I’ve been thinking of reasons why I would decide to believe in God and/or Jesus Christ despite my inability to prove God’s existence (or nonexistence) in a satisfactory way and despite my unfortunate dearth of much-desired mystical experiences. Like I’ve said before, the same process that allowed me to walk away from Mormonism has left me floundering- my basis for believing in God weas the same set of “spiritual” experiences that were my basis for believing in Mormonism. Thus my slow spiral into atheism.
Atheism has it’s attraction, sure, and I’m not talking about license to do whatever I want. There are plenty of checks on behavior other than belief in God: love, empathy, society, law, culture, etc. And disbelieving in God hasn’t made me a worse person.
But it hasn’t made me a better person, either, and I don’t think it will. That’s the rub, the real difference between atheism and Christianity for me. Christianity invites me to be not just a much better person, but an entirely new person. Atheism tells me I’m pretty good the way I am, and that’s fine. Don’t get me wrong; I think I am basically a good person. But I really don’t think atheism is going to make me any better. In contrast, Christianity has transformation at its heart. At the very least, Jesus’s teachings invite people to be better people in absolutely radical ways, ways that don’t necessarily come naturally or intuitively. I’m not talking about demanding that we’re perfect- that’s no good because we’ll always fail, and then our lives will be dominated by guilt (which tends to be a problem in Mormonism). I’m saying that the way I see Christianity, Jesus invites us to come up to a higher level in the way we live with and relate to each other. On top of that, Jesus’s divinity adds a sense of gravitas to that invitation, a cosmic legitimacy that he wouldn’t otherwise have as a merely human philosopher.
I’m not saying that Christianity categorically makes bad people good, because we all probably know many, many people who are Christians who are pretty crappy people. I’m not talking about a universal imperative; I’m merely saying why I think I would be better off as a Christian.