Sitting around the dinner table, my young son asked me a seemingly simple question, “How can I know that God exists?” He wasn’t asking about prayer or the Bible, but about logic. Why does our belief in God make sense?
This was one of those rare parenting instances when I knew I was in a pivotal moment. How I answered his question mattered. But we’ll get to the response in a minute. First, it’s worth noting that he was asking this big question at an early age – and he’s not alone. Many Catholic kids, even devout kids who have a thriving relationship with Jesus, wonder if the faith really “makes sense”. And indeed, a recent CARA study finds that 63% of fallen away Catholics lose their faith between the ages of 10 and 17. Another 23% do so before the age of 10. The study also revealed that many of these former Catholics find the faith “incompatible with what they are learning in high school or at the university level.”
You and I know that our faith is eminently reasonable. After all, God created the universe, including logic! As Saint Pope John Paul said, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” And in general, many Catholic parents do a great job passing on the beauty of our Catholic faith – but what about why that beautiful faith is true?
5 Things Parents Can Do To Witness The Truth Of The Catholic Faith
In an increasingly pluralistic society, your kids may (as the CARA study suggests) have questions at an earlier age. Here’s just a few suggestions for how to witness to the truth of the faith:
- Encourage Questions: Our faith can stand up against the most challenging questions. If your kids are wondering about the big things (Is there a God? Is Jesus really the Son of God? How can the Eucharist possibly be the Body and Blood of Jesus), that’s a great sign of a kid who is in the early stages of seeking truth!
- Listen: Give your kids a chance to really express their questions so you can understand what it is they are asking. In addition, don’t assume that their questions are coming from a lack of faith. Inquisitiveness is how we learn.
- Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer: This is a great opportunity to look into the answers together!
- Learn: The Catechism has many important answers about why we believe what we believe. If the Catechism itself is daunting, there are some great resources out there about the Catechism, like the Catechism in a Year podcast.
- Invite them to keep seeking: Consider getting your kids a book about the faith and reading it with them. My new book Detective Thomas and the Biggest Question tackles the question “How can we know God exists?” question in a way that guides kids not just to an answer, but also to how to think about these sorts of questions.
Back to my dinner table. I have to admit that at first I wanted to freak out a little. My second grader was already doubting God??? When I took a deep breath, I realized that wasn’t what he was doing. He just was using his growing mind to better understand the faith. Together, his Dad and I asked him some questions in return. “If every living creature is born from another living creature, where did the first creature come from?” “If the world came from the Big Bang, where did the Big Bang come from?” We were amazed that he could grasp what we were asking and work through these sorts of questions with us.
Your kids can too! The wonderful thing about our faith is that it isn’t just plausible, it is the most reasonable thing we can possibly believe. Start that journey of inquiry early and delve into it often. You won’t be disappointed!