Are you a teen who has read the book by Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens? If so, this essay is especially for you.
Conversations with God for Teens has questions that Walsch says are from teens, and follow-up questions, most of which Walsch said he wrote himself.1 This is important to keep in mind, since that means that most of the teens who sent in questions did not ask follow-up questions, which means that we don?t really know what they thought of the answers.
Walsch says that he recorded words from God; he does not say they might be from God ? he says they are.2 Now, if these words are not from God, what does that mean? It can only mean one of two things: Walsch is lying when he says these words are from God, or Walsch is deluded in thinking they are from God. If these words are not from God, then Walsch, as a liar or as one who is deluded, is giving you the information. Keep that in mind as you read or re-read what is said in the book. It should cause you to reflect on how seriously you should take it.
If you think the words really are from God, then what is this God like? It is true he says some good things - don't do drugs, try to sympathize with your parents, and recognize that need is not love. There are a few other things he says that are good, too. This God makes other statements as well, over and over, that sound a little unusual: we are living in an illusion, we are not separate from each other, there is no right or wrong (and to think so is being in an illusion), and you should get out of your mind and drop your thoughts.
These are pretty radical things to say, and so it might be good to think about their implications. Just because they are radical does not mean there are new ideas, however, or that they are good. I will call Walsch's God by the initial, G. To claim that these ideas are coming from God is a pretty big claim and should motivate you to check out some of these ideas carefully.
- No right or wrong. G says there is no right or wrong. How can we judge that sentence itself, then, as being right or wrong? We can't, and that means that we can't accept or reject it, which makes no sense. We can't make a judgment of whether it's right or wrong that there is no right or wrong, if there really is no right or wrong. In fact, if there really is no right or wrong, we can't even say there is no right or wrong because then we must be able to decide whether to accept the statement itself as right or wrong. It's sort of like saying there is no absolute truth. That statement itself is an absolute claim to truth, meaning that in trying to deny absolute truth, one is actually admitting it.
- All is one. G says all is one. G also says we live in an illusion. But if all is one, there can be no differences between anything. That means there is no difference between illusion and reality, or that we can't tell the difference. So how do we know we are in an illusion and how do we know what is real? "All is one" may sound good but it means there are no distinctions! You can't say all is one and then make distinctions, because the definition of "all is one" is that there are no distinctions. Either all is one or all is not one; if we perceive distinctions, then where do those come from and how can we know they are false?
- We are in an illusion. If we live in an illusion, then maybe G is an illusion. Maybe what Walsch wrote is an illusion. Maybe the illusion is that we are being told we are in an illusion! How do we tell the difference between illusion and reality? G doesn't say. And if we are living in an illusion, that means that you cannot trust your senses or your awareness. You are deluded, according to G. And if you are deluded, how can you know that G is telling the truth?
- Don't think! G tells teens to "drop" their thoughts and to get out of their minds. He is saying that you should not trust your thinking, so to think about what he says is being deceptive or wrong. This is a good way to stop you from thinking critical thoughts about what he says. One more thing -- you have to think about not thinking in order not to think. In fact, you have to think enough to read and understand the sentence where G says not to think!
- G does not care what we do. G says he has no preference in what we do.3 If that is so, then how can he suggest ways that we should live, which he does throughout the book?
- G doesn't like everything, even though he says there is no right or wrong. If that is true, then why does G make it clear certain things are wrong? In fact, he finds quite a few things wrong, such as lying, damaging the environment, teachings from certain religions, etc. If there truly is no right or wrong, then how can G express disapproval and approval for so many things and ideas?
- Are racism and rape okay? Since there is no right or wrong, then how can we say racism, abuse, or rape are wrong? How can Hitler be bad? Either there is no right or wrong, or there is. G says that it is an illusion that we think there is right and wrong.
- You don't have an individual identity. G says that when you die, you will "meld" with God. Then you will eventually "differentiate" due to a "primal vibration" and go out into the world again. You will do this over and over for eternity.4 But your real identity is submerged in this godstuff, along with everyone else who has died. Not just good people you like, but everyone ? Hitler, serial killers, abusers of children, etc. ? since G says everyone melds back into God. Everyone melts into one big clump -- temporarily.
- You have the right to question this book. There is a lot more in the book that is not talked about here. What are the implications of what G says? Does anyone have the right to tell you not to think? Could that mean not to think about what G says?
Having come to this point, I don't want to leave you hanging. Is there a God? Yes, there is. We can see from creation that someone had to design and set everything up. There is a God who created you, who cares for you, who knows the number of hairs on your head!5 He is perfectly good, and the standard of right and wrong is based on his character. We cannot measure up to perfectly good. We are not even close. So he sent Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God the Son, who always was and always is, to earth. Jesus came willingly, lived a perfect life, and willingly died in our place on the cross. He paid the penalty for our sins. When we realize we are separated from God by our sins, we can be reconciled to God by trusting Christ as the Savior -- the way, the truth, and the life.6 There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life with God, it is a gift when Christ is your savior by faith.7
How do we get to know God? We know him through Christ. As Jesus said about God, "For I know Him, for I am from Him, and he sent Me."8 And, "He who receives Me, receives Him who sent Me."9
I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the One who sent Me, has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.
1 Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God for Teens (NY: Scholastic, Inc., March, 2002), 9, 19.
2 Ibid., 3.
3 Ibid., 163.
4 Ibid., 140, 142, 143, 261, 264, 278, 281, 296, 314-315.
5 Matthew 10:30.
6 John 14:6.
7 Ephesians 2: 8, 9.
8 John 7:29.
9 John 13:20b