Earlier this week, I was watching one of the Christian-content religious channels on television (there are two such ‘church channels’ in my city) and I was listening to the televangelist say that “even if you have no friends in this world, God will be your friend.” Immediately after hearing these words, I was struck by how much “God” sounds like the imaginary friends that children sometimes invent to keep themselves company. If your child were to tell you that she played with “Magna” all afternoon, and you know she was alone in her bedroom the whole time, you might worry about your child’s emotional well-being. What, then, should we think when adults say they talk with “God” (or “Jesus”)? Given that there is no more tangible proof for the existence of “God” (or “Jesus”) than there is for “Magna,” are we not justified in asking if “God” (or “Jesus”) is merely an imaginary friend for adults? Indeed, “God” appears to serve the same purpose for adults that “Magna” serves for little children: providing comfort and companionship when no actual human is available.
Indeed, the one unquestionable difference between “God” and “Magna” is the social cost: “God” provides adults with an imaginary friend at a much lower social cost that “Magna” would incur. By naming their imaginary friend “God,” adults can gain the same sort of internal emotional comfort that children gain from their imaginary friends, but without the social stigma that would otherwise arise from talking to invisible people. Indeed, “God” provides even more emotional comfort than “Magna,” because “God” opens the door to fellowship with other adults who declare their own belief in “God.” Perhaps this is why so many adults strongly defend their belief in “God:” because to do otherwise would risk depriving themselves of a socially-acceptable imaginary* friend.
* Please note that I have referred to “God” herein as “imaginary” merely because there is no physical proof that “God” exists. Thus, it is logically correct to refer to “God” as imaginary.
Postscript: After thinking further about Erich’s comment, and watching the “What is God?” video on this website http://meaningoflife.tv/, I’ve decided to change the subject of this post from “Jesus” to “God.” Readers are encouraged to watch the video, because it illustrates the core message of this post.