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The Vacuous "Good Person" Test


  02:35:24 am, by Nimble   , 958 words  
Categories: Distractions, Religion

The Vacuous "Good Person" Test

On a website registered to Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, the "Good Person Test" is a textbook example of that particular kind of monochromatic religious reasoning that just falls down under light dissection. It aims to gently but firmly pinch you by the nose and lead you down a path to a conclusion by following steps a little past the reasonable so that, by swallowing the story in smaller chunks, you might think that the conclusion, in retrospect, was inescapable.

Perhaps people taking the test might mistake their uneasiness at each question for guilt. It's not guilt. It's that same feeling you get when your bus driver has gone off-route, and you are wondering whether they know what they're doing. That's the human cheat-detection apparatus registering a mild alert.

Let's see what's in store for us, shall we?

"Have you ever told a lie? (even for a good purpose)"

Well, if you have, you're a liar! Seems simple enough!

It's a bit roundabout a specious already, however. The whole question tying everything together is supposed to be "are you a good person?"

Let's say you told a lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings very badly. That makes you, technically a liar.

However, there is an unwarranted leap from painting you with the word liar on a technical basis, to now picking out the overall negative connotation of liar without the original context, and then painting you with a bad brush in the colour of "liar".

Then we have "Have you ever taken anything that did not belong to you? (even something small?)"

Well, that makes you a thief.

This merely recaps the exact same technique of the "liar" question, except that here the theft is very unlikely to have been "for a good purpose". Whether you stole candy when you were small or played pirated music in your college years, you are just the same as those who commit grand larceny.

Take all the shades of gray, and crush them into a sliver of white, with all the rest black.

As with the first question, how does this categorization relate to whether or not you are a good person? If you were to try to categorize someone else as a "thief", would not your criteria for such an accusation be higher?

They are engaging in a technique where they would lead you along a path where degree does not matter. Degree does matter, though, except in this weird (though common enough) black-and-white all-sin-is-equal world.

This quiz is turning out not to be "are you a good person", but rather, "are you an impossibly perfect person?". The goalposts shifts at every question.

For those brought up in the Christian tradition, you know where they are going with this, though, because it is a very, very well-worn sales pitch.

Note also the wonderful, patronizing use of "It sounds harsh, but the truth is" in the response in the quiz, as though their objectivity is somehow above reproach.

Then we move on to the lust question (have you ever...). Here is where we get some technical redefinitions. If you do not already agree with Matthew 5:28 that looking at a woman with desire is the same thing as committing adultery, too bad. "Okay, I'm an adulterer" is your only response. You should probably have ripped out the eye with which you lusted as in Matthew 5:29 while you're at it.

"Have you ever been angry with another person?"

The answer to this is comical, because on top of the usual atrocious techniques here, you might notice a small difference between the question and justification for the answer:

In the manuscript they use, Matthew 5:22 says that whoever is angry with his brother without cause is guilty of murder. They could have used other manuscripts that do not translate a "without cause", but there you go. The question was "have you ever been angry?", not, "have you ever been angry without cause?"

On top of which, what the hell is with taking a fine speech full of hyperbole and rhetoric as anything literal?

Next question is on blasphemy. Well, I'm sure some fine folks think that blasphemy is just awful. Of course, in this once-is-all-it-takes game, an instance of blasphemy means "blasphemer", and a gentle slope is always a cliff.

The next bits are fun, of course, because the gloves come off and the equivocation between you and rapists goes into high gear, especially when you try to protest that you would still get into heaven.

"But, if you knew a human judge who would not punish a guilty rapist for his crimes, would you describe him as a just judge??"

Let me turn this question around, into something of the same sort of shrill rhetoric:

"But, if you knew a human judge who would take someone, based on stolen candy at toddlerhood, white lies and eying beautiful women, who got angry with people on occasion and said "God damn it!" from time to time, and punish them with torture forever and ever and ever, would you describe him as a just judge??"

Except that here, a human judge would be cruel, but a divine judge would be infallible.

Then the site just basically goes full-bore Jack-Chick-esque Jesus-before-it's-too-late and all that.

It's all for a good cause, though, and that justifies all the white lies and equivocations in these sorts of tests and testimonials...

...doesn't it?

I have one quiz question of my own, and I know this will be a doozy:

Have you ever baked anything? (Even something small?)

Well, it sounds harsh, but the truth is that you are a baker, and according to Australia's rules of immigration, you can probably more easily get a visa than an environmental quality technician.

Yours in Crust.

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