What We Want To Believe

Sometimes a lie is so believable that it makes a fool out of a lot of people.  You’ve probably joined me in repeating a lie (or forwarding an email lie) because it seemed credible to you, only to have a friend direct you to Snopes.com.

I’ve found that the best lies get retold because not only do they “seem” true, they make sense to us based upon our perception of life experiences.  For instance:

I keep getting forwarded emails that encourage me to refuse the new “golden dollar coins”… because they do not say “In God We Trust” on them.

The emails claim that “liberals”, “Muslims”, “secular humanists”, and or “the Jews” (depending on the version) have been trying to eliminate God from our lives for years, and now that Barak Osama has been elected president, they’ve finally begun the next phase of their devious plan.

The removal of “God” from our money.

Individuals frustrated by the fading homogeny of our culture are quick to use the absence of “In God We Trust” from the face of the golden dollar coin to point out that “They’ve been right” all of these years, and now “the unthinkable has happened!”.

The only problem is that careful inspection of the coin reveals that our government has gone to the added expense of inscribing “In God We Trust” onto the outer edge of each and every golden dollar coin in circulation.

The email, trumpeting the righteous indignation of the true believer, also remains in circulation.  It’s an embarrassing reminder of how easy it is to manipulate people into believing something that they already want to believe.

Like the lie that Taco Bell meat isn’t really meat.

Last week Alabama based law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles sued Taco Bell over allegations that their product does not meet USDA minimum requirements for their meat to be labeled as “beef.”

The suit failed.

It turns out that not only does Taco Bell serve enough meat in their food products to label them “beef”, but they also want to protect the “good name” of their franchise by demanding an apology from the firm.  Today they took out full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal, L.A. Times, and N.Y. Times to do so.

They have a bigger problem than not getting an apology though;

Many people believe that Taco Bell doesn’t actually serve a quality product.  Not only do you hear people repeat the “meat lie” on a regular basis, but a reputable law firm was willing to challenge them on the quality of their “beef” in court.

Because it seems to fit what we already want to believe.

If you’ve ever tasted Taco Bell, you can’t argue that you’re eating a high-grade beef product.  When someone tells you that what you’re eating isn’t really “beef” it’s hard not to believe them; and while they may be “technically” wrong, they’ve appealed to your sense of self-protection and the righteous indignation of being cheated on other occasions.

What your informant means to say is,“At Taco Bell you’re only eating 88% beef… at best.”

We believe that Taco Bell isn’t using real meat, and repeat it, because we want to. Not because it’s true.

Which brings me back to the golden dollar coin… obviously.

When a person, frustrated by the fading homogeny of American culture, says that “Our country is turning from its Christian principles.” We accept and repeat it because we want to believe it based upon our experiences.  Not because it’s necessarily true.

What this person means to say is,“I no longer experience the cultural, social, and political advantages I used to as a Christian.”

There actually was a time when being a “God-fearing man” helped you get married, promoted, and elected in the same way that being both male and white did.

This advantage didn’t disappear when America turned from its “Christian values”, it disappeared when Americas leaders began examining it’s Constitution and decided to implement the ideas that it espoused: namely that, in America, atheists and immigrants ought to have the same opportunities as others.

There’s a bigger issue than a loss of cultural agreement over religion though;

The lack of Judeo-Christian cultural homogeny that actually has grown out of these judicial decisions is not actually a threat to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s an invitation and opportunity for Christians to actually get “off the bench and into the game” like Jesus asked every one on his disciples to when he left.

Remember that a homogeny of Christian principle has never saved anyone.  Neither did “Godly founding fathers”.  A relationship with Christ does.

The Apostles did not wander into a world where the playing field was tilted in their direction.

It was tilted away from them.

They received no advantage or special consideration for following Jesus.

It cost them their fortunes and lives.

No one griped about it.

And no one demanded an apology for it.

It’s time to get after it.

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