From the Editor

It does matter what we believe

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

Being sincere may mean we’re sincerely wrong.

As long as you’re sincere, it doesn’t really matter what you believe. Perhaps there are still a few who still subscribe to that lame thesis. Evidence proves the folly of such an assertion.

Perhaps nobody has ever been more sincerely convinced of the rightness of their cause, and their belief, than the 19 young Arab extremists who engineered the hijacking of four American passenger planes on September 11. Willingly, and maybe even eagerly, they went to their deaths with the hope their lives would be instantaneously translated into Muslim paradise. One report describes a belief that “righteous martyrdom” will guarantee Muslim males a blissful eternity where each will be surrounded by 70 (some say 72) virginal wives and every creature comfort.

Obeid Qureski, a recruiter for the Taliban in Peshawar, Pakistan, told the Associated Press he was convinced these young warriors, signing up for battle in Afghanistan, could not lose. He added, chillingly, “The best outcome, of course, would be martyrdom. That is every fighter’s greatest desire.”
Are these fighters committed to their cause? Undoubtedly. Are they sincere? Absolutely. Are they misguided? Without question.

Would-be terrorist martyrs are tragically convinced that they are doing God’s will when they destroy tall buildings and all the people inside. How is it possible to be so sure, and so wrong?

How was it possible for Japanese military pilots to make suicide raids on American ships in the Pacific Theatre during the Second World War?

Psychiatrists have plenty to teach us about delusional behavior. Our prayer should be that God would deliver us from self-deception. The cynic’s definition of absolute conviction (“wrong at the top of our lungs”) should give us pause.

What we believe does indeed matter. It leads to consequences, either good or evil. Passion, zeal, and an eagerness to hand our capacity for rational discernment over to “smarter and wiser people” do not guarantee a God-pleasing result.