The Peppermint Latte Argument for the Existence of God
It has already started to happen. I can feel it soak in through my pores: the goofy, aimless sense of generalized “well-being” and self-satisfaction that passes for “joy” in our postmodern world. All of life starts going … soft-focus, with glimmering lanterns and crackling fireplaces, as every pointy object and sharply dangerous corner somehow vanishes — like the details in a Thomas Kinkade painting of winter, or the plot holes in a Hallmark film.
Hand me a peppermint latte, shake some fake snow over me, and point me toward flickering trees in glistening Highland Park Village. I can feel my IQ diminishing, trickling down my leg. My face is already growing a vague “Joe Biden Wandering a Summit” smile as I sniff around for some egg nog.
But the contemporary “holiday season” isn’t cut off entirely from the truth of the birth of Christ. What we’re seeing are distant ripples from an ocean struck by a meteorite. The fact is that the good cheer, conviviality and family reunions we feel compelled to organize at this time of year really do flow from a long list of powerful truths that our ancestors only learned about because of a single Jew’s birth in Bethlehem.
Nativities Have Consequences
As outlandish as those truths might seem from one point of view (“So you’re saying that God became a man … and needed to use the bathroom. Seriously? Why don’t you people paint any icons of that?”), they created a quite different world from what our forefathers inhabited.
If you’re of Nordic descent, members of your family believed that the world was ruled by angry, vengeful warrior gods engaged in a vicious, doomed struggle against vast wolves and serpents, who would someday consume all life and hope in the universe. (Nowadays, only native New Yorkers have to live by such a creed.)
If you hail from Mexico, your ancestors were fully convinced that the gods who maintain our existence were slowly dying of hunger — and could only be kept on life-support via thousands of human hearts ripped out of screaming victims on pyramids.
The One Universal Human Truth: Man Is Fallen
And so on, through all the pagan religions (yes, including Buddhism — the creed of the Kamikaze pilots). There isn’t one that doesn’t finally flame out or drown in despair. Maybe think through why that might be: Even primitive men untouched by philosophy looked at a world full of suffering and strife, and deduced from it that something about it was fundamentally wrong — that goodness, like life, is fragile, and death devours all. Men all around the world could deduce, from their daily lives, the truth that we are Fallen. But they had no hint of hope that Anyone might help us climb back up.
And if you’re a Darwinian materialist, you believe the grimmest superstition of all: That universes wink out of nothing for no reason at all, tune themselves exquisitely to allow for conscious life, then randomly generate massive stores of information to organize and develop intelligent beings. That intelligence teaches those beings that they have no free will at all, and their thoughts are meaningless side-effects of electrons that spark in their brains. Except, of course, for Darwinian materialism: by a weird miracle, that theory alone isn’t an illusion induced by physics in a deterministic meat-machine. It’s somehow “objectively true.”
Have Yourself an Aztec Little Christmas
Can you imagine a “holiday season” inspired by the worship of Odin and Thor, haunted by the awareness that someday Ragnarok is coming, where all life winks out into darkness? What kind of “winter villages” would modern Aztecs have organized? “Come on, little Moctezuma, let’s go visit that pile of skulls! Or do you want to sit on the Angry Plumed Serpent’s lap?”
We know all too well, of course, the style of holiday put on by Darwinian Materialists: It’s what we endure today, with drag queens implanted in the Macy’s parade, and public displays purged by the government of any hint of their Christian origin.
But of course, none of the actual good-feeling that still hangs around like the Ghost of Christmas Past emerges from that materialism. Instead, it’s hijacked from the original, dogmatically Christian holy day. Every particle of genuine joy that we feel this season, like whatever justice and respect for the human person still survives in our society, comes from the God of the Christians and Jews.
Without Christ, We All Turn into Monsters
You know who recently realized that? The almost suicidally courageous ex-Muslim and longtime New Atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She shocked her longtime supporters and warmed the cockles of my cold heart when she publicly said that atheism is not enough. Not nearly enough, if what you want is a society where people respect each other and live up to moral standards that postmodern materialists take for granted. Ali is clearly still on a journey to fullness of faith, and deserves our prayers. But read what she wrote about why she feels it necessary that Christianity be true:
[F]reedom of conscience and speech is perhaps the greatest benefit of Western civilisation. It does not come naturally to man. It is the product of centuries of debate within Jewish and Christian communities. It was these debates that advanced science and reason, diminished cruelty, suppressed superstitions, and built institutions to order and protect life, while guaranteeing freedom to as many people as possible. Unlike Islam, Christianity outgrew its dogmatic stage. It became increasingly clear that Christ’s teaching implied not only a circumscribed role for religion as something separate from politics. It also implied compassion for the sinner and humility for the believer.
Yet I would not be truthful if I attributed my embrace of Christianity solely to the realisation that atheism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?
That question is simple in the same way God is simple: because in the end, it is the only one.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”