In his second post, Chris cites the first axiom from Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth novels to help explain why so many people believe in Q. (I’m afraid I vehemently disagree with Chris about this series being one of the best fantasies ever written — I loathed the first book — but that’s another matter.) He explains “Wizard’s First Rule” as follows:
“With minimal persuasion people will generally believe things to be true for one of two reasons: either because they are scared that it may be true or because they strongly wish it to be true”.
But Chris is much more tactful than the originator of that rule. In Goodkind’s book it’s put bluntly:
“People are stupid and will believe any lie, either because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it’s true.” (Wizard’s First Rule, chapter 36)
Of course, it wouldn’t be accurate (or kind) to say that Q-adherents are stupid, but the question of Q being a lie is an interesting one. It could be one of the greatest scholarly self-deceptions.
I should point out that Wizard’s First Rule ignores a third factor. People believe something (whether a lie or not) not only because they want it to be true, or are scared it may be true, but because they have been taught that it’s true. That is, after all, why I believed in Q. I relinquished it when I finally realized it was unnecessary to solve the synoptic problem — and when I saw that it has been so popular because (per the rule) people really do want it to be true. As I said in my list of dangerous ideas (#6), citing Mark Goodacre (as Chris does),
” ‘Q has been all over the world, loved by everyone, feminists and liberation theologians, the sober and the sensational, the scholar and the layperson, a document with universal appeal. Indeed one of the keys to its success has been its ability to woo both conservatives and radicals alike.’ (Mark Goodacre, Case Against Q, p 16). Traditionalists favor Q for providing (supposedly) early evidence of the Christian movement, and liberals adore it for its emphasis on parables and teachings (like gospel of Thomas), lacking orthodox material like the passion and resurrection.”
It’s just not easy to let go.