Monday, August 15, 2011

The End Justifies The Means

A four year old boy thinks he was in heaven and returned to tell about it with details he couldn't possibly have known. His father (coincidentally, a pastor by trade) creates a book, a website and conversation kits marketed to churches and study groups. Oh, and did I say he's making a ton of money, too? Me thinks he has a vision of being the next Joel Osteen. Do I know this for a fact? No, but the emphasis on marketing this story makes it worth questioning if this is for real or not.

When I found out that this pair were going to be featured at a book signing at a local business recently, it just got my head shaking. I could just see many of the believers hanging on every word coming from the father and son's mouth because 'don't you know' that god is so great to have done such a miraculous thing through this boy! Validation of their beliefs was another motivation, I'm sure. I don't know how many actually attended the book signing, but the local bookstore probably enjoyed a monetary bump in their sales. So, in other words, it was a smashing success.

Prior to this event, naturally, it was brought up as a topic amongst the believers in my circle of Facebook friends. I did share with a friend privately that I felt the father, who created this little empire, was exploiting his son for his own gain. She also had a problem with someone capitalizing on this boys experience, but still felt that there was no way he could be lying about this. In her discussion on her thread she asked if it was okay to share my opinion. She eventually decided not to share everything because my viewpoint of the possibility of this even being real differed from hers, but she did say she disagreed that profits should be occurring in this case.

One person on that thread made the comment "Aside from the argument going on out of respect for each other, with beliefs, agendas, evidence, rationale and logic, don't miss the point that no matter how much money this dad profits off the book....God is getting all the glory." All I could think about is 'what an odd thing to say when you are supposedly one who believes in following god's law.' So sinning and corruption is now okay in god's book so long as he gets all the credit? I would contend that saying the sale of a probable lie to the believers of the world and profiting from it is okay because god gets the glory is like saying that pedophile priests are okay to molest children because they are doing god's work during their service, the ill-gotten sex is just a bonus.

After trading a few comments back and forth with this person, her not answering my very direct questions about the illogical statement, I flat out asked "So, does that mean, the end justifies the means?" I never got an answer, she shut up until the very end after everyone else had jumped into the debate to tell me that she was just worried about me getting left behind. Funny how that comes up in this particular discussion, as this is yet another book series that is making tons of money on the wallets of people who abdicate their reasonable thinking skills to defer to faith, if the topic happens to be about god. They don't question, they just swallow... hungrily, it seems.

Again, the question was, does the end justify the means? As a reasonable person, my answer to that would be no. If the means used to get the end is done in a fashion that is irresponsible, illegal or fraudulently obtained; then no, it isn't justified. Why would this situation be any different? Why would a supposedly great god want the all the glory that was ill-gotten in a dishonorable fashion? That just changes the image that believers put out there of a great god to a silly god who just needs flattery, in any form.

A less supernatural and more obvious example of why the end justifying the means is wrong would be the recent terrorist in the news, Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who decided to kill 80+ people because he didn't like what was going on in his country. I don't know if he is chemically imbalanced or perfectly sane, but his actions were clearly wrong. He, however, felt that breaking the law was totally within his right to get what he wanted. In his mind, his end -- enlightening the world of his agenda -- was justifiably gotten with the means -- killing innocent adults and children.

What about the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks who took 2819 lives in the process as a means to justify their end, that of glorifying allah? I don't think anybody that railed against me on that Facebook thread would believe those attacks were justified. But I guess it depends on the god then. It must be that thing I keep about hearing about that the christian god being 'the right god' is what makes every thing all right.

Not so great after all, really.

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