One of the jabs atheists make towards Christians is that our religion is all wishful thinking.
They like to blame us for believing in a sugar daddy in the sky–a kind of invisible Santa Claus who is going to make everything okay one day. When we die we’ll all go to a happy family reunion and all the nasty stuff will go away and if we hold on tight for a few years here, once we give up the ghost we’ll go upstairs for the big party.
We are also supposed to believe in a God who answers prayers here below and gives us goodies if we’re good. They imagine that we believe God is like a great big vending machine. We put our prayer in the slot at the top and the candy pops out into the tray in the bottom.
I’m afraid, there probably are some Christians who have such a facile, childish and superstitious view of God and their religion, and Protestant Christianity has often sold this sappy, sentimental “pie in the sky when you die” version of the faith.
Catholicism is more robust. We believe that sometimes God doesn’t give us candy. He gives us our vegetables and expects us to eat them in order to make us stronger, and when we die we don’t all expect to fly straight to heaven for the eternal family reunion. We go to a place called purgatory where we have to finish our greens, do our homework, pay for our misdeeds, breathe a sigh of sorrowful relief that we didn’t go down below and continue to look upward for the day when we do pass through the pearlies.
Even this more common sense and tough understanding of the afterlife is dismissed as silly wishful thinking.
There are two problems with this, first of all, Jesus calls me to give up everything I have, be prepared to break with my family and eventually take up my cross and follow him. This is the cost of being his disciple. This is not exactly what I would have wished for had I been engaged in a daydream of wishful thinking.
Secondly, it seems to me that it is the atheist who is the wishful thinker. Continue Reading
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