171. Do you think that religion is the one thing in which men deliberately set themselves against the truth?
Men deliberately set themselves against the truth in many things. But their opposition is certainly more in evidence where religion is concerned. For the more truth a given form of religion contains, the more opposed will that religion be to the corruption of human nature.
172. Why should there be animosity against the Christian religion?
It is not because there is anything wrong with Christianity. It is because there is something wrong with the people who experience the animosity.
173. It seems to me that people are ready to believe almost anything these days, so why don't they lap up your religion?
Because Christianity does not cater for people ready to believe "almost anything." It demands that they believe a very definite something, to the exclusion of many things which human beings might find more comfortable and pleasant.
174. If the Christian revelation were really credible, everyone would accept it.
That is not true. There is more than enough evidence to make acceptance of the fact that God has revealed the Christian religion reasonable. But men do not always behave reasonably. Yet even if a man admitted that the fact of revelation is credible, it does not follow that he would be willing to believe the contents of that revelation. For the contents of Christian revelation include supernatural mysteries which, though not in any way against human reason, are above it. And men, in their pride, can say, "We will not believe anything which is not within the reach of our full comprehension. We accept nothing on trust, no matter who says it." Above all, is this the case when the doctrines in question are not merely theoretical, but involve practical consequences distasteful to human nature.
175. Surely mankind is anxious to be saved?
If we take salvation as the promise of eternal happiness, and leave out all other considerations, men would certainly be anxious to get it. But if we view, not the promise of future joy, but the implication that men "need" to be saved, it is a different matter altogether. For the implication is that men have fallen into a rotten and depraved state from which they are incapable of escaping without the help of a savior. Human pride rebels. Men do not like to admit even to themselves that they are evil. They cry out against the doctrine of original sin, and boast that, far from having fallen, the human race has steadily risen, and has a glorious future before it, to be attained by its own efforts. And not only do men banish the thought of original sin. They try to banish the thought of their actual and personal sins. So a man with no religion is full of his own virtues. "I have no religion," he will say, "but I am a better man than many who profess to be religious." Pride is a great force in the world, and God Himself has said that He "resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble." But men do not like humbling themselves; and still less do they like being humbled. Despite their boasting, however, men have their vices and sins which they do not wish to abandon. And they are not prepared to sacrifice present tangible pleasures and interests for future invisible benefits. How many people are blind to future consequences of their actions, even in this life, when in the grip of a present and urgent temptation to alluring self-satisfaction! So mankind is not always anxious to be saved if we consider, not merely the future benefits of salvation, but present implications and the conditions required.