Two items appear below:
1 Anonymous argues for the existence of a master supernatural deceiver;
2 John H. Williams disgrees.
EVERYONE CORRECT AND RIGHT
IN A WORLD DECEIVED – WHY?
(Investigator 63, 1998 November)
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, THE DECEIVER OF THE WHOLE WORLD – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes… (Proverbs 21:2)
PEOPLE DECEIVED YET THINK THEY'RE RIGHT
You've seen footage of glassy-eyed crowds lining the roads and cheering as Adolf Hitler passed. Such was the devotion that some admirers even prayed to him. Yet Hitler's policies almost destroyed a continent and killed 30 million people. In his closing weeks his own people were killed and/or raped by vengeful enemy armies at the rate of 10,000 per day. He even ordered a scorched earth policy in which the entire population of Germany was to flee to Germany's interior and destroy everything behind them. If obeyed the 30 million dead could easily have passed 50 million dead! What a man to cheer for!
Yet, when Hitler dictated his will and testament he rejected any blame. Similarly others in the Nazi hierarchy – men responsible for mass murder. Few ever said, "I did wrong." They fled and hid, or blamed each other, or denied the facts, or pretended that obedience to orders had made it O.K.
The Criminal History of Mankind (Wilson 1984) is a torrid survey of tribes, nations and empires becoming temporarily powerful, using their power to plunder, rape, oppress and enslave, then losing their power.
Take the Assyrians. They enslaved populations, hacked off captives' limbs, blinded them, skinned them alive, etc:But it was at the cost of inflaming the whole Mediterranean world with a frenzied and impotent hatred. And when Assurbanipal [the king] died, they rose up again… The Assyrians received no more mercy than they had given. Their enemies…set out to exterminate them as if they were plague rats. They were so thorough that they left no Assyrians to recall the story of their greatness. (Wilson p. 140)Take the Romans. Swaggering Romans treated the British with contempt. In 59 AD the king of the Iceni tribe willed half his wealth to the Romans. But they wanted everything. To impress this message they flogged Queen Boadicea and raped her daughters. The result was an uprising where massacre and reprisals took 200,000 lives. Centuries later the Roman Empire ceased. Rome itself then repeatedly experienced pillage and massacre.
The story recurs in thousands of settings. Inhabitants of every up-and-coming empire believed the actions of their armies were right and that their success proved that the gods approved.
EVERYONE DECEIVED YET BELIEVE THEY'RE RIGHT
Today we have tens of thousands of cults and religions.
There are dictionaries of their names and sometimes of their doctrines. Sundkler (1961) in Bantu Prophets of South Africa, for example, said, "The official list of Churches in South Africa, May, 1960, has more than 2030 Bantu Separatist Churches…" (p. 374) Probably all cults and religions disagree with each other and all think they are right.
Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, say they alone understand the Bible and are "in full harmony with God's Word" — despite failed prophecies for dozens of dates! (Stett & Kotwall 1997)
In Pursuit of the Millennium (Cohn 1970) gives a history of numerous apocalyptic cults of the Middle Ages. All thought they were right — and some used their assumed rightness to justify murder and oppression.
The New Age is a mishmash of beliefs incorporating hundreds or thousands of ideas from A to Z — alien abductions to Zen! There are dictionaries listing them. Many of the ideas are refuted by science — nevertheless the proponents think they are right.
Superstitions of the nations also total thousands. Again, there are dictionaries of them. Few superstitions, however, have support from science. Nevertheless the believers thought or think they're right.
There are dictionaries of gods — dead gods no longer worshipped. Yet in times past they were worshipped and people — sometimes thousands — were murdered as sacrifices. And the believers thought they were doing right! Often such gods were statues — condemned in the Bible:The idols of the nations are silver and gold,Skeptics organizations refute numerous popular beliefs. A partial list published in Investigator Magazine started off with Alchemy, Alien Abduction, Alternative Medicine, Ancient Astronauts... Yet whatever the beliefs, the proponents cling to them tenaciously. Many use fraud to support their belief — and think that fraud in their case is right and proper. They might throw objects and claim ghosts did it or surreptitiously bend spoons and claim paranormal power did it.
the work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not,
they have eyes, but they see not,
they have ears, but they hear not,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
A book of the 1930s said:It would be difficult to invent a story too outrageous to command belief, a doctrine for which it would be impossible to obtain support, a proposal too grotesque to be anywhere entertained. There appears to be a maggot in every human brain. There was no need, Goethe thought, to visit a madhouse to find lunatics. So numerous are the illusions, frenzies, hallucinations afloat in the world that some thinkers have been of the opinion that our planet was the asylum of the universe for disordered minds. It is not merely the things men say, and they are fantastic enough, it is the proposals they seriously advocate, the proceedings in which they actually engage. Read the anthropologists for the evidence. The Nestinari, the dancers upon fire, of Bulgaria, walk for ten or fifteen minutes on red-hot embers, passing twice over them to make the sign of the cross, in the belief that by so doing they bring health and prosperity to their community.
The delusions from which men suffer are beyond computation, and the eye which ranges over the historical landscape blenches at the superstitions, cults and rituals which contain for our intelligences no grain of sanity, and seem an outrage upon all reason… Olaus Magnus, Archbishop of Upsala in the sixteenth century, declared he had been an eye-witness of a Norwegian sea-serpent's doings, which seized sheep as they browsed on a cliff a hundred feet above the sea, and swallowed ships, crews and all…
It is not only individuals who can lose their senses, and yet continue to find devoted followers. Whole cities have frequently fallen into religious convulsions, entire populations given themselves over to frantic debaucheries…
Religion itself, Christianity itself, so far from presenting a picture of friendliness and charity in a fierce and warring world, introduces us to a narrative of jarring sects, furious controversies and revolting persecutions. (pp. 97-99)
Every political party claims its policies are right. Every nationalistic person thinks his country is right and every ideologist thinks his ideology is right — including advocates of Social Darwinism, Eugenics, Divine Right of Kings, Fascism, Racism, Communism, etc.
Communist rule was built upon a hundred million killed — mainly in Russia and China. Vast numbers of the killers were in turn killed in successive political purges. Few admitted doing wrong. Communist perpetrators — like previous ones — convinced themselves that in their case, with their ideology, murder was right.
Gamblers waste years in gambling and think they can win when the odds show they can't. Smokers waste $thousands in smoking and think it does no harm when science shows it does. Sexually promiscuous people think promiscuity does no harm although it destroys relationships, emotional health, physical health, families, and in the long run and when widely practiced, economies and civilizations. (Investigator 48)
Most people steal when they think they can get away with it — and convince themselves it's right. Even in the richest countries — where nearly everyone lives better than the kings of Europe did two centuries ago — the majority are part-time thieves and convince themselves it's alright. We waste massive amounts of wealth to protect our possessions from each other. (Investigator 56)
A fraction of the wealth wasted in all this deception and the resultant conflict, and put instead into schools and research, might have given everyone the good-life — advanced beyond today's technology — centuries ago!
History is in part a story of people squandering Earth's wealth in efforts to deceive others while proclaiming their own rightness.
And all the time human existence was more fragile than anyone realized.
Billions of asteroids whizz around the Solar system. (Investigator 62) Small impacts on Earth occur every century. One major impact would destroy everything humans fight over, strive for, plan, build, kill for or deceive for. Yet the asteroid menace can be tamed by technology — technology established not by deceit and oppression but by scientific talent being trained.
A THEME OF THE BIBLE
Every person's self-talk and thoughts are familiar to himself — he is used to them. This familiarity is easily confused with rightness and accuracy. Everyone thinks he is right — his beliefs true and accurate. Yet a brief survey of history and of conflicting beliefs and outrageous claims quickly proves that everyone was and is mistaken in much of what they think is true.
This which we observe — that everyone is wrong yet thinks he is right — is a theme and teaching of the Bible!
The Bible itself reads like a survey of people oppressing each other, thinking it right to do so, but who were wrong. Eve, according to the Bible, was the first person deceived — deceived by the "serpent."
An informal Bible list of causes of deception and/or self-deception follows:
- A "treacherous heart" [= emotions & motivations] (Deuteronomy 11:16; Jeremiah 17:19, 12; 22:17; 23:26; Proverbs 6:14)
- A stubborn/rebellious/evil heart (Jeremiah 5:23; Matthew 12:33-37)
- Lustful desires (2 Peter 2:14-15; Proverbs 11:6)
- Fear of man and crowd/peer pressure (Galatians 2:11-14; Exodus 23:2)
- Pride [Presumption] (Obadiah 3; Jeremiah 48:29-30)
- Flattery (Romans 16:18)
- Stubbornness (Acts 7:51; Jeremiah 3:17; 7:24; 9:14)
- Desire to prove oneself righteous (Job 32:1-2; Luke 10:29; 16:15)
- Hatred (Proverbs 10:12, 18)
- Evil intentions (Proverbs 12:5-6, 20, 26)
- Thinking — without works to prove it — that we're better than others (Galatians 6:3-8)
- Seeking praise (Matthew 6:1-4)
- Riches (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19)
- False prophets (Jeremiah 14:14; Matthew 24:4-5)
- Thinking on something evil until one desires it (James 1:13-15)
- Making decisions too quickly (Proverbs 20:25)
- Inaccurate/inadequate knowledge (Romans 10:2-3; Ephesians 4:14)
- Failure to listen to both sides of a disagreement (Proverbs 18:17; 24:6)
- Physical tiredness (Numbers 21:4-6)
- Consuming alcohol in excess (Proverbs 20:1
- Lying speech (Proverbs 6:16-19
Most of these causes involve the "heart" i.e. emotions and motives. Two further causes of deception, according to the Bible, are:
1. Sin (tendency toward evil/lawless action) inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12; Hebrews 3:13)
2. Satan (Revelation 12:9; 20:3, 8, 10; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Acts 26:18)
Nowadays it's believed much of our physical and mental makeup is transmitted via genes. The Human Genome Project confirms that predisposition to many behaviors that the Bible calls "sin" are inherited — including homosexuality, promiscuity, thievery. Somehow, then, inherited sin puts a barrier between our emotions and our understanding/control of those emotions so that emotions often motivate actions with consequences we don't really want.
The Bible story of Adam disobeying God, and "sin" subsequently spreading to all his descendants, implies that Adam's sin — mental and behavioral — altered/mutated his genes and made it impossible for humans to be righteous. In other words, a decision to disobey God caused genetic change. And since according to the Bible sin introduced death, it implies that a set of genes such as to prevent aging and death is possible in humans. These are potentially testable ideas.
THE MAIN CAUSE — "SATAN"
What about the teaching that there is a superhuman intelligence, Satan, who can influence human thoughts, feelings and actions?
To deceive billions of people with millions of sets of false beliefs and keep track of it all suggests awesome power and intellect. Yet, this being – if he exists – remains elusive and difficult to prove.
We see an effect — everyone deceived, misguided and chasing fantasies, yet thinking they're right. The Bible gives an ultimate cause — Satan — a non-physical being not limited to our dimensions of time and space but able to influence events in those dimensions and able to interlock with human minds and influence plans, beliefs, actions, feelings and health.
Psychologists/psychiatrists discuss numerous causes of false belief. These include misinformation, biochemical imbalances, organic impairments of the brain (e.g. from infection, drugs, head injury and metabolic disturbance), limitations and defects of senses and perception, memory limitations/disorders, emotional problems, degenerative disorders of the central nervous system, reactions to anxieties, etc.
They also list psychological processes such as rationalization, projection, sublimation, denial, etc. Logicians similarly may write books analyzing errors in logic and faulty argumentation.
Nevertheless, psychologists and logicians cannot explain the sheer, all-pervading scale of false belief or — and this is significant — prevent it. They cannot prevent false belief even in themselves. Despite purported explanations they cannot prevent false belief even in themselves.
A translated reprint from Saarbrucker Zeitung (December 30, 1989) in The German Tribune (January 28, 1990) reported on a parapsychology centre in Freiburg (Germany) which helps people who feel threatened by supernatural forces. The founder/director of the Parapsychology Advisory Centre, Walter von Lucadou, lectured at Princeton University (USA) and the Universities of Utrecht (Netherlands) and Stuttgart (Germany). The reprint says in part:Von Lucadou is an open-minded and understanding listener to those who have anxieties about unexplained phenomenon. He is able to assure quickly a good 80 per cent of the people who write to him or ring him up. He places before them the physical and psychological backgrounds of their experiences…The Bible correctly teaches that everyone is wrong and yet think they are right. That the Bible is correct in this is obvious and demonstrable. That the ultimate cause is "Satan" is less demonstrable.
The remaining 20 per cent of Lucadou's clients come up with experiences which cannot be explained from a physical or psychological viewpoint. They are for Lucadou "clearly paranormal phenomena." They are phenomena which come from outside our understanding of the world.
We have, however, the objective facts that:1. All people are misled yet think they are right;
2. Centuries of scientific research cannot explain it or prevent it;
3. Some purported supernatural phenomena remain unexplained;
4. The Bible is incredibly accurate — demonstrated for 10 years in Investigator Magazine often in debate — and therefore reliable.
Therefore, an explanation to be taken seriously is:…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers… 2 Corinthians 4:4According to the Bible the "God of this world" will be defeated:
For we are…contending…against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years…that he should deceive the nations no more… (Revelation 20:1-3)
We live in fragile ecosystems clinging to a solitary rock spinning through a vast, dangerous Universe which shoots millions of asteroids at us. Rather than preparing to survive, humanity has instead sought refuge in deceit, false belief, double standards and conflict. The Bible outlines the ultimate cause and how to fight it — Ephesians 6:10-20.
Anonymous Investigator Magazine Nos. 48, 56 & 62
Cohn, N 1970 In Pursuit of the Millennium Paladin Britain
Harder, B 1990 Hotline to deal with a devil of a problem The German Tribune No. 1405 – 28 January p. 13
MacNeile, W D 1938 The Human Situation Angus & Robertson London pp. 97-99
Stett, B & Kotwall, B J 1997 Jehovah's Witness Dates Investigator Magazine September pp. 46-53
Sundkler, B G M1961 Bantu Prophets in South Africa Oxford Britain
The Bible Revised Standard Version Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. Britain
Wilson, C 1984 A Criminal History of Mankind Panther Books Britain
BUT NOT 'INCREDIBLY ACCURATE'
(Investigator #64, 1999 January)
Anonymous (Investigator 63) is right about Homo sapiens wanting to be right and often not being so, particularly in the realm of beliefs.
My view is that the "tens of thousands of cults and religions" have "everyone deceived". Billions believe (or pretend to, or half-believe) via childhood conditioning, reinforcement of community norms, ignorance, and fear (of lack of meaning or of death) and a naive desire for an afterlife.
Readers of Le Carre and Deighton won't be surprised about the news (The Advertiser 1998 Nov. 19) that Russia's big GR-1 rocket, and other rockets displayed in 1965 were clever fakes or failures, causing a panic in the West and billions of dollars spent on anti-missile missiles! In the 1980s, Reagan's Star Wars program was designed to bankrupt the Soviet Union (The "evil empire") in the latter's attempt to counter the threat. To a degree it worked, at huge cost to an economy that now limps along, unable to feed or pay all its (now Russian) people.
Well done to all deceivers, spin doctors, propagandists, gurus, messiahs and some politicians who have conned people since Adam was a boy (no, that won't do since there was no such guy, nor did 'he' ever have a childhood). Lots of damn good stories, making our planet an interesting but insincere kind of place! Many have believed that Hitler was 'mad' but an eminent psychiatrist believes that likely he was not mentally ill, just paranoid, narcissistic, anxious, depressed and hypochondriac, and that his frequent hand-washing and sexual difficulties revere the result of a hereditary condition called spina bifida occulta (The Advertiser 1998 Nov. 19).
Gradually we know more about everything. That process of explaining the once unexplainable will continue via discoveries such as the fish-eating dinosaur, Suchomimus tenerensis or technology, such as the Hubble telescope.
Sadly, millions of people have their minds firmly closed to the realms of science, cosmology palaeontology and archaeology because of their adherence to certain books, the foundation stones of their faiths. The third millennium will be pretty much the same as the previous one, only slightly different. If one of those asteroids zaps us I'd argue coincidence, but the millennialists would be chuffed and, at last, 'proved right'!
I concede that The Bible is full of wonderful ideas and stories. It's deservedly a powerful essence of our Judeo-Christian culture. Who could have remained unaffected on reading, for example, the Sermon on the Mount? Yet Anonymous attempts to portray The Bible as the only exception to what he spent four pages arguing, that "everyone was and is mistaken in much of what they think is true". His argument is littered with lines like "Eve ... was the first person deceived ... by the serpent", or, "Sin...inherited from Adam", and "...Adam's sin ... altered mutated his genes and made it impossible for humans to be righteous". In a word, nonsense!
All the available evidence tells us there was no Adam, Eve, serpent or Satan. They're just characters in a story in Genesis, not to be taken literally. Similarly, Noah and the flood, the virgin birth and the resurrection, heaven, hell, angels and a mythical anthropomorphized being called God. I don't intend to spend vast amounts of time and energy trying to prove my non-belief right. It's what the Monty Python team called the "bleedin obvious. Lines like "putting myth aside, the evidence is still such that Satan can be taken seriously" are quite amusing.
The Bible isn't "incredibly accurate". Anonymous cites this as "an objective fact", "demonstrated for ten years in The Investigator, often in debate and therefore reliable". He's attempted to demonstrate its accuracy and, presumably, because he's gone unchallenged, has proved to himself that he's right. Rather like Paul's defence of the Good Book as "self authenticating" (Investigator 61)! One of us is utterly wrong. However, Anonymous writes so well and so entertainingly that I say, please keep fighting the good fight, but he should realise that self deception could very apply to his own beliefs, totally unaided by any mythical being, variously known as Lucifer, Old Nick and The Great Deceiver.
I'd like to recommend the source of some of my views: it's The Psychology of Anomalous Experience by Prof. Graham Reed, Hutchinson University Library, London, 1972. I believe that Anonymous will find Chapter Seven, Anomalies of Judgment and Belief interesting!
John H Williams
Adelaide — SA
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