|Photo courtesy Roger Ebert|
In a column he wrote a couple of years ago, Ebert recounts:
Now, although reticent to label himself an atheist or an agnostic, Ebert completely dismisses the idea of "any God who has personally spoken to anyone or issued instructions to men." He writes:
Secondly, the lack of knowledge in apologetics by Ebert's teachers and parents were his ultimate undoing. When asking his favorite nun about the dilemma of God having no beginning, she replied "that is just something you have to believe. Pray for faith." As you can imagine, it was an unsatisfying. Ebert would then say "I lay awake wondering how I could pray for faith to a God I could not believe in without faith." Let me just say that this nun, who I don't doubt had the best of intentions, had a wrong understanding of faith and reinforced in the mind of an inquiring youngster that belief in God is irrational and unworthy of those who wish to think. Perhaps if she was better trained in some of the great Catholic theologians like Thomas Aquinas her answer would have been correct.
Ebert's parents also were no help. He says that during his high school years he never discussed his waning belief in God with them, but that makes me wonder if they ever discussed religion at all. As an elementary school boy with big questions about the world, Ebert went to his school teachers. If religion was a comfortable topic of conversation at home, surely he would have asked his parents also.
We as parents and teachers need to learn the answers to these questions and talk about them with our kids. And we need to start earlier rather than later. Elementary school kids have a wonder about the world and how it works, and we should be offering them the greatest truths to stimulate that wonder. Don't simply rely on the kids' Sunday School teaching to inform them about God. The Sunday School teacher may not know the answer, or may offer the wrong answer. You need to know these answers yourself, so you can pass them along. Otherwise, our kids will think that belief in the God of all reason falls outside of reason, and therefore is irrelevant. And that breaks my heart.