I was putting my 8 year old daughter to bed the other night when a school project got us talking about all the different animals in the world. She had lots of questions all of a sudden;
"Did the mammoths live when the dinosaurs were around?"
I did my best to explain the rough time frames, about how long ago some of it really was.
"What kinds of animals lived before the dinosaurs?"
I told her what I knew about the creatures of the Permian era that were kind of like reptiles but different too.
"And the dinosaurs became birds right?"
I nodded. Close enough. Then she said:
"It seems like they were all invented doesn't it? All these different animals."
I smiled to myself, thinking of Dawkins and Gould and the whole raging debate my 8 year old had tapped into just before lights-out. Here's how I answered her:
"Well, they were invented. Each and every creature at a time was created by God, not just all the birds, but each and every bird, every one that was ever born - just like you and me - we were each created special, down the last hair on our heads. Every time a new creature is born, God created it. Each one is a little different, it's special. That's why you are your own person, a bit different even from your sister, even though you're identical twins. When we have kids they come out a bit like mom, a bit like dad, but also something new too, a bit different every time. So then they have kids and it happens all over again. It's that way for all the things that ever lived. And it happens over and over and over and over, a little different each time, and over millions of years, all these different kinds of animals come to be, just from those little difference. Some die out, and some are the ones we see today. Everything that lives, even the plants and bugs and you and me, got here that way."
"That's neat," she said.