This morning I was listening to Christian radio. (Yeah, I still do that. I’m not going to apologize for it, he said defensively.)
Thanks to my long commute, when I’m bored of the available audiobooks and podcasts, I occasionally switch to NPR or Christian talk for a few seconds to check if they say something interesting. In this case I caught a brief mention of Doubting Thomas, which was enough to hold me there for a while.
Christians love the Doubting Thomas myth, because (1) they get to claim that Jesus once provided incontrovertible evidence of his divinity, and (2) they get to chastise you for looking for any REAL evidence outside of the story. (“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”) Thus, the whole thing is an exercise in encouraging gullibility. In this particular case, the preacher was stating that it is not only a mistake to seek evidence, but it is also dangerous.
In particular, he repeatedly used the phrase “signs and miracles” to denote stuff that you should definitely not be looking for. Why? Because the antichrist’s a-comin’, and he’s going to have all the same outward superpowers as Jesus. And he’ll fool you.
I heard him refer to the antichrist as “the devil’s Superman” and say something like, “He’ll convince you that black is white, up is down, evil is good.” Then he spun a scenario: You pray to god asking for a sign that you are in accordance with his will. Then a really awesome miracle occurs, fire across the sky or something, and you think you’re covered.
But you die, and you never pledged your soul to Jesus. Oh noes! You go to hell, screaming all the way that you thought God gave you a sign. Ho ho, the devil chortles. You fool, that was ME!
Now this story provides some interesting insight, because I am often asked “What would it take to convince you that God was real?” And I usually say that if God knows me well, a fairly impressive personalized miracle (i.e., stars spontaneously rearranging to form words, with multiple witnesses verifying that I am not crazy) or even a personal visit from someone who appears to be demonstrably omniscient would probably go most of the way toward changing my mind. And I still say that.
But here’s the problem… Satan can fool you by performing the same tricks. Which would certainly put me in an awkward position, of course, but it seems that the Christians are just as bad off. Because if Satan is such a perfect deceiver that anyone can be fooled, who’s to say that he didn’t write the Bible?