water, animals, and space.” What an amusing array of choices. I had to inquire about them. “I want to find out where the water came from, for real, and dig up animal bones and put them together.”

“What about space?”

“I want to go there…”

©

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Comment by Alan Perlman on August 11, 2013 at 2:58pm

Religion is so transparently stupid that even a preadolescent (BEFORE being taught all the rationalizations by the clerics) can pick it apart. 

We are doing much the same thing with Zach, my stepson (age 8).  On Sundays when we have him, we have Bible study, or "anti-church," as we call it.  He was particularly impressed by the gruesome, impossible Noah story (two of EVERY insect??  And won't some animals eat the others?), the insane Binding of Isaac, and the harsh penalties (death by stoning) for just about every infraction.

I can't say it often enough: the sickening truth about the Bible is obvious to a child, until and unless it's whitewashed by clerics who are invested in propagating the lies.

Comment by Nontheist Central on March 27, 2012 at 10:05am

I loved reading this.  I've be an Atheist for less than a year and have an 8-year-old daughter who proclaimed her Atheism a couple of days ago because she found out that Carl Sagan was an Atheist.  I tried to explain the Adam and Eve story to her and I got the most quizzical look I think she's ever given me.  She said "That's crazy!"  Fortunately, I've always been a natural history geek and we have tons of stuff by Sagan, Hawking, Roberts, Attenborough etc.  She loves watching them and has learned so much.  We also talk about science a great deal and she's never really learned anything about the bible other than what's in Veggie Tales.  Thankfully, I didn't spend any time indoctrinating her.  Raising kids as an Atheist feels different...

Comment by Bryanderthal on February 10, 2012 at 3:48pm

Thanks Ruth! I have to admit I was impressed with that part.

It's been a few days short two years since I posted the article above. Brance turned 8 about 2 weeks ago and I've been homeschooling him now for 3 months as his school here in Sacramento just flat out sucks. Our plan is to educate him here until 7th grade when he will be eligible to enter the science and engineering school here. He was so excited to turn 8 so that he would be able to go to Camp Quest West this year! At family or friendly functions he continues to leave raised eyebrows and confused looks on the faces of adults that don't know him and I bask in every minute of it. This community has been so helpful and supportive of us and we are truly grateful. Brance says, "Thank you all very much and I'm happy that you like my story!"

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on January 12, 2012 at 9:37pm

An impressive boy. I especially liked the part about light being created three days before the sun.

Comment by Kris King on September 5, 2011 at 5:40am
Absolutely love it ... makes me wish I had kids :)  Will have to settle instead for the vicarious joy I can obtain through my nephew ...
Comment by amanda alexander on June 18, 2011 at 12:07pm
This is actually very entertaining and a good way to help you realize that without indoctrination any logical thinking person be it child or not will laugh off the story as what it is, a fairy tale.
Comment by Bryanderthal on May 13, 2011 at 2:22pm

Thanks Kimberlee! It's not hard. Just let them ask as many questions as they want and answer them as best you can. Try to let them draw their own conclusions as often as possible and counter their findings with questions that will get them to think in a critical and logical manner.

It also helps if you quit your job so you can spend as much time as possible countering all the crap they are going to learn at school, especially from their friends. Take them to museums and on nature walks so they can see processes and evidence first hand. Watching documentaries with them helps as well. Be sure to read as many books on biology, paleontology, geology, astronomy, cosmology, physics, history, theology, skepticism, paleoanthropology, politics, economics, religion, ecology, linguistics, and neuroscience as you can so you can answer their questions yourself. They trust no one more than you. A little philosophy might help, too.

Make sure to take time to explain to your religious relatives, as kindly as possible so as not to offend, that your kid is not to be indoctrinated but rather to think for themselves. This may cause waves but you should be prepared to ride them out for the sake of your child's intellect.

The most important thing of all, in my humble opinion, is to have as much fun with them as is physically possible and love them as hard as you can.

I'm sure I missed a million things but do not be discouraged; it comes naturally and the fact that you're here means you already have an edge!

 

Comment by Kimberlee Williams on May 12, 2011 at 8:07pm

I love this and can only hope that I will be this good at it when I become a parent

 

Comment by Havelock Thompson on April 14, 2011 at 2:25pm
I really like this. I would like your permission to use it at a reading at the Unitarian "church".
Comment by Bryanderthal on March 8, 2011 at 2:00pm

Zavier; Wait.

 

Sorry, but that's about as good as it gets! Try reading "Raising Freethinkers". You can also check out this group; Parenting Little Heathens. Hope that helps!

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