Blog: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Burt Ross

I was recently reminded of a story which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that sometimes we can learn wisdom from the very young.

Back almost 30 years ago when my daughter Kate (now Dr. Kathryn) was about four years old, I was driving her to school, as was my responsibility most mornings. She sat in the backseat of my cavernous Lincoln Town Car.

From the rear, I heard a little girl’s voice ask, “Daddy, where did the first man come from?” I had not yet had my first cup of coffee and was not sure I had heard correctly until a somewhat louder and persistent voice said, “Daddy, where did the first person come from?”

I was not very good at answering these kinds of questions such as “Why is grass green?” “How hot is the sun?” and “Where did the dead dog go?” This is exactly why she has a mother. We still had a few more minutes to drive, and Kate was obviously insistent.

In my infinite wisdom I decided to give her choices as if we were in a Chinese restaurant and she could pick some from column A and others from column B. “Kate, there are many different theories as to where the first person came from,” I started. “In the Bible, there is the story of Adam and Eve, and God made Adam out of whole clay and Eve from Adam’s ribs.” You can tell from this explanation that I did not adequately study Genesis or any other section of the Bible.

Then I gave my daughter a more scientific explanation. I told her about Darwin’s theory of evolution, and how fish became birds or something like that, and then somewhere along the line we got monkeys, and voila, we got man. (I think the Biblical story of Adam and Eve is easier for me to digest.)

These stories were met with stone silence. I had no idea whether my daughter heard my tales, found them plausible or was simply thinking about something else. After a moment or two, Kate said the following: “Daddy, I bet the first man on Earth knows how he got here.”

I thought a second and then said, “Kate, I think you’re right. The first man on Earth probably knows how he got here.” I drove on and we both felt good now understanding as much as we could about the origins of man.