F Rosa Rubicondior: Fooling The People All Of The Time

Saturday 26 November 2011

Fooling The People All Of The Time

Surely you've heard the story of the Emperor's new clothes, haven't you? Well, skip the next few paragraphs if you have then.

A conman went to the Emperor and told him he could make him a suit of clothes so fine, with such minute stitching, that only the most discerning; the most refined of people could see them in all their finery. He showed the Emperor an empty package which he said contained a sample of his handiwork. The Emperor, not wanting to appear coarse and unrefined, agreed that the sample was indeed the finest work he had ever seen, and ordered the conman to make him a full suit and to spare no expense. He would show the courtiers and nobility in his empire how refined he was. No one would doubt his refinement ever again. Not that they ever had, mind you.

The conman went away and dutifully delivered an empty package, and a very large bill, a few days later. The Emperor called all his courtiers together to see him in his new clothes after telling them they would only see them if they could appreciate their true finery. Not wanting to appear coarse and uncouth either, they all agreed that the clothes were the finest and most beautiful they had ever seen and complimented the Emperor on his good taste and discerning character.

It was agreed that they would hold a parade in the town so the Emperor could impress the townsfolk with his refinement and great taste in clothes. All the citizens were told the story of the new clothes and how only the most intelligent; the most refined of people could appreciate their wondrous beauty and the great skill of the tailor.

All that is apart from a young boy.

Yep. You've guessed it. The young boy noticed that the Emperor was starkers and said so.

He had scarcely got out the words, "Is that a ferret, Dad?" when a hand was clamped over his mouth and he was rounded on by all the townspeople and accused of blasphemy; of being possessed by evil demons who had blinded him to the truth, and the Emperor rode on and the people all went home, none of them daring to mention that they hadn't actually seen any clothes either in case they were treated like the little boy. Some of them even believed they may really be possessed by demons or had something wrong with them.

This is called peer pressure.

Patriot Bible University, Colorado, USA
The conman? Oh, he got away with it and set up a tailor's shop in the town and became very rich pulling the same trick time after time and even being admired for his great skill at tailoring. Later he set up a college to teach Tailor studies from which you could buy degrees in Tailoring. Graduate conmen went to other towns and countries and set up shops everywhere. Pretty soon you could see lots of people proudly showing off their new clothes and still no one had the courage to admit they couldn't see them because they thought they must have the wrong faith in tailoring.

Have you noticed how religious theologians come up with all manner of obscure philosophical arguments and tell us only the most intelligent; the most discerning; those possessed of the necessary refinements and understanding can see the obvious logic in them?

The Emperor's new tailor.
Have you noticed how few people have the courage to stand up and say, "Er... well... actually, that didn't make any sense at all", and so how everyone is left thinking they may be the only ones who can't understand the argument and that they may be the ones with the problem? And of course, those who haven't followed the argument at all will often be loudest in their praise of it, hoping to convince others that they have understood it.

Go to a meeting addressed by William Lane Craig or any of the many religious apologists currently plying their trade to appreciative audiences across the world for very large sums of money. Or just go to a church on a Sunday and watch the audience enthusiastically agreeing with the preacher, making large donations and never raising a voice in doubt.

This is called peer pressure.

Conforming with peer-pressure it's the most important human characteristic which theologians and other religious conmen and snake-oil salesmen exploit.

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1 comment :

  1. Great analogy. And religion has a history of repressing people who try to call them on their sophistry. For example, the Church strangled then burnt William Tyndale for daring to translate the Bible into the 'common people's vernacular' and exposing the Church's stranglehold on interpretation of the scriptures. My personal favorite bullshit from theists is when they say they are not religious, but spiritual. You say tomato...


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