“Time and time again, the postmortems of financial debacles include two classic phrases: “It was too good to be true” and “What were they thinking?”” — The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks
I think I have an answer to Mr. Mark’s question: “What were they thinking?”
What they were thinking is that it might be true. That is the logic behind all risk, whether it be financial risk or the risk of simply living in a complex world.
Add greed to the mix and then you are heading toward the “debacle” stage, for greed blinds us to the truth and the obvious and motivates us to hand over our hard-earned money to swindlers and shysters for it just might just be true—and oh the return if it is!
But not all debacles are based on greed. Hope can also be a motivation for risk.
The gambler who is down to his last dollar and tries one more time is not being greedy, he’s just hoping against hope to get some of his cash back.
It is hope that causes people to pay their hard-earned money for questionable treatments and medical procedures…they hope that it will save their life or the life of a loved one.
And then there is the mute, vast, and unknown (non-existent?) reality after death.
Christianity offers hope but many think it is too good to be true. They observe people devoting their lives to the hope that there is indeed an afterlife and a heaven to gain and they ask, “What are they thinking?”
What they are thinking is “It just might be true and what do I have to lose?”
To be sure, their hope/faith is not baseless. There is enough rational, material, and intuitive evidence to believe. But if someone does not want to believe, they can always move the goal-post a little more asking for yet more evidence.
Eventually, what it all boils down to is this question: “Why would you not want to believe that Christianity is true?”
I suspect that an honest answer to that question will get you to the real issue behind your skepticism and could save you from the greatest debacle ever.
What are you thinking?