Recently, I was unwillingly copied into a series of emails started by someone who believes that Christianity is not only delusional, but immoral. He scoffs at anyone who believes in God as if we are morons, trapped in a fantasy world. Anyone who is intelligent and insightful should be able to see through the fiction of belief and embrace his naturalistic, non-theistic world.
A little more than a month ago I sat in pew in my church and observed a family saying goodbye to their daughter, whose fifth birthday would have been Tuesday. She had been born with a serious genetic disorder called Trisomy 13. Most would have aborted this child, but they did not do that. Every day of Gracie’s life was hard and she did not grow normally. She experienced continual pain, but she was loved deeply and showed love to her family. They did not think a single day of her life as regrettable. Her life was anything but meaningless.
There were few dry eyes in the house as Gracie’s mother shared story after story of their time together. Nor was there even a hint of bitterness in this family, no complaints about the unfairness of their struggle. They were thankful for every moment they’d had with Gracie during her brief life. They were rejoicing that God had given them the chance to love her, even for a short time. They had fully embraced their suffering and found meaning and joy in it. There was no anger. No recrimination.
As I sat there, I had a thought.
If God is not real, if Christianity is a myth, if our faith is fiction, its a mighty good fantasy!
This myth enabled a family to face the most horrible of realities with joy and gratitude.
Were they simply deluded? If so, their delusion seems a lot better than the cynical world of the angry skeptics. Does the God whom they relied on to carry them through this difficult time not actually exist? Then their God is the most powerful, life-changing, soul-sustaining myth ever.
All of this puts me in mind of one of my favorite passages in “The Silver Chair.” Puddleglum, Jill and Eustice, trapped deep underground, are being told by the wicked Queen that their “Overworld” is just a myth. The children are coming under the spell of the Queen’s words, until Puddleglum breaks in with this little speech.
“‘One word, Ma’am,’ he said… ‘One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
I’m convinced that God is real, that Christ has risen and that our faith is not in vain. But even if it is all the delusion my skeptic friends think it is, then our play-world licks their real world hollow. I want nothing to do with the black pit of their unbelief. Like Puddleglum, I’m going to keep seeking Overland.
If the world is as dull, pointless and meaningless a place as they say it is, maybe our fantasy isn’t so bad, after all.