I have often found myself wondering. Wondering how so many could blindly follow ancient doctrine, loyally and without question. Then I looked closer at the cohorts that were once my own. It seems that I wasn’t a “true Christian.” Not because I didn’t believe, but because I questioned without satisfaction. In time I realized that, despite my own experiences, questioning was encouraged so long as it led back to the right answer — God. No matter how far removed from the realm of theology, the bible happens to have the correct answer. Biology, physics, mathematics, ethics, sociology — It doesn’t matter because the answer lies in the good book. If not, a religious head will “interpret” the proper answer from the teachings and deliver it to you. The sad part is people eat this rubbish up as if the questions require no further authority (or evidence) on the topic.
But it doesn’t end there. The very logic behind these questions is bent, twisted to fit a mould that has been cast since childhood. So, this raises the most important question: why? What leads a sane person to distort reality, to skew empirical evidence to support the supernatural? Surely, the mind couldn’t be so malleable as to reject everything that evidence points to. Obviously, this must be the work of divine forces leading us from the lies of Satan toward the real truth that is Jesus Christ. This “evidence” is Satan trying to stray us from the righteous. But the mind does. It rejects what it doesn’t like to fit what makes us feel better. We’ve seen this before. We’ve known about this mental gullibility for a very long time, and we’ve used it in firing squads for the exact same reason — comfort.
Execution via firing squad has been documented as early as 288 C.E. One common problem with a firing squad was that sometimes not every member would fire. This led to the introduction of a blank cartridge in one gun of the shooters. By introducing even the slightest shred of doubt each shooter would be able to convince themselves at every conceivable level that they were the holder of the non-lethal round.
Now, we look at the culture surrounding the advent of Christianity. We have a group of Middle Eastern people living in the height of the Roman Empire. Around the time of the first century CE the Jews had a fairly rough time. In 19 CE and during the reign of Claudius they had been banished from Rome. In addition, all of Judea was under Roman control while famine and discontent grew rapidly until The Great Revolt in 66 and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Seems like a large group of people needed a serious morale booster.
Throughout all of this we see this desperate need for comfort or hope of eventual comfort if that’s not immediately available. Why? Because life sucked then they died. To help cope with this a magical kingdom free of pain and full of happiness is just what someone could use to get through their day. “Life may be terrible now but one day I’ll get ahead”. How else can we see this? “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). “In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:25). Submit and stay poor and ye shall have a good next-life.
Just as the blank round provides the false hope of innocence, the G-man gives false hope that suffering actually has value – how kind.
“People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy. “