Mommy, If We Can’t See God, How Do We Even Know He Exists?

Mommy, How Do We Know God Exists?

As I’ve written about before, we have a family worship time each night before the kids go to bed. Lately, these worship times have not been meeting my standards, to say the least.

I don’t know what it is, but suddenly my soon-to-be 5-year-old twins find it necessary to stand on their heads and/or attempt handstands while my husband and I are offering what they should understand to be priceless spiritual wisdom.

I finally snapped a couple of nights ago.

“Guys, it’s not like God can’t see you right now. He sees you being disrespectful and not obeying your parents. He knows all you are doing and thinking.”

Well, that’s true, but I immediately felt lame for saying it. It made God sound like a cosmic policeman or Santa who “knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.”

The nature of my message visibly impacted Nathan. He slowly sat down, carefully pondering my creepy warning.

“Mommy, we can’t SEE God. How do you KNOW He is watching us?”

While Nathan’s question was specifically in response to the notion of God seeing us when we can’t see Him, it really pointed to a much larger question looming on the horizon: If we can’t see God, how do we even know He exists?

This question simply couldn’t be more important as a foundation for everything else in Christianity (or more well-timed for purposes of blog topics, given my recent posts on Apologetics).

A friend of mine who has an advanced degree in Apologetics mentioned to me once that one of the best things parents can start doing with small children is explicitly give them a worldview that reality doesn’t only encompass what we can see and touch (the physical world). For example, most everyone accepts the reality of things like emotions, beauty and thoughts, but they don’t physically exist.

What he said made sense to me at the time, but I didn’t have a full appreciation for how deeply important his insight was until I learned more about the current discussions on faith and science – discussions which are turning so many people away from Christianity.

In most scientific circles, it’s believed that science and religion are highly incompatible. Many, if not most, scientists believe that the scientific method is the only way to determine truth and the nature of reality. This is called “methodological naturalism.” It means that scientists search for natural causes of all natural phenomena and rule out supernatural causes (i.e., God), regardless of whether or not supernatural causes would best explain natural phenomena – such as the creation of mankind.

As my friend suggested, one key starting point for apologetics with kids of any age is to explicitly paint for them a worldview that reality encompasses more than the natural world explored by our senses. Here are two key components of that message, as summarized for my 5-year-olds:

 

1.    Just because you can’t see or (audibly) hear God doesn’t mean He isn’t real.

There are many things that are real that we can’t actually see. We can’t always see air, for example, but we know it’s real.

Discuss examples of things you and your kids can think of that you can’t see but know to be real. Key point: We can’t determine what is real simply by what we can immediately detect with our five senses. In order to find out if something is real, we need to look for “evidence” (clues).

 

2.    Although we can’t see or (audibly) hear God, we have much evidence of Him from what we CAN see.

While we can’t see the air around us, if you blow on my arm, I can feel the air. That is “evidence” (a clue) that air exists even when we can’t see it.

God never asks us to just guess that He exists! Even though we can’t see Him directly, He’s left us much evidence that we CAN see so we can know He’s real. For example, He’s left us clues in how he created our world, how we are all born with a sense of what is right and wrong, in miracles that Jesus did to prove He was God, and, most importantly, in bringing Jesus back to life after He died – something that hundreds of people got to see! Jesus’ life and resurrection were amazing “clues” God left us so we can know He’s real.

Discuss the clues God leaves us today when we have a relationship with Him. Give examples of how you’ve seen God work in your own life. 

In coming posts, I’ll elaborate on each of these two points to provide fuller conversation points for discussion.

Have you discussed the “evidence” for God with your kids? What kinds of evidence have you talked about?

Subscribe to the blog
Receive new posts via email!

Comments

  1. I think this is an important lesson. We did the activity with air – blowing on your arm or blowing up balloons and asking our kids to tell us if they could see the air inside the balloons. We got the idea from a Heritage Builders Book called “Simple Science”. They had this great tagline that went: Just like air, God is there. We’ve used that tagline a lot since and our kids know exactly what we’re getting at because the object lesson was so memorable.

  2. David Crain says:

    We can’t touch gravity, but we know it exists.

    And how about this: We can’t touch the Internet, but we are highly confident it exists. The Internet is a man-made digital protocol that rides on the electromagnetic spectrum. So, too, are radio broadcasts, television broadcasts. In other words, there is a a lot going on in this room that undeniably exists, but we can’t touch (or otherwise directly sense) any of it. Where do you think the spiritual world resides?

  3. This is awesome! My granddaughter is a bit young for this yet, but your examples here will make it so much easier to teach her about the reality of God and to understand what it means to have faith.
    Blessings!

  4. TandBmommy says:

    I like to use wind as an example of something that is very real and very powerful, even though we cannot see it. We can see its effects as well as feel them. It can be very powerful, as well as gentle and mild. I also like to use love as an example. How do they know that I love them, even though my love is not something they can see?

  5. This is a great, very timely post! My three and four year olds have been asking me ‘where is God’ almost every morning for the past couple of weeks. The questions are getting more and more frequent (and complex) as the days go by! I have been stumped trying to provide an easy to understand, age-appropriate explanation of ‘knowing without seeing’ but your friend did a great job!
    It’s a wonderful blessing that our children thirst to know and see God at such young ages!! Now we just have the (fortunate) responsibility of empowering them with the right tools! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and ideas!

  6. Joe Bigliogo says:

    Science provides ways to demonstrate the reality of things we can’t see or touch or sense by testing. This allows intangible things to impact the tangible world and show up repeatably when so tested.
    This cannot be said for god claims which are only speculations we create in the absence of actual answers. A God theory by itself has no explanatory power. It answers nothing and explains nothing. The hows, the whys, the mechanisms and models are absent from any God theory. “God” is the equivalent of saying “it’s magic” because both leave you just as uninformed and without understanding. God is used as substitute for every mystery or questions we haven’t yet discovered answers to. That my friends is a cop out and it’s anathema to rational, inquiring minds.

    • Hi Joe – Actually, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Take a look at my post from today about the Cosmological argument for God’s existence (top post on my blog) – that’s just one example of scientific and philosophical rationale for God’s existence outside of personal experience or the Bible (and how God can actually be the best hypothesis for a set of scientific facts). I totally agree with you that some Christians appeal to God for the gaps in understanding – but many times Christians (unfortunately) are not well versed in the reasons for their own beliefs. That’s why I’m starting a series on 65 questions Christian parents need to be able to answer. I want to help equip Christians to better understand and articulate the extremely rational and reasonable faith of Christianity. If you are genuinely seeking answers, I would highly recommend that you read Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace as a start. I’d be curious to hear what you think of it. Here’s why.

      It’s important to understand the difference between operational and historical science. You are only referencing the operational category – things that can be currently tested because they are ongoing. But historical science deals with past singularities. Archaeology, geology, biology, astronomy, cosmology, philology and history itself utilize completely different scientific methods than the repeatable operational science you reference. It’s more like detective work, using “inference to the best possible explanation”. Wallace’s book uses his experience as a homicide detective to examine the possibility of the resurrection based on these methods. I highly recommend you give it a read. Here is his blog: http://coldcasechristianity.com/

      • Joe Bigliogo says:

        At no point did I contend that science precludes us from predicting past (historical) events. Indeed a vast body of scientific knowledge tells us things that happened long before we inhabited this mortal coil. It’s only by evidence observable in the present that we can reliably know the past, detective work as you rightly point out.
        Examples:
        We can trace the extremely slow orbit of Pluto long before we existed by observing it’s movement in the present. The “big bang” (expansion from a point) 14.3 billion years ago is predictable by cosmic back ground radiation and by the current state of expansion of the universe along with a lot of complex math. We also know and can test for (with a repeatable degree of accuracy) the approximate age of the earth and the moon by examining mountains of evidence both here and in space. Same holds true for evolution of species. To that extent we are in solid agreement regarding historical predictability working hand in hand with the scientific method.
        Where I differ with you is your assertion that God belief is anything but one of many speculations for the origin of the universe. If a deity were the most viable and plausible explanation (assuming one can call it an explanation) you would find it forefront among cosmologists and astrophysicists. Unfortunately it is not; indeed a solid majority of scientists who study the cosmological sciences at a level vastly exceeding what you and I understand do NOT come to this conclusion. A quick analysis of the religious beliefs of high level scientists in the Academy of Sciences will reveal the clear majority of them are atheists, some are deists and very few are Christian.
        While the present state of cosmology doesn’t preclude the existence of God, neither does it confirm it. In fact one of the best thinkers in this field, Stephen Hawking wrote, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
        What you are doing by riding the coat tails of sciences you know little about to support a personal god belief is akin to what Deepak Chopra does when he hijacks quantum theory to support his holistic, New Age mysticism. It may sound impressive to the innocent and uninformed but it is quite “nonsensical” (their term) to the majority of men and women who conscientiously dedicate themselves to these fields of study.
        Theism starts with an assumed conclusion and then looks to the sciences to try and reinforce it in any way possible. But this is not the way science is supposed to work. Above all science strives to be honest and impartial; bias confirmation will only corrupt it to it’s core. There is a great deal we don’t know about the the universe. The only intellectually honest answer for what we don’t know is… “we don’t know”. And that is

        • I am willing to have a civil conversation, and actually agree with much you started to write – but please do not accuse me of “riding the coat tails of sciences I know little about.” I never claimed to be a scientist or an expert, just you are not claiming that (I presume) for yourself. Unless you personally are an expert in these areas, then you are doing the same thing you are accusing me of. We are both referencing our knowledge of science as learned from those who ARE experts. If that’s riding the coat tails, then you are too. (I don’t believe that’s a legitimate argument, I’m only using your own argument.)

          I’m also not trying to impress anyone. I am a blogger who is a voracious reader on these topics and am writing them in a way that makes it easy for others to understand. I am not here to argue with anyone, but am willing to have civil conversations with those genuinely interested in discussing reasons for belief.

          Lastly, your statement that theism starts with an assumed conclusion and then looks to the sciences to reinforce it is pretty ironic. Philosophical naturalism (starting from the assumption there is no God) underlies everything you are saying. Once more, what you are accusing theists of is the same as what you are doing. Also, most atheists seem to think Christians avoid science with eyes shut tight – I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say we look to science to reinforce it! There are things science and faith overlap on and things there aren’t. It’s not a black and white proposition. Where they do overlap, I’m fascinated and read endlessly. In some cases, I think atheists have good cases. In others, I think their case is merely an example of naturalism (the presupposition that there is no God). I enjoy the arguments from all ends. But looking at the collective evidence, I am a believer.

          Thanks for your comment. If you ever decide to check out Wallace’s book, let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Speak Your Mind

*