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Disclaimer ~ I was provided with a copy of Is God Real Or Pretend? by Jennifer Horsman in the hopes I would do a review on the blog. Affiliate links may be present in this post.
I consider myself someone who is rather secure in her faith, but also loves to learn about other belief systems. I also try to expose the boys to basic information about those different belief systems rather than completely shield them. However, it can be a challenge to find resources that will not confuse the younger kids. So, I was excited to review Is God Real Or Pretend? by Jennifer Horsman with the hope it would be a book to share with my school aged boys.
First I’ll share the information that I was given when electing to accept this title for review…
About Is God Real or Pretend?
Is God Real or Pretend? is the story of young Franklin’s engaging and enlightening journey to answer this age old question. Franklin’s grandmother, Dr. Wendy Knowles, a professor of astronomy, first provides Franklin with the basic scientific means of determining what is real and what is not and how science distinguishes questions it can answer and those it cannot. Franklin’s mission of discovery continues as he meets a kindly professor of Greek mythology who offers a historical-cultural prospective on the question. Here Franklin meets the Greek Gods and their timeless myths.
Once armed with these new ideas, Franklin meets with representatives of the world’s five major religions: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. These knowledgeable teachers from each of the great religions charm and delight as they shine positive lights on their religion. Franklin asks probing questions, while learning to appreciate and admire the diversity and beauty of these religious beliefs and traditions. Ultimately, Franklin’s dynamic school report on the immensity and magnificence of the universe becomes the backdrop for thinking critically about religion and questions about God.
This book is designed for anyone and everyone, young and old, religious or not, who wants to know more about these five great religions. It’s the most unforgettable and exciting journey, one every thoughtful child (and the curious adults in their life) will enjoy.
Is God Real or Pretend? retails for $14.95 in softback format or $4.95 in Kindle Format.
About Jennifer Horsman, author of Is God Real or Pretend?
In addition to a B.A. from UC Irvine in Social Ecology, she has spent a lifetime reading about religion, philosophy, history, and science.
You can find her and her books at JenniferHorsman.com.
My Thoughts on Is God Real or Pretend?
For those reading this post that do not know my background, I feel compelled to share that I have training as a scientist with both a Bachelor of Science (chemistry) and a Master of Science (Neuroscience) in my life before kids and homeschooling. I completely get the scientific method and how scientists approach something they are trying to explain. However, I am also a Catholic who has taken that leap of faith to believe in God as well as believe that there are just some things we can not explain with science. (I also believe there are some things scientists dabble with when they should just leave well enough alone, but that’s a whole different post!) I share this as I can put on my science hat and not feel like science and Christianity can not be reconciled. And, I believe that my personal belief system influences how I perceive this title.
At the beginning of this book, you get a hint at the approach and possible conclusion that will be drawn. The main character, Franklin, has now accepted that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are all fictional characters. These revelations have him questioning whether God is real or pretend. I found his family to be rather reflective of some families I know as his parents do not agree on a belief system. His mother is Christian and will talk about seeing God’s hand in the world. His dad (who lives apart from them for half of each year) is agnostic and his grandmother is a scientist who shuns a personal belief in God, but will help put Franklin in touch with people who have different beliefs.
During Franklin’s quest to answer the question, you are introduced to Greek Myths, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Each short chapter is a brief overview of that particular religions tenets of faith. Considering this title is aimed at grades 3 and up, I didn’t find the lack of details to be an issue. Rather, this book is meant to wet an appetite in the child to dig a little deeper. As someone who enjoys learning more about different faiths, I found it to do a reasonable job at covering the very basics.
That being said, I am glad that I read this title before just passing it onto my boys. The book has Franklin concluding that he’ll put his trust in science as it can answer most questions people have. While that may be an acceptable conclusion for this character who is surrounded by adults who do not agree on a belief system to teach their child, it is not a conclusion I’d want my boys to make. However, I would be willing to use each independent chapter on the major world religions as a starting place for further research and discussion.
How do you approach the question of whether God is real or pretend with your children?
Do you teach about faiths other than your own?
Curious what other reviewers had to say about this title? Visit the Is God Real or Pretend? tour page on TLC Book Tours.