My Son, the Atheist (by Christian Piatt)
I could tell when I was putting Mattias, who is seven, to bed the other night that I was about to get handed more than the typical bedtime conversation. He had that look on his face like he was about to fire me. For a second, I actually was worried that I was in trouble.
Then I remembered; I’m the dad. Right.
“Dad,” he said, not looking up at me, “I’m not sure I believe this whole thing about God making everything in the universe.”
“Okay,” I said, “what are you not sure about?”
“Well, it just doesn’t make sense to me that this guy was sitting up there somewhere and just decided to make a universe all of a sudden.”
“I get that,” I said. “I would have a hard time with that idea too.”
“What do you mean, dad?”
“Some people picture God as this sort of giant person sitting on a throne in the sky, but that image just doesn’t work for me.”
“Me either,” he said. “I mean, there’s not even any oxygen up there. Why would a person live up there with no air?’
“For me,” I said, “God is less person-like and more like a source. Like a place where all the energy and matter and love we ever need comes from.”
“A source?” He looked confused.
“Have you talked at all about the Big Bang in school?’ I asked.
“Sort of,” he said.
“Well,” I said, “a lot of people believe that a really long time ago, everything in the universe was squished down into this one tiny, super-hot, super sense spot. Then, for a reason no one really understands, everything just burst out, kind of like a flower popping up out of a tiny seed, and that’s when everything got started.”
“Huh,” he studied the floor. “So where did all the stuff come from? And what made it all pop out and become the universe?”
“You answer that,” I said, “and you’ll be set for life. But for me, that’s where I see God.”
We agreed to hit the library for some books on the Big Bang. I’m less concerned about giving him water-tight answers than I am going along with him as we follow this mystery down the rabbit hole together. For me, that’s the stuff that life is made of.
Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician and spoken word artist. He co-founded Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, in 2004. Christian is the creator and editor of the Banned Questions book series, which include Banned Questions About the Bible and Banned Questions About Jesus. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called Pregmancy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date. For more information about Christian, visit www.christianpiatt.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook.