If you can place a young boy within a society that widely believes in the Tooth Fairy, and teach him the sacred importance of believing in the Tooth Fairy, he will most likely believe in the Tooth Fairy until the day he dies. If you can place him within a society that widely believes the earth is flat, and teach him the sacred importance of believing the earth is flat, he will most likely believe that the earth is flat until the day he dies. In either scenario, he will almost certainly teach his children to believe the same and to pass those beliefs on to his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. People believe what they are taught it is important to believe, and the vast majority will stick to those beliefs throughout life despite overwhelming evidence and observations to the contrary.

Individuals in the Islamic states were not taught about Tooth Fairies or flat earths, but rather about the final prophet riding a winged horse into heaven and suicide bombers who receive a reward of seventy-two virgins in paradise. Individuals in American Mormon communities were not taught about tooth fairies or flat earths, but rather about an enormous Jewish kingdom in North America many centuries ago and golden tablets translated by studying rocks placed in a hat. While these ideas might seem ridiculous to contemporary Americans, most in this society believe in an omnipotent deity that is petty enough to torture his underlings forever if we do not satisfy his ego by worshipping him.

While God could choose any absurd method of interaction he wanted, we never stop to consider if God would manifest in this way. God could choose to continue his declaration to the world by having a man read it out of a hat, but would he? God could choose to retrieve his final prophet by sending him a winged horse, but would he? God could choose to communicate with a man through a talking donkey, but would he? God could choose to give salvation to the world by sacrificing and resurrecting himself in bodily form, but would he? Since any of these scenarios is physically possible if we assume the existence of an all-powerful deity–and since rational evidence for these claims is practically nonexistent–belief boils down to whichever book you were raised to think is reliable. It is not a matter of accepting that one must be true and deciding that our hastily chosen belief sounds the least superstitious (or perhaps just as good as the next), but rather determining if any suggestion can stand on its own as a sensible avenue for God to take. The reasons given for each belief are driven not by rational thought and reasoned arguments, but in response to indoctrination, bias, and cognitive dissonance, which too often yield rationalizations and other superficial answers. So you must excuse me for not joining the crowd who laughs at specks in the Puritans’ eyes when there are planks in just about everyone else’s.[i]





[i] This is an allusion to Jesus’ statement found in Matthew 7:5. Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels for those of you in the previously mentioned majority.