Being upside down (a reason why Christianity is superior to Atheism)

It is a mistake to put the subjective reasons for belief before the objective. It is a mistake to be a Christian simply out of personal preference, because it makes life more bearable, or because it provides a greater degree of “happiness.” To use religion in such a way turns it on its head and turns God from master of the Universe to servant of our felt needs. You ought to be a Christian because God calls, because He provided a way in Jesus, and because He is worthy of our worship.

However, the beauty of Christianity is that, while subjective experience is not the end of religion, it is most certainly a blessed by-product. And so, with my rather lengthy prelude, I present a wonderful (albeit subjective), reason why Christianity is superior to Atheism:

It’s from G.K. Chesterton, of course:

He begins by comparing Christianity to Paganism:

“It is said that Paganism is a religion of joy and Christianity of sorrow … Such conflicts mean nothing and lead nowhere. Everything human must have in it both joy and sorrow; the only matter of interest is the manner in which the two things are balanced or divided. And the really interesting thing is this, that the pagan was (in the main) happier and happier as he approached the earth, but sadder and sadder as he approached the heavens. … To the pagan the small things are as sweet as the small brooks breaking out of the mountain; but the broad things are as bitter as the sea. When the pagan looks at the very core of the cosmos he is struck cold. Behind the gods, who are merely despotic, sit the fates, who are deadly. Nay, the fates are worse than deadly; they are dead. And when rationalists say the ancient world was more enlightened than Christianity, from their point of view they are right. For when they say “enlightened” they mean darkened with incurable despair.

In this way, paganism is much like modern Atheism:

“The common bond is in the fact that ancients and moderns have both been miserable about existence, about everything, while mediaevals were happy about that at least.”

Chesterton contends that this fact, that “the mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones,” is not the natural state of man. Men who live like this, he says, have been born upside down:

“The skeptic may be truly said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstasies, while his brain is in the abyss.”

Christianity presents the exact opposite perspective:

“Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is small and pitiful stillness… Joy, which is the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian.