Saturday, September 13, 2008

Noble Lies

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

- Seneca the Younger

Many of the top thinkers in the freethinker/atheist “movement” believe we have an obligation to drag all people – kicking and screaming, if need be – into our brave new secular world. They propose that we take away people’s primitive but cherished illusions and in return we offer them ... what? Ah yes, of course: The Truth. In exchange for surrendering your belief in the ancient Bedouin sky god, we will reveal to you The Truth: that life is random, that the universe views us with supreme indifference, and when you die you brain is extinguished and your body rots.

And we wonder why so many of them say “No thanks!”

We need to ask ourselves: do we really want to take away the primitive, childlike faith of the common people? Perhaps we should be mindful of Nietzsche’s theory that one can judge the strength of a person’s character by how much truth that person can stand. Anyone who has spent any time rubbing shoulders with the common people can attest to the fact that their tolerance for truth is very small indeed. What can we expect will happen to those people when we bring them the truth about a godless world? How will they react? Dostoevsky said that if there was no God, then anything is permitted. Anything. Think about that for a moment; think about the implications of it. Think about the prospect of millions of newly godless people waking up simultaneously to that single realization: anything is permitted. Think of the things your neighbors and coworkers might be capable of were they not restrained by the fear of an eternity in a lake of fire.

Perhaps Plato was right. Perhaps our best course of action is to just leave the common people to bask in the illusory comfort of their noble lies.

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