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If you find yourself struggling with how to explain God’s existence to a child or teenager, I am sending you BIG HUGS right now. But more than that, I want to equip you with an object lesson (God is Real) and tons of resources for helping you navigate the questions your children ask about God’s existence.
“How do you know God is real?”
You hear the question and immediately your mind races. How do you answer? What can you say? It’s easy to verify the existence of someone you can see and touch but how can you tell your children God is real when there is no tangible proof beyond your faith?
Accepting your personal struggle with God’s existence
When a child doubts God exists, it can be scary, frustrating…
My children have faced the same struggle, wondering if God was real. They wanted to know how to prove that God really exists.
But do you say when a child asks about God? How can you explain God is real?
Proving the existence of God can feel impossible. After all, faith is believing in what you cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1) Therefore, believing that God exists is the foundation of faith.
If you are not personally sure that God exists, take some time to read these verses and consider how they relate to God’s presence in your life:
Despite having extensive experience in church ministry and even after attending a theological seminary, I have suffered with my own doubts in the past. So when my child expressed her struggle over God’s existence, I leaned on my own experience, shared with her how I personally worked through those doubts, and taught her how to look for God’s signature.
Understanding Intelligent Design
This object lesson is based largely on the theory of intelligent design which means the universe and all within did not happen by chance or evolution but were created by an intelligent entity, God.
Additional resources for intelligent design are listed below.
Object Lesson: God is Real
This object lesson is a combination of different conversations I have had with my own children about how to recognize God’s existence.
- A visit to a museum or art books
- Paintings Matching Game printable
- Examples of artist signatures (resources available below)
- Lesson plan and printables
Recognizing the Artist by His Work
For this object lesson, you will teach children to recognize patterns and similarities, relating the proof of God’s existence to the work an artist does.
I recommend visiting a museum or borrowing books with paintings by various artists from the library.
You can also view paintings online. [Read 12 Virtual Art Museum Walk Throughs for Free.]
Say to your children, “As you walk through a museum and look at various paintings, you might notice several begin to look similar. These are likely to be created by the same person. Each artist possesses a particular style that is unique to himself. Even if they create many different paintings, the paintings will resemble one another because of the artist’s style.”
Play the painting matching game.
Instruct your children to match the paintings that look similar. Flip the cards over to reveal if the artist is the same for the paintings that look similar to one another.
Ask your children: “How did you know which paintings were by the same artists?”
Look for specific details such as:
- Pablo Picasso – cubism or strong lines
- Vincent van Gogh – lines and curves
- Gustav Klimt – gold and patterns
- Georgia O’Keeffe – large flowers
- Rembrandt – portraits and dark colors
- Claude Monet – water and flowers
- Salvador Dali – strange, melting perspective
- Georges Seurat – pointillism
- Johannes Vermeer – quiet scenes
Tell your children, “The Bible says God created everything.”
Read John 1:3 from the Bible:
“All things were made through Him, and without Him
nothing was made that was made.”
John 1:3 New King James Version
Then read Genesis 1:1:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1 New King James Version
Ask your children: “What do these two verses have in common?”
Allow the children to give their responses and then say: “If it is true that God exists and created everything, let’s look at nature and see if there’s evidence one person did all the work.”
If possible, take a walk outside to look at the environment, including trees, flowers, and anything natural.
Ask: “When you look at nature, what are the similarities that you see?“
If your children need help, point out trees and flowers. Ask your children, “What do trees and flowers have in common?”
Answers might include:
- They need air, water, and sunlight to survive
- They have leaves
- They make flowers
- The long stem of a flower is similar to the long trunk of a tree
- They might have similar colors (i.e. green)
Ask: “So is it possible to assume these were created by the same artist?”
Refer back to the paintings. Mention that just as the paintings have similarities, so does nature.
Noticing the Signature of the Artist
Tell your children: “There is something else paintings have in common.”
Ask your children to look closer at paintings in a museum, book, or online and to find the artist’s signature. (I have additional resources for finding an artist’s signature listed below.)
Say: “The signature on a painting is proof the artist created the painting. That artist owns the painting unless he decides to sell it. But even if he sells the painting, it still bears his signature.”
Encourage the children to find a signature on each of the paintings.
Say: “An artist’s signature is always the same. If someone tried to fake the artist’s signature, it would be noticeable.”
Read Job 12:7-10:
“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?”
Job 12:7-10 New King James Version
Say to the children: “See how the Bible actually encourages us to ask the animals and bushes and fish for proof of God’s existence. That does not mean we should speak to animals and plants but that we should look at them closely.”
Also consider reading Psalm 19:1-4:
“Heaven is declaring God’s glory;
the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
One day gushes the news to the next,
and one night informs another what needs to be known.
Of course, there’s no speech, no words—
their voices can’t be heard—
but their sound[a] extends throughout the world;
their words reach the ends of the earth.”
Psalm 19:1-4 Common English Bible
Redirect the children back to what they see in nature. Ask them to look closely at leaves, the bark of a tree, and/or flower petals.
Ask: “Do you notice any patterns that are the same?”
If your children struggle to see the pattern, point out the fractal patterns, or veining, running throughout a leaf.
Ask: “Could this be God’s signature?”
Encourage the children to think about other places in nature where that same pattern can be found.
Some examples include:
- Some rocks like marble
- Tree branches and root systems
- River networks
- Some animal patterns
Ask the children: “Is it possible that God signed all of his artwork and this is his signature?”
Now instruct each child to look at his or her wrist. Point out the veins under the skin and how the pattern matches what can be found in nature.
Ask: “ If this is God’s signature, what does that mean about who you are?”
Read Psalm 139:14:
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.”
Psalm 139:14 New King James Version
Say: “You were created by God. You bear his signature.”
Frequently asked questions when teaching children God is real
As you have worked through this object lesson, you might still have some questions when talking to your child about God’s existence. If I don’t cover your particular question here, feel free to comment below and I will do my best to help.
At what age do children understand God?
Can I be totally honest? I don’t think there is a particular age where children understand God. I am a grown adult with children of my own, and I cannot completely wrap my mind around who God is and all He does.
I can see God working in my life. I know He is faithful to the promises He has made in the Bible because I have experienced that. But do I understand Him? No. And I don’t think I am supposed to understand the complexity of God. That’s a part of faith.
So, if you are wondering if your child is old enough to understand conversations about God, just keep it simple. Focus on what the Bible says and how you personally have seen those truths in real life.
And, involve your family in a community of like-minded believers so that you children can witness that other people have the same beliefs. Hearing others share similar testimonies gives more evidence that God isn’t someone you made up.
What if my teenage does not believe in God?
When your teenager expressed doubt that God is real, the shock and fear can be overwhelming.
The first thing you must do is pray for wisdom. Avoid being confrontational about their doubt but be a safe place where they can talk about any confusion. Ask a bunch of questions to get your teen thinking like:
- When did you first question whether or not God is real?
- How did you decide that God does not exist? or
- What happened to make you think God is not real?
- What would be proof to you that God does exist?
What if my child compares God to Santa?
If you haven’t personally experienced this conversation, it might seem funny. However, let me assure you that the confusion between who God is and whether or not God is real and the existence of Santa is a connection that children make at a very young age.
I wish… with all that is in me… I could turn back time. I would have never introduced Santa as a man who brings gifts while you are sleeping on Christmas eve. Once I realized the path we were on by celebrating Christmas with Santa, I did my best to focus on Saint Nicholas as a real person.
However, the conversations are still very difficult especially if you are not ready to tell your child the truth about Santa.
My recommendation is to say: “Saint Nicholas seems to have a lot of the same characteristics as God because he was a follower of God. When we love God, we love others and want to give generously to them.”
What if my teen thinks all gods are the same?
This can be a tricky conversation if you do not personally understand what all the other world religions profess. If you have never studied other belief systems, I would ask your teen: “What do you know about other religions?”
If your child doesn’t know what other religions teach, embrace this as an opportunity for you to learn together. Commit to study a few of the different belief systems and compare them to one another.
As you dig into the different religious worldviews, you quickly realize that they are in opposition to one another. If they opposed one another, then they cannot all be correct. Someone has to be wrong.
I also recommend the book, Mama Bear Apologetics™: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies. These ladies also have a podcast so you can skim over the topics to find shows about various belief systems and how they conflict with Christianity.
- Free Virtual Museum Tours at Meet Penny
Learning About Intelligent Design
- I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek, Chuck Winter
- Evidence for God at Institute for Creation Research
- What Can We Learn about God from Creation? at Answers in Genesis
- Intelligent Design Facts for Kids at Kiddle
- A Parent’s Guide to Intelligent Design at Discovery.org
- Free Resources for Intelligent Design at Homeschool Giveaways
Artist Style and Signature
If you can’t make it to a museum and need examples of an artist’s signature or how a painting was recognized by its style, these resources will help:
- A Study of Picasso’s Signature
- Claude Monet’s Signature
- Rembrandt’s Signature Authentication
- View Seurat’s Signatures
- Vincent van Gogh’s Signature Authentication
- Learn why Georgia O’Keefe did not sign her paintings
- Google Arts and Culture (search for each artist’s name to learn more and view paintings)
The Case for a Creator
Lee Strobel is a former atheist who confronted his own disbelief and shares amazing resources for helping others understand that God really exists.
You can pick these books up from most bookstores, the library, or purchase them through Amazon here:
- The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God
- The Case for a Creator Student Edition
- Case for a Creator for Kids
More patterns in nature
There are countless patterns available throughout nature which emphasize intelligent design.
If your children want to dive deeper into the patterns found in nature, these are great places to start:
- Spots, stripes