The kids & I took Daisy for a long walk last night. After about 15 minutes the conversation with my five-year-old daughter turned philosophical: "Dad, why are there people? How'd they get here?"
I took a deep breath and said, "There are a lot of ideas about that, but nobody here now was around then, to know for sure. Basically there are two main ideas: either God created people in one day, or people became what they are today by very slowly changing over millions of years from apes to apelike people to caveman-type people and eventually to us."
My eight-year-old son interrupted: "The first one is right. God created everybody. At least all Americans, but not people from other countries." D'oh! It was then I saw this was going to be a longer conversation than I'd originally anticipated. Good thing it was a LONG walk.
"Okay, why would you say that? Why didn't he create people from other countries?"
"Because they don't believe in God."
"Ash, if you believe God created people, then you have to believe that he created ALL people, not just the ones who believe in him. Whether THEY believe or not is immaterial."
Ash says, "I guess, but some people don't believe in our God. They believe in other stuff."
I agreed and reminded him of the poster at school that shows at least a dozen different versions of the Golden Rule from faiths around the world.
Calliope, quiet most of this time, chimed back in: "Dad, how many gods ARE there?"
"Well, most people will tell you there is only one. The problem is agreeing on WHICH one. Lots of faiths claim to worship what they call the true God, but as it turns out, they are not all the same God and each faith denies the existence of the other 'true' gods."
That's when Ash steered the conversation naturally toward the Greek pantheon. That was more solid ground for me. And soon the conversation was over. Whew. I should have just answered Calliope's original question with a simple "42" and quickly changed the subject to cartoons or something.