The Original Big Lie

Many of us, far too few but many, look at the big lies that have taken hold in the Trump era and see them clearly for what they are. Delusion. Pure and utter insanity.

We ask, how is it possible? How can so many otherwise sane or at least functional people believe the big lie that Trump won the election? How can so many get caught up in the big lies being spread by QAnon conspiracy theorists? The deep and rapid entrenchment of these delusions is shocking and inexplicable to many of us.

I am likewise shocked by the rapid spread of this mass insanity, but I am neither surprised nor perplexed by it.

I love to say I told you so as much as anyone, but it saddens me to point out that I’ve spent much of my life trying to warn that this was coming. No, I do not claim to be a modern Nostradamus. I certainly did not specifically foretell the coming of Trump or QAnon. One cannot ever predict what exact form insanity will take. But I have long warned that something like this was far too likely. That fear is what has long motivated me to write and speak about the dangers of religious and other beliefs.

The original big lie is religion. How could anyone ever have believed that raising generation after generation to accommodate and rationalize such a blatant and obvious lie as god would not leave our rational defenses fatally compromised? How could it not leave us compromised to the point that Trump and QAnon could be readily rationalized by the very same cognitive impairments put in place to accommodate religious insanity?

I ask not how so many otherwise sensible people could possibly believe in such big lies, but rather, but how could we ever have thought that people so compromised by their rationalization of religion could hope to resist other big lies?

Even a sympathetic reader might argue that religious conditioning does not enable Trumpism, but rather that both are merely symptoms of the same cognitive limitations. They might argue that not all religious believers believe in Trump and QAnon. Even so, the result is the same. In order to truly regain our sanity, we must eradicate even what we consider to be our more benign symptoms of insanity. Strengthening our rational faculties sufficiently to resist Trumpism and QAnon thinking requires that those same faculties be sufficiently sound to resist the profoundly ludicrous god delusion as well.

If we are going to fight this mass insanity we must do so comprehensively. We cannot pick and choose our sanctioned insanities and imagine that we are cured. We must finally admit that Trumpism and QAnon are no more crazy then religion. Anything less will still leave us vulnerable to the next Trump and the next Q. If we do not focus on fact-based thinking, as I have tried to do, we are simply leaving our mental doors open for the next Trumpian insanity. Until we give up our religious delusions, we cannot hope to conclude that we are safe.

Given the stark reality of what is happening all around us, will we continue to bet our future on the claim that we can pervert our rational thinking so as to believe in mythical gods without real-world consequences? Will we continue to insist that religious beliefs do not prime us to believe in other big lies? Or at the very least, that religious beliefs do not demonstrate our susceptibility to other insanely improbable and blatant lies?

Let’s begin our collective recovery by finally admitting that there is no inherent validity to the god lie. Trumpism and QAnon do in fact have far more rational plausibility than does a belief in a god or gods. Let’s admit that it is harmful and dangerous to believe in any of it.

And to those of you who continue to rationalize that religious belief must be sane and reasonable because it is so prevalent, current events should demonstrate how untrue that is. The rise of Trumpism and QAnon should prove to us how easily and quickly huge numbers of people can come to unquestionably accept dangerously crazy ideas. This should show us all how religion itself could have taken hold and become mainstream despite being clearly batshit crazy. It may be that in 1000 years, if humanity somehow still exists, the Trump legend will have morphed into a mainstream belief that Donald Trump was the true second coming of Christ. People then will tell themselves and others that it must be true or at least rational since so many have believed it for so long.

Trumpism is not the disease. It is merely the entirely predictable degradation of our rational faculties that have been chronically and profoundly compromised by our addiction to religion. Even if you believe devoutly in god, denounce that belief for the good of humanity. I guarantee you that a god worth believing in would approve.

5 thoughts on “The Original Big Lie

  1. notabilia

    You are right in your forceful points, but what about we who are anti-theismists? We are not part of the collective; we have no need for “recovery,” We are not “addicted.” There is no “we” that covers us in this often terrible affliction of religionism.
    The irrational beliefs of batshit-crazy religionists may be in our own families, but these beliefs are not ours, and so we own none of them. Sure, there remain host of other beliefs that we who are exempt from religion’s Big Lie may hold to one degree or another, which is a sad reality that makes atheist or humanist get-togethers such hard work.
    Some people are better or more given to excusing bizarre or even just mis-formed beliefs from others, but that lets so much nonsense just pass along to grow, as you document well,.

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    1. Tyson Post author

      I hear ya notabilia. Unfortunately we have to say “we” since we are all stuck in this human experiment together. If we antitheists have any room for introspection it may be to consider how reluctant “we” have been to criticize religion and other pseudo-scientific beliefs, how willing to settle for agnosticism, and how hesitant we may have been to call out delusion as such (see here).

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      1. notabilia

        Yes, but you, I would guess, have never shied away from calling out the delusions of religion. Saying “we” is usually due to the common practice of accepting others’ blameworthy actions as somehow tied to our own, when they are not.
        I, for instance, am not the “United States.” I am not a Christian. I am not legally obligated to say “we” when it is a “them” situation.
        I understand this is a form of hyper-individualism, but you take your pleasure and your comforts where you can in this religion-besotted dystopia.

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  2. Jane Everhart

    … I totally agree with what you wrote in this piece. You absolutelygrabbed on to a connection that most of us didn’tpick up on. You are right: It is no accident thatmost of these Trump-followers emanate from a religious mind set of some kind. But it’s going to be hard to change that becausethis country is based on the idea of “freedom” ofreligion. Our earliest settlers consisted largelyof people seeking freedom of religion. Ourconstitution guarantees not only that freedombut it also says that we won’t interfere withtheir religion in any way. And what exactly do we mean by “freedom” of religion? Does it mean we have to allow themto spout obviously erroneous stuff and justroll our eyes in the background?  How much crap do we allow to be perpetuated?Should we protect our children’s ears from hearingreligious or political lies the way we protectthem from swallowing poisons?I..e. we do protect our children from ingesting poisons into their stomachs.We don’t give them the “freedom” to drink poisons!Why should we give them the “freedom” to ingestlies? It’s a conundrum isn’t it? Jane Everhart   “You are what you are and if people can’t connect with that, you move on.” –Barack Obama

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  3. Pingback: Hope For, But Not In, Evangelicalism – Some View on the World

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