Monday, March 12, 2012

Questions High Schoolers Ask About Genesis

Alice C. Linsley

I've been conducting research with students in grades 9-12 at a local Christian school.  The objective is to discover the most commonly asked questions about Genesis within this group.  Keep in mind that these students are exposed to Bible readings, sermons, and Christian instruction in their homes and churches. At this school, the majority of the students are from Protestant denominations. About 5% are raised in Roman Catholic homes, and less than 1% are raised in Orthodox homes.

Students were asked to submit questions about the book of Genesis. The questions most often asked touch on God, Adam and Eve, the Serpent, the Flood, the creation and age of Earth, why God chose Abraham, race and how the Earth was populated, and the authorship of Genesis.  I chuckled over this comment from a 10th grader: "I am saving my questions for God."

The younger students tended to ask more metaphysical questions, such as "Where did God come from?" or "How did God come into existance?"  The queries of the older students tended to be more analytical, even scientific, such as "How could there be water on the earth if there was no rain?"

We must be doing something right at our Christian school since not one student asked "Does God exist?"  Were I doing this survey in a public school, doubtless I would have received that question from multiple students.

The following are some of the questions students asked.


Where did God come from?

Who created God?

If God created the heavens and the earth, then where was He before? People say that God is everywhere, but where was everywhere if there was no heavens and no earth?

How did God imagine earth when He created it, before the fall?

Why was God more active and visible in ancient times than He is today?

Why is God more strict during the time of Abraham and Isaac than He is now?  Back then He would curse them for not trusting Him. Now He doesn't.

I've always known God as a loving, fatherly figure, but when I read Genesis He seems harsh. Is God a loving God or is He harsh?  Or has God changed from a harsh God to a loving God?

If God knows all things, why did He allow the fall, which created evil?

Why would God create a universe to glorify Him?

(Answers to these questions are here.)

Adam and Eve

Were Adam and Eve real? I mean did they really exist?

Eve is called the "mother of all living" in Genesis 3:20. Why is Adam never called the "father of all living"?

What fruit did Adam and Eve eat?

Why did Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit?

Why did God have to punish all of us if only Adam and Eve sinned?

Why did God place the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden?

Why didn't Adam stop Eve from sinning?

Who did Adam and Eve's children marry?

How did Adam come to earth? Was he made on earth or in heaven and poofed to earth?

What was going on between Adam and Eve and Noah?  How can that be enough time to populate the earth?

Were there other people on earth besides Adam and Eve that God created too?

Why did God create the man first?

How long were Adam and Eve in the garden before they sinned?

When they were in the garden before the fall, did Adam and Eve have sex?

Why did Adam name the animals.  Why didn't God name them?

Did dinosaurs live in Eden with Adam and Eve?

(Answers to these questions are here.)

The Serpent

Why was the devil in the form of a serpent?

The serpent in Genesis is never directly referred to as Satan. Why is this?

(Answers to these questions are here.)

The Flood

Did Noah literally put two of every species on the Ark?

How did Noah built the Ark?  Did he has help?

Did Noah know about tar or pitch to seal the planks of his boat?

What was the weight capacity of Noah's Ark?

Was the flood global or regional?

Maybe all the species on earth today evolved from the "pairs" of animals saved on Noah's Ark. Wouldn't this support evolution by natural selection?

(Answers to these questions are here.)

The Creation of Earth

How old is the earth?

How many times has God created earth?

What existed before God created everything?

How did everything just appear when God spoke?

Could God have created the world through Evolution?

Were the seven days of creation 24-hour days?

When Genesis says "hovered over the waters" does that mean that water existed before God formed the earth? Or was this water over an unformed earth?

Where was the Garden of Eden?

Why did God take seven days to create the world?

How could water come up from the ground if it hadn't rained yet?

Where do dinosaurs fit in the creation account?

(Answers to these questions are here.)


What made Abraham so special that God chose him?

If God gave the land of Israel to Abraham, doesn't that mean that He wants the Jews to have it?

What is the nature of the covenant that God made with Abraham?

How do we know that Abraham was a ruler?

How do we know that Jesus came from Abraham's family?

(Answers to these questions are here.)

Race, Human Populations and the Purpose of Mankind

How did the different races come about?

If Adam and Eve's children married each other, isn't that the sin of incest?

How did the whole earth's popultaion come from just two people?

Did other families exist on Earth at the same tinme that Adam and Eve lived?

How many generations are from Adam and Eve to Abraham?

Why were the men in Genesis so old?

Why did God create Mankind?

(Answers to these questions are here.)


Who wrote Genesis?

How do we know that Moses wrote Genesis?

How can we verify that the information in Genesis is factual?

Did the author add things that God didn't tell him to write?

Related reading: Answers to High Schooler's Questions About God; Extraordinary Questions; Just Genesis: Answers to Your Questions


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

I hope you will answer each of these questions for these children and for the rest of us.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I dread even trying. Perhaps the angels don't even know the answers to these questions!

Would Orthodox students be better informed about God's eternal, immutable and divine nature? This is thoroughly woven through the Divine Liturgy.

Margaret said...

In our Orthodox Church we have congregational singing in English. I was pleasantly surprised ten years ago to hear my 8 and 6 year old explain the two natures of Christ to the children in our carpool while I was driving. Of course, they had been participating in the Divine Liturgy for three years (we had been a mission church until 97) at that point. We had taught children the Creed and had them memorize it the year before this happened. They did a fine job.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Children learn about the Father, the Holy Trinity, Christ our God, and the Incarnation through recitation of the Creed and through the Divine Liturgy. Most Protestant churches have neither the Creed nor the Divine Liturgy.