“Pap’s, where did people come from?” That was Sifa not so long ago.
She was glued to the television watching the scientific documentary, “How the Universe Works,” and I could almost hear gears shifting inside her head as she tried to make sense of the scientific jargon.
Actually she was not alone in this. I too could not understand how Karl Schwarzschild, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawkins, could theorise the existence of Black Holes and their formation by the gravitational collapse of heavy stars. Or how new planets and moons could be formed from the impact resulting from existing planets colliding with each other. All these, to me, are gibberish.
But not so with my hyperactive nine-year-old daughter who believes that I know everything under the sun -- because I am a dad. “Paps, watu walitoka wapi? (where did people come from?)”
I just wonder if I was like her.
Always relentless on whatever her mind is set on, she repeated the question not willing to let me off the hook that easily.
“As I am sure your Sunday school teacher has already taught you, all human beings, and the entire world, were created by God,” I said in a don’t-ask-me-another-question kind of tone knowing too well that with Sifa, one answer only led to more questions.
“Lakini mwalimu shule alitwambia tuli-evolve from apes. (But my teacher said we evolved from apes),” she said.
Boom! And just like that, she’d squeezed me into one tight corner that required King Solomon's wisdom to extricate myself from.
“And yesterday I read from the book you bought me that the world came from a bang.”
My dearest dad, I've wanted to ask this for a long time. Did my siblings and I have many questions when we were children? Or are we experiencing a new phenomenon with our children as a result of the digital age?
I did my best to explain to her that there are scientific and religious explanations of our existence. I knew, even as I explained the various thoughts, I was treading on seriously thin ice.
“According to Christians, which we are,” I began, inwardly praying that I knew what I was saying, “The entire universe was created by God. We believe this because that is what the Bible as the word of God teaches. In short, we believe in the Creation.
“On the other hand, scientists believe in the Big Bang. They believe that the beginning of the universe was as a result of a big bang caused by the expansion of the elements some 13 billion years ago.”
STORY OF CREATION
Whew, what an imbroglio! From the way she was staring at me I was sure she was thinking I’d gone bananas and my incoherence was only the proof.
“What are elements and where did they come from?” she asked. Didn’t I say she is relentless!
“Okay, I think the most important think to understand Sifa, is that there is a God and He created the universe. What you are taught in school about where we came from and how the world came into being is secondary to what the Bible teaches us.
“Even if it is true the world was as a result of a big bang, then we must understand that the elements that caused the bang were created by God.
“Everything that exists must have a maker. The clothes you are wearing were made by somebody. This house we live in was constructed by someone. That clock on the wall was designed by someone. In short, all that exists must have a designer behind it. Do you understand what I am saying?’”
She nodded her head, but I could tell she still had a billion and one questions spinning furiously inside her head. But I breathed I sigh of relieve knowing I was off the hook – until the next question...
Father, I still recall your answer those many years ago when I asked why people died. You said: “All people come from God. We are put here on earth by God so we can make it better. Death is only a super highway back to him once a person’s work on earth is finished.”
Your answer, even then, sounded hollow and only left me with many more questions in my mind. But, unlike your grandchildren, I lacked the spine to demand an explanation that made sense. I wonder how you would deal with Sifa’s or Amani’s insistent questions and their demands for nothing but the absolute.
Today’s children are not shy about asking questions on anything and everything. They want to know why they have to go to school. Why daddy does not have a car like another child’s daddy. They want to know why girls and boys are physically different. That’s the world we live in.
And dad, just when I thought I was safe and I allowed myself to relax, she unleashed the bombshell: “Paps, how does a baby get inside mum’s stomach?”
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