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I have written a lot about the benefits of Christianity, but if Christianity is just about satisfying my emotional needs, well, how do I know that it’s true? Maybe it’s just a powerful story that makes me feel good, much like the comfort of watching a movie where it all turns out right in the end. Maybe it’s just a fairy tale.
I do believe that Christianity fulfills our emotional needs. We do need healing, and comfort, and joy. We do need to know that we are beloved. We need to know that we have purpose. We need to know that we aren’t alone. And yet, Christianity has to do more than make me feel good, or I’m just feeling good about a lie.
The Christian story explains a lot. It explains why there is goodness in the world—because God created it and God continues to care about the creation, including humans. And it explains why there is evil in the world—because human beings chose to live without God’s presence and screwed it all up. And Christianity offers a solution to this problem. Christianity says that Jesus overturned the evil and kept the good. That Jesus demonstrated God’s love to us by becoming human, and then lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died, all that we might live with God. Sounds good, right?
But there’s another story in our culture that has answers to these same questions. It’s the story of evolutionary biology. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it is consistent to believe that the world is the way it is because of a process of biological evolution. But people in our culture have constructed a story and have tried to make meaning out of evolutionary biology. That story says that there is goodness in the world because it helps us survive as a species. When we help each other—especially those people in our immediate family and community—we survive. It might make us feel good, but that’s just evolution’s way of keeping us alive. And evolution explains evil too. We hurt each other because we are biologically inclined to survive. Sometimes that means helping others, but sometimes it means fending for ourselves. Survival of the fittest. And according to evolution, the existence of evil isn’t a problem. It’s just the way things are, and therefore, there isn’t any solution to the problem of pain. Using evolution to discover meaning leads to conclusions that are rather depressing to me, and yet I think this story nonetheless offers compelling answers to the goodness, and the evil, we find in the world.
So if all Christianity has to offer is a nice story to explain things and make me feel good about being loved, there’s no way to know if it is actually true or if those of us who say we live with God by following Jesus are delusional.
But the reason I have continued to follow Jesus, the reason I continue to choose life with God day after day, hinges on something else, upon one of the final parts of the Christian story. In the next post, I’m going to write about that story, which means I’m going to write about also about why I am a Christian, why I have staked my life on this story, why I believe that this isn’t just a fairy tale but a reality.