My email to First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey:
In a CNN piece, Baptist Church leader "Dr." Buster Soaries asks: "Are Christian people so desperate today that we are gullible en masse?"
Perhaps some are, but there seem to be much larger issues which make "desperation" a minor focus which seems to distract rather enlighten.
Perhaps reframing the question with normal, unbiased language might help us gain clarity: Assume there is a group who believe that people become invisible zombies after death. These "spirits" are not only immortal, but also are created by an infinitely knowledgeable, supernatural being with magic powers including telepathy capable of hearing mental conversations beginning with special words and if presented with the right attitude.
Assume this group further believes that this telepathic being is incorporeal, yet male, and magically created a human son through a sort of rape of a physically real girl, then guided this son to adulthood, prior to having him brutally murdered. The justification for this is considered to be that because the living aren't perfect, and without this murder, the being would be forced torture the dead immortal zombies forever in order to provide some sort of balance to errors which the zombies had made when they were physically alive. Further assume this group of believers universally agree these propositions are not only very reasonable views of reality, but that deliberately suppressing doubts and refusing to consider reasonable objections are highly virtuous, should be publicly praised, and a habit in which children should be encouraged.
If presented unemotionally in ways like this, no one would accept the basic claims, and we would rightly regard focusing on “desperation” as a possible motivation for being “gullible” as somewhat beside the point. The reliability of morals and behavior of people whose worldview is based on foundations explained without emotional hooks seems obvious, and we would not expect such people to behave rationally. They have been trained and are emotionally invested in rejecting precise definitions, clearly explicated concepts, and skeptical approaches to evidence that would reveal mistakes.
It seems clear we would be much better served by focusing on how this hypothetical group came, in the modern age, to accept such beliefs and to regard them as meritorious. In this way, we may pro-actively address the root causes which lead to the kind of harmful and unethical behavior with which Dr. Soaries and many others are concerned.
All the Best,
John C. ‘Buck’ Field