Finding the box top

October 24, 2006 | Atheism, Conversion | 7 comments

One of the best analogies for Christianity that I’ve ever heard is from the flawed but good book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. In it Geisler and Turek use the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle, pointing out that it’s almost impossible to put one together if you don’t have the box top to show you the picture you’re trying to complete. They propose that life is like a mass of jigsaw puzzle pieces, and that Christianity offers the box top that makes it all come together.

I refer to this analogy over and over again when thinking about why I’m a Catholic Christian. When I was an atheist I believed that there was no box top. I was simply sitting in front of a pile of random puzzle pieces. I did find it odd that certain pieces did fit together rather nicely, and that it looked like all these disparate pieces were somehow meant to go together, but I wrote it off as wishful thinking. Then I briefly held up some potential box tops like Buddhism or new age spirituality but there were too many pieces that didn’t match up to anything pictured on the box. Things weren’t coming together.

And then, against my better judgment, I glanced at the box top that the Catholic Church offers. Hmmm, well, that piece looks like part of their picture. OK, these three pieces clearly fit together. And this one. And that one…and so on. The puzzle rapidly started coming together.

In this life I’ll never have time to complete the puzzle. There are too many pieces and my intellect is too limited. But I do know this: I have yet to find a puzzle piece from life that does not match something on the Catholic box top. Every time I hold one up I recognize it in the big picture and am able to pick out complementary pieces and fit them all together neatly.

If this Church, this box top, isn’t “it, ” the answer to all of life’s questions, it is at least very close. But it would appear from my experience so far that it is indeed “it.” This is the box top. This is the big picture that makes all the pieces of the puzzle come together as one, beautiful whole.

7 Comments

  1. 4andcounting

    Very well written. It is so interesting to read your ongoing story. Thanks for keeping this cradle Catholic thinking.

  2. RobK

    I really like that analogy. Thanks for that!

  3. Tracy

    love this analogy. I am a cradle Catholic who left the faith and I returned when I had that box top experience. I also like that I will never be able to complete this puzzle and I am ok with that, at least I can see how beautifully everything fits together so far.

  4. Sarah

    I’m a convert too, Jen, and this is a great metaphor for the Catholic Church. I’m going to go through my day thinking of this, and I thank you for that.

  5. Theocoid

    I used the same analogy in a discussion I had some months back concerning my martial arts practice. What drew me back to the Catholic faith was a sense that I did not have to disengage my mind to have faith. Whatever misgivings or questions I had about the Church, other much bigger brains than mine had pored over them before.

  6. SteveK

    If this Church, this box top, isn’t “it,” the answer to all of life’s questions, it is at least very close. But it would appear from my experience so far that it is indeed “it.” This is the box top. This is the big picture that makes all the pieces of the puzzle come together as one, beautiful whole.

    I’m not Catholic but I must say this is a great analogy. I’ve always said that Christianity is the best game in town because it explains reality better than anything else.

  7. Amber

    That is a great analogy, thanks for writing about it. I came into Catholicism much the same way you described – the pieces just kept fitting together and hanging together in ways I didn’t think possible before. I love the absolute and marvelous consistency of the Catholic Church. It all just fits. Over the past year and a half or so that I’ve been seriously approaching the Church, I’ve realized that if I find a piece I have a little trouble with, I just have to let it sit for a bit and then inevitably I am able to see it with new eyes and understand how it fits into the greater whole.

    I saw Mrs. Darwin’s post about your blog and I thought I would come over and say hi. I’ll definitely have to keep reading – it seems like we have some things in common. (and I’m in RCIA too!)

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