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Christianity: Hope is the Bait
(c) Copyright 1992 Norman Doering Norman Doering
19O NW Hills Dr.
Valparaiso, IN. 46383
A sample chapter, and an introduction to the writing of Norman Doering.
HOPE IS THE BAIT
Dangerous Game. Whoever allows room in himself again
for religious feeling these days must also allow it
to grow: he cannot do otherwise. Then his nature
gradually changes: it favors that which is dependent
on or near the religious element; the whole range of
his judgement and feeling is befogged, overcast with
religious shadows. Feeling cannot stand still: be on
-- Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human
My indoctrination started in earliest childhood, so long ago I cannot
remember when I first heard the words 'God' or 'Jesus.' For those who haven't
been indoctrinated there is simple curiosity, and there is also desire and
hope, as well as fear, to attract new people to Christianity. It starts as an
invitation to read the Bible, or with the witnessing of Christians who invite
you to come and see for yourself. The prospective Christian wants to know
what it is these witnessing Christians are about, and if they really know
anything. How many of us haven't, at one time or another in our youth,
explored those realms of mysticism and religion, if only to make sure there
was no reality behind someone else's outrageous claims? Ask yourself what it
is you felt. These religionists and mystics offer forms of hope and knowledge
that cannot be had in any other way.
Science and rationalism, by contrast, offer a very gloomy and pessimistic
portrait of man's nature and fate. Bertrand Russell captured the essence of
this pessimistic view in his essay, "A Free Man's Worship." The essay can be
found in Russell's book "Why I Am Not a Christian."
"... Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they
were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves
and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that
no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an
individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the
devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are
destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole
temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a
universe in ruins..."
It's a passage often quoted by Christian writers who wish to explain why
they find atheism so unacceptable, and this let's us know what some Christians
are really running away from. This is the possibility of despair we must
embrace in order to be atheists and I couldn't do that without shedding a few
tears for all the lost hopes. It's the only hell that Christian belief can
save anyone from and in this, the hope market, there are a lot of competitors
more vicious than ordinary Christianity is. However, such despair is just as
presumptuous as the unreal hope embraced in the Christian faith. No man
really knows what waits for us after we've finished our lives, but it's hard
to scientifically or rationally support any speculation beyond simple
non-existence. We can only hope and dream.
The toxic hope offered by any kind of mysticism, be it Christian or New
Age, is more than just the conquest of death, it's the desire for a
supernatural realm beyond this comparatively dull and mundane reality. We all
seem to have a profound yearning, a hope, for a magic method that will free us
from realities that will not obey our wishes, from loneliness, from sorrow,
from failure, from fears of the unknown, and from death itself, from our pain,
and from our fragile human bodies that will rot in the earth after our
dreaming souls have flown the coup. Because of our ego-centricity we cannot
accept the idea of death easily. We want to be free of nature's seemingly
cruel dictates. It has been called the transcendental temptation, the siren
call of mysticism, an escape from reality, and the theological seduction. It
is a supernatural promise and it will not be kept.
Some Christians don't exactly know what kind of promise it is they have
faith in, but they are sure it is better than rational despair. Yes, it would
be nice if we could live forever in some paradise. It would be nice if there
were a God watching over us and protecting us. But merely wanting and
believing in these things is not enough to make them real. Hope and
expectation is the bait that draws the seeker in, but the seeker is soon
introduced to the fear of eternal damnation.
What goes into the Bible reader's imagination, those highly emotional and
secretly irrational processes within the subconscious, may just be objectively
collected there at first as he tries to determine for himself what the truth
is. The Bible reader tries to learn, but secretly wants to dream of a
supernatural realm where his deepest desires might be fulfilled, and also
where his darkest fears might come true. Fantasy may be a natural and healthy
way to explore our desires and fears, and so discover their nature, and then
develope realistic plans for getting what it is we desire and avoiding what we
fear, but Christian fantasy is almost totally detached from any contact with
reality. The desires and fears generated by the biblical texts are ambiguous,
extreme, and unrealistic. The Bible, and especially New Testament, is
bewildering, difficult, obscure, and confusing. The Bible creates an
unhealthy uneasiness, it stimulates fear and hope with both subtle and direct
threats and promises. The New Testament aims to turn the truth seeker inward
and work on his subconscious mind. A seed is planted within the prospects
subconscious. Any objective determination about the truth or falsity of
Biblical claims is difficult for those who do not understand the psychology.
The Christian finds that he is dependent on priestly authority in order to
understand his faith. The material that goes in to the mind, Biblical
stories, rituals, impressive church structures, the herd instinct, mass media
support, and peer pressure can be analyzed and so tell us something about this
psychology and how the final effect is produced, and even something of the
purposes that lay behind its design.
Supernatural fantasies are generated when the Bible reader speculates on
the meaning of the text. And these fantasies are given implicit support by a
media that tells us our politicians, presidents, generals, and celebrities are
mostly Christian. A media that rarely contradicts the Christian assumptions
of our culture. As the Bible reader reads of miracles, the promise of life
everlasting, supernatural powers, angels, transcendent realms, and magical
healings his desire and fantasy, his fears and hopes, will motivate, develop,
and grow as he continues his studies. (One of the darkest aspects of
religion's appeal to hope is its appeal to the desperate. To the terminally
ill who seek to be healed.) Talk to any Christian and you'll find out that
they've created a very personal vision, a private reality map that is uniquely
their own. While different Christian groups with different labels, such as
Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, Charismatic, or Evangelical will advocate
different interpretations of this supernatural fantasy each individual creates
his own particular vision out of the mix of possibilities.
For some people, once the Biblical seed of unreal hope and uncertain fear
has been sown, a process of desire, expectation, and imagination begins in the
hidden workings of the unconscious mind, in a secret world of mystical ideas,
a world of ignorance and enormous possibility. The Bible reader begins to
develope a murky image of his supernatural expectations and he seeks to
clarify that image with further study. Instead of having his murky ideas
clarified he is instead drawn further and further in to the trap. In time
those things merely imagined, but still either feared or desired, may become
part of our potential believer's reality map. The ideas are no longer just
possibilities and speculations he entertains in his mind but are now 'real' to
him. But 'real' only in the sense that they are emotionally loaded concepts
that influence his desire and aversion behavior. The believer can no longer
imagine, comfortably, a world view without his faith, his illusions. The
emotion attached to these religious ideas is stronger than the emotion
attached to the concepts and ideas in a more rational mind. While I have
little experience with it, there seems to be a drug like emotional kick of
joyous expectation associated with this process. At least this is what many
Christians seem to claim when they talk about being 'born again.'
None of us use logic and reason alone to create our theories and reality
maps, or even to solve problems. The ideas seem to just come to us, popping
into our heads, or picked up out of books we've sought out, or welling up out
of some dark and mysterious depth within our minds. Sometimes when this
happens we want to scream 'Eureka!' because we have solved an important
problem, as did Archimedes when he discovered a way to determine the purity of
gold. We use logic later, to check the work and put it in presentable order
after the new ideas and insights have been attained. This does not invalidate
the use of reason and logic as tools for understanding our world because the
insights and ideas must survive the checking and ordering process which makes
them valid, at the very least, if not demonstratably true.
A gestation process seems to be involved in genuine conversion. New
insights, beliefs, concepts, and perspectives emerge days, weeks, perhaps even
years after exposure to the information. The fuel for the Christian
transformation is obviously those deep seated hopes and fears that biblical
psychotechnology exploits. The computer programmer's jargon of "garbage in,
garbage out" applies to the human mind as well. Cram your head full of
scientific data about a problem that needs to be solved and you'll arrive at a
technological solution to the problem. Cram your head full of Biblical
mysticism and you'll find yourself with superstitious fears of damnation and a
desperate quest for salvation. It's the checking and ordering process that is
often not carried out when it comes to religion, or if it is, it's carried out
improperly. In most cases, it's not even possible to carry out this checking
process. Much of the information given to us by our trusted authority
figures, our priests and politicians, goes unchecked, for checking is a hard
and time consuming process. It's a lot harder to think for oneself than it is
to just trust our culture's properly accredited experts, be they priests,
politicians, or scientists. The Bible discourages this checking process and
asks for faith, and that's one good clue to its false nature.
Whether it's Christian belief or a New Age dream, it is all caused by
the same hidden psychological rational; "if it feels good believe it." There
may be a biological drive that accounts for our choice of hope over despair.
George E. Vaillant, who heads a team of psychologists at Dartmouth's Medical
School, (Omni mag, "Mental Muscle" May '92) has gathered data for over 4O
years that suggests that men who have a bleak and cynical outlook on life
suffer from more serious illnesses later. Our outlook on life could have a
direct effect on our immune system's ability to fight off disease. The
fantastic and extreme, but very unrealistic, hope offered by Christianity does
feel good up to a point. All of us feel joy when we have great and hopeful
expectations. However, we have to build up our hopes and goals here in the
'real' world, we have to base them on rational evidence.
If a person can convince themselves that they are one of the saved, or
the chosen, then the emotional effect produced would logically be one of
joyous expectation. This joyous expectation feels good, it's one real motive
for belief, but most Christians, it seems, only get that emotional kick once
and it doesn't last. The price paid for these fantastic expectations,
however, is the acceptance of some very fearful expectations should the
believer's faith ever falter. At this point the true believer becomes
emotionally committed to his religion. The disillusionment involved in giving
up these unreal hopes would be extreme now. The believer has been locked in
by the use of fear, by a kind of existential black mail, and the effects of
dropping his faith are as painful as a drug addict quitting drugs. The longer
he continues, the harder it is to quit. He knows his faith is real and
powerful because he feels it. He knows what it feels like to be without it.
A lot of different versions of Christianity have grown out of the long
historical diversification and decomposition of the original Roman Catholic
Church. Not even the Catholics are what they once were. However, at their
root they all claim to base their faiths on the Bible. It is the
'interpretation' of that book that they all argue about, and it is their
'interpretation' of that book that they base their faith on. They all assume
that there is at least honesty and wisdom there, if it's not claimed to be the
revealed word of God.
Liberal Christian leaders say many kind and sensible things in the public
media, and they pretend that this is all that their religion is about. This
is mostly Christian propaganda and it is all based on a few scarce passages in
which men are instructed to love, and to love one another. This facade of
being an institution dedicated to moral and ethical education, to good will,
to hope, to social progress, to 'humanism,' and the biblical passages
promising God's love is just a lure for the Christian trap. It is nothing but
the bait in a bait and switch scam.
Those who try to make Christianity into a mere institution for ethical
and moral education are stuck with a Bible they can't allow themselves to
interpret too accurately. A good example of this kind of liberal Christianity
can be found in bishop John Shelby Spong's books. Spong's "Rescuing the Bible
from Fundamentalism" is an attack on those Christians who take the Bible too
literally, especially the televangelists and fundamentalists. Spong, a
Christian bishop, says that the fundamentalists are too ignorant of science,
'modern' Biblical criticism, and 'correct' Biblical interpretation. Yet Spong
still finds the Bible to be of value as a message of 'love,' and as a call to
humanism. Spong is not able to make or find any kind of concrete
interpretation of his message by use of the Bible, but can only tell us this
'love,' this 'religious impulse,' must be felt and language is ultimately
inadequate for the task of expressing it. Christians are sure that whatever
it is the Bible has to say it's important. (It is! But they're not going to
What liberal and humanistic Christians don't realize is that they are the
inheritors of a philosophy based on rebellion against, and questioning of, the
Bible's original purposes. Martin Luther was the first to successfully
challenge the Roman Catholic dominance, and its 'infallible' Pope, and create
a new church. Ever since then Christianity has been in a slow state of
decline. The kind, loving, philosophical, and modernist theology that has
evolved out of this was designed to more effectively hide the original
psychological poison, not to interpret the Bible correctly. All the kindly,
humane, and sensible things that Christian leaders say, even when directly
quoted from the Bible, are not what Christianity truly stands for. It is just
the bait. It is this desire and hope that draws people, who haven't been
indoctrinated from childhood, in. All religions use it.
The liberal Christian's imagination and desire for a utopian world of
Christian brotherhood and fellowship is only a half truth. It could never
really exist, and what little tid bits of moral behavior, if any, Christianity
has contributed to our culture are part of a very mixed blessing. Spreading
'God's word' will not spread any more tolerance and love than it already has.
We've already seen the results. More psychological poison will be spread than
love, for the Bible is psychological poison. This poison, whether it was
created by Arrius Piso and his conspirators or not, was originally used to
lure people into accepting slavery.
Jesus asked us to have faith and take 'no thought' for tomorrow for our
heavenly father knows our needs before we ask him. He thus lulls into a
state of false security with his beautiful and hypnotic lies. Just feel the
"peace which passeth all understanding" and relax, trust God and everything
will turn out alright. Life will no longer be an anxious and uncertain
struggle. Take no thought for politics and you'll be asked to go to war for
someone else's gain. Take no thought for economic justice and you will become
a slave. Refuse to take thought for tomorrow and God will let you starve.
We've already seen the results of leaving these things to 'God' and the
Church, it was called the Dark Ages.
In Acts 4:32-37 the Christians are told to sell all they own, give the
money to the church, and live together in what appears to be small communes,
much like the Essenes did. A little later, in Acts 5:1-1O, Anani and his wife
Sapphira lose their lives because they kept some money for themselves.
Apparently these early Christians were expected to turn over everything to the
trust of their church. What happened when they did this?
This promise made to lazy minded believers, who were suppose to be of one
mind, apparently backfired on the early church's leaders the first time they
tried to use it. Many of those who entered into this kind of community, which
sounds so much like a modern cult, must have been a problem for later the New
Testament authors added, in 2 Thessalonians 3:1O, "If anyone will not work,
let him not eat." Indeed, what kind of power could they have had over these
people if they could starve them to get work out of them? I suggest you read
these passages in context and see for yourself. The original biblical appeal
to laziness of mind must have drawn in quite a few converts who were lazy
about everything else too, or else they just weren't of one mind as Paul
claimed, for they apparently had to starve them to get any work out of them.
If they could be starved, then how free were people in these communities? Had
they been lured into some kind of slavery? Work but don't think, for the cult
leaders, will think for you, be an example unto you, and tell you exactly what
God wants you to do. Today the church does not ask believers to sell all they
own and give it to the church, only the most obviously dangerous cults do that
now. Today the believer is more or less on his own, though in a mostly
Christian world, and it is only suggested that he tithe 1O% of his income to
The above essay, 'Hope is the Bait,' is intended, along with the other
essay, 'Fear is the Trap,' to be part of a larger work tentatively titled
'The Dark Secrets of Religious Psychotechnology.' My goal is to study the
psychological purposes and intentions of the Biblical authors in light of
the theory presented by Abelard Reuchlin and John Duran that claims the New
Testament is the work of Arrius Piso and his conspirators.
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