To teach people to believe in God,” G.K. Chesterton wrote, “may be in its highest sense a hard task even among Christians.” It is a hard task indeed, one that cannot be accomplished by mere human effort. But Chesterton went on to write, “But to prevent people from thinking about God will be an impossible task even among agnostics; or perhaps especially among agnostics.” His point is that humanity intuitively knows there is a God even if they adamantly deny it.

The following except comes from a book published in 1931 by the title of Will Men Be Like Gods by Owen Francis Dudley for which Chesterton wrote the introduction. The thesis of the book is that humanism cannot produce the human flourishing it promises, which can only be found in the Christian faith. I plan to write a post about the book in the near future, but here is a longer selection from Chesterton’s introduction:

“. . . this vague charity or sense of sacred human values really points to a higher standard of sacredness. We have to look at men in a certain light in order to love them at all; and the most agnostic of us know that it is not exactly identical with the light of common day. But the mystery is immediately explained when we turn towards the light itself; which is the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Ordinary men find it difficult to love ordinary men; at least in an ordinary way. But ordinary men can love the love of ordinary men. They can love the lover of ordinary men, who loves them in an extraordinary way. 

It may be difficult to get a fat burgess and a fierce and hungry robber to love each other; but it is much easier to get them both to love St. Francis of Assisi for being able to love them both. And what is true of St. Francis is more true of his Divine model; men can admire perfect charity before they practice even imperfect charity; and that is by far the most practical way of getting them to practice it. 

It is not to leave men merely staring at each other and standing face to face to criticize and grow weary; it is rather to see them standing side by side and looking out together at a third thing; the world’s desire and the love affair of all humanity; which is really a human sun that can shine upon the evil and the good.”