The question very quickly led to an open and candid conversation about the struggles with God that a lot of us in the room have had (myself included). One student felt safe to share that she had stopped believing in God after the loss of a relative - who had been a particularly upstanding person. She couldn't understand why God would "let" a person like that die.
I was blown away by the thoughtful contributions that our students made during the conversation. There were moments when I had to remind myself that these were young people who are not yet teenagers! All too often, this is the kind of conversation that I only get to have with adults.
As I do with adults, I reminded our young people that SSTTE is a place where everyone's questions and struggles with God are honored. No one "has" to believe in God to be a member of our community.
At the same time, I gently reminded them that there are a lot of different ways of "thinking about" God. It may be that we don't believe in One who is All Powerful, and able to intervene in our lives by doing miracles. There are, it turns out, an array of theologians and philosophers (you can read about them here!!!) who offer us new ways of thinking about God in modernity that are perhaps more intellectually and theologically honest/consistent with the rest of the way we view and understand the world....at least as compared to the way that our ancestors thought about God centuries ago...