Some thoughts on “the origin of the universe and earth”, inspired by a question brought home by a child.
This is offered as an outline sequence that can be told to a child as an explanation as they attempt to synthesise before they present to to someone else. The presumption is that the person presenting this to a child is willing to take their time to speak slowly, use gestures, to speak in open truth to the child, but not to stop mid-way first time to micro-explain. If you read this twice yourself, you’ll see that this piece places the child centrally in the universe, by space and time, safely with everyone else. You’ll also notice that the theme is actually simple enough.
Really basic terminology is rarely explained to children and this does that; in addition you’ll have no difficulty seeing where humour and gestures might fit in.
This is probably good for about age 6 and up, if you accept that you’re just supplying scaffolding for them, and that they’ll come back to fill in the blanks over future years.
NON CREDO We don't know where this universe came from. We do not know where this universe is going. We do not even know whether there is more than one universe. But we do know about where this universe is now, and how it works, and what it's made of, and about our place in it. We say we know something if we can see it, or touch it, or feel it. We may need to build machines and tools to see and find things, like microscopes, and submarines, and big telescopes that we send out into space. But those are our machines and we do know how they work. Most of the machines use a lot of mathematics. Sometimes we still cannot see a thing, but we can use mathematics to find out the things we cannot see. To make sure that everyone who says they saw something is being honest and truthful, we expect them to show us evidence. We expect them to tell us how they did something so that we can try it for ourselves. We call "trying something" an experiment. We call sharing what we learn, and allowing others to do the same experiments as us, Science. When there is no evidence or experiments to back-up what someone says, we call that Religion. Science is powerful because together we are powerful. We are powerful when we work together and share truthfully with each other. We are powerful when we care for each other and for our planet, because we have not found another one like it. We have looked a very, very, very long way to see if there might be people on other planets. To see if there are even any other planets like ours, anywhere. When we were looking we noticed that everything in the universe is moving away from everything else. Because of Science and Mathematics and the machines we built, it was possible to decide that everything must have been all in one place at the one time. Because we like to put silly names on things, someone called the moment when everything started to move apart a "Big Bang". He was being funny about it, but wouldn't you know it, the name stuck. But we don't really know what happened all the way back then. But we do know that was a very, very, very long time ago. What we do know is that we are here now. We know that grass is green and the sky is mostly blue. We even know why the grass is green, and why the sky is mostly blue. Because of Science, and of Maths, and because of experiments and evidence and sharing, we know all these things. And we know so many things because of people who went before us who shared what they learned, and who wrote things down so that we could check if their work was true long after they were gone. We know that over a very, very, very long time human society got cleverer by learning more and more, and writing down and drawing pictures of what we saw, and sharing. Because of Science, experiments, and asking questions, we noticed some unusual things. We noticed that so many animals looked similar, and had the same numbers of arms, legs, wings, eyes, mouths, tongues and even bums. We saw evidence that all animals were related, including us, and that like us over time, animals changed too. This was true for really tiny animals as well as really big animals. We called this Evolution, and we know it is still happening today, and it explains why there are so many different animals of so many different types. We may not be completely certain when that all started, but we do know that a very, very, very long time ago, every little bit of us was in a star. Some people think that if we could only wait long enough we might wind up back in a star again some day. Which might be fun. What we know about this universe is that we're in it, with our friends, and our family, and our neighbours, and all the other animals, and fishes, and birds, and plants, and trees. We know that we're together, on the only blue and green planet for an enooooorrrrmously long way. That we're going around a lovely yellow star we call the Sun, and that all of the time we're going around, the Sun makes plants grow, and we grow too and we call that Time. It takes our planet about 365 days to go all the way around and back to where we are now. We call that amount of time a Year. It doesn't matter too much where we have come from or where we are going. What really matters is that we're going there together, and that we help each other along the way.