My daughter has this tendency to go all existentialist on me while riding in the car. I’m not sure what it is about this particular setting that motivates these sorts of talks. Is it sitting still with nothing else to do? Is it gazing up at the sky? Do all kids do this?
Anyway, the other day, while driving Maxine and one of her friends to the pool, I listened as the two struck up a conversation about God. I can’t remember how it started (I didn’t turn on the voice recorder until later), but at some point they exchanged belief systems: The friend — a girl from a vaguely Christian, though not outwardly religious, family — said she believed in God. Maxine said she went back and forth on the matter.
When I’m adult, she told her friend, I probably won’t believe in God.
Really?, her friend asked, with equal parts surprise and confusion.
Here’s where the conversation went from there.
FRIEND: Well then how did we get here?
MAXINE: Oh I know how we got here. Long story.
FRIEND: Then I want to hear it. Tell me.
MAXINE: Okay. Well, there was this really little animal and that became a bigger animal and that became a bigger animal, then it grew to be a person. And the first person in the universe was that. Probably a cave person.
FRIEND: No, I know who the first person on Earth was: Adam.
FRIEND: And I know who the second person in the universe was. It was a girl. Eve. Adam gave birth to Eve…
MAXINE: No, I don’t think Adam gave birth to Eve.
FRIEND: No. I know that’s not true.
MAXINE: Adam and Eve had children and then they had children and then there was a bunch of universe of children. Ta-dah! Like my explanation?
FRIEND: But did…? How…? Wait. Okay, I don’t get this… If our families are different, who started our family? Like because there’s a big, huge generation — but how did it start?
MAXINE: Well, I think it started with cavemen before Adam. Because he’s probably the first person—like human being— and it probably started with cavemen. And then there was a weird caveman who probably gave birth to a person. Adam.
MAXINE: Hey, do you want to play Adam and Eve?
MAXINE: Yeah, me neither.
I’ve always found it curious, as I’m sure you have, as to how some devoutly religious people can find factual truth in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve within the context of evolution.
Leave to second-graders to reconcile the irreconcilable.