Why Do Xtians Lie?
Given the unhappy though manifold evidence of conscious utterances of untruths by Xtian priests, pastors and eo ipso their followers, I am occasionally exercised by the cause of this phenomenon so clearly in contravention of their own strictures concerning false witness. One explanation can be found in Leibniz, himself an exemplary Xtian. The relevant passage is in Chapter I of Book Four of the Nouveaux essais, where Leibniz deals with cognition and knowledge. The character Theophilus begins by explaining that someone can have a cognition of or acquaintance with (connaissance) something without there being an issue as to whether it is a true cognition or acquaintance,
...car l’usage qu’il a de se représenter dans l’esprit beaucoup de conceptions ou d’idées expresses et actuelles le rend plus propre à concevoir ce qu’on lui propose…pourvu que dans ces histoires et représentations il ne prenne point pour vrai ce qui n’est point….(p. 281)
That is, a person can imagine or represent an object or occurrence to himself without entering into the question as to whether what he imagines or represents is true or not (Theophilus’ point is that a person can achieve a high degree of education by simply observing nature and reading books without entering into issue of the relation of what he observes and reads to the truth.) This explains the practice, says Theophilus, of certain post-reformation logicians who single out certain logical topics (argumenta) as suitable for explanation or illustration and not for proof or demonstration. They choose to explain a thesis by acquainting us with its sense or its force (le sens et la force) with no concern for its truth and without attempting to prove it (sans qu’il s’agisse de sa vérité ou preuve). Theophilus continues,
…comme l’on voit dans les sermons ou homélies, qui expliquent certains passages dans la Sainte Ecriture….(ibid.)
In other words, disregard of the truth is established predicative behavior in explaining passages from Scripture to the flock. Theophilus does go on to attribute the same practice to teachers of canon or civil law the truth of which is presupposed (dont la vérité est présupposée) although it is not clear whether the presupposition of truth characterizes the teaching of laws only or extends to scriptural illustration as well. Nevertheless, even if the truth of Scripture itself were presupposed, one can easily understand how the preacher can make up a few stories to illustrate the “sense or force” of a scriptural passage. His stories or assertions need not be true as long as they serve the purpose of bringing out “sense or force.” The unbiased observer might be motivated at this point to interject that a lie is a lie. In addition, the propinquity of legal studies and the practice of preaching in the passage is not infelicitous. It helps us understand why preachers so effortlessly extend their exercises in make-believe to the secular, political and legal realm.
Note: In a later passage, prophetic of similar sentiments in Hume's History of England, Philalethes notes an important element in the psychology of (enthusiast, generally nonconformist) Xtian preachers - the desire for domination: "L'esprit de dominer n'est pas un des moins ordinaires (sc. motifs des jugements précipités)...." (p. 397)