My daughter asked me to have a talk with my grandson (eleven and counting) about the Big Bang Theory and God. (No, not the TV show.)
He is being homeschooled, and his most recent science studies have included a viewing of the reboot of Cosmos. (I should have picked something better, but that’s another story. IMHO, Neil de Grasse Tyson is a smart astrophysicist and excellent science popularizer. He unfortunately tends to confuse his area of expertise, and makes pronouncements regarding metaphysics, general philosophy, and theology of a generic Fundamentalist Christian strawman variety. He is frequently out of his depth and wrong when he so comments, but to be perfectly fair, so was Carl Sagan.)
So, yesterday, at my daughter’s house, I handed my grandson a crumpled up piece of blank paper.
I told him to smooth it out as best he could.
Then, I instructed him to draw some stars on it. Then the Sun, then a planet, Earth by choice. Then he drew some stick people.
Then I asked him to find himself on the paper. He said, “Grandpa, I am not on the paper, I am right here.”
I said, “Yes, you are. But if those stick men on the paper were alive, how would THEY know where you were? All they know is what is on the paper.” I asked him, if all the stick people knew was what was on the paper, how would he let them know he existed? He was looking thoughtful at this point.
So I took a crayon, and wrote on the paper (universe), “I AM”. If the stick people could read that, wouldn’t they be puzzled? He agreed. I asked if that was anything like the Bible? And to go one better, how would he put himself in the paper universe? He was pondering that one.
He looked very confused. As I had intended.
I then asked him to consider this. When he unfolded the paper, it was like the Big Bang. When he drew the stars, the Sun, the planet, and the people, it was like God doing all those things. The stick people in the paper universe could tell there were creases on the paper, just like we can detect the cosmic background radiation. And that is as far as our science can take us.
I then let him know that the major differences between what we had done and the world we live in was that God had not just unfolded the paper (universe), he had created it also, and the crayons, and the things God “drew” on the universe were alive and not just some picture.
I think he got it. At least, he nodded and looked as if he did.
Now, if only I understood it.