Is There Anybody Up There?

The book tells the story of how Max, a goatherd, seeks help from “the Man who lives in the Sky” and accidentally attracts a group of followers. Everyone is happy enjoying Max’s Sunday barbecue until the arrival of Chicken Man Tim who believes the world was created by The Mother Hen …

This book is for any “non-believer” trying to explain their views about religion and god to children in an entertaining way. It seeks to provide an alternative view in a world full of messages aimed at children urging a belief in god.

It is, in no way, an attack on any specific religious teaching, doctrine or tradition.

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WHY WRITE THE BOOK?

The idea for this book came about from a conversation I had with a mother of two boys who were attending a church school.

Even though she did not believe in a god, she had sent her sons to a private school to take advantage of the perceived social and educational advantages.

In Australia (where this book was written), non-government schools are generally run by churches and are favoured by those who have the money to pay the tuition fees.

Think of it as middle-class networking for children.

One unintended consequence, however, was the boys’ exposure to scripture classes and to a group of boys who belonged to a Christian Fellowship group, a sort of social club for the devout.

The youngest boy, a six-year-old, aware that Mummy did not believe in a god, had arrived home distraught and in tears after being told that unbelievers were not allowed in heaven.

He explained, “I’ll be in heaven and you won’t be there.”

This is a particularly hard message for a six year old to receive. Most six-year-olds are still trying to come to terms with the idea that their parents may die before them. Learning that Mum was going to an eternity of suffering in purgatory (or perhaps even hell) was too much.

This little book does not attack religion or its importance in our lives and makes no judgement about right or wrong. It does, as the title indicates, question the notion of a creator or god. Historically, religion has been one of the keys to the development of culture and civilisation. It plays a role in creating ethical frameworks and meaning in billions of lives.

Sadly, however, most of the established religions still seek to give their ideas and teachings authority by ascribing their origin to a “sky god” or “creator”. This is an idea that evolved in the pre-history of humans and sought to explain an otherwise baffling and random existence. It is an idea which is clearly at odds with what we now know about evolution and science.

The accumulated wisdom contained within religion should be persuasive enough without relying on an imagined creator looking down from above.

I believe it’s time to leave behind ancient folk tales and tell children the truth.