Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"What if God is The Big Bang?"

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Heart Nebula:

Speaking of love, my ten year old, Christian, has developed a fascination with Astronomy. He recently completed all the episodes of "How the Universe Works" on Netflix. He asked so many questions during each episode, usually answered by the host as his question was being voiced, that I had to pause the show to let him verbally brainstorm. You know that a kid is passionate about a topic when they interrupt (isn’t that an insulting word to use in this context?) with questions and thoughts. "Interruption" is a good sign!

After we had finished viewing the available programs, he was hungry for more. We looked through other shows and documentaries on the topic of Astronomy. While browsing, his interests almost departed distant galaxies to return to earth to spend time with dinosaurs, but he settled on an episode of NOVA’s "Where Did We Come From" hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. (I love Neil deGrasse Tyson. He said something in an interview that has really stuck with me, something which had the impact of "roach explaining the internet.")

It just so happened that after we watched the first episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye were at the White House taking questions about science. I asked Christian what he would want to ask Neil deGrasse Tyson, and he said, “What if God is The Big Bang?”

I am sorry to admit that I was scared. I still am.

I’m scared that some adults would see that question and respond from a place of “Uh oh, this child believes in a creator” or “Uh oh, this child believes in the Big Bang.” I don’t trust adults who have a spit back answer to every question that is asked or adults who believe they have it all figured out. We don’t. I’m scared that some adults don’t have the bravery or honesty to admit with genuineness, “I am not sure, but those are interesting thoughts.” I think it’s important for a child to have a sense of wonder. I don't want him to wait until the program or lecture is over to ask questions. I don't want his curiosity to be discouraged.

We went from learning about Fibonacci numbers and The Golden Ratio to watching shows about pulsars, quasars, black holes, galaxies, planets, moons, dark matter, white dwarfs, red giants… You can imagine my excitement (because of the visual connection) when I stumbled onto this image:

Christian’s favorite painting has always been Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. One of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day featured an altered image of Starry Night, A Starry Night Scavenger Hunt :

He has asked for a telescope for Christmas or for his birthday. I hope that his new found love isn't like a Hollywood romance and I hope that he stays curious!

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