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Resources for 13-year-old Son Questioning the Existence of God


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#1 ChristyK

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 02:33 PM

Hello friends,

 

Despite our faithful home life, my 13 year old thinker child (ENTP personality) has been questioning the existence of God.  Do any of you have a recommendation for good resources for my son to read through and discuss with my husband (my husband is happy to teach the materials/book too)?  He thinks philosophically at a collegiate level but has the emotional maturity of a 5th grader. 

 

Thank you so very much!

 

Pax Christi,

Christy



#2 Rosie

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 04:59 PM

Letters from a Skeptic by Greg Boyd is excellent. Also, Benefit of the Doubt by the same author.

 

http://www.reasonablefaith.org

 

(I'm walking out the door. I'll try to post a few more resources later.)



#3 Evanthe

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 05:07 PM

The only two that come to my mind right now are Case for Christ (there's a kids version also) by Lee Strobel and Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.    

 

Starting at age 13, my kids read through the entire Bible.  That is the best thing we've ever done.  My kids know more about the Bible than I did even as an adult.  I've heard my son debating our pastor in a class (who has a Master's in Theology) and I was blown away.  All of my kids believe in Christ, but they have different ideas about interpretations (which is totally fine for me - I want them to have their own opinions also).  I think what I'm trying to say is...we got so much out of just reading the Bible and discussing it daily. 


Edited by Evanthe, 13 April 2017 - 05:09 PM.

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#4 JudoMom

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 05:11 PM

I'd go with Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.  


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#5 MerryAtHope

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 06:07 PM

Praying for your son. Lots of great resources mentioned here so I just wanted to add that I think it's good to let kids know it's okay to have questions. Sometimes it's pretty scary to them that they might doubt, and it can help if the adults are pretty even-keel about it (even if we might be freaking out a bit on the inside!) Going through these times of questioning can make their faith stronger for when they hit hard times in life.


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#6 justasque

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 06:34 PM

We actually had a good discussion about this just this past January (and I think a much longer one a while before that one).  
Here's a link to the January one, where many resources and thoughts were shared.  That might add to whatever is shared in this thread.

 



#7 Rosie

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 08:03 PM

Here are some more suggestions. They aren't books, but maybe you'll still find them useful....

 

Tim Keller "The Reason for God"

 

Os Guiness "The Journey: A Thinking Person's Quest for Meaning"

 

Bishop Barron "Scientism and God's Existence"

 

Bruxy Cavey "The God Debate" (Don't skip the Drive Home segments)

 

I agree with Merry that it will help for you to not convey fear about questions and doubts. What has helped me the most over the years was to know that there are very smart people who have thought about the same questions that I have and remained (or became) Christians. The people listed above are a few. Others that have been influential for me are N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, John Walton, Richard Foster. To read/hear other people's reasoning helped me to stop thinking that Christianity was only for the masses who were willing to be blind followers and didn't want to struggle through the difficult questions. Maybe the most helpful thing was to have a real person in my life (my counselor) who wasn't afraid of my thoughts and encouraged me to read other perspectives and was willing to go back and forth with me over the issues I was struggling with. No condemnation and no fear.

 


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#8 lamppost

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 08:39 PM

Here's a couple of books that he might find interesting:

https://www.amazon.c...f another world


https://www.amazon.c...g=UTF8&qid=&sr=

That last one is by a guy nicknamed Science Mike who has podcasts and a blog as well.


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#9 ChristyK

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 10:08 AM

You ladies are fabulous!  Thank you for taking the time to help me out! 

 

My son was made to question and seek; people at some time need to be born of the spirit and "own" their faith, so I get it but am amazed he is at this level so young.  For me it was college in my philosophy/religious studies and just looking at my very intelligent father wondering how he could possibly believe in God.  I welcome his questions and want him to wrestle with them and never be a follower of ignorance.  We began daily Bible readings at age 5, and from his classical education, he has been steeped in the Word.  Now, he is in public school for junior high for various reasons, and the secular humanism view is looking good.  My spiritual gift is zeal; my husband's knowledge, so we are thinkers of the faith too.  I have been calm about it too with him and let him clearly know that we want to help him through his questions; that's why I am here. :)  His temperament/personality will make for him to be an out-of-the-mainstream Catholic, but I fully embrace that and know that if St. Monica could faithfully pray for her wayward son for years while he worked things out, I certainly can too.  I talked with him generally of the 5 Proofs for the Existence of God from Aquinas; he is wanting more than that (more than necessity of a Prime Mover), so we may share excerpts of Summa along with your other suggestions.  Is there a study guide to the Summa you have used?



#10 forty-two

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 10:09 AM

Hello friends,

 

Despite our faithful home life, my 13 year old thinker child (ENTP personality) has been questioning the existence of God.  Do any of you have a recommendation for good resources for my son to read through and discuss with my husband (my husband is happy to teach the materials/book too)?  He thinks philosophically at a collegiate level but has the emotional maturity of a 5th grader. 

 

Thank you so very much!

 

Pax Christi,

Christy

 

One book I've read that has helped me is "How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor", by James K. A. Smith.  It's an accessible introduction to Charles Taylor's "A Secular Age", which addresses the question of why it was that in 1500 Christendom it was almost impossible *to* doubt God's existence, but now in the 21st century West, it's nearly impossible to imagine *not* doubting God's existence - that in 1500 Christendom, God's existence was mostly unquestioned, while now God's functional absence is now the default assumption - and how that change in assumptions has changed the nature of belief.  It's very helpful wrt uncovering a lot of secularizing assumptions that even most believers assume, that change and undermine their beliefs - so that you can examine those assumptions and see if you really *do* believe they are true.

 

It's best paired with a book that discusses the faith from a non-modern-secular viewpoint - so that once you've become aware of your secular blind spots and that they materially affect how you live your faith, you can learn about the faith from an alternate, non-secularly-influenced viewpoint.  Ideally this means reading old books (just like C.S. Lewis advocated) - reading the Church Fathers, or the Reformers themselves (and not just their contemporary interpreters).  (I used Smith's book combined with Taylor's actual book, with all its extra words ;), to try to be able to understand the medieval Catholic assumptions well enough to be able to read my tradition's confessional documents (Book of Concord) with *those* more-historically-accurate assumptions instead of importing my modern secular ones.)  It can also include reading contemporary books by people who have explicitly worked to divest themselves of their secular blinders.  C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" would be a great one for that - it's not quite contemporary with us (so provides a different POV in that sense), plus Lewis was a medieval scholar who was well aware of, and critical of, the impact of modernity.  And wrt a good old book, C.S. Lewis' bit on reading old books that I linked above was as an intro to St. Athanasius' "On the Incarnation", and that would be an excellent book to read.
 


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#11 madteaparty

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 11:20 AM

I'm agnostic, and my own thirteen year old is currently vehemently atheist (thanks, evangelizing fellow students in online classes) but the most coherent case for Christianity, to me, is found in CS Lewis's work.
As a mother, I'd also tell you not to worry. I was raised atheist, and despite a fundamentalist Christian phase in my youth, I've returned to holding almost exactly the same views as my parents ;)

Edited by madteaparty, 14 April 2017 - 11:22 AM.

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#12 texasmom33

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Posted 16 April 2017 - 01:19 PM

You ladies are fabulous!  Thank you for taking the time to help me out! 

 

My son was made to question and seek; people at some time need to be born of the spirit and "own" their faith, so I get it but am amazed he is at this level so young.  For me it was college in my philosophy/religious studies and just looking at my very intelligent father wondering how he could possibly believe in God.  I welcome his questions and want him to wrestle with them and never be a follower of ignorance.  We began daily Bible readings at age 5, and from his classical education, he has been steeped in the Word.  Now, he is in public school for junior high for various reasons, and the secular humanism view is looking good.  My spiritual gift is zeal; my husband's knowledge, so we are thinkers of the faith too.  I have been calm about it too with him and let him clearly know that we want to help him through his questions; that's why I am here. :)  His temperament/personality will make for him to be an out-of-the-mainstream Catholic, but I fully embrace that and know that if St. Monica could faithfully pray for her wayward son for years while he worked things out, I certainly can too.  I talked with him generally of the 5 Proofs for the Existence of God from Aquinas; he is wanting more than that (more than necessity of a Prime Mover), so we may share excerpts of Summa along with your other suggestions.  Is there a study guide to the Summa you have used?

 

I don't have any suggestions to add, but wanted to say that you aren't the only one going through this and the bolded is an absolutely wonderful view to embrace during this time. I've got a questioner myself who can spout CS Lewis and the Bible.....but she has a LOT of questions. At this point all we can do is keep praying and lead as an example. 



#13 strawberryjam

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 07:14 PM

These might be above his level, but you can try:

 

"Simply Christian" by NT Wright (or anything and everything by NT Wright... people call him a modern day C.S. Lewis and he's considered one of the top Biblical scholars alive today)

"Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith" by Francis Collins

"The Language of God" by Francis Collins (especially if he's sciencey)


Edited by strawberryjam, 26 April 2017 - 07:18 PM.


#14 Saddlemomma

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 08:33 PM

Try the resources at Stand to Reason (str.org). This is a classical Christian apologetics site founded by Greg Koukl. He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Theology. He also has several books available on Amazon. His podcasts helped me greatly during a particularly rough patch in my life.

#15 kristamaranatha

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 04:05 PM

Ravi Zacharias's ASK curriculum

 

On Guard by William Lane Craig

 

More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell

 

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

 

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

 

I am partial to More Than a Carpenter and The Case for Christ because these two books played a huge role in me coming to faith in my late teens. Ravi Zacharias' Let My People Think podcasts grew my love for apologetics more than any other resource. Also pray hard! This is a spiritual battle more than it is intellectual. And, be gentle and open rather not harsh and defensive when answering his questions. 1 Peter 3:15-16. I am a Christian not because of some blind faith, but because God reached into my life and touch it. This is only possible because God is real and Christianity is true, and I assure you it can be shown to be so. Faith and reason are not enemies. God has called us to love him with all of our minds. Be encouraged!


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