Many people come to believe and embrace Christianity by means of some tragedy or crisis. They’re driven in desperation to look for something that will help them rationalize and file away their grief, and many times, they find Christianity. Many other times, they grab hold of other things, such as drugs, alcohol, other religions, or even a perceived freedom achieved from relinquishing religion. In any case, tragedy has a way of forcing people into a spiral of desperation while their flailing arms are reaching for something outside themselves hoping that thing can withstand the force, and grant stability once again. Tragedy has a way of overturning and tearing down our places of comfort, and our ideas we believe to be secure, and it weakens our knees upon which we have always felt stable until that point.
What is it about Christianity that causes some people to grab hold it? The promise of a better life, if not here then in eternity; satisfaction in knowing that the evil you experience does not have the last word, but that all evil will one day be done away with, punished, and made right; that all the things you feel guilty for having done can actually be forgiven and be remembered no longer; that this itself is an act of love by the very God who created the universe; that you can have a deep and fulfilling camaraderie and comfort with others like you; that you can find ultimate purpose in living for and worshipping God. We all, I think, would be inclined to say that things such as these are more than suited to meet the very common occurrence of tragedy.
Why is it, then, that those who are opposed to Christianity by principle, in a seemingly anti-utilitarian manner, consider Christianity false because of these things? Does it follow that favorable effects of an action make it true or good? If they say “no,” they must relinquish their utilitarianism. Does it follow that Christianity’s favorable effects make it not true? Granted, spelled out like this, anyone in their right mind would say “no.” But how many times have we been told that Christianity is a “delusion” or a “coping mechanism,” or that people who believe in Christianity are themselves delusional, and that this is why they don’t believe? This may have much to do with the ever-shortening attention span of the average person, the unwillingness to think and, well, sin. But it is also due to a careless, groundless philosophy, one which has no choice but to depend upon the “utility” of anything in order to assign it value. Could it be that the invariable tendency of one to break away from that philosophy in order to oppose Christianity means that his philosophy is inefficient, insufficient, and late to the game? In case anyone thinks I’m unsure by forming it as a question – Yes, it could be. It is.
Christianity is not true simply because it gives people the comfort that sin has taken from them. It’s not true because it helps.
It’s true, and that is why it helps.