The Theist’s Wager

Walter Russell Mead describes why he believes in a personal God:

For theists, the universe isn’t just a place with scattered bits of meaning in it. Meaning isn’t decoration or illusion, a subjective human response to hardwired stimuli in our brains or grace notes that accompany us on our meaningless way through the dark void. Existentialists and others who believe that the universe is ultimately meaningless but who still choose to act as if meaning was real are among the moral heroes of the world, but theists think there is more to life than the brave but doomed affirmation of meaningless ideals in the face of an idiot, uncaring universe.

Theists think meaning really means something, that it all adds up. The transcendence that comes to us in life doesn’t just happen in our heads; it points to the nature of ultimate reality. That ultimate reality transcends our ability to comprehend, and we only get scattered glimpses of it here and there, but whatever it is, it is greater than we are.

When theists think about that meaningfulness we experience in peak moments, we find ourselves thinking about its source.  Theists believe that the source of meaning and existence hangs together and points to something greater than itself. “Meaning” for theists is like “justice” and “truth”; it is something we don’t completely see or grasp but it is real. And because meaning is the source of such meaningful ideas as justice and beauty, its existence is even more important and more consequential than the existence of these other ideals for which people are willing to die. Theists are people for whom this concept of the meaning of life is so powerful, so present, so active that they find that it can’t be talked about except as a supreme force of transcendence and world shaping power, the truth behind all truths. Something this beautiful, this lively, this intelligent, this powerful, this transcendent, theists believe, cannot be less than alive and self aware. It is not a Thing, but a Person.