Nonbelievers: If someone else's preteen child asks you if God exists, how do you respond?

Public poll, 5 day ending date, yawn.

For purposes of the discussion, let’s assume that the child is under ten years old, that you and the child like one another, and that you are social but not professionally connected to the parents, and that the parents are believers.

Also, after answering, please note if it matters what religion the parents subscribe to–that if, if you’d give a different response to a Unitarian-Universalist, say, than to a Southern Baptist.

Some combination of 3 and 4. I wouldn’t tell them I didn’t believe in God, but I might tell them that nobody knows for sure. That’s what I tell my own kids. I also tell them that it’s something they should really think hard about, and that they’re allowed to believe whatever they want. Depending on what I knew about the parents, though, I might also just try to skip the whole discussion and punt them back to mom.

You left out “ask your parents” without any comment on one’s own beliefs. Also, what about: " A lot of people think different things. What do you think, kiddo? ".

I should comment that as a Buddhist, I am technically not a non-believer.

This scenario happened to me when I attended the RC funeral of a friend’s wife who had died of breast cancer aged 30. Her younger of two daughters asked me if mummy was with god and the angels and would she really see her again. I told her that her mummy and the angels will always be looking down and loving and protecting her.

There are times when its best to keep my own personal non-beliefs to myself and shove them where the sun doesn’t shine for a while.

Either “I don’t believe in any god” or “go ask your parent(s)” depending on who’s asking.

The religion of the person asking would not affect my answer.

I went with choice # 2. I’m not a rabid atheist but I don’t think that it’s fair to give a watered down answer either. So I would probably answer: " I don’t believe in god because there is no evidence of one existing. Lots of people believe in different things though and you get to choose for yourself."
If mum and dad don’t like it, they can stuff it as far as I’m concerned. I won’t take it upon myself to spoil the party, but if asked I won’t lie either.

I voted “for god’s sake, Rhymer” because

yeah, that.

I answered this Q as a non-christian answering a Christian. Though I now wish i had put other, cuz I like the “what do you think, Kiddo” answer too. But I also like the Agnostic answer of “We don’t know at this time”.

I would say something similar to what Samantha told Tabitha about Santa Claus

Tabitha) But Sidney said that Santa doesn’t exist.

Samantha) I told you before Tabitha, when it comes to Santa, everyone has a right to believe what he or she chooses

OK I watch too much TV, but it’s a pretty good answer none-the-less

I tell them “ask your parents.” I would never tell a child something that may be contrary to what their parents want them to believe. I believe a parent has a divine right to raise their children the way they see fit.

Finally, a poll with a choice I can pick!

Eh - I’ve no obligation to encourage children to believe fairy tales. I’d probably say something like, “Many people believe there’s a god. Some believe there are many gods. There is no evidence for the existence of any gods at all - however, it is rude to point this out socially. It’s sort of like telling your classmates there’s no Santa Clause, only for grownups.”

I’d probably respond with I don’t think so and see where that leads; probably to answer 2 if the subject remains interesting to us both. I’d probably start of answer 2 if the child is a bit older than pre-teen.

By the way, are you all assuming that the child is from a religious family? Even children who grow up without religion generally have heard of the concept of god, you know. Not that the family’s religious opinions matter to me in this case.

Oh, and I absolutely disagree with Superhal.

I answered the second one. I once had a conversation with my niece (by definition - someone else’s preteen child) about the existence of God. I told her I am an an Atheist and Atheists are people who believe God doesn’t exist.

But I wouldn’t want her to ‘talk to her parents about this’ because I know that one of them (not my brother) is most definitely not an Atheist. (She is, in many ways, a loathsome human being)

I hope that all my nieces (and eventually, when they exist, my own children) grow up to be Atheists.

It is my grossly uninformed understanding that the question of the existence of a Deity is irrelivant for a buddhist. So, enlighten me (grasshopper)

My answer has been “some people think so.” It is a correct answer, can’t get you in trouble with the parents, but will plant the idea that not everyone does - which is what a lot of kids think. I did, and we were not particularly religious.

“No deity of any sort exists or possibly can exist, except as a product of human imagination.” - I’m not going to lie to a kid just to make their superstitious parents happy. It’s a leftover superstition created by barbarians, and should have been discarded centuries ago.

My answer would be along the lines of “Does which god exist? Many people have made up many different gods, but they only ever seem to consider the one they worship as being real.” I’m an instigator, what can I say.

“No deity of any sort exists or possibly can exist, except as a product of human imagination.” is closest. I’d be a bit less terse, maybe.

And it doesn’t matter to me what religion the kid’s parents are.

I voted for number 2, but would have edited it as such: “I know of no evidence that any god exists.”

I’m of the opinion that it’s ok and actually necessary to expose children to different ways of thinking. I don’t understand why one wouldn’t want to do that with their children. I think back to our recent trip to India where we stopped off at a Sikh Temple and learned about the religion, then a Hindu temple, and saw a bunch of Muslim icons as well. We can’t properly go there without explaining some of the tenets of the beliefs held by the worshipers. (FTR, I’m an atheist, my SO is a Jewish atheist and the kids are being raised Jewish.)

I voted other as I would ask the kid what they thought then say what I believed without bringing their parents into it.