It was a flippant, off-the-cuff remark, but also a modern-day version of Pascal’s wager: in the face of her uncertainty about God’s existence, she decided that she was better off behaving as if God were real. She chose to foreground the practical issue of how to experience the world as if she was loved by a loving God and to put to one side her intellectual puzzling over whether and in what way the invisible agent was really there.
If you can sidestep the problem of belief — and the related politics, which can be so distracting — it is easier to see that the evangelical view of the world is full of joy. God is good. The world is good. Things will be good, even if they don’t seem good now. That’s what draws people to church. It is understandably hard for secular observers to sidestep the problem of belief. But it is worth appreciating that in belief is the reach for joy, and the reason many people go to church in the first place.
Here’s Pascal’s Wager, for reference.
“Problem of belief.” That’s an interesting phrase.
I want to say that I can’t just ignore the problem of belief. That stance feels like a core part of my identity. To ignore it feels intellectually… dishonest? Lazy? But maybe I have been ignoring it by sitting squarely in the agnostic (or, more accurately, the apatheistic) camp.
The appeal of church is the social, community experience. My “church” is choir. That’s where I get my joy. That’s why you now have atheist churches appearing. I think that experience is powerful enough that it keeps people coming to church who otherwise would have stopped going, due to that problem of belief.