Monday, October 1, 2012

Religion, Even if True, May Not Be so Important

One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.
-C. S. Lewis
-Comment Sections Everywhere

Suppose we were to be contacted by angels tomorrow. Spiritual beings would manifest themselves in physical form, call a press conference, and reveal the mysteries of the universe. They would tell us that religious claims (or at least some religious claims) were correct. There is a God. And they would consent to all manner of rigorous scientific examination to show that their bodies were composed of matter that could not be accounted for by the known universe, and then they would toss out some mind-blowing version of the Ontological Argument that made God's existence indisputable.

What would the world look like?

Over a year ago, I argued that it may be necessary for God - if there is a God - to obscure himself in order to keep the mundane realities of everyday life looking necessary for human beings. I still, for the most part, agree with what I wrote there: if God appeared in all his glory he would shatter our ability to be concerned about our own lives. However, if God himself did not appear, but his presence became a fact on par with any scientific hypothesis that we regularly rely upon, what would the world look like?

And my answer would be, not very different.

After the initial shock of having God's existence proven, we would have to realign our thinking a bit. The atheism movement would fragment between those who would become theists and those who would redefine atheism on moral grounds. The perceived enmity between science and religion would fade. But then, what?

Our lives are busy, our situations diverse, and our mental power limited. Most people will spend most of their time not particularly worried about God; they may give God a portion of their time and energy but they will also give a portion to family, work, sex, entertainment, sports, finances, maintenance, and personal hygiene. Even those we might consider intellectuals or reflective people will have to devote their mental energies to economics, chemistry, political science, cultural criticism, and the proper implementation of web standards. Indeed, even if God were a fact, he would be a fact that a great many people find useless given their own, limited projects. God will hardly capture everyone's heart simply because he has claimed territory in everyone's mind.

Human nature is diverse. Even if we remove the question of God's existence, not all human beings will react to God's existence the same way. Frankly, a lot of people don't spend a lot of time worried about God or spiritual matters at all. God occupies a place in nearly every person's mind, we all have moments where theistic questions seem significant to us, but for many of us these moments are fleeting. We have an entire life to live, only some of us are so inclined to grow obsessed over this one aspect of life.

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