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Tag: Larry Park

Can Religious Beliefs Have a Net Positive Effect Even if They Are Untrue?

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Guest Post by Troy

Recently my girlfriend and I watched an episode of “48 Hours” (transcript) about a California bus kidnapping in July 1976. The crime was as heinous as it was short-sighted. It involved three young men making a plan to abduct a bus full of kids and their driver. The men then put the abductees in a vehicle that had been previously buried underground. The children were able to dig themselves out and facilitate their own rescue after twenty-eight hours. Suffice it to say the trauma of such an abduction would leave emotional scars. Many of the children turned to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to deal with the trauma. Interestingly (and the reason for the article) one of the children (Larry Park, after abusing drugs in his 20s and 30s) turned to religion. He eventually became a pastor and met with the men who had done the kidnapping. In this he found relief.

So the question for me (and now for you) is this: if religion can give someone such deliverance, could it be that religion (whether true or not) could be a net positive? If fostering a delusion has a benefit, does it matter that the basis of the delusion is a lie? If placebos make you feel better, why not take them? I’d be curious how others feel about this, because considering the circumstances, it seems maybe he picked the lesser of two evils . . . (and maybe not evil at all?)

What say ye?

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser