If Christian beliefs enable the Christian to live longer and more joyfully, does it say anything about the existence of the Christian God? The atheist Richard Dawkins dismisses any connection between the existence of God the benefits derived from a faith in God.
Nevertheless, most will acknowledge the benefits. Dag Hammarskjold, a late Secretary General of the UN, observed:
- God does not die in the day we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond reason. (Markings)
We are sustained by those things that can only come from God. The late novelist, George Elliot, confessed:
- God is “inconceivable” and immortality “unbelievable” but duty is nonetheless “peremptory and absolute.” (Os Guinness, The Journey, 132)
We need duty and purpose, but these can only be grasped in any absolute sense if God exists. Otherwise, these are merely the accidental and arbitrary products of evolution, social whim, or merely just a bio-chemical reaction.
According to the Deist Ben Franklin, we even need God for a moral society:
- If men are wicked with religion, what would they be without it? (119)
The benefits even extend to our most intimate relationships, as former atheist, Patrick Glynn, reports:
- A 1978 study found that church attendance predicted marital satisfaction better than any other single variable. Couples in long-lasting marriages who were surveyed in another study listed religion as one of the most important “prescriptions” of a happy marriage. (God: The Evidence, 64)
Glynn also relates religious belief to better physical and emotional payoffs:
- “Religious belief is one of the most consistent correlates of overall mental health and happiness. Study after study has shown a powerful relationship between religious belief and practice, on the one hand, and healthy behaviors with regard to such problems as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, depression, even, perhaps surprisingly, levels of sexual satisfaction in marriage, on the other” (61).
In contrast to this, the atheist experience is admittedly dismal, although it might commence with a sense of freedom from constraints. Jean-Paul Satre confessed that, “Atheism is a cruel, long-term business.” Bertrand Russell described his atheistic religion in this manner:
- The life of man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain… Brief and powerless is mean’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way. (Why I am not a Christian)
H.J. Blackham, a former director of the British Humanist Association, wrote:
- The most drastic objection to humanism is that it is too bad to be true. The world is one vast tomb if humans are ephemeral and human life itself is doomed to ultimate extinction… There is no end to hiding from the ultimate end of life, which is death. But it does not avail. On humanist assumptions, life leads to nothing, and every pretense that it does not is a deceit. (106)
However, does any of this offer any objective evidence for the existence of God? I would say so. The things that creatures desire and choose tend to bring objective benefits. Even grazing animals tend to eat nutritious greens and to reject the poisonous ones. They know to drink when they get thirsty, to find shade when they get hot, and to rest when they get tired. They are able to make positive adjustments to an objective reality that surrounds them, and they derive benefits from this.
Why then choose to believe that Christians are deluded and yet are deriving unmistakable benefits from their delusion?
BUT ARE WE WIRED TO FLOURISH THROUGH DISTORTED THINKING? Atheists claim that a belief in God represents gross self-delusion. They have many pejorative phrases to describe faith in God: “imaginary friend,” “big-daddy in the sky,” “complete nonsense,” or “self-delusion.”
However, here is what is incomprehensible about these charges. Delusions put us out-of-touch with reality, especially a “delusion” that lies at the basis of our entire lives. Instead, of assisting us to constructively manage our jobs, relationships, home, and even driving a car – and all of these endeavors require accurate feedback in order to derive positive benefits – delusion about a God who guides our lives and infuses them with a whole range of “illusory” doctrines should interfere with any prospect of a positive adjustment to any of life’s endeavors. Instead, we flourish.
Why? Just consider riding your bicycle blindfolded. You would soon crash incurring great costs. Close to home, consider someone who navigated life with rose colored glasses. He might think that all women secretly love him. Consequently, he would not take “no” for an answer. I knew such a man who was arrested repeatedly for harassment because of his cognitive distortion.
Or consider a woman who was confident that she was performing better on the job than she really was. Consequently, she saw no need for improvement and was eventually fired.
Or just consider the people who are unable to understand others but are confident that they were treating them appropriately, when they really aren’t. Eventually, they lose their friends.
Generally speaking, distorted think causes distorted behavior with negative outcomes. In All in the Playing, Shirley MacLaine had explained her distorted worldview:
- I went on to express my feeling of total responsibility and power for all events that occur in the world because the world is happening only in my reality. And human beings feeling pain, terror, depression, panic, and so forth, were really only aspects of pain, terror, depression, panic, and so on, in me!
How would such distorted thinking affect her relationships? Wikipedia concluded its posting on her this way:
- In 2015, she sparked criticism for her comments on Jews, Christians, and Stephen Hawking. In particular she claimed that victims of the Nazi Holocaust were experiencing the results of their own karma, and suggested that Hawking subconsciously caused himself to develop ALS as a means to focus better on physics.
Her thinking understandably created relational problems, among other things. Why then is it that those who believe in a “heavenly Christian sky-daddy” – an all-encompassing “delusion” – make positive adjustments, while others do not? From an atheistic perspective, this is impossible to understand.