The God Con is all about the parallels between religion and the con. As I discuss in the book, many of the techniques of magic and deception are used to promote both.
In his book Breaking the Spell, Daniel Dennett describes religion’s version of this “trick”:
If someone raises concerns or issues about your religion, then that someone is likely Satan. In fact, the more sincere, reasonable, open-minded, and friendly that someone appears to be, the more likely they are, in fact, Satan.
This is mind-bogglingly stupid—a trick that would make a five year old scratch his head—but it works. It has kept religion alive for thousands of years. This technique can be used to defend any and all kinds of beliefs and ideas, All you need is an adversary to your belief. The “con game” version of this is if that someone is trying to tell you Bernie Madoff is a crook, he is probably a cop. If you are a Communist, beware the evil FBI agent passing himself off as your friend… and so on. Scientology uses this ploy extensively.
A modern day version of this is Donald Trump. If you challenge him on anything, you are a member of, or a dupe of, “fake news”. Unlike Satan, “fake news” is real, and a lot of it comes out of the Donald’s mouth. Other examples of fake news are infomercials, political ads and advertisements disguised as actual reporting.
Donald Trump has a lot in common with Bernie Madoff and just about every religious leader on the planet. He is a fake and a con artist. The sad thing is that this transparent trick still seems to be working.
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Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.