Does God exist? A Socratic dialogue with a 9 year old girl


I(Interviewer): Does God exist?cute_little_baby_girl-wide
G(girl): Exists.
I: How do you know that God exists? Have you seen God?
G: No.
I: Then how do you say that God exists?
I: Ok, first introduce yourself. How old are you?
G: 9
I: 9 years? Ok. And you say that God exists. How do you say that God exists? Have you seen God?
G: I don’t want to play this game!
I: Hey! This is not a game. This is an interview! I’m interviewing you!
G: They’ve not taught us about all this.
I: lol. You just try thinking for yourself. What is God? When and where did you first hear about God?
G: When I was 4 years old, I heard about God.
I (astonished): You heard about God when you were 4 years old?
G: Yup.
I: Who told you about God?
G: Mom and Dad.
I: Ok. Is there only one God or are there many Gods?
G: There are many Gods.
I: Ok. Name some Gods.
G: Goddess Durga, Mother Kali, God Shiva, Sun God, hmm… that’s all.
I: Ok, you said even the Sun is God…
G: Yes.
I: So is the Moon also God?
G(after pondering for a while): Hmm, yes.
I: Ok, then is the Earth also God?
G: Yes.
I: Ok, so are the stars in the sky also Gods?
G: No.
I: Why are the stars not Gods? The Sun is God, the Moon is God, the Earth is God, so why are the stars not Gods?
G: Ask God why stars are not Gods! Hahaha! Stars are not Gods because they are visible to us.
I: Stars are visible to us, so they are not Gods? But then, the Moon is also visible to us, the Sun is also visible to us.
G: The stars are ALWAYS visible to us. But the Moon is not visible sometimes!
I: Stars are visible all the time? Are the stars visible during the day?
G: No.
I: Ah! Then!?
G: During the day, only the Sun is visible.
I: Ok. You’re saying that stars are always visible. But whenever the stars are visible, isn’t the Moon also visible?
G: The Moon is visible only sometimes. It is not visible during New Moon!
I: Wow! So you’ve studied about the New Moon too?
G: Yup! It was in our science course.
I: Oh! You had it in your science course? Ok, what is Full Moon?
G: Full Moon means ‘complete’ moon.
I: Ok, so during New Moon when the Moon is not visible, what happens to it? Does it disappear from the sky?
G: Nope!
I: Ok, then why is not visible?
G: Because it is new and it is full, but it is not visible.
I: Why is it not visible?
G: I don’t know. Sorry.
I: Have you ever wondered why it is not visible? Few days back it was visible, then as the days went by, it became smaller and then suddenly on New Moon day, it was not visible at all! Have you wondered why this happens?
G: Because it is becoming smaller and smaller and then it becomes invisible.

Then I explained to her how the different phases of the Moon are caused and also about the Lunar Eclipse.

I: Ok, how many stars are there in the sky?
G: The same as the number of hair on our head.
I: Ok, how many hair are there on your head?
G: There are many!
I: Ok, so are there as many stars as there are hair on grandpa’s head? (grandpa is bald).
G: No.
I: But just now you said that there are as many stars in the sky as there are hair on our head. So each person has different number of hair on his/her head? So how many stars are there in the sky?
G: Everyone has the same number of hair!
I: What? Count and check! You have a certain number of hair, I have a certain number of hair, but doesn’t grandpa have much lesser hair?
G: I also know what happens when you put a piece of paper in blue ink and then let it dry!
I: What happens?
G: It becomes carbon paper!

She lost interest in the previous conversation and sidetracked into a discussion about carbon paper (it is used to make a copy of whatever we write). She wanted to show off that she knows some thing! Of course her assumption that a carbon paper can be created by dipping a sheet of paper in blue ink is incorrect. When I asked her to test this assumption, she said that there is no ink in her school. Later, I encouraged her to try the experiment and find out the truth for herself.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue my discussion with Nandini (my 9 year old cousin).

Here are my observations based on my discussion with her:
1. Children have a normal reasoning ability, just like adults. It can be honed and improved by constant practice.
2. There is no limitation on the concepts that can be taught to a kid provided we introduce the concepts based on the kid’s existing knowledge.
3. Children can giving surprising answers when they are asked very deep and thought provoking questions typically meant for adults.
4. Children can have many misconceptions in their understanding of the world and its phenomena. We need to explore their understanding by socratic dialogue and remove these misconceptions after identifying them.
5. While having such socratic dialogues, make sure that the child answers most of the questions correctly, and give ample encouragement and appreciation to keep him/her interested in the conversation.


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