I think there is something really important that can be learned from watching my son do a puzzle. If you know what the major portions of the picture look like, you can find a home for the pieces that are giving you trouble. However, you won't have much luck trying to put pieces from one puzzle into another. Even if you manage to smash a few extraneous pieces into places they don't belong, it will just mess up the bigger picture.
In a certain way, we are all attempting to put together the puzzle of reality. We want to know where all of the little pieces go. Like my 2 year old son, we have the box right in front of us (reality itself), but that doesn't mean that we always know how to use it to put the pieces together. We even have a few different sets of very specific directions on how the puzzle fits together (religious and philosophical texts), but they don't all seem to be for the same puzzle. In the end, we have to take a trick out of my son, the puzzle master's, playbook. We have to start by putting together the major portions that we can recognize right away. We do not necessarily have to know where all of the smaller pieces fall just yet. We have to start with the "big questions." Where did we come from? Is there any purpose or meaning in life? Do objective right and wrong exist? The puzzle begins to take shape as we answer these types of questions. But everyone doesn't answer these questions in the same way. So, just like in puzzle building, the most important thing is that the pieces all fit together, and the final picture matches up to the image on the box. In our case, do the answers to these questions fit together, and does that paint a picture that corresponds to the reality we observe?
As in puzzle construction, problems arise when we start trying to join pieces that do not fit together. Maybe the only thing you know for certain is that objective right and wrong exist. Some things are right and wrong in and of themselves regardless of what people think. You can put that part of the puzzle together. Now what? Well, that has a huge impact on the way you put the rest of the puzzle together (answer the other questions). For instance, it will not fit with an answer to the first question like, "we are byproducts of a purely physical universe that is itself the byproduct of entirely natural causes." If everything that exists is the result of purely physical processes, which are by nature morally neutral, then there can be no objective morality. Nor does it go together with the idea that we are here by accident and any meaning that we think our lives have is ultimately an illusion. Those two pictures may match up with one another, but they belong to a totally different puzzle (view of reality). No matter how hard you try, you cannot smash the objective morality pieces into the physicalistic, purposeless picture.
When the pieces don't go together, I am not being unnecessarily narrow-minded if tell my son "those pieces don't fit into this puzzle." Why? Because there is a certain way that the puzzle goes together. At that point, he has a choice. He can cry and ignore the way the puzzle is shaping up given the pieces that he has already assembled--maybe even throw them across the room, and insist that nobody gets to do the puzzle (those with two year olds know what I am talking about). Or, he can recognize that some of the pieces simply don't go with this puzzle; at least, not if the end result is going to match the picture on the box. He will have to pull out any pieces that don't fit with what he has already put together and put them to the side. He can try to find the rest of the pieces and do that puzzle later if he wants to see what it looks like, but one thing is clear: it doesn't fit with the picture he is working with.
I am a Christian because I am convinced that only in Christianity do all of the pieces fit together and the final picture matches up to the image on the box. I recognize that someone can be consistent (at least theoretically) and say that we are here by accident, there is no purpose to our lives, and there is no such thing as objective morality. Those pieces all fit together. Sure. But it could not be more obvious to me that such a puzzle is not the one we are working with (reality). I admit, sometimes I run across a piece and I am not sure exactly where it goes. Nevertheless, I am not about to start crying and tear up everything that I already know goes together just because it is too difficult or doesn't look the way I want. I can see the image clearly even with a few pieces missing around the border. And I am not going to start taking pieces from other puzzles and smashing them into the empty spaces just because I am, for whatever reason, not interested in finding/using the right ones.
Sometimes it takes my son a long time to figure out where a certain piece goes. He gets frustrated. I get frustrated. I could snatch it out of his hand and put it in the right spot for him. Or I could just point to the spot and tell him where it goes. That would be a lot faster and a lot less frustrating to watch. But there is the possibility that, if I always do his puzzles for him, he will just stop trying. Ultimately, if I want him to learn how the puzzle really fits together, he needs to do it himself. That doesn't mean that I get up and leave the room, or that I can't guide him. No. I think a lot of people, especially young people have left the Church for these same reasons--either they are just told what the answers are with no explanation, or their questions are simply ignored. That is sad. I am convinced that Christians should be leading the way in encouraging people to work on the puzzle of life, truth, and ultimate reality. If we are convinced that the picture on the box ultimately reflects the Christian worldview, then there is no reason not to.