Christianity: Just Another Marketing Scam

Christianity marketing scamI gotta tell you about the most brazen product ad I’ve ever seen. It had a can’t-look-away-from-the-car-crash stickiness that honest marketers can only dream of. It was an opportunistic seizing of—nay, a celebration of—consumer stupidity that I’ve never seen duplicated.

This ad was in a Sunday newspaper magazine in the mid-1980s. At that time, cable and satellite TV were new and expensive. Each needed a decoder box that usually sat on top of the TV. This new GFX-100 promised to eliminate the monthly cable bills.

So you have the background of an educated reader from 30 years ago, let’s review a couple of points before we get to the ad.

  • Before TV came through a cable, it came over the air as radio waves and was captured by antennas. A pair of these telescoping antennas were sometimes called “rabbit ears.”
  • RF = radio frequency. VHF and UHF are the two radio bands allowed at that time for U.S. television broadcasts.

Here’s the ad with every exclamation point, quotation mark, and bizarre font change lovingly preserved. The product is shown above. See if you can figure out what they’re actually selling.

Throw away your old TV rod antenna! The GFX-100 looks like an outdoor satellite “dish,” but works indoors like ordinary “rabbit ears.” No wiring or installation! Legal in all 50 states. You pay NO cable fees because you’re NOT getting cable!!! You pay NO satellite fees because you’re NOT using satellite technology or service!!! Works entirely via proven “RF” technology—actually pulls signals right out of the air. Instantly locks into every local VHF and UHF channel from 2 to 83 to bring you their movies, sports and special events just like an ordinary pair of “rabbit ears.” No cable box or special attachments needed! Enhances color and clarity, helps pull in weak signals. Compatible with all TVs from 3-inch portables to giant 7-footers. Sits on any TV top in less than 4 linear inches of space! Guaranteed not to utilize, replicate, transmit or interfere with any satellite signal. Complies with all applicable federal regulations. Not technical razzle-dazzle but the sheer aesthetic superiority of its elegant parabolic design make the GFX-100 a marketing breakthrough!

It worked “like ordinary rabbit ears” because it was ordinary rabbit ears. The little dish thingy and the two knobs were just inoperative decorations on an ordinary TV antenna whose technology had been unchanged for decades.

In a remarkable example of candor—or maybe cockiness—they admit, “Not technical razzle-dazzle but the sheer aesthetic superiority of its elegant parabolic design make the GFX-100 a marketing breakthrough!” Translation: there’s nothing interesting here, but the novel appearance means we’ll sell a boatload of these things! It’s like male enhancement pills labeled “guaranteed placebo.”

Sound like anyone we know?

And that brings to mind our favorite religion. Christianity is also just marketing. There’s nothing there, just promises.

What would Christianity look like if it were pressed into this mold? Maybe something like this.

Christianity marketing scam

But perhaps you’ve got some better lines? Share them in the comments.

The difference between education and indoctrination:
it’s whether the person at the front of the room
invites questions from the audience.
—  Richard S. Russell

Thanks to Dan Bornstein for preserving this ad.

Photo credit: Petras Gagilas

Rationalizing Away the “Canaanite Problem” (2 of 2)
How Reliable is Apostle Paul When He Knew Very Little About Jesus?
Insight Into the Evangelical Persecution Complex
Rationalizing Away the “Canaanite Problem”
About Bob Seidensticker
  • RoverSerton

    The salvation is free to all but a 10% users fee is recommended.

    maybe also: Tired of not knowing what to do Sunday mornings? Wednesday evenings? Saturday afternoons if you can sing or play piano?

    • Bob Seidensticker


      • RoverSerton

        Well, I took the 10% pay raise and got my Sundays free. Now, if only my wife will see the (non) light.

  • Mr. Two

    I remember that ad! I actually saw some of the text as a joke before I ever saw the published ad, so I’ve never been sure which really came first. I suspect that with a bit of Googling you might find real church ads similar to your fictitious one.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I saw in about 1985, though this source found it in 1990. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

  • Greg G.

    I remember seeing an ad once that said the product was the most powerful placebo on the market.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      That’s like saying that it was the highest-strength homeopathic product.

      • Greg G.

        Drowning is just over-dosing on homeopathy.

  • MNb

    Christianity: pay now, delivery 100% guaranteed after you die.

  • KarlUdy

    Interestingly I woke up this morning to a post by an atheist saying that Christians “believe what you want to believe and just know must be true”, and also this quote from CS Lewis that says that Christians can’t just believe what they want but that their beliefs are instead constrained by Facts.

    This leads be to conclude that this post here is one big Straw Man.

    • KarlUdy
      • shart of turin

        That quote made me smile. Change a few words around and it’s not hard to hear a snakeoil salesman answering like this when quizzed about his amazing product.

        Given the attributes that you or any other christian would credit god with, it is absolutely contradictory that the creator of the universe and all that it contains would convey his will via thousands of pages of mind-numbing dogma and endless Sunday sermons. Not wise. Not just. Not loving. Not kind. Is really so unreasonable to think that the designer of our brain would have a method of instilling truth that is simpler and… less stupid?

        Given the attributes that any of us would credit to man, it’s almost certain that any invented gods and accompanying religion would be complex and convoluted, rigid and demanding, judgemental yet full of filth… unapologetically profitable.

        Hey, I didn’t realize it til just now, but that sounds a lot like Christianity!

    • The Man With The Name Too Long

      What are the facts you say? Well Muhammad possessed scientific knowledge that was unheard of at the time! Muhammad also visited Moses and Jesus in Heaven, and brought the truth of Islam to the people (along with the conclusive revelation that Jesus was not crucified nor the son of God). Now, you may not agree with Muhammad, but we’re dealing with Fact here. If he were making it up he could have made things simpler.

      So…how many internets do I win?

      • KarlUdy

        Christians are not free to “believe what you want to believe” and call it Christianity. Anyone who says so is misrepresenting Christianity. To do so as an attack on Christianity is a straw man argument.

        What Mohammad has to do with any of this, I can’t fathom, so I’d say you just had a swing and a miss. Strike 1. No prizes.

        • ohnugget001

          S/He’s pointing out that the mere substitution of any deity’s name in place of God/Jesus adds or subtracts nothing from the fallacies already contained within the statement. It/They are untrue in all cases.
          I award 1 internets for pointing out the fallacies, but subtract 2 internets for also not including the one true God, the FSM, which would axiomatically be correct when substituted as you did with Mohammed in this claim.
          You owe me an internets. I’ll make it simple, tithe it at your local FSM church as an offering to atone for your sin.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I think the Muhammad example was good because it’s an extremely popular religion just like Christianity, so when Muslims and Christians disagree on the “facts” the voices of dissent are much louder than if, say, Zoroastrianists or Odinists disagree with them or each other. I assume Karl understands the incompatibility of Islam and Christianity (Jesus wasn’t executed, didn’t atone for anyone’s sin, etc. in Islam). And there are plenty of Muslims that easily point out the absurdities in Christianity while educating mosque-goers about literal talking wolves who scold farmers for not letting them eat their God-given sheep (actual sermon I heard at mosque once).

          If there is a God, it’d be great if he could clear things up for us himself rather than having fallible people argue over interpretations of books for thousands of years.

        • 90Lew90

          The more I talk with Christians, the more it seems there are as many Christianities as there are Christians.

        • MNb

          Given the internal contradictions I’d say there are more christianities than christians. They can’t even agree with themselves.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I don’t know what the prize is, but I’m getting it. And assuming you are actually using baseball rules, I still have two more strikes.

          The point I was making is that, since I come from a Muslim family and have some knowledge of Islam, I can point out ways that it conflicts with Christianity. And considering the large population of Muslims, there’s quite some competition between proselytizers of each religion.

          I wasn’t the one who said Christians “believe what you want to believe” (I think you were quoting Bob) but if Islam is correct then Christians believe some things that are false, and as such, their beliefs are not rooted in fact. Then the proposition that Christians believe what they want would have more merit, but it could also be because they were deceived, forced, or any other method of coming to false beliefs. On the other hand, if Christianity is true then it’s Muslims who just believe what they want or are deceived, forced, etc. Since I haven’t come to the conclusion of who is right yet, I have to postpone my evaluation of the truth of either.

        • JohnH2

          Believing in some things that are false does not mean that ones beliefs are not rooted in fact, but that one doesn’t have all the facts. Which is precisely what the Koran says happened with Christianity.

          If any form of Christianity is true it does not mean that Muslims believe what they want. What it does mean is that the claim of the infallibility of the Qur’an is incorrect: if Mohammad was a prophet (under Christianity being true) than either not everything he claimed to have received from God was from God, or it was not written down correctly; (or Mohammad wasn’t a prophet, the standard Christian claim).

        • KarlUdy

          Whether you think Christianity is true or not has no bearing on whether it is “just believe what you want”.

          The fact that you take as fact that Christianity and Islam differ on their account of certain facts is proof that Christianity can not be “just believe what you want.”

        • 90Lew90

          Theologically they differ, and Islam is more rigid in its demands on the believer. For your common-or-garden Christian? Believe what you want.

        • EmpiricalPierce

          Once when I was playing D&D, someone criticized me for having an elf stumble around blindly at night, since elves have low-light vision and can see quite well under such circumstances. It was inconvenient to my story, but I was contradicting the player’s handbook.

          Does that mean elves with low-light vision exist? That they are a factual part of our reality? No, of course not. Reality does not support such delusion. Only wishful thinking – believing what I want to believe instead of what is supported by the facts – promotes belief in D&D elves.

          The Bible is Christianity’s player handbook. There’s certainly a lot of wiggle-room for interpretation (hence the tens of thousands of sects with irreconcilable disagreements), but in a lot of ways it also acts as a common root for the various beliefs branching off of it. Which does not in any way indicate that the contents of the Bible map to reality.

    • smrnda

      Is there a broader context to this quote?

      To me, Lewis *could* be saying 2 different things: if people made up Christianity, they would have made the moral teachings easier. However, you can find plenty of Christians who have found ways to argue that yes, you can worship the Christian god and Mammon and the like.

      Or, it could be *if people made up Christianity they would have made more modest claims.* Jesus is some guy who walks around preaching and just dies a normal death. Much easier to believe.

      I’m also not sure *invented religions* are simpler. Lewis, as a Christian, would probably assume that polytheistic religions are simpler. I am not a Christian, never was, and was not raised in the Christian religion, but I feel like I could give a decent account of Christianity. I am totally at a loss for doing the same for Hinduism, Buddhism, and I’m not up to the task for contemporary paganism.

      Lewis would probably consider Mormonism a made-up religion, but I actually think it ends up becoming a bit more complicated than ordinary Christianity (might be that it’s just less familiar to me.)

      So I’m not totally sure what to think, or maybe I misunderstand his statement.

      • Pofarmer

        Lewis would have never encountereD Mormonism, or scientology, or dianetics, among others. I am consistently shocked by he shallowness of his arguments.

        • JohnH2

          Lewis did encounter Mormonism, but never really considered it or its claims except for having a negative impression due to Mormonisms lack of drinking alcohol and using tobacco.


          I am afraid I am not going to be much help about all the religious bodies mentioned in your letter of March 2nd. I have always in my books been concerned simply to put forward “mere” Christianity, and am no guide on these (most regrettable) “interdenominational” questions. I do however strongly object to the tyrannic and unscriptural insolence of anything that calls itself a Church and makes teetotalism a condition of membership.’”

          – CS Lewis letter to a lady in Salt Lake City.

        • Pofarmer

          Interesting, thanks.

        • smrnda

          I’ll drink to that!

      • KarlUdy

        I think what Lewis was referring to was what could be called the paradoxical elements of Christianity, such as Jesus’ simultaneous human and divine nature, the trinity, predestination vs free will, etc.

        I am not sure that Lewis would have the view you suggest about other religions. In fact, after deconverting from atheism, in considering the various theistic (in the broad sense) positions, he came to a point where he considered Hinduism and Christianity to be the two best positions before ultimately deciding to become a Christian.

        Mormonism is an interesting example because it is a blend of original Christian teaching, and original material via Joseph Smith. Although, if you take Lewis’ meaning as referring to the paradoxical nature of Christianity, Mormonism does dispense with at least some of orthodox Christianity’s central paradoxes (eg the trinity).

        • smrnda

          I guess I don’t find those issues to be that daringly paradoxical – they seem like philosophy 101 discussion topics.

          On best positions, I’d argue that attempting to believe all polytheist religions simultaneously would work the best. Why? Because a lot of deities with competing agendas would make more sense than one good god by far. not that I’m believing that, but it would explain things.

        • Mr. Two

          “deconverting from atheism”

          I see what you did there!

      • Compuholic

        Christianity probably did not start up that convoluted. Absurd but not convoluted. It only became complicated over time when it became an organized religion and

        a) different incompatible flavors of Christianity had to be united
        b) science disproved some assertions Christianity made about the world

        In order to reconcile contradiction they had to make up more and more stuff.

        • JohnH2

          It wasn’t flavors of Christianity that had to be united that caused Christianity to be convoluted; it was the joining of Christianity with Greek Philosophy. Most specifically the joining of Christianity with the philosophical/metaphysical idea of God. How one gets from a God which moves, acts, has a body, has a son (who is also God), has a chosen people to the divine steam engine moving the celestial spheres and is a geometric point outside of space and time is an interesting development, interesting history, and something that all of the Monotheistic religions eventually did because the idea of God being philosophically provable (and at the time, physically and metaphysically obvious) is really attractive, despite all the Monotheistic religions depending on revelation (which is a direct contradiction to the idea).

          All the philosophical proofs of God and philosophical ideas of God work much better in Buddhism; and are also logically consistent with Confucianism. For everyone else there are going to be convolutions, paradoxes, and outright contradictions necessary for the idea to work.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I’m thinking it’s more both/and than either/or, but you are certainly right about the important influence Greek philosophy (I’m thinking of the moral teachings of the Stoics) had on Christianity in the first few centuries.

        • wtfwjtd

          I definitely agree, trying to reconcile the Marcionites with the Gnostics, and Cynics, just to name a few, require quite a few contradictions and convolutions. In fact, one could argue that this was the primary purpose for why the Gospels were written, as an attempt to pander to certain groups and forge a confederacy of the hopelessly splintered factions of early Christianity.

          And of course, the core doctrines of some of these groups were discarded along the way, when the time came that they had outlived their usefulness to the larger movement.

      • Rudy R

        How I take C.S. Lewis’ comment is, Christianity must be true, because why would it make up such an irrational belief system, instead of a religion based on reason and logic.

        • primenumbers

          And by such logic Mormonism is very true and Scientology truest of all.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Cool. Constrain yourself to the facts then.

      No one insists that Christianity is made up as if a hoax or prank. Perhaps it’s you who is bringing up the straw man.

      • KarlUdy

        Did I say you were saying that Christianity is made up as if a hoax or a prank?

        It seems more that you are saying that Christians are willingly self-deluded, that their beliefs are based on whim or fancy as opposed to any real conviction about what is actually true.

        Have I read you right or not?

        • Pofarmer

          willingly self deluded? I suppose that could work. It is a belief systems based on the writings and teachings of people who thought the heavens opened to let it rain. Thought that their couldn’t be people on the other side of the world because they couldn’t witness the returning of Jesus, which still hasn’t happened. People who thought Angels carried the sun across the sky and hid it at night. Then, later, you pile on the the writers of the Gospels, add some more “modern” theology of things like the trinity, hypostatic union, plenary substitution, and on, and on, and on. It’s a religion that has been tinkered with and added on to and it shows. Pauls religion started out simple enough “I teach Christ Crucified.” and the hijinks ensue from there.

        • evodevo

          Actually, if you read Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities” or Price’s “The Amazing Colossal Apostle” you will learn that after ~70 AD most of the New Testament was made up out of a hodge podge of Gnostic, Marcionite, Ebionite, early Catholic, etc. etc. texts that had been circulating for years among the various sects that made up “Christianity” then. Even the letters of Paul are a slurry of additions, redactions, insertions probably not composed by him, if he actually existed. The final cobbled-together theologically insane mess became our New Testament only after the committees of the Nicene Council declared them so.

        • Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          Christians must self-delude themselves. It’s the only way their faith can stand up to reality. You cannot honestly believe all the words in your Bible. There’s far too much evidence to say basically everything in it is made up.

        • KarlUdy

          I’m wondering what you think about the line some Christians use where they say that atheists deep know deep down that God really exists but they suppress that truth?

        • SuperMark

          Doesn’t the bible say something to that effect? The only one that comes to mind is “a fool says in his heart that there is no god”.

        • JohnH2

          Romans 1:20-21

          For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

          21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened

        • SuperMark

          Yes! thank you i thought that narrative was grounded on something, even if loosely.

          I’ve heard this verse used to justify god sending people to hell who never heard the gospel. As if somehow nature points to monotheism.

        • JohnH2

          “As if somehow nature points to monotheism.”

          In Paul’s day, it did.

          The Greeks came up with Monotheism via Geometry and Astronomy: being that the forms (ideas) of geometry are independent of the particulars, the ideas depend on axioms, and the heavens as seen without a telescope move very clearly according to the forms of geometry, leading rather directly to the Greek philosophical idea of God; which as evidenced by the Wisdom of Sirach had already by Paul’s day been tied with the Jewish deity by the Jews.

        • SuperMark

          But that’s exactly why it doesn’t make any sense in today’s world.

        • JohnH2

          And people wonder why those promoting a heliocentric view of the universe weren’t very popular with the Catholic Church.

          Yes, the idea is much less straightforwardly obvious today. Part of the question being answered by that idea of God is still relevant, if not thought about much: whence the laws of physics? The other part I don’t think is a sensible question: why is there something rather than nothing?

        • Scott_In_OH

          I’m not sure I’m following you. Most Greeks, of course, were polytheistic. I know Aquinas tried to use premises from Aristotle to prove the existence and understand the nature of God. Is that what you are talking about? Or is it something else?

          Any suggested readings?

        • JohnH2

          hmm, unfortunately I read primarily primary sources (for fun) which is probably not what you are looking for, however:

          Look at Justin Martyr, the “polytheistic” Greeks were accusing him of being Polytheistic and Justin was arguing that he was Monotheistic.

          Augustine explicitly says that he is using Plato rather than the beliefs of the Christians in talking about the nature of God.

          Plato’s Republic, just like Aristotle, says that one needs to have studied geometry and astronomy prior to studying metaphysics. From that one should probably read Euclid’s elements, which given that it is still useful and was written within a hundred years of Plato accurately captures what Plato was after as well as demonstrates the certainty that Plato is after, that is of course geometry.

          Trying to think of a good astronomy reference that captures the movements of the celestial spheres. Obviously, there is the Almagest and Tetrabiblos by Ptolemy, but I found some of the Masonic texts to be more helpful for me to understand the subject, not that they are any less dense or esoteric.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Thanks for the suggestions.

          For Justin Martyr, are you referring to the First Apology? Another commenter linked it not long ago:

          He (and Christians) were being accused of being atheistic because they didn’t worship Jupiter and the others (he was talking to Romans), and he was arguing that he did believe in a God, just not the ones the Romans did.

          Yes, Augustine, and later Aquinas, used Plato, and especially Aristotle, to try to prove God (and in fact the Christian God).

          I guess I’m wondering who, even in a primary source (as long as it’s available in English), shows how “The Greeks came up with Monotheism via Geometry and Astronomy.” Are you talking about Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Euclid themselves, or about others who incorporated their work into a monotheistic understanding of the world, like Augustine and Aquinas?

          I ask because I don’t know much about the religious beliefs of those four Greek philosophers. I know them for their logic, math, and so on.

        • JohnH2

          I don’t think you have actually read the First Apology, as your description is nothing like what they were accused of. Atheism yes, because Christianity either has multiple gods and no God or it is polytheistic and has multiple Gods, with in this case the capital G denoting the unmoved mover, ground of all being, etc.

          The Romans got their philosophy from the Greeks and were very proud of that.

          Here is the wikipedia article on Aristotle’s concept:

          Plato also has something like that in the Republic but it isn’t as wall explained or developed.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Thanks for the link on Aristotle. I’d really only read Aquinas and Augustine, along with Edward Feser’s discussion of Aristotle and Plato as the foundation upon which they had built. It’s interesting to see how little they needed to build, in some ways.

          Part of my confusion may be the fact that we’re talking about different parts of Greek and Roman society. I think much of Greek and Roman society was polytheistic (how else to describe societies where many people believed in Zeus/Jupiter, Hera/Juno, Ares/Mars, and the others?), but you are focusing on luminaries who challenged that belief, either directly or indirectly. If that’s the source of my confusion, then I think I agree with you.

          I’m a little surprised at your first paragraph. Maybe I read it wrong, but I read it. Certainly Justin and his contemporaries were accused of more than being atheists, but I was responding to your comment that they were being accused of being polytheists. I took Chapters 5 & 6 to mean they were accused of being atheists because they didn’t believe in Jupiter and the rest. (Chapter 21, which was discussed in an earlier thread, is another that sounds like he’s defending himself in a context where his accusers believe in multiple gods, including Jupiter and Mercury, although takes a very different tack there, arguing that there are a lot of similarities between Christianity and Roman mythology, so it shouldn’t be such a stretch to believe.)

        • JohnH2

          I am not sure how much the average person considered the subject of the God of the philosophers and how it related to the gods of the every day. The philosophers didn’t so much challenge the belief in the gods, think
          of the Catholic saints as being the gods but with sacrifices as in the
          afro-brazilian versions.

          Justin clearly is rejecting the idols and the gods, while asserting that they do believe in the God of the philosophers. So Justin is saying that those are not real Gods, but that he believes in the One of the philosophers and that Jesus is the Logos, and uses references to Plato in that regards, in a clever way of getting around having multiple Gods, because again the accusation is that either they are atheists (in they believe in multiple gods but not the God of the philosophers) or they are polytheists (in believing in multiple Gods, and also not the gods of the Romans ).

          Justin shows that he believes in just one God, and that Christ is the Son of God being the first emanation or Logos and that what is said of the man Jesus, who deserves to be call the Son of God, is also said of the sons of Jupiter (which to me actually makes it very unclear how much Justin thought the stories of Jesus were true, especially given what he says about the Greeks in 24, but that is perhaps a different topic).

        • MNb

          “I am not sure how much the average person considered the subject of the God of the philosophers”
          The average person being illiterate you can bet he/she didn’t. There has been some research of the religion views of the common Greeks, especially the simple farmers. I would need to look it up though as I’ve never read more about it than that there has been some research.

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          It depends on what you mean by “God”. Does everyone really know deep down that the world was created by an intelligent being? Well, a lot of people might be swayed in that direction, but I wouldn’t say that they know it deep down.

          I think that claim serves to make atheists look like they’re incompetent or dishonest in order to diminish the value of their opinions on things such as morality. It’s not much of an argument, it’s pretty much like, “You say you don’t believe in God, then you are a liar!” I guess in the mind of a theist, God’s existence is so obvious that anyone who denies it must be completely deluded or a huge liar, like denying the existence of the sun to use a popular analogy.

          I’d like to think that my brain is functioning properly enough that if God exists, then I should detect it. If I am detecting it then I’m not sure that I am (whatever way you detect something that can’t be seen, smelled, heard, touched, tasted, and operates independently from any notion of cause and effect).

        • KarlUdy

          If you think such an argument is below the belt when theists use it against atheists, then surely the same rules of courtesy in debate should apply in other direction.

          I hope Youhao can see the logic of this too.

        • 90Lew90

          Courtesy? Fine. Just don’t expect respect for your beliefs. They’re not deserving of it.

        • Lbj

          How about showing us some evidence (not assertions) that back your claim up?

        • TheSquirrel

          Hi Justas! Me again. You theists make the positive claim, yet can’t seem to provide any evidence on your own. Must I remind you of the burden of proof?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Did I say you were saying that Christianity is made up as if a hoax or a prank?

          Pretty much. Your Lewis quote talks about “inventing religions.” That’s why I rejected it but clarified my interpretation of that bit of Lewis. If that’s not what you meant, feel free to clarify.

          It seems more that you are saying that Christians are willingly self-deluded

          I wouldn’t say that. If everyone around you has one false belief for every 100 correct ones, I’d say that you’d be entitled to think that society does a decent job at giving you correct beliefs and that adopting those beliefs wholesale wouldn’t be crazy. It’d be nice to have skepticism, and we all have that in varying amounts, but I don’t have too much bad to say to those in society who aren’t as skeptical as I am or who haven’t reached my conclusions. I think they’re mistaken, but I wouldn’t say “self-deluded.”

        • KarlUdy

          I’m having some trouble reconciling what you’re saying here, when you say:

          It’d be nice to have skepticism, and we all have that in varying amounts, but I don’t have too much bad to say to those in society who aren’t as skeptical as I am or who haven’t reached my conclusions.

          with your original post where you suggest that Christianity is akin to a marketing scam that “was an opportunistic seizing of—nay, a celebration of—consumer stupidity” and pretty much the whole faux advertising spiel for Christianity you made.

          Which reflects what you really think?

          By the way, I think “inventing religions” sounds like a very similar thing to “believe what you want to believe and just know must be true”.

    • 90Lew90

      I don’t understand why CS Lewis (my fellow countryman) is so revered in Christian circles. (Actually, maybe I do but I’ll hold my tongue.) He was third-rate. His literature was third-rate at best. As a thinker he was z-list. And perhaps worst of all, and quite typically of the kind of Ulster Prod that he was, he was a humourless bore. He suffered from the conceit common to a lot of theologians in fancying himself as a philosopher. When he ventured into philosophy, he was so badly savaged by Elizabeth Anscombe on his “argument from reason” (“She obliterated me as an apologist”) that he didn’t dare venture into that bear pit again. Wonderful thing, the marketplace of ideas.

  • Mick

    Back in the 1970s Australia still had black and white TV, but color was on its way. At the time a black and white TV cost about $300 but one of the stores in Adelaide (Ernsmiths Electrical) started selling “color compatible” TVs for $1,200.

    People thought they were buying color TV sets and when the color broadcasts began, they would be able to view the broadcast images. And they could too – but only in black and white. “Color compatible” didn’t mean precisely what they thought it meant.

    • dorcheat

      It was similar in the United States as well. The first color televisions in the United States were sold in late 1953 and the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day was broadcast in color from NBC (National Broadcast Company), but routine color programming was not available until 1965 and 1966.

      • duke_of_omnium

        NBC was the network that broadcast the most color programming, including The Wonderful World of Disney. That’s because NBC was owned by RCA, who were the among the earliest manufacturers of color TV.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      … because the color TV broadcasts were designed to be backwards compatible with all black and white TVs!

      Great example, thanks.

  • Ron

    Paul himself boasts that he’s a huckster:

    “I act like a Jew to the Jews, so I can recruit Jews. I act like I’m under the Law to those under the Law, so I can recruit those who are under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law).” 1 Corinthians 9:20 CEB

    Like Jesus, but can’t give up your traditions and ceremonies? No problem. I have a hassle-free migration plan that’s right for you.

    Don’t look forward to circumcision and have a hankering for pork? No worries—try our easy option plan.

    • wtfwjtd

      In 2 Cor 2:17, Paul feels compelled to defend himself against huckster-style charges, by stating that “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit…”

      Kinda makes you wonder what him and his pals were up to sometimes.

      • Pofarmer

        If you read the Didache, there are rules in it for how long to let itinerate preachers hang around before showing them the door. Apparently it was a problem.

        • wtfwjtd

          Robert Price in his “Shrinking Son of Man” says that when Jesus was talking about giving to the poor, he wasn’t talking about, you know, just any old poor people. He was referring to apostle-like preacher wanderers, and “ordinary” lay folk could earn brownie points in heaven by giving stuff to them.

        • evodevo

          Yes. The “Poor”, or Ebionim, were the early Xtians (before theology and sectarianism got in the way). Revival tent preachers were the beginning of Xtianity, not a recent development.

        • wtfwjtd

          Price also explains how early Xtianity was modeled after a group called Cynics, who also wandered the countryside mooching off of local people in exchange for “services” such as preaching.The whole bit about not taking anything for the journey, including a staff or bag, was to try and separate themselves from the rest of the begging pack. Obviously, Xtianity has always had a parasitic relationship with society, and as you rightly point out it goes back to its very origins.

        • 90Lew90

          You have to hand it to Diogenes, one of the original Cynics. Took the mick out of Plato, no less, and sabotaged his lectures, claiming he had misinterpreted Socrates. Even better, he publicly mocked Alexander the Great and lived. Alexander is said to have gone to visit him (he lived in a large ceramic jar) and at some point asked him what he desired and promised it would be granted. “Stand a little out of my sun,” says Diogenes. Brilliant!

        • wtfwjtd

          Mocking Alex publicly and living to tell about it? Yeah, that dude definitely has my respect, no question about it.

        • MNb

          Oh? You do assume this story is historical? Which is a quote from a few centuries after Diogenes died?
          You should apply Price’s method to him for once. That’s to say, if you are interested in consistency. You might come to the conclusion much faster that there never was a Diogenes to have respect for.
          To get you started:

          1. No archeological evidence.
          2. No contemporary sources.

        • wtfwjtd

          I was basing my reply on Lew’s post, I’m not familiar with the actual account, sorry about that.

        • 90Lew90

          The story, while admittedly second-hand from one of Diogenes’ students, actually appears in Ptolemy, a damn-near contemporary. That’s a hell of a lot better than the Bible stuff and the story was credible enough to the historian Robin Lane Fox for him to include it in his biography of Alexander. He dates it pretty accurately too, since the meeting was supposed to have taken place at Corinth, and Alexander only ever visited there once, at the age of 20. Yes, the adoring student probably embellished the story, but it seems pretty certain both that the meeting took place and that Alexander was very impressed by Diogenes. It also seems to fit with Diogenes’ character. He was an out and out rebel. I have to love the guy!

        • Tom Hanson

          not only that Alexander had been tutored by Aristotle and in general respected philosophers. Per R L Fox

        • Lbj

          Price is out his mind.

        • wtfwjtd

          Is this all you are capable of? Insults and assertions, with no arguments? I must say though, typically Christian.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          And there we go, folks. The definitive final word on the subject.

  • wtfwjtd

    Reading this fine post by Bob here, I’m taken back to my younger days as a fundie, when a popular message of many a revival-style preacher was something like the following: “Following Jesus involves working long hours, and doesn’t pay well, but the retirement benefits are out of this world!”

    It makes me smile wryly now, thinking of this; Christianity, as the primary surviving man-made mystery religion, learned long ago how to promise its followers literally anything and get away with it, as long as said promises were couched properly in obfuscation and unfalsifiable statements.
    It also makes me sad though, as I know many people who spent their working years donating 10 per cent and more of their income to their local church and are now struggling in retirement because they can barely survive on their Social Security checks. If they would have taken even part of the money that they donated to organized religion and put it in a retirement account of some kind, they could be enjoying a much more comfortable lifestyle now and not have to live with their backs to the wall.
    I guess I’m just pointing out the obvious–marketing scams such as Christianity have real, detrimental consequences on real people in my life, and it makes me sad to see it in action. Thanks for the informative, and as always, spot-on post.

    • SuperMark

      Thanks for your words, i was fed the same line of BS going up as well: “don’t worry everything will be better when your dead”.

      • wtfwjtd

        Yes, if only you pray harder, give a little more, do something harder/better than what you are doing it now; only then can you possibly hope to achieve some distant version of the “good life”. This better status was always just over the horizon, always just out of reach, no matter what you did or how hard you tried.
        It sounds like you were a also a prisoner of the same self-loathing, “you’re never quite good enough” culture that I was trapped in for much of my youth.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Oh, but surely the impoverished elderly couple could go back to the church to get their money back if God didn’t come through.

      Or maybe not.

      • wtfwjtd

        Matt 6:25-26–”25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.”

        The fundie culture I grew up in believed this terrible advice so strongly that many of them considered putting money in a savings account to be literally sinful. As Hitchens has pointed out, this is not only terrible, defective thinking, but in many cases downright immoral advice coming straight from Jesus. Let’s just say, it’s one more reason I’m not impressed with much of the over-hyped advice that the New Testament offers to its adherents.

        • evodevo

          Ah, yes, just another of the ways the Bible fails where science is concerned. Both the organisms Jesus named (lilies, birds) work like crazy every day to feed themselves and their offspring. Heavenly father doesn’t do anything. And both have parasites who suck 10% or more off them, reducing their quality of life/life spans noticeably. THAT would be a more apt metaphor for religion, IMHO.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a great observation!

  • baal

    It’s common practice in business to take an old product, redo the packaging / shell and sell it as a new one. It’s usually hard for consumers to be able to assess the working parts well enough to know that they are buying a reskin.

  • asmondius

    eh, must have been a slow day.

    • 90Lew90

      Right. So you’ve scuttled off. I maintain: Intellectual and moral cowardice. Dishonesty. And a mind and conscience typically warped by the disease of religion. In your case Catholicism. Perhaps you’ve gone for good but if not, I look forward to our next exchange and I’m really looking forward to hearing about that child abuse case you said was brought to Geneva and “thrown out”. As you guessed, I’ve never heard of it. You may be right. But if not, you could just admit as much and from there we could go on to discuss the conduct of the Holy See in its failings to meet its commitments as a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We could have a long discussion about that. And maybe from there to Concordats. And from that to what a toxic institution your church actually is in the world. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s? If only. As far as your church is concerned, the world *is* Rome, and we should all be doing as the Romans do. Come on then. Let’s have you.

  • Steve Gray

    We Christians believe that God murdered God (=Jesus) to pay off a God-created debt that humanity (created by God) owed to God. If you don’t agree with that, there’s something wrong with you.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Welcome, Mr. Gray. I assume your middle name is Poe. If that guess is right, I like your thinking.

      • Steve Gray

        Yes, Bob. My full name is J. Edgar Poe – oh, wait a second. I’m confusing two people. My real name is Stephen Poe Gray – oh, wait a second – that’s not it either. I forgot my real name. Senior moment, you know.