The Skeptic's Rule
Across the country, newspapers have run full-page ads announcing that the founders of several world religions--Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, and some Hindu leaders--as well as four dead communist leaders, met in the "spirit world" recently to pledge loyalty to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
According to the account by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, all participants in this "spirit-world conference" hailed Moon as the messiah and savior of mankind.
Muhammad is reported as saying, "Since I, Muhammad, encountered the Unification Principle and met the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, my worldview has changed. I cry out, Victory for God! Victory for Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the True Parent, Messiah and Savior!"
The dead communist leaders--Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Deng Xiao Ping--are all reported as renouncing communism and pledging to follow Moon, who has long sought to unite the religious and political worlds under his leadership.
According to the report, Stalin was especially enthusiastic, telling his fellow communists, "Please receive the will of Rev. Moon completely; open your minds and build churches for the worship of God and hold services. Rev. Moon reflects the image of God, even though he is a man . . . . His thought is messianic, especially for Communist countries. You must receive his ideology of peace immediately.
This incredible account must surely raise eyebrows among Christians, Buddhist, Muslims, Hindus, and Communists--in short, everyone except the followers of the Rev. Moon! Certainly, no word has come from the leaders of those competing religions that any of the named subjects has rushed to embrace the Rev. Sun Myung Moon as their leader.
Why not? What prevents them? Can it be they realize that this astonishing tale of a meeting in the "spirit world" can never be substantiated? The likely answer is that they instinctively apply the skeptic's rule, realizing that extraordinary claims without evidence are usually advanced to yield a benefit for someone. This can be better expressed by the formula:
(Extraordinary Claims) + (Zero Evidence) = A Benefit for Someone.
Of course the one who stands to benefit in this case is the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who would gain a world full of followers if this story were believed and its consequences accepted. Since such a result would violate their personal beliefs, followers of competing faiths find it easy to dismiss this extraordinary claim as not being credible.
Using this same formula, Freethinkers question the extreme claims of ALL religions. When no hard evidence is offered, the resultant BS is usually quite obvious.
Take the Christian doctrine of Salvation with its extraordinary claims of Heaven and Hell. Finding absolutely no verification of the validity of those claims, therefore zero evidence, Freethinkers consider the consequences and find that the control derived from the promises of rewards in Heaven and threats of eternal punishment on Judgment Day yields an enormous benefit to religious interpreters--ministers, priests, televangelists, etc.--who preach this doctrine to their flocks. It gives them tremendous power over the lives of believers, influencing their behavior and their thinking in both spiritual and secular matters. Such authority often leads to great wealth when the collection box is rattled. If joined with government, this control can be magnified through political influence to enforce its rules on believers and nonbelievers alike.
Religious believers who adhere strongly to the tenets of one faith use the logic of the skeptic's rule to dismiss the claims of all others. Freethinkers carry this process one step further and simply dismiss them all.
Note: This article was originally published on the website of the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs under the title of "Implausible Claims." It is republished here as "The Skeptic's Rule," slightly revised.
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