Big Questions – Huge Answers

PhotonQ-Young solar System

“So,” I grinned, “I’m going to give you ten minutes to each come up with your own answers to these questions:  Firstly, was the creation of the universe a random or intentional event?  Secondly, if it was intentional, who or what do you think intended it?”

My audience was a small group of home-educated children, aged between 10 and 14.

We’ve been running our weekly philosophy club for a while now – long enough for them to understand that nothing they say will be ruled out or laughed down; long enough for me to have the highest expectations and to know that I’ll receive some stunning answers to questions that have taxed the greatest minds throughout history.  We’d discussed creation myths, the views of major religions and the big bang theory.  Now it was their turn.

Some chose to jot down thoughts on scraps of paper, some drew pictures or diagrams, one spent his time scribbling ideas and ripping them up at great speed and the rest sat thinking silently.

NO CHAOS“Right,” I said, when seven minutes had passed and all seemed ready.  “Anyone need more time?”

They didn’t.

What follows is just a flavour of the richness and depth of the answers and ideas that flowed around the room.


I think it was random.  Somehow two things came together and that started it…

But nothing’s random.  There’s always a cause.  Even things that seem completely random happen because of something…

Maybe there wasn’t a start.  Maybe it’s always been happening.  Maybe matter just keeps on moving together until the pressure’s too great, then it explodes apart again…

…or maybe none of it’s real anyway – all this could be just a dream or an illusion…

We can never know for sure – unless we could time-travel back to see…

Perhaps one day we’ll be able to do that…

I don’t know how it started, but I believe we evolved – like people say – came out of the sea.  But we’re still evolving…

…I used to know when I was little, but now I’m not so sure.  You hear different things.  It’s so confusing…

Probably something made our universe – something from another world or place or time…

It could have been like a timelord or something…

Perhaps we’re an experiment…



Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)


No one was certain.  Indeed, most were rather apologetic that they couldn’t give a definitive answer.

When all was done, though, and I’d assured them that the thinking and questing for answers was what really mattered, and that their ideas mirrored those of the world’s wisest philosophers, they smiled and nodded – and suddenly broke into spontaneous mutual applause.

How lucky I am to have the opportunity to listen to children and share their thoughts.  All they need is space to think and a place to talk.

8 comments on “Big Questions – Huge Answers

  1. Wonderful Jan.. the child’s perspective is truly wise. Ironically as a direct consequence of them knowing they don’t know everything, an in direct contrast to typical adult responses they are not only prepared to admit it but are usually very comfortable with the fact too. These “empty” spaces are after all comfortably filled with nursery rhythms, fantastic stories and myths and legends, and are the very spaces we tend to banish as we move into adulthood. It is why we must all stay attuned to the essence of Play and our inner child.

    • An excellent point, Steve, and beautifully expressed. I found the thirteen-year-old’s comment that she ‘used to know when she was little’ particularly poignant.

  2. Lucky you are, Jan. I agree. And lucky your young friends are as well to have you as an inspiration. I also was impressed by the youngster who mentioned they used to know when they were little, but now they aren’t so sure. Thanks for sharing. -Bob

  3. What a great idea…having young people explore their thoughts on the big questions about creation. One can only imagine where these thoughts will take them in their lives. My own curiosity came much later in life. Thanks Jan for helping these kids learn to explore their beliefs.

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