Suppose I told you that Christianity was made up by some very intelligent Jews who were tired of being oppressed by Greeks and Romans and believed they could make the good qualities of their Jewish religion more accessible to the Greek and Roman barbarians by writing an inspiring history about the life of a fictitious man named Jesus, and in so doing, convert some of them, thereby making the world a better place for themselves, a place where their beliefs receive greater attention and respect.
Would you believe me?
If you believe that Jesus really lived, as most historians do, but don’t believe much else regarding the claims commonly associated with him as made by the Church and the Bible it later composed, you might believe that these intelligent Jews simply took from his example of leadership and created a system of beliefs that fulfilled prophecies written of in years prior, making it seem more believable. If you don’t believe that Jesus really came here, you’d have to believe that frustrated Jews conspired to write an inspiring history about the life of a fictitious man named Jesus. In either case, you’d develop, or have already developed, some level of faith or confidence in your response, which would likely affect your outlook on the world. Moreover, a world where a loving Creator comes to redeem his fallen creation generally leads to a more positive outlook on life compared to one that was made by random collisions of particles, where there is no absolute truth, purpose or final justice.
If you believe that random collisions of particles provide the only believable story behind life, could you still be persuaded that believing the authentic teachings of Christianity makes the world a better place?
Suppose you’re presented with evidence that indicates all the ways that those who received the teachings of Christianity, as revealed from Sacred Tradition and Scripture, and lived those truths authentically, made a difference, whether by starting orphanages, working for human rights or even performing superhuman feats. Now suppose you took those facts and compared them to the less favorable effects you believe Christianity has had on the world. If the former outweighed the latter by a significantly large margin, indicating that, in general, it is good for someone to believe and live out the authentic teachings of Christianity, i.e. about who Jesus claims to be and how he advised his followers to live, as preserved by those who first followed him, would you be persuaded to believe that it is good for someone to believe the teachings of Christianity, simply because they help make the world better place?
Likewise, suppose you believe that there is no life after this life but because Christianity has made the world a better place, you’re going to support it in some way, whether through preserving religious liberty in areas where it’s practiced or by donating money to help those who are on the front lines in areas where resources are scarce or where religious liberty doesn’t exist yet.
What would you do?