If It Sounds too Good to be True, It Probably Is.

We’ve all heard and said this saying at one time or another.  Hopefully, we avoid mistakes by thinking in this way.

Once in a while something that seems too good to be true does happen.  It happens when we walk into a store and finding something we’ve been thinking about buying is 90% off its normal price is like this.

Generally,  we aren’t able to apply this cautionary lessen to every aspect of our lives.  There can be no better place to apply it than to religion and cults.  People inside a cult, or belief, are unable to see a truth others on the outside can see clearly.

I was reminded of this last weekend when, at the end of a long evening of debate, a gentleman I know and like came forward.  In his always polite demeaner, he suggested to the atheist they could resolve their respective views by getting together and discussing certain passages from the Bible.

A person outside the faith would hear such an invitation and think, “The Bible’s message is that faith can conquer something that has escaped the human experience since the beginning of time, death.  For some money and an expression of allegiance it promises to  deliver the impossible.  It sounds to good to be true.”

Promises that sound too good to be true are why atheists do not take the Bible seriously.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to If It Sounds too Good to be True, It Probably Is.

  1. Henry says:

    I had a carpenter give me a cold call after one of this summer’s storms. He saw that my fence was on the ground and solicited me for his work. He gave me a quote that sounded too good to be true. So what happened? I did my homework. I studied. I sought other’s advice, particularily his previous employers. I wrote a contract. When done and nice, straight, and true, all my neighbors wanted to be on the carpenter’s list.

    • entech says:

      That is very good that you had such an experience. I notice though that even after he had knocked on door and you had seen the whites of eyes (assuming it wasn’t a phone call, in which case the tone of his voice) you still felt the need to do more research, checking on past jobs and drawing up a contract. I can understand why all your neighbours are impressed and potential clients. You could have taken him on trust or faith, but commonsense prevailed.
      If I was a neighbour with all that solid, visual evidence before my eyes I would probably line up as well, even for the son of a carpenter. :–)

      • Henry says:

        Psalm 19.

        • entech says:

          A self reference is no reference – got one from another source?

          • Henry says:

            Yes, my personal observations looking out my window.

          • entech says:

            You mean the super repaired fence or the moon shining on it.
            :)

          • Henry says:

            The beauty of the heavens shining on the fence. Interesting you chose the moon. That is full of beauty as well (which scripture acknowledges), but in scripture represents Satan.

          • entech says:

            Moon = Satan, I admit my ignorance, pure coincidence that I used that image.
            I can see your interpretative observation, I am just a finicky old limey and need more.

          • Henry says:

            I cannot offer any more. You have Moses and the prophets.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 11:34 “I cannot offer any more.”

            I hope you can understand why we who are skeptics find your evidence a little thin.

          • Henry says:

            Jon, I have my proof. I understand it is also a matter of faith, so I do understand your position. I also have a rudimentary understanding of scripture (I have no formal philosophy education and only one religion class under my belt compliments of Dr. Helgeland. He can probably be credited for who I am. I’m sure he’ll love that endorsement.) My understanding of scipture is that some people will not have the faith, at least in Christianity. It comes down in the end that we have Moses and the Prophets and anything offered beyond that will not be an influence. This exercise has proven that out.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 2:31 I remember being taught that the prophets were the strongest case way back in the 1950′s. The only trouble with the prophet theory is we now know there were other prophets with different predicitions. They did not make it into the Bible for obvious reasons. There is reason to suspect the Biblical editors found the prophets that started the story the way it ended.

            The Moses story, too, is coming under more suspicion. There archaeologists looking for evidence of the story and it is uncomfirmed as yet. That the supernatural explanation lives on in peoples’ minds is indisputable. That the supernatural parts of the Bible or faith actually happened, we don’t know yet.

            Whether these issues are part of peoples’ imaginations or actually happened does not matter until they are advocated to be put into our laws as some kind of great truths. That’s the problem.

          • Henry says:

            The better evidence of Moses and the Prophets occurred long ago and is recorded. I would presume resurrecting new evidence of differing details would carry a very high burden of proof, which would include satisfying issues such as chain of custody, etc. To my knowledge, overturning original evidence with new evidence is extremely difficult.

  2. Bob says:

    Everything you’d want to learn about sales and business, you can learn from running a church, temple, mosque. Got a bridge I’d like to sell ya, opps, I mean a god to sell. Ka-ching!

  3. .E says:

    Jon, you like to use economic related analogies, you were a professor in economic, right?

    “For some money and an expression of allegiance it promises to deliver the impossible.”

    One clarification, we don’t cheat death. Death will come to all of us. It is what comes after death that I am referring.

    Although, I do grant that it seems like some faith traditions are trading cash for salvation, mine is not one of them. I give freely.

    But you are right, you have to express allegiance. You qualify that this is cheap (Sounds too good to be true, 90% sale). It isn’t cheap, it is all that you have, all that you are.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .E “…we don’t cheat death.”

      In all due respect, wouldn’t you agree that in the mind of the believer, he/she thinks of it as sort of “cheating” death? That is to say, the imagery is presented as uniting with long lost loved ones, living in harmony and peace, etc. This seems to me to be a form of “life”. I would add to that my view if you took away the afterlife reward and said, “To be a good Christian is to live a good life on earth, we’ve cancelled the offer of an afterlife,” most Christians would leave the faith. I’d further speculate that they would transfer to some other religion that offered an afterlife.

      I agree money is not required in your branch, or maybe most branches, of Christianity. I’m afraid my bad snarky self gets inserted here often.

  4. .E says:

    I guess I was referring to death in the physical sense, heart stop, breathing stop, hit by a train, heart attack, cancer. This is a certainty.

    Yes, I would agree. If the hope offered was to be eliminated, blotted out, nada, I would probably be an atheist.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .E 8:07 “If the hope offered was to be eliminated, blotted out, nada, I would probably be an atheist.”

      Thank you, .E, for a very candid and honest answer. I tried that question out a few months ago on some of the macho guys who were posting then–they would not answer it.

  5. entech says:

    The indentation is making the column too narrow. Jon starting from about your 3:43.

    Shortly after the foundation of modern Israel the Government set the University of Tel Aviv the task of documenting the truth about the Exodus. Unfortunately in the main they found that it did not happen. The generally accepted time frame for the stories being correlated and written down is about 5-600 years BCE. Among the anomalies were:
    The geography and chronology described, towns, dates etc. did not match. Archaeology showed that many towns did not exist or were much smaller at the time of the Exodus than described, but were consistent with the time of writing about them.
    There is no verification in whatever contemporary history was recorded. The Egyptians were such extreme record keepers that it is said they invented writing and arithmetic to keep count of every grain of wheat, probably for taxation purposes. Yet there is no mention in Egyptian history, you would expect that the departure of so many slaves and workers would have left some mark on society.
    Not a single trace in the desert. You would expect that finding enough gold to make statues of calves would have left some trace of mining at least. So many people for so many years with not a trace does not add to the story.

    Earlier, mainly Christian archaeologists did research with the Christian books in one hand and a spade in the other; I suspect that they only found what they were looking for. The problem with prophecy is that they are always after the event, that is, an event occurs and then you look back and find where it was predicted. There is never in the old writing a lot of precise detail, it is all by allusion and extrapolation.

    Forgive me in advance for a story some people may find to be in bad taste. A Jewish friend of mind told me that there is a secret history known only to a few. Moses was actually an Egyptian all the time, think about it. “Daddy look what I found by the river, can I keep him?” I should think so.

    Some things will be accepted as evidence, some ideas as true: and very often they are seen from a position that exists before the presentation, different people will always accept or reject and it is very often based on a willingness or perhaps need believe or reject.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 1:43 Thank you for that interesting post. The Moses story never seemed like it could be a real story to me, and, I have read also about the doubts it ever happened.

    • Henry says:

      The lack of Egyptian history describing the exodus reminds me of a historian that wrote about Benedict Arnold. What is the connection between Benedict Arnold and the Egyptians? As you know Benedict Arnold was a traitor to America. What you may not have known is Benedict Arnold as an extreme hero. I personally believe that without Benedict Arnold’s efforts in the early part of the war, entech and I would be fellow citizens. The point is that you cannot find much evidence of the Benedict Arnold story period. The author had a very difficult time. His story ended on a negative. His name was even removed from documents and markers. I believe his relative’s names were even removed from grave markers. A good book that documents this is:
      http://www.amazon.com/George-Washington-Benedict-Arnold-Patriots/dp/1596980206
      The human reaction to a really bad event is to sometimes bury it and destroy information on it. For the Egyptians, it was a really bad event. Really bad. They were well aware of their own misery at that time. I don’t think they had the human ability to document it well. Conspiracy theory? Not at all. As you can see with the Arnold story, it makes sense. The victors wrote history in this case? Sure.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        Henry 10:29 You present a nice theory here–that events were not recorded or the records destroyed. It would be more plausable it there were evidence the Egytians destroyed records regularly rather than taking an event on the other side of the world centuries later and using that as evidence.

        The weakest part of your argument, to me, is giving the Bible credibility and giving no credibility to the lack of coroperating evidence. If there were independent coroperating evidence of the Moses saga, one could say it might well have happened. Without it, it’s just another tale.

      • entech says:

        The victors always write the history or, at least, have a powerful influence on it. Bit like the quote about there never having been a successful treason, on success there would be no one left who would dare to talk of treason. It is not surprising that the Biblical Hebrews were so successful in battle. In the fighting leading to the Babylonian exile the stories written by either side seem to be about different events, one battle is claimed as a victory for Judah because the enemy failed to take Jerusalem.

        Interesting that you brought up Benedict Arnold, hero and traitor to both sides, I was trying to remember the name while I was writing about the exodus and thinking of Titus Flavius Josephus (Joseph ben Matityahu). Josephus was from a noble and priestly Jewish family and like Arnold a hero and a villain. Fought the Romans in the early wars and acted as negotiator and later took patronage from Rome. I would imagine a history of the American Revolution would have read differently from the pen of Arnold.

        Josephus discussed Greek historians work on the Hyksos, a Semitic tribe who entered Egypt as merchants and artisans and during a weak period the dynasties of Egyptian Rulers took over and became rulers themselves. With the resurgence of native Egyptian rulers the Hyksos were driven out of Egypt. This was several hundred years before the supposed timeline for the Exodus. Josephus writing about the history of the Israelites in a heroic manner seemed to support the Hyksos theory. He could write well of the ancient Israelites because it was too long before the Jewish/Roman conflicts to matter. By this version, the Semites were not slaves but rulers and it was mainly the ruling class of the Hyksos that were expelled. The Egyptians were following not to bring them back but to makes sure they kept going. The timeline is always difficult, the Patriarchs were recorded as living such long lives and there always seemed to be confusion on whether some things should be translated as generations or jubilees.

        The earlier dating would make more sense chronologically because at the supposed time of the Exodus the Egyptian sphere of influence (might be a bit much to call it an empire) stretched all the way north along the Mediterranean to the land of the Hittites (present day Lebanon). They would hardly have been running from Egypt into Egyptian controlled territory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>