When Nancy Mitford asked Evelyn Waugh how he could be such a horrid man when he was a Christian, Waugh replied that if he wasn’t a Christian, he’d be a great deal horrider. I’ve always liked that idea – but how could he have known? If he wasn’t a Christian, I doubt he would have thought he’d be less horrid if he was one.
Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I had no faith, if I wasn’t a Christian. Usually, I start wondering like this when I can’t sleep, like I did last night as I tried to fall asleep with the vestiges of a monster cold.
I try to imagine my life without God… it’s different, but in a way I can’t exactly put my finger on. I look the same, I speak the same, in many ways I even think the same – but in my mind, it’s like I’m floating, and everything is empty, and it’s just me, tightly wrapped in people and thoughts but beyond, there’s nothing. I feel both freer and more afraid, but it doesn’t seem that different.
Is it wrong that when I imagine my life without God, I seem basically as happy as I am now? Is that because my imagination is failing me, or is it because I know that if I didn’t believe in God then obviously I wouldn’t miss him?
St Paul says that if Christ wasn’t raised, we are to be more pitted than all men. (1 Co 15:19) Yet at the end of all this, if I found out that Christ wasn’t raised from the dead… I won’t feel so bad. I wouldn’t feel I needed to be pitied, a little maybe, but no more than most men. I wouldn’t regret it either. Maybe it’s because I know I’ve made the best decisions I can with the information I have…
Or maybe it’s that’s secret contingency plan I’ve thought about, a kind of multiple Pascal’s wager. You see, if there is no God and only nothingness as atheists say, then I haven’t lost anything I would have had anyway. If there is a God but He (She?) is indifferent to human concerns as deists argue, then again, I’m all good. If Buddhism or Hinduism is right, then by following Christianity I am storing up good karma and I can figure it out in my next life anyway.
I guess I’m a bit screwed if either ancestor worship or animal sacrifice is the way to go because I’ve never done that… But if it’s Islam or Judaism, I’m alright on that score too because I am one of the People of the Book and a spiritual descendant of Abraham, right? And if it’s something else entirely, then we’re all screwed aren’t we?
Is it wrong that I’ve thought about all this? Is this a kind of blasphemy, a sleep-deprived, panadol-addled, stuffy-nosed blasphemy? Or are these the sort of questions we should all be asking? If so, what in heaven’s name would the answer be?
The conviction rising in my chest is that Jesus is Real and He is Good. To leave it at though, seems rather to defeat the point.
Yet, what else is there?