Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tim LeBon featured in Times on Saturday 11th October

Tim LeBon was featured in Emma Cook's "Ask your Father" column giving advice about how to answer tricky children's questions about religion.

Ask your father: Does God have a mummy?

Expert advice on what to do when your child asks... Does God have a mummy? Charlotte, 6

Typically this is a rather female question - at age 6 Charlotte will be much more engrossed than her younger brother in the physicality of human relationships; who's related to whom, and who's tummy we sprang from.

So it is logical that she wants to know who is mummy to the biggest daddy of them all, not that there are any logical answers. "In a straightforward way you could say that God is seen as the source of absolutely everything. God doesn't need a mummy or daddy because He isn't human - He doesn't get older and He's never been a child, but He is like a father to us. There's not a lot more you can say," says Dr Mike Higton, a senior lecturer in theology at the University of Exeter.

You could try to appeal to a child's innate sense of logic. As the philosophical counsellor Tim LeBon says: "God couldn't have a mother because He's the creator. So if God did have a mummy, then mummy would be God, and if she had a mummy, that being would be God. To avoid infinite regression, we have to have a being or entity that doesn't have a mummy." Another approach is to ask Charlotte how she visualises God; seeing Him in a different way could help her to grapple with the complex nature of God's parentage or lack of it.

LeBon says: "Any child who asks this probably views God as a kindly figure living in the clouds, a sort of celestial Dumbledore. You could ask them to look at Him in another way - God as everywhere and everything." If Charlotte looks confused, it's probably better to mention that she isn't the first one to suggest that God could have a mummy. Some theologians have argued that Mary is God's mother. In the early history of the Church, she was even referred to by some as the Mother of God, since Jesus and God can be viewed as one and the same.

Higton explains: "In Christianity, Jesus is seen as God's human form, showing us what God is like. So there is a sense in which God does have a mother."

There is the atheist option but it is no easy way out of a tough question. If you tell Charlotte that since God couldn't have a mother how could He exist, that leaves the big bang. And you're back to what came before that? As LeBon says: "God doesn't solve the problem, but take him away and you still don't have the answers."



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