Have you ever seen the movie In The Mouth Of Madness? It was a not-too-bad 90s horror flick about (and forgive me, it’s been a while and I may be off on my description) an author whose books are so prolific and so compelling that he is altering the fabric of reality. People become convinced that his work is true, and slowly the majority opinion of what is real begins to change, thus changing what is actually real to suit the author’s needs. It’s an interesting perspective for a horror story.
It’s not an interesting perspective for theology, but it is such a common thing to hear people say that millions of people believe in the Bible or the Quran or the Tao Te Ching or the Book Of Common Prayer or what have you, so it therefore must be real (or all those people would have to be DUH DUH STUPID). But, unlike in the world of John Carpenter’s film, reality is not determined by consensus. Having millions of people genuinely believe that eating turds give you magic flight powers will not result in people growing wings if they eat shit.
That would be a delusion. Delusions are beliefs that are held despite superior contradictory evidence, or more roughly, a false belief that is maintained against all logic. I do not put faith in general in the delusion category because the only real contradictory evidence against the God hypothesis would be proof of not-God, and proving a negative is impossible. But there are those who believe in things like the great flood, talking snakes, and the proven healing power of prayer despite all evidence to the contrary. Those people are delusional.
These delusions can run from benign to genuinely dangerous, but the more people that believe them will not make them true. If every man, woman, and child on earth believed that the entire earth was only a few thousand years ago covered in water, and that all life that remains came from the contents of a single boat, it still will not make it so. There is no geological evidence to lead us in this direction, and there are cultures that have had written history for longer than the alleged timeline of the flood without disappearing in God’s wrath or commenting something like “Gee, awful rainy again today. Fortunately, I had this boat that I got in when the shit really hit the fan. Been here a few days, but there’s plenty of fish, so I’m still alive, and the rain water is keeping me hydrated. Sure hope I see some of my loved ones when the waters subside…”
But ignore the details. Let’s focus a bit and open our discussion to the simple statement that there is a creator in heaven who is the Christian God. Avicenna wrote a blog post today refuting Jordan Sekulow of the Washington Post entitled Evilution I – The Dawkinator. Sekulow wrote an article about ZOMG DAKINZ IZ NEW ATHIST POPE LOL ATHISTS R STOOPED, and Avi broke it down a bit. I loved how he put it, and the comparison to In The Mouth Of Madness popped into my head. In the world today, at least according to Sir Wiki Of Pedia, it says that 31.59% of the world are Christians, 23.2% are Muslims, and 0.2% are Jewish. If we stop right there, that gives us a majority share of 54.99% of the earth’s population believe in the story of Abraham. Does that make it accurate?
Or course not. Reality isn’t a popularity contest. The earth was never the center of the universe, but there was a time when the vast majority would have agreed with that statement. It wasn’t true, though. See? people on a giant scale can be wrong in exactly the same way. It doesn’t even make them stupid, it makes them ignorant, a condition we all suffer on a plethora of topics.
The argument from popularity is old news. For once, let’s start treating it like that.