The, Umm, Will to Believe

The, Umm, Will to Believe January 17, 2021


Aerial Snow Canyon
Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph
I haven’t been able to find a photo that gives an adequate idea of Snow Canyon, but perhaps several taken together can give something of an idea.


A few days ago, somebody — I meant to mark it, but I didn’t; I think it was  from Tracy Hall, but I haven’t been able to find it in order to be certain of that — kindly shared a little joke with me.  I hope that nobody will be too angry with me for sharing it; my point is actually not at all political:


It seems that two extremely ardent devotees of Mr. Donald J. Trump died almost simultaneously.  They had known each other in mortality — perhaps they had attended Trump rallies together, without masks? — and as they approached the pearly gates, they had discussed what they wanted to say.


Eventually, their turn came, and they stood together before St. Peter.


“Before y9u announce y9ur judgment on us,” they said, “we would love it if you would answer a question that we have.”


“Sure!” the kindly former Galilean fisherman responded.  “Ask away.”


“We want to know who organized the stealing of the 2020 American presidential election, and exactly how they did it.”


St. Peter sighed.


“Listen, boys.  The 2020 election wasn’t stolen.  It wasn’t rigged.  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won it, cleanly, fair and square.”


The two recently-deceased Trump followers recoiled in horror.  They looked at each other, deep distress clearly visible on their faces.


“Oh no,” said one of them to the other.  “This goes much higher than we had realized!


Another little parable or story, which I use with similar intent — you see, it’s really not political — comes from Professor J. P. Moreland, a fairly prominent evangelical Protestant philosopher and apologist, and specifically from J. P. Moreland, The God Question: An Invitation to a Life of Meaning (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2009), 9.  I’ve just begun to read the book.


It seems that there was, once upon a time, a man who was firmly and absolutely convinced that he was dead.  At first, his wife thought that this was just a very weird but passing phase.  However, he persisted in his belief.  She tried everything that she could think of, attempting to persuade him that he was . . . well, very much alive.  But nothing worked.  All her efforts were in vain.


So she decided to take her husband to a doctor, who would surely be able to demonstrate, by taking his pulse and showing him various instrument readings and simply talking some sense into him, that he wasn’t dead.  That he was genuinely alive.


But the physician failed, too.  For all his training and experience, nothing he could say would convince the man that he was alive.  Suddenly, though, the doctor had an idea:


“Do dead men bleed?” he asked his patient.


“No, they don’t,” the man answered.


So the doctor took a pin and, with the man’s permission, poked him with it.  And, of course, the man began to bleed.  Not much, but enough to make the point.


The patient looked at the blood, confused.  The doctor smiled with satisfaction.  The man finally seemed to be convinced!


But the man had been certain that he was dead.  Was it really possible that he had been so very wrong?  It just couldn’t be.


He pondered and pondered what had happened.


And then he showed up at the doctor’s office, triumphant.


“It’s amazing, Doctor!” he exclaimed.  “It turns out that dead men do bleed, after all!”


I’m trying to illustrate the simple point that, if people are really, really committed to a particular point of view, even if it’s quite incorrect, convincing them that they’re wrong can sometimes be extremely difficult.  They’ll often hold on well beyond the limits of reason.


Posted from St. George, Utah



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