One of the many conceits of the modern era is that religion is believed precisely because it provides irrational comfort to those who refuse to see things as they are.
And while I have no doubt that many believe various religious dogmas for this purpose, it simply isn’t true that Christianity can be believed, by those who understand it, solely because it is comforting. Why? Here are a few reasons:
- Christianity says that the world is your fault. The problems in the world are simply because of wrongs you’ve done and you’re responsible for them. Not only so, but it teaches, at its best, that while you must somehow make all of this right, that you cannot.
- Christianity, in its Calvinist iteration, says that all the evils of the world are God’s idea, and really and truly good, and that nothing can be done about them except that God undo them. There isn’t much comfort here if the wheels of providence oppose you.
- Christianity, in its non-Calvinist iterations, teaches that the earth has fallen under the control of a cosmic socio-path who hates God and pursues destruction as though it were the good. Not much comfort in knowing that not only is nature dangerous and that your sins put you cross-ways with God, but also that supernatural forces which influence human behavior and ideologies hate you.
- Christianity teaches that Jesus demands that you give up several legitimate goods, which God made for you to enjoy, in order to do what is right.
- Christianity teaches that your inmost secrets are under the scrutiny of a being of infinite goodness and justice.
- Christianity teaches that the creation is subject to meaninglessness (vanity) and that we must live as though the world is imbued with meaning even when it feels pointless.
- Christianity teaches that our prayers may go without answering because of supernatural incidents beyond our control (see Daniel).
- Christianity teaches that even at your most miserable, you’re responsible for your neighbor.
- Christianity includes the Old Testament.
The idea that one would adopt beliefs of this sort for emotional solace is a fiction. I do believe that Christianity offers comfort and that Christians are to comfort each other. I’m of the opinion that people would only subscribe to beliefs with such potential to crush their spirit for one of three reasons:
- They think they’re true (for good or bad reasons).
- They find, in Jesus, an irresistible personality.
- A deep fear of hell which lead them to bet on Christianity for redemption.