People want the truth. Nobody is looking to be lied to. We naturally desire to live in “the real world” preferring the real and the true to the fake and the false. No woman seeks a lying husband, and no employer is looking for dishonest employees. Surely no one truly wishes they were the delusional star of the Truman Show. It is a fact that we all desire sanity; that is, to see and live according to what is really there. It is by the true that we see things as they really are. Truth is necessary for sanity; therefore truth matters.
People also want the good; that is, those things that we believe will move us in the direction of greater happiness. Good things lead to happiness − and everyone desires happiness! The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, affirmed this when he wrote, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” We can all recognize that good things are necessary for greater happiness. Therefore the good matters.
Now what if Christianity could be shown to be both true and good? What if being a religious believer of the Christian creed really can lead to greater sanity and greater happiness – even ultimately the greatest sanity and happiness? Christianity promises – by the words of Jesus Christ – to lead to the everlasting fulfillment of all of our desires. Thus if the claims of Christianity could be proven true beyond a reasonable doubt would it not be most sensible to conclude that Christianity matters more than anything? C.S. Lewis – who converted to Christianity from staunch atheism – thought long and hard about this last question. He concluded that “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
What makes Christianity different from every other religion, philosophy and worldview in the history of mankind is not just its great promise of happiness (indeed great promises of happiness abound); but rather, the superabundance of interior and external evidence which has made the promises of Christ unceasingly believable through a vast diversity of ages, cultures and civilizations. No other way of seeing the world and seeking happiness has ever captivated and converted the lives of so many. Thus if Christianity is true – and if it is the only way to everlasting fulfillment of all our desires – then there is nothing in all of reality that matters more for us who seek truth and happiness with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength.
Where Do You Stand?
Religion is first and foremost a virtue – and not a system of belief. It is an action of love towards God, and flowing forth from that, love of neighbor. Thus religious indifference is inaction and presents itself in different forms and degrees.
Based on modern data obtained through surveys, studies and anecdotal evidence it seems clear that many of today’s people are growing increasingly indifferent about religion, and as a consequence, live as though they “couldn’t care less” about things like God, angels and demons, heaven and hell, church, prayer, and morality (“all religions are false”). But this is not the only form of religious indifference: indeed some believe in religious ideas but are indifferent about the contradicting features of one religion to the next (“all religions are equal”). And still others believe in Christ but are indifferent about which church – or Church – they belong to (“all Christian denominations are equal”).
The first kind of indifference (“all religions are false”) flows from an atheistic philosophy. The second (“all religions are equal”) and third (“all Christian denominations are equal”) flow from a relativistic philosophy. All three of them collapse when met with evidential scrutiny.
Where do you stand?
Though I am now a committed (and convinced) Catholic, it was only a few years ago that I had abandoned all commitments to “organized religion”. Like many people today who have grown apathetic about religion, I was raised as a child in a loving religious family. But by my early twenties – after leaving home to attend university on a football scholarship – religion had fallen far off my radar. I had traded the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for football, partying and the opposite sex. I grew negative and critical towards the Catholic Church. Furthermore, I began to challenge orthodox Christian morality and began asking questions about the nature of God and the divinity of Christ, asking questions like “was Jesus really God?” and “does God really love me?” I began to stray dangerously close to agnosticism and found myself absorbed into a pagan way of life – what I called the “spiritual but not religious” way of life – while remaining skeptical of many of the major tenets of Christian belief I had grown to accept. Religion became largely unimportant to me and, although I still called myself a “Catholic” when pressed for my religious affiliation, I lived as though God did not exist and, moreover, as if Jesus was not God. I lived as though I was the only one “calling the shots”. I was no longer convicted that any religion was either true or good, and thus, lived a life permeated by religious indifference. The problem was, I rarely asked The Big Questions about the things that matter most – Why is there something rather than nothing? Why am I here? What am I made for? Am I even “made”? Does God exist? What is man? What is the right way to live? and so on – and when I did confront The Big Questions, I refused to consider the best answers with seriousness.
The Big Question
The big question is: does Christianity matter? In order to determine the answer we must be willing seek the answers to the following questions:
- Are the claims of Christianity true?
- Is the effect of Christianity good?
As we have seen, the truth matters to us because it leads to sanity, and the good matters to us because it leads to happiness. Therefore if there are solid reasons to believe that Christianity is true and good (which I believe there are), then Christianity ought to matter to you and to me. I believe good reasons for belief, if received with a willingness to follow the evidence where it leads, will compel you to make the biggest decision of your life. And good reasons for belief are out there and easily accessible online at places like Strange Notions and Catholic Answers, apostolates which are highly engaged in answering The Big Questions. The great 20th century writer G.K. Chesterton, who was called “a man of colossal genius” by his firmly irreligious debate opponent George Bernard Shaw, found enough reasons to become a Christian after a long search for answers. In fact he became a Catholic; and in response to why, he wrote:
“The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” (from The Thing)
But everyone knows that just because some action is grounded in truth, and even good, this does not mean that it is easy. Chesterton thus remarked:
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” (from What’s Wrong With The World)
Now if you are already a Christian, I hope that your perpetual search for truth will challenge you to renew your decision to be a disciple of Christ. If you are not a Christian, I hope your search for truth will challenge you to think seriously about Christianity and what it has to offer you; namely, the fullness of truth and goodness, sanity and happiness.
It cannot be avoided by those who search with genuine intent. Ultimately for each one of us, the discovery of The Big Answers will culminate with a lofty but unavoidable personal decision for or against an all-loving God who has prepared for you an unimaginable everlasting reward which no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived. That’s what’s on the line. It’s all or nothing. Nothing to be lost and perhaps Everything to gain for those who choose to believe. Nothing to be gained and perhaps all to lose for those who choose not to. We each must decide for ourselves; and we each must decide. For as Pascal observed, indifferent or not, we are already embarked.