9/10/2006                                                                                       View Comments

The Greatest Story Ever Told and Ignored

by Tyrone D. Williams

Without question my favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. From the black and white beginning in Kansas, to the colorful world of Oz. From the mundane antics of the farm hands and the natural threat of Miss Elmira Gulch, to the comic buffoonery of Dorothy’s new friends and the supernatural threat of the Wicked Witch of the West, I find The Wizard of Oz a marvelous tale of timeless delight for both young and old. I never get tired of watching that flick.

To me, The Wizard of Oz is the Greatest Story Ever Told. “There’s no place like home” dammit.

I especially love the ending, when Toto unceremoniously yanks back the curtain to reveal the scam of the carnival huckster. Apparently Toto was fed up with all the whining and cowering of his companions, so he blew the whistle on the deal.

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!,” the big-headed apparition bellows, but it is much too late. Dorothy and friends have already seen too much. The “Wizard” is nothing but an old man. A “humbug”, the Scarecrow calls him. They are disgusted and disappointed, and rightly so. All that bowing, scraping and serving – all of that WORSHIP – and it was all for nothing. A lousy trick.

Sound familiar? It should. How can a working, rational mind fail to see the corollary between this scene of revelation and how religion works in our world? How can you NOT see “the man behind the curtain”? What will you do now? Close your eyes and pretend you didn’t see him? Would that be very wise?

Ironically, however, The Wizard of Oz is not the first fable to use this story telling mechanism to expose a religious scam.

Some of you might be familiar with a forbidden book called the Apocrypha. (So named by St. Jerome. It means lost books. But they aren’t lost, just hidden from view. And with good reason, as I shall demonstrate.) Within the pages of this volume of Jewish lore is a book of Daniel titled Bel and the Dragon. Here is an on-line copy for your enjoyment at "http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/bel.html".

In short the story goes like this:

Daniel (Yes, THAT Daniel.) is at it once again in the nation of Persia. Cyrus is King now, and as usual there is god/idol worship afoot and Daniel isn’t happy about it.

The priests of Bel claim that their statue is The Living God and they can prove it, because THEIR god eats! Daniel vehemently disagrees and of course is called out for blasphemy. King Cyrus is ready to kill SOMEBODY, so someone had better prove their case quickly.

So Daniel, ever the clever lad, cooks up a scheme. He has King Cyrus lay out all the food before the statue of Bel, as is his norm. Everyone is ushered out of the temple, leaving just the King and Daniel. Daniel then has ashes strewn all about the temple floor in the presence of the King. They then back out of the temple and all of the doors are sealed with the signet of the King.

During the night, as is their devious habit, the priests and their families enter the temple through some secret passage and they consume all the food left for Bel.

In the morning, the King and Daniel arrive. They find the seals unbroken. The doors are opened and the King marvels that the food has been consumed by Bel. But Daniel simply laughs and directs King Cyrus’ gaze down to the temple floor where the multitude of human foot prints of men, women and children have been trekked through the ashes.

King Cyrus is livid and as is always the case in these “holy” fables, Cyrus has the priests and their families executed and the statue of Bel destroyed.

(There is more to the story concerning the Dragon, but this should suffice for my purposes.)

This is an excellent story of how deceitful is the priesthood. Convincing everyone that god is real and living, when in fact it’s nothing but a trick of greedy, manipulative men and women. So…why has this story been placed on the Do Not Read list?

I should think it would be obvious. If Bel isn’t real…if “he” is a scam…then isn’t Jehovah also a scam? I mean, what’s the difference between a stone idol and an idol of the mind?

Not a damn bit of difference. The Jews rightly fear and dread this story because anyone with a lick of common sense would swiftly put two and two together and realize that it’s ALL bullshit! There is no “god”, just priests standing behind the curtain manipulating the evidence to deceive the gullible populace. This story scares the hell out of any self-preserving con artiste. (Notice that the church avoids it, too!)

Much better to claim that this story is NOT inspired, and then forbid it’s reading, and hope all copies are burned. Sorry! Found one! And I’m telling the story as often as I can, right along with The Wizard of Oz.

The problem, however, is that reality NEVER agrees with fantasy.

In both The Wizard of Oz and Bel and the Dragon, once the scam is revealed, both Dorothy, her companions and King Cyrus become indignant. They demand justice! They make sure that the scam is perpetrated no more.

But here in the Real World, when the curtain is pulled back and the ashes have human foot prints in them, the people simply shrug their shoulders and return to their worship service as if NOTHING has changed. The obvious proof is not enough to shake their “faith” in their god.

“Well, just because ONE priest/church/religion is bad, that doesn’t make them ALL bad,” they’ll rationalize.

This blind compartmentalization is enough to make a peaceful man pull out a shotgun and shoot such idiots. Better to put them out of their misery and spare the human gene pool of such contaminants.

How do you reason with and help people who REFUSE to see the truth right before their eyes? What more can you do? Sure, everyone has the RIGHT to believe what they choose, but god damn! How stupid must we allow people to be? Isn’t there a time when responsible, thinking people need to step in and take control over brains that malfunction THIS badly? We do it with the mentally retarded, criminals, children and the elderly. Why not with those deluded by religion? What makes THEM so special and exempt from the rules?

It’s just Common Sense. But it must not be TOO common, because it is surely in short supply in this world. May Thomas Paine rest in peace and stop spinning like a turbine generator in his grave.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

"This blind compartmentalization is enough to make a peaceful man pull out a shotgun and shoot such idiots. Better to put them out of their misery and spare the human gene pool of such contaminants."

"Not a damn bit of difference"

"it’s ALL bullshit"

"take control over brains that malfunction"


These examples of frustration totally undercut any force this article may've had.

Anonymous said...

Problem is you missed the yellow brick road. Your on the broad path that leads to destruction.

Truthsmack said...

Visit my blog to see examples of how Fundamentalists and conservatives LIE.

http://truthsmack.blogspot.com

flicka said...

I actually share your frustrations! And they did not undercut the article in any way for me. They emphasized the insanity that us non believers have to live with on a daily basis. Good job.

SpaceMonk said...

"These examples of frustration totally undercut any force this article may've had."
No it doesn't. Frustration is normal human reaction.

"Isn’t there a time when responsible, thinking people need to step in and take control over brains that malfunction THIS badly?"

I wouldn't say we need to control them, just as long as they don't try to control others (which to me includes evangelising).

I think the following quote may apply here (it's talking about scientific truth, but I think the same can be said of any entrenched paradigm):

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
- Max Planck

MTscatman said...

To the first Anonymous - Obviously my comments maintained their full force since they got your attention and compelled you to comment. So there.

To the second Anonymous - Yeah, whatever. Your problem is YOU think both Dorothy and Jesus are real, while I recognize they are both fictions. Grow a brain and quit sucking on your Christ-pacifier.

Harlequin said...

It always puts me in mind of some of the Douglas Adams stuff...

1) The SEP generator

2) The people who had no idea of up

Love

Grandpa Harley

tigg13 said...

"Problem is you missed the yellow brick road. Your on the broad path that leads to destruction."

Holy Crap! Its "Glenda the Good Apologist"!

Everybody hide the Munchkins!

freedy said...

Anoy#2,....yea narrow is the way and "few" that find it.
You think those who made up the bible might have left that scripture out!
What kind of god makes it hard to follow him, and allows billions to suffer eternal damnation.I'll take the broad path and give you "narrow way minded idiots" plenty of room on your yellow brick road fantasy.

Farris said...

-Common Sense isn't so common_

Susan said...

Terrific post! I love your comparison and to be honest, I hadn't thought about Oz in the terms you brought up. I had also forgotten the story about the god that eats until your post. It is a very telling story but I think I actually learned about it in the Catholic Bible classes I went to as a kid!

PS: Don't you just love how the Anonymous posters are too afraid to even share their names? Great thing "God" has such stand up folks on his side. LOL

DADDY said...

Yes Susan there really is a God and He is not hiding behind the curtain. So grab toto and start your trip down the yellow brick road.

Bentley said...

I totally agree with your comparison of W.O.Oz., Dorothy starts out in fear and confusion and is tempted by the wicked witch and she's so scared and the three companions are fear stricken also, but yet they know there's a greater power than them to help them, because they have heard there was, all that they need is faith and hope and determination, and through all the trials of good and evil they learn it was all a hoax perpetrated by rumor and hearsay, in fact the Wiz is more believable than the Holey Bible, atleast Dorothy comes to her real senses and realizes it was only her imagination from a dream she had while being knocked unconscious.

So to me, all anyone needs to do to write a Holy Book is have a vivid imagination, this definately proves that humans have the ability to imagine, maybe even more so under the influence of unconsciousness or drugs or alcohol. Great observation!!!

Anonymous said...

I have been in a Christiuan church..So I have been there, seen it, done it got the free T-shirt.
I think most Christians are the cowardly Lion. They dont like to touch Hot topics..and if they do they have to do it on-line or if in person one time and you never see them or hear from them again "becasue they don't dont even really know what they believe and deep inside themselves they know they are full of BS" I have also found most chirstians to be brainless like the scarcrow looking for a brain...via a preacher or TV fake Evangilist..The tin man is perfect for Christians they always claim to have a heart..or its in my heart where Jesus lives..but really its empty.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, the Wizard of Oz is by far the most popular re-broadcast movie in America.

Maybe people like it so much because it says what they are afraid to say, to their pastors, their communities, their parents, their government: religion is hogwash.

Poor old America. So pragmatic, so skeptical, so can-do and does-do, but so trapped by Christianity. Why do so many people go to church to return home to their secular lives? Because they're paying lip-service to the scary gods to pay for their peace of mind.

If only we had churches for the people. Unfortunately, I really think people are biologically built to need an authority to bow to. Sorry to be such a pessimist. On those rare occasions that I get myself into a "christian", loving mindset (kind of a trick I use when things are really stressful) it works. I just pretend there's a loving god out there and something sweet turns on.

Naomi

freedy said...

There is no democracy in churches today.These new mega churches all operate in a theocracy mode,..with little or no accountability to their people!
It's all about the tax free money,......freakin parasites!
(Get a real job!!)

connor said...

although i appreciate with your effective interpretation, i think that t.w.o.o. is a story that more closely relates william jennings bryan's wish to switch from a gold-backed currency (hence the yellow-brick road) to silver, which was in greater supply at the time. funny thing is that this debate led to a leap of faith of sorts, with our government eventually deciding not to back currency with any precious metal - only the populace's trust in their own work ethic and skills. of course, this is supported by a rigorous mathematical backing in the field of economics and therefore is fundamentally different from the decision to think that some ephermeral ego is watching everyone from a cloudy paradise, waiting for us to f**k up... oh the humanity

Anonymous said...

Ha! Always refreshing to get the truth about a situation.

Naomi

Anonymous said...

Naomi

You wrote: "I really think people are biologically built to need an authority to bow to."

My theory is that this is the parent-child relationship, the first relationship a human being learns about. An infant has these "supreme" beings that try to take care of every need. Then if a child is "educated" in a religious manner he/she is taught that there is a heavenly father. So I think that rather than move beyond this relationship as one grows older (and as one's biological parents die) many if not most people retain their need for a parent, and of course whatever priest/minister/shaman is around can step into this role, as a surrogate for the "heavenly father."

Alan

Richard Cranium said...

L Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of OZ, was a pharmacist. He would get up in the middle of the night and write on the wallpaper. His housekeeper would take it down and carry it to the publisher. He wrote a lot of books in the OZ series, and this one wasn't the first.

I think he licked his finger when he was counting the pills.

I think Ezekiel was on dope too. If I dreamed what he did, I'd go get my head checked. He just decided to say it came from God.

twincats said...

Space Monk and Anonymous Alan, I couldn't agree more!!

There are none so blind as those who will not see...

Voidship said...

I am writing this as a hard Agnostic, as a Secular Humanist and as an Antichristian. While I totally identify with all these stances, I still believe Christians are people who are not necessarily delusional, but rather who have made a *choice*. Whether that choice can be understood by reasoning or by hope/faith, it does not matter. Christians have not chosen to believe because it absolutely makes sense to them, but because believing in something gives them spiritual (whatever that means) comfort. The choice is purely instrumental and there is nothing wrong with that - hey, whatever turns you on.

The point I want to make is that I understand Christians and the way they *feel*. I too have felt what they choose to call "receiving Jesus Christ in their hearts". I am simply talking about (very strong) emotions that one may choose to interpret in a certain way according to the culture he or she was brought up in. I was very close to abandoning myself to the feeling that everything is allright, that there is a plan for all of us and that everything makes sense, even if it does not appear to. The first lesson an educated man or woman has to learn is how to control the way he/she interprets these emotions. I do not know whether emotions can be explained just by the different substances present in the human body, which the brain regulates. It may or it may not be so. Perhaps there is such thing as a spiritual body; perhaps the basis for animism is not just wishful thinking. As an agnostic, I feel obliged to be completely honest and admit that I do not know. Which is *exactly* what any honest religious man or woman should do. Whether one chooses to believe or not is a totally different matter. It is a *personal* choice which must be respected as long as it does not harm others - which, as you all know, is not the case with Christianity, or any other established religion, for that matter.

What I would suggest, if you guys do want to have a meaninful discussion with Christians, is to stop harassing them and answer to their arguments in a polite, Socratic manner. I have seen a couple of Christans and ex-Christians engaging in polite debates, but all the other ex-Christans seem driven by hate (which is not unjustified, but it does not help if you want to prove your point). Also, you ex-Christians are way too picky. The reason why both groups can come up with contradictory quotes from the Bible is that the Bible itself is extremely vague and written in a atechnical way. What do you expect from primitive people, anyway. The key-word with Christians is PATIENCE. At the very core, atheism and christianity are irreconcilable, because atheism employs logic, which is objective, while christianity employs revelation, which is subjective. There really is no way to prove that God does not reveal himself to those who choose to believe in him. But since the opposite is also true, one thing Christians must learn is RESPECT.
Agnosticism is the only honest way.

P.S. I truly believe YHWH cannot possibly exist as it is described in the Bible, and even if it did, I would not worship him, but that's just a *choice* I made.

steamboat_willey said...

voidship:

Keep in mind that this site is not specifically for being polite to Christians and making them feel good. They get plenty of that from their ministers and their imaginary God.

This site is for encouraging ex-Christians. Any stab at a fundie who enters here reinforces ex-Christians. Any sarcasm directed at a moderate Christian is also done to encourage ex-Christians.

I think a good debate that reveals the nonsense of Christianity will also encourage ex-Christians. Keeping it civil will make for a good debate.

Hatred doesn't do any good, and I discourage it also. There are times when anger is justified though. Those who have been abused can be excused for lashing out. I get pissed when people automatically question the ethics of ex-Christians and come in here threatening us with hell fire.

There are other forums where Christians can expect a more civil debate.

Anonymous said...

Woo, harsh article dude...true, sadly, but harsh.
While I fully understand the sentiments there really is no need to beat your head against the proverbial brick wall, most western countries are becoming more secularised with each passing year, in a short while (historically speaking) religion will be am unpleasant memory with its last adherants being looked upon with as much bemusement as we might regard, say, the Amish or luddites.

The trick is; make sure there's no replacement.

Douglas Cartwright said...

I thought your comparison of Bel and the Dragon was quite interesting - certainly you can compare the dynamics in the Bel story to how religion can be falsified. I haven't browsed the rest of your site so I don't know what other points you make about religion so I say this purely in response to this article that it jumps to some enormous generalisations about Christianity and its lack of existance.

Many many hadcore scientists are prepared to admit that the universe cannot have come about by chance because of its incredible complexity. They may not choose the Christian God but they think there is a higher intelligence.

Many many many many Christians including probably myself misrepresent the gospel in many ways but that doesn't mean the scriptures are wrong. Heard the phrase 'all tarred with same brush'?

If you were selling the Dyson vaccum cleaner for the first time and punched everyone you spoke to, you would be a poor salesman but the product would still be of good quality, right?

Humans seem to have an inherent need to worship something whether it be money, sex, posessions or a God. In fact, those things are a god to those who do not believe in our Lord. Do you believe this is an evolutionary 'flaw' then?

I suspect that you article comes from a mindset of 'proving it = seeing it/measuring it'. So prove 'love' or give it up!

The scientific mindset is a prison if it is the only proof allowed. Ask Einstein who said "imagination is more powerful than logic".

All the best

Doug

J. C. Samuelson said...

Hi Doug,

"Many many hadcore scientists are prepared to admit that the universe cannot have come about by chance because of its incredible complexity."

About 40% of scientists subscribe to faith in a higher power. Yet 95% subscribe to evolution, either theistic or naturalistic. Furthermore, a majority of scientists (55%) prefer natural evolution. Notably, only 5% subscribe to the creationist view (see here.

The point being that for the majority of scientists, belief is trumped by evidence. There is overwhelming evidence for evolution, which is why so many scientists reject creationism.

For theistic evolutionists, I suspect that what's really lacking (and I have no support for this idea) is a good scientific theory of abiogenesis (the origins of life). Should such a theory become manifest it seems likely the number who subscribe to natural evolution will rise. If history is any indication, science will eventually produce such a theory, though perhaps not in our lifetime.

Of course, I'm not really up on current research in that area.

"Many many many many Christians...misrepresent the gospel in many ways but that doesn't mean the scriptures are wrong. Heard the phrase 'all tarred with same brush'?"

In principle, you're right. A source can be correct and still be misrepresented or misinterpreted. However, when the source is misinterpreted or misrepresented because of conflicting information within the source, then the source needs critical examination and probable correction.

The flaw in Christian reasoning as it applies to the Bible, is that any conflicts are presumed to be non-existent in spite of evidence to the contrary. Unresolved conflicts are assumed to be simply a failure on our part to understand the text.

After 2,000 years or more (well, maybe just under 1,700 or more, if you decide to start with the Council of Nicea), people are still incapable of resolving the internal problems of the Bible without resorting to special pleadings or ignoring them entirely. Apparently, God didn't really want us to understand, eh?

"Humans seem to have an inherent need to worship something whether it be money, sex, posessions or a God."

Apparently.

"Do you believe this is an evolutionary 'flaw' then?"

I'm not sure you could characterize it as a flaw but it could certainly be the product of evolution, be it biological, social, or otherwise. Man likes to have explanations for things. If there are none, man makes them up.

"I suspect that you article comes from a mindset of 'proving it = seeing it/measuring it'. So prove 'love' or give it up!"

The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. Your parents can say they love you every day, but their actions are what speak loudest. If they don't feed you, clothe you, provide and protect you, you will inevitably question whether they love you or not. You'll want to believe it, but eventually their words will become meaningless. The proof for God is conspicuously absent, even in the lives of many Christians.

"The scientific mindset is a prison if it is the only proof allowed. Ask Einstein who said "imagination is more powerful than logic"."

Imagination enables us to explore, discover, and develop new hypotheses; essentially it helps us learn and grow. It is not a proof unto itself, however. And, it can hinder the same things it promotes, depending on how willingly we believe in what we imagine.

What Einstein said is true, but he wasn't saying that imagination shows us truth. He was saying that what people imagine will overrule evidence, regardless of how strong the evidence is. We can see how accurate this statement is today, with 95% of scientists subscribing to evolutionary theory compared to only 49% of the general public.

Cheers!

boomSLANG said...

Douglas: "Many many hadcore scientists are prepared to admit that the universe cannot have come about by chance because of its incredible complexity. They may not choose the Christian God but they think there is a higher intelligence."

However, this isn't an Ex-deist site, it's an Ex-Christian site. To make a leap from a non-personal intelligence as a first cause, to the Christian biblegod as the first cause, well, THAT is was Christians do. That's like going from A to Z, skipping all the letters in between. There is no more evidence that "Jesus" has a vested interest in us than there is for Zeus having that same interest.

Douglas: "Many many many many Christians including probably myself misrepresent the gospel in many ways but that doesn't mean the scriptures are wrong. Heard the phrase 'all tarred with same brush'?"

Many people misrepresent the Holy Q'ran too, so then, I guess Allah could be the one True God, after all? Heard the phrase "don't believe half-truths...you might be believing the wrong half."

Douglas: "The scientific mindset is a prison if it is the only proof allowed. Ask Einstein who said 'imagination is more powerful than logic'."

Yes, it's more powerful, however, not more TRUE. And if anything is a "prison", it would be religious convictions, which aren't subject to change.

Alan said...

Doug:

You wrote:

"Many many hardcore scientists are prepared to admit that the universe cannot have come about by chance because of its incredible complexity. They may not choose the Christian God but they think there is a higher intelligence."

There is really nothing to admit. There is no reason why the complexity of the universe couldn't have arisen from natural processes (and evolution is NOT just some random events happening.) You may be referring to Intelligent Design, but to-date whatever evidence they have put forth is crap. No example of their so-called irreducible complexity has withstood criticism (don't even think of talking about the flagellum,) and the best they have is either some obscure information theory mumbo-jumbo, or the subjective feeling that "I am in awe when I look at a landscape, therefore it must have been designed."

The scientific method is not a prison, it is the best tool mankind has ever developed to understand the natural world. Quoting Einstein is not really relevant as he was part of an earlier age and would not accept quantum mechanics (with its emphasis on probability,) which is now a widely accepted part of physics. If God exists and he acts upon the natural world why is there no evidence whatsoever of his existence? There are many things in the universe which are still unknown, but the fact that a phenomenon cannot currently be explained by science does not mean that there must be some "supernatural" explanation (the God of the Gaps, if you will.)


Alan

Anonymous said...

"The scientific mindset is a prison if it is the only proof allowed. Ask Einstein who said 'imagination is more powerful than logic'."

Oh really? So your advocating Imagination then? Very well, I imagine god is a woman...Oh dear, I appear to have been executed by the inquisition!

Okay, so you Theist filth don't do that anymore, the point is; A rationalist doesn't only think scientifically, he also thinks historically. The lesons of the past can steel you for the threats of the future and believe me, we will NEVER forget the injustices perpetrated in the name of the faceless, voiceless, un-acting and apparently un-caring godof the christians.

Don't fear logic, you can always conveniently brush that aside with meaningless semantics, no... what you should fear is your own actions both past and present, no amount of "disproving negatives" can hide those.

Lupis Noctum said...

douglas carwright said:

The scientific mindset is a prison if it is the only proof allowed. Ask Einstein who said "imagination is more powerful than logic".


I think you chose the wrong quote to close your post with, Einstein was saying that imagination was a more powerful tool, at times, than straight logic. He was referring to the intuitive leaps that bring about many of our scientific breakthroughs and promoting the concept of keeping one's mind flexible, not endorsing the magical thinking that Christians and most others tend to engage in.

The scientist uses his imagination to imagine a possibility. He then tests this possibility against known quantities. If the new possibility doesn't fit in with what is already known, he rejects it and goes back to the proverbial drawing board. The magical thinker imagines a possibility that he finds favorable and decides that it must be true because he desires it.

If Jonas Salk, for example, engaged in magical thinking instead of scientific to create his polio vaccine, he would have simply decided that since he desired that polio be cured, a solution of tap water and food coloring would suffice and proceeded to innoculate children with that. Sorry, reality is a harsh mistress, it just doesn't work like that.

If you want a bit of Mr. Einstein's wisdom regarding religion, I'll end my post with something slightly more relevant to this site's topic.

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own--a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism." - Albert Einstein

breakerslion said...

I too, love The Wizard of Oz and get the message (one of many). In the dragon story, one must ask, "How did Daniel know what to expect?" If he really believed in god(s) why not a hungry demon? Early texts in the OT regarding worship read like a menu. "God wants some nice Spring Lamb, some grapes, and half a chicken... and FRESH people! what kind of supplicants are you? And don't even THINK of putting it on the altar yourself, you ain't clean enough! Just hand it over."

Not just a scam, the World's Oldest Scam.

"How do you reason with and help people who REFUSE to see the truth right before their eyes?"

I've stopped trying. The hucksters in the bunch will just tie you up with sophistry and meta-arguments. The delusional will ignore any evidence that contradicts their pleasant delusion. I have decided to fight fire with fire and out-absurd them. Theirs is not the only unreality in what Dawson has called the Cartoon Universe.

tigg13: I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read your comment. It would have come out my nose.

Anonymous said...

freedy wrote:

"....yea narrow is the way and "few" that find it.
You think those who made up the bible might have left that scripture out!
What kind of god makes it hard to follow him, and allows billions to suffer eternal damnation."

Actually, this is a stroke of brilliance. It appeals to elitism: "We found the narrow path! We're saved! We're 1337!"

If you know you're saved, then what need have you for churches, preachers, and pastors? Calvinists, Armenians, Catholics: they all leave some room for doubt as to whether or not you have attained salavtion. Tell them that it's a hard struggle, tell them that there is always the possibility that they will be in for a rude awakening at the Judgement Seat, and they keep coming back for their weekly fix of reassurance.

It was a good idea to include that in the Bible, actually.