One day in the car on my way home the radio was on the local station. The show I was listening to - and suddenly ended - was about football and then an intruder unpleasant noise started out of nothing, an adult man shouting.
It was an evangelical pastor spreading his theory of prosperity from Rio de Janeiro, paying for radio time also in my local station, more than 800 kilometers away. He shouted this unbelievable (or is it?) message to his audience (myself included, for a second):
“If you do everything Jesus told you to so he is obliged (compulsorily) to fulfill what he has promised us.”
“Why”? Would any reasonable person ask, I guess. This pastor would probably answer “because he said so.”
Apart from the fact that he may not exist at all, what on Earth makes you think that He cannot change his mind over his own promise? Why cannot God turn evil overnight?
It is a philosopher’s duty to suspect that people who assume that God has to be good forever is taking a few essential things for granted and making assumptions in order to make the world seem more the way they think it should, more bearable. Harsh as it may sound for some, this possibility must be taken very seriously if you are not just seeking to rationalize your already held beliefs.
Is it bad to live in an imaginary world?
It depends on the circumstance in which every person was born and is living. I tend to disagree with Russell when he says that it is better to believe what is true. It clearly is not always so. It is not just a logical matter because it involves psychology.
Here is a brief illustration. Imagine that Joe lives in an illusion that the world is a wonderful place, like Buddha is said to have done. Joe is happy and has not the knowledge that he will be killed by an accident in a few weeks’ time.
Given the little time left to Joe the fact that he believes a lie will make him live his last days better than he would if he knew a possible grim truth.
William James (1842-1910) is right. What matters most are the effects of a belief. Sometimes blindly believing a life may make you happy. Some people do it during their entire lifetime, and live better than many others who stick to reality.
Even partially agreeing with James I tend to think that some illusions are not harmless, not neutral, though. I don’t think that those ones can contribute to the greatest happiness of the greater number of people. Illusions like ‘pre-emptive war’, ‘Allah is great’, ‘chosen people’, and ‘Jesus is obliged’, wash our brains and are absolutely better out of our lives.
Blindly believing an evil easy to spot illusion is always a worse option.