It is extraordinary what people can be led to believe : bleeding statues, “eucharistic miracles”, UFOs, Rosswell, Pozzi pyramids, conspiracy theories, and the latest revelations in those “newspapers” you can buy at the supermarket check-out. A recent reader of this blog posted a comment offering a few more : “Fatima, Lourdes, Guadeloupe, Gemma di Giorgio and the Shroud of Turin” (I would refer him, to complete his documentation on the last mentioned subject, to the comic-book “Punk Rock Jesus”, about the cloning of a second Jesus from the DNA of the famous fraud which is the Shroud). We call it credulity. If you have ever been conned by a slick salesman, as I have, you know what I mean. Stage magicians are also pros, but at least they give you back the watch they made disappear. Preachers and other salesmen of religious fantasies, because of the credibility we give them, are usually successful, even if they are entirely devoid of charism, in getting people to believe just about anything.
We may ask for proof for what they claim – though often the conviction, real or feigned, of the sales or clergy-man is enough for us – but tend to buy whatever he is hawking. It’s pretty hard for the preacher, anyhow, to provide evidence for what he is saying, so he appeals to testimonies from people supposedly credible because they were either eye-witnesses of a “miracle”, or trustworthy celebrities like Apostles, Prophets or Saints, or folks inspired by God Himself to tell the tall tales they expect us to believe.
Many people believe simply because others did or do. Why would I doubt if the prestigious Professor or the talented Theologian believes it ? If it’s good enough for them … Besides, 1.2 billion Catholics can’t be wrong (though one billion plus Muslims believe they are). That is why Believers on the Brink, not confirmed, convinced believers or non-believers, are the targets of both atheists and non-atheists, who hope they can make their arguments convincing and their convictions contagious.
I would like to think that the “expert” who has gone from one side to the other, enjoys a unique credibility and is worthy of special attention. After all, a confirmed atheist who declares Jesus to be his personal Savior deserves a hearing to tell us why he made such a 180° turnaround. For obvious reasons I also believe that a Priest-Theologian who has abandoned his illusions in favor of the illumination he found at the end of his itinerary from Catholicism to Atheism, also deserves to be heard. I hope my book and this blog will help you understand how I saw through the lies and the myths, and encourage you to share the discovery of the truth that will make you free as it did me.