Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Happy Question

The poet Thomas Gray wrote, “where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise”

So the question is would you really want to know the truth if it meant sacrificing the beliefs that make you happy? At the end of the day I believe most people who are Christians (particularly evangelical) are so because it is what they know and because it makes them happy. I would go further and say that the degree of their passion for their faith is, likely, directly connected to the degree of enjoyment they gain from their faith. Now by faith I do not mean simply a set of doctrines that an individual holds to but rather their entire religious experience, which includes friendships, common goals and a sense of value gained by being a part of something bigger than oneself. And by enjoyment I do not mean some carefree, easy life but rather a sense of pleasure derived from a feeling of satisfaction that is gained through the entirety of ones religious identity. Further enjoyment by no means precludes difficulty. One’s satisfaction with their religious life can often increase during trying times. In part because Christianity spends much of its time tweaking its doctrines to maintain people’s faith during extremely difficult times but also because of the support provided by the community surrounding a person. Churches offer friends that can comfort you, various activities and tasks that can engage you and very precise doctrines that can soothe you. But is that enough? For most people the answer is probably yes. But the truth of an idea cannot be affirmed merely by the satisfaction it gives the person who holds that idea. Basically just because you like your beliefs doesn’t make them true. So again the question is would you actually want to know the truth if it meant forfeiting your happiness?

note: while I chose to focus on Christians this question can obviously be thrown at any system of belief, religious or secular.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I have spent the last several years trying to shake off this, with respect to my favorite band King's X, cancer of mankind. If you had asked me years ago, my answer would be "truth"; right now, when things seem darker, I wonder. Have you found happiness in wisdom? I keep thinking that when I finally free myself from the years of delusion that peace will be there. Instead, I find myself overwhelmed with the worries of life (mostly minor--I am not so far gone that I want to off myself or anything) with no security blanket, nothing to comfort me. Like Hardy, I miss the blessed assurance. What has worked for you?