Christianity: Fantasy or Reality?
by Greg Koukl
Once I was sitting on an airplane next to a stockbroker. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him I was a writer. When he asked what I wrote about, immediately I faced a problem. I wanted to tell him that I write about religion, specifically Christianity, but I didn’t want him to make a mistake many people make when they think about those two things.
Most people nowadays would not say that the religious stories believers believe are actually false (it would be impolite to put it that way, and might even be considered intolerant). At the same time, though, they do not think they’re really true, either, in any deep sense of the word.
Instead, people are tempted to think of religion as a kind of spiritual fantasy club—true for you, but not necessarily true for me. Find the club you like—the one that meets your personal needs, that gives you rules to live by that are respectable (but not too demanding), that warms your heart with a feeling of spirituality. That’s the point of religion. Do not, however, confuse religious stories with reality. They don’t give you the kind of information about the world that, say, science does. Yes, believing in God is useful to a point, but religion taken too seriously is, in some ways, like believing in Santa Claus—quaint if you’re a child, but unbecoming of an adult.
I am convinced this is a completely misguided approach to religion, and I did not want the stockbroker thinking this is what I had in mind—that my faith is an exercise in spiritual wishful thinking, the kind of delusion Karl Marx once called the “opiate of the people.” My comments to the stockbroker, then, were informed by a very particular way of understanding Christianity, a way even many Christians have not fully grasped…