Mailvox: how do you know?

Brody asks a legitimate question:

I am curious to know: how do the christians here KNOW they are right about who created earth and humans and why they were created? Is it a feeling? A bit of knowledge? What makes you certain you chose the correct religion, rather than say, buddhism?

I am a Christian because I not only believe in Jesus Christ, but have accepted that he is the Lord of my life, not me. Some might find this little quiz interesting, which shows that I tend more strongly towards agnosticism than any other religion; the Christianity of most conservatives will usually tend to orient more towards Buddhism or one of the Abrahamic faiths. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I don’t have any problem with saying that I don’t KNOW that my religion is based on the truth, I simply BELIEVE that it is.

You scored as Christianity.


Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
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That being said, my reasons for deciding to follow Jesus Christ and abide by the principles of Christianity as laid out in the Bible and by Christian tradition – however poorly I may do so – are threefold. (Neither four, nor five, shall be the reasons, neither shall they be one or two, excepting that they then proceedeth on to three… I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

1. Christian principles predict human behavior and its concomitant consequences better than anything else I’ve witnessed or studied. This holds true on both individual and societal levels. Within its intellectual tradition, Christianity provides an explanation for everything from unhappy housewives to the inevitability of war to the marginal utility of wealth. Regardless of whether one accepts those explanations, a reasonable one almost always exists. While not always intellectually credible at first glance, on the whole it is more intellectually coherent than any other philosophy or religion.

2. I have witnessed and experienced the power of Jesus Christ in my life and in the lives of those around me. The main reason I became more open to the possibility that Christianity might indeed be something to consider was witnessing some dramatic changes in the White Buffalo, only to learn after the fact that he had become a Christian some time before. I was completely unaware that he’d even been attending church, much less become a Christian, because I never, ever, got up before noon and he was going to an early service. I can still remember overhearing a conversation of his, one totally unrelated to religion, and wondering if the Pod People had come in the night.

So, even if Christianity was, by its own lights, false, it would still be an uncannily powerful placebo and one that one would be churlish, if not downright evil, to deny others. The very hatred that so many betray for Christianity, as opposed to Islam, Judaism (the religion, not the people) and Buddhism is, to me, testimony of the veracity of the Christian worldview.

3. The existence and persistence of evil, great and small. I believed in the tangible reality of evil before I believed in the existence of God. The one requires the other, for without God, there is no evil, there is only opinion or a lack of perfect utility. Indeed, even if Christianity is nothing but a human construct, I’ll take it on that Voltairean grounds alone, for it is a construct that has served humanity longer and better than any other.

Those are my chief intellectual reasons; there are many others. Perhaps they are meaningless for you, but they happen to be sufficient for me. Certainly, I have believed other things with far less cause and after far less thought. But beyond the merely intellectual, there is a joy in my heart when I contemplate the simple phrase “He is Risen” that gives me a persistent optimism even in the face of the world’s panoply of evils. The world is a madhouse ruled by a vicious sadist, but it is only a shadow, and soon enough, the Son will rise once more.

People often consider me a pessimist because of the conclusions I draw from the available evidence, without stopping to consider how often I am correct. And perhaps they’re right, although I’m probably one of the more cheerful pessimists you’ll ever meet. Because although the world is doomed – damned, actually – it has been almost from the start. Christians may be in the world, but we are not of it, and that is a very cheering thought indeed. It’s rather like being a tourist in a third world hellhole; no matter how bad it is around you at the moment, it won’t get you too down since you know it won’t be all that long before you’re back in air-conditioned civilization again.

I don’t know that I am right with regards to these things. But it is enough, it is more than enough, to trust that I am.