Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To Nicholas and Other Boys With Questions (Part 1)

I have a friend who is asking me some questions that would be hard to answer at any age, only he is in elementary school. Here is my lousy attempt to explore answers without dumbing things down. (Borrowing from Lewis and Bonhoeffer in the process.)

Let me start by using a couple of examples to help me explain some of the problems we have thinking about God and the beginning of things.

I don’t know if your sister has ever had any paper dolls. You know the kind that are just drawn on paper and cut out. You can put paper clothes on them and stuff. Anyway, imagine that everybody was a paper doll, and we all just lived on a giant, flat sheet of paper. The whole world was just two dimensions. We had height and width but no depth. If no one had ever seen a third dimension, how would you explain three dimensions to anyone? How would anyone know what you were talking about? Someone would have to come from a three dimensional world to ours to even begin to explain it to us.

Now imagine that there was just one living person in the world. They never ever saw anyone or anything else being born or dying. How would they be able to understand the ideas of beginning or ending?

Those are the first problems we have as creatures understanding anything outside of or before or after creation. If there is a God, then He is so far above and beyond our understanding that the only way we could know what He is like would be for Him to tell us and even then it would be impossible for us to really grasp. But if He made everything that exists, then He must by definition be outside and beyond everything He has made.

At the same time, it is impossible for us to really understand the beginning of everything, because we are in the middle.

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