Danny Postel in New Humanist:
I just about hit the panic button when my six-year-old son Theo put this question to me not long ago. His mother, who is a Christian, had taught him that Jesus was God. When Jesus's visage appears in a painting or on television, Theo sometimes exclaims, “That's God!” In his butterfly question he seemed to reason, syllogistically, that if Jesus was God, and God created the world and its life forms (butterflies being one of them), Jesus “invented” the winged creatures. Either that or God and Jesus are simply interchangeable in his mind.
“First, Theo, your question presumes that Jesus was God,” I responded. “Many people, like mommy, believe he was, but many others don't. It also presumes that there is a God – we don't know for sure that there is.” “I think there is,” he retorted. “There may very well be a God, Theo. But not everyone agrees on that – there are many people who doubt there is a God. We might never know for sure if there is or not,” I told him. “When we die we'll know,” he came back. “Maybe,” I said. “But maybe not.”
The literalism packed into Theo's question alarmed me, but this was by no means my first encounter with the influence of religion on my progeny. My ten-year-old son Elijah enjoys going to church with his mother – not every Sunday, but not infrequently. I've never discouraged it. One Monday morning a few months ago, though, I saw him reading the Bible, a children's Bible he'd been given at his mother's church. In no way did I discourage him from reading it. But I confess (as it were) that I went to work that day a bit preoccupied.