Recently, Christian writer Jason Boyett posted an interview on his blog with an atheist writer who goes by the pseudonym Dromedary Hump. (Part 1 of the interview here, and Part 2 here.)
As I was reading through the interview, a couple of things stuck out at me. See if you notice them in this excerpt (Boyett’s question in bold):
I guess the direction I was headed with that question regarded what I see as a potential critique of your business model: that you are making an easy buck by taking advantage of someone’s fears. Yes, this is definitely the life insurance approach, offering peace of mind in hopes that you won’t ever have to execute the agreement. However, the death rate for humans is 100 percent. You calculate the potential for the rapture occurring at a 00.0000001 percent chance. From your perspective, isn’t this sort of like (to pick an off-the-wall, non-religious example) asking an insane person to pay you $110 so you’ll protect him from the flying purple cheese monster? He gets peace of mind because he truly believes the cheese monster exists and is after him, but of course you know otherwise. You just get money for nothing. In my opinion, that conflicts with the Rule of Reciprocity. Your thoughts?
Jason, good challenge. First, I didn’t invent the rapture. It was implied by scripture and then reworked by 19th century Christians. One has the option of accepting those stories in the Book of Daniel and Revelation, and subsequent embellished interpretations of them, as either real things that are bound to happen or the ravings of lunatic cultists. I opt for the latter.
If you are equating believers in the rapture to “insane people” then yes… I would be taking advantage of the mentally incompetent, it would be wrong. But I don’t think you want to make that statement.
[Note from Jason: Well, no, I certainly didn't want to imply that rapture-believers are insane. Just trying to come up with a metaphor unconnected to religion. I'll admit the flying purple cheese monster comparison is a bad one. Anyway...]
Thus your example of the insane person buying protection from a purple monster is not a good one. I view believers of the rapture pretty much like any believers who take things on faith. They aren’t insane; they are usually capable of running their lives, making decisions on their own, dealing with daily trials and tribulations, making judgments, etc. I treat them as adults capable of making their own determinations in life. To that extent I am treating those people exactly how I would like to be treated. That I believe they have been mislead, are naïve about what scripture is and why it was written… that they are pawns of a mind virus that has pervaded men’s minds for thousands of years is 100% true.
But I will not afford them “victim status.” They have choices. They made them. I am servicing their need, a need that has been artificially created by nonsensical ancient writings, that has been fostered by the church for 1700 years. The genesis of any “scam” one may perceive of my service isn’t with my service. It’s with the scam of religious teachings. Religion itself makes my “scam” (if one wishes to define it as such) pale in comparison.