“I believe in Harvey Dent.”
Throughout Batman, one of the most essential themes is belief. It’s not always what is in actuality that is important, but what the people believe about it that is important. Every day, we’re asked to believe in things; our politicians, a director who shows promise helming their first big film, our children and the choices they make. We do this partly because belief is a powerful emotion, based on a schmorga-mix of knowledge, intuition, and bodily chemicals. And as we know of all our emotions, it can function virtually independent of fact.
In Batman, people are asked to believe in the bat. When it looks like he’s a criminal, when it looks like he’s gone and never coming back, when it looks as if he’s not able to conquer evil, they are asked to believe in him. Once again, it’s not about what he really is, it’s about all that he can be. As Hugo Weaving so eloquently states in V for Vendetta, “Behind this mask there is not a man, there is an idea…and ideas are bulletproof.”
One of the best examples of this is in The Dark Knight, when Batman takes the fall for Harvey Dent’s (Two-Face) murders, saying, “I killed those people. That’s what I can be…I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be.” Belief in the goodness and efficacy of Harvey Dent’s work was more important than the truth, because as Batman ends the movie, “Sometimes the truth isn’t good enough. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”
This is the creation of belief. (For the moment, we won’t mention that this kind of conception of belief blows Lee Strobel’s Who would die for a lie? schtick straight out of the water. Someone could obviously give their life for a lie that they believe to be so beneficial as to be necessary.) This artificial manufacture of credence forces us to ask hard questions about belief and my question today is:
“Why is it important to believe in God?”
Firstly, I just wonder what the hell a legitimate, real thing cares about me believing in it at all. The sun probably doesn’t care that I believe in it, and gravity doesn’t either. I don’t have to believe in them, they simply are. (And for the Ray Comforts in the crowd, no, I don’t have to have faith in the sun, gravity, or even my wife.)
Why can’t I believe after I die?
Secondly, Revelation tells us what we need to know about the end of time, the judgment to come, the opening of the books, the revelation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and God, etc. Why can’t I wait until then to believe? I haven’t yet been provided sufficient proof of God; why at the very point in time that He provides me with it would I be condemned because I had not believed before? Moreover, why does the Author of Life care so much about getting me to believe in Him before I die? He is not mortal. He is not bound by time and space, and He supposedly conquered the grave on the cross. How does death somehow solidify my decision or non-decision before the One who holds the keys to it?
It’s a legitimate question, and Christians will not like this, but after talking to hundreds of them, reading massive amounts about Christianity, and literally hundreds of logged hours studying it, the answer comes down to one thing.
They believe because they want to.
It is not about proof. It is not about geological evidence. It is not about honest inquiry or science. It is not about history, philosophy, logic, reason, or cosmology. It is not about facts, as many Christians will tell you, almost verbatim. For I am persuaded that nothing (including, but not limited to the aforementioned things) will ever separate the deeply indoctrinated from the story of Christ. And it’s for this simple reason, the same reason, in fact, that the people move from loving Batman to hating him to loving Harvey Dent to hating him, and experience not a lot of cognitive dissonance in between.
They want to believe, and religion is a placebo that will not work if you look at the man behind the curtain. Despite their intuitions, lack of evidence for it, and mountains of evidence against it, they believe because they share the notion that even many of the irreligious share – that belief in God is good. And believing feels good, I suspect, because in the mind of the religious, believing in the wrong thing is better than believing in nothing at all.
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