Everyone In The Bible Is Mentally Insane, Except For Pontius Pilate
By David Metcalfe
March 19, 2019
Adam and Eve Can’t Be Thieves (cuz they’re insane)
A grocery store was robbed of apples, and Adam and Eve were caught with the fruit just moments after police arrived. The defence lawyer states his opening remarks:
“I do not disagree with the prosecution that Adam and Eve did, in fact, steal the fruit. However, I can easily prove that they were not of right mind to be held culpable. I’d like to call Adam to the stand to testify on his own behalf.
Alright, Adam, tell me what happened that day.”
“Well, my wife Eve and I were just walking around the store and a snake came and started talking to us-”
“Hold on, Adam…a snake began talking to you?”
“Yes, that’s right. And, anyway, the snake said that we could know all things if we stole the fruit and ate it. So we wanted to take the magic fruit with us.”
“Ok, just a couple more questions for you, Adam. How did you meet your wife?”
“A couple weeks ago I fell asleep and a supernatural force took out my rib and created Eve with it.”
“Ok. And last question: what were you wearing while at the grocery store?”
“We were naked.”
“I rest my case, and recommend them committed to a mental institution where they can get the help they need.”
The Bible Is Pretty Much A Case Study For Schizophrenia
The World Health Organization lists the symptoms of schizophrenia as: hallucinations, delusions, abnormal behaviours, disorganized speech, and disturbance of emotions (WHO, 2018). If a person who suffers from schizophrenia commits a crime, they are almost never held morally culpable. Instead, they go for psychiatric evaluation and their lawyer invokes the “insanity defence”.
Every story in the Bible, if it occurred in current day, would result in the person being placed in a mental institution.
Moses hears a burning bush tell him to send plagues on people. Samuel hears voices in the middle of the night telling him that Eli’s family is going to be killed. Abraham hears a voice tell him to kill his son, but backs out last second when he sees an angel stop him. Paul sees a bright light that tells him a dead person is alive in another dimension and wants him to do his bidding. Mary sees an angel and hears it tell her to give birth to a demi-god out of wedlock.
Of course, the people in the Bible were probably not actual schizophrenics, and that’s the point I want to make. Because of their superstitions, the fact that they never wrote anything down until years later (in time for legends to form), and people’s general willingness to believe whatever is the most interesting rather than whatever is the most rational, we have a book that is full of people who seem insane. And more so, many of the people who believe the Bible are completely mentally healthy, and yet exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia in their supposed “spirituality”. A huge number of Christian people are what I call “schizophrenic Christians”: they claim to hear voices, see visions, and feel that they are supposed to do certain tasks based on dreams or random thoughts attributed to a divine source.
Was Jesus Also Insane?
Jesus can be added to the list of people who seem insane. There are lots of people who claim to be the saviour of the world, and there’s a place we send them: it’s called a mental hospital.
Pontius Pilate was a well educated guy. He was essentially a judge; he understood how evidence worked in justifying truth claims. When Jesus came to him, all Pilate knew was what the Pharisees had told him: that Jesus was a con man, sorcerer, political dissident, etc. But Pilate knew better than to make judgements based on mere claims, so he spoke to Jesus and asked him what his claims were, so that he could decide for himself.
Jesus said he was a king, but not of this world; it was a world in heaven that could not be seen. Now, Pilate was rightly skeptical, and asked rhetorically, “what is truth?”. Or, in other words, “how can I really know whether or not this guy is legit? He’s making unverifiable claims!”. Pilate decided that although Jesus was an odd guy, he was not a danger to anyone and should go free.
But the superstitious, fear mongering simpletons thought Jesus was the worst person ever, and needed to be crucified, so they insisted on it. Pilate, it would seem, wanted to employ the “insanity defence”. He didn’t believe Jesus, and thought he was probably crazy, but also recognized that he was an ok guy and did not deserve to be tortured and killed.
No one else in the Bible had such a rational approach to apparent divinity. Pilate’s not a schizophrenic, like so many others. He wasn’t hearing voices or seeing things. Now, let me ask you: is it possible for a reasonable person like Pilate to believe Jesus’ truth claim?
The answer is “yes…but only with sufficient evidence.” Judas was almost a reasonable guy, actually. He had been with Jesus and saw first-hand many miracles. Judas had sufficient evidence to believe in Jesus, and yet betrayed him. It’s unreasonable for Judas to do that, but greed and malice can corrupt proper reason, and that certainly was the case for him. So, when Jesus was talking to Pilate, he said, “the one who handed me over to you (Judas) is guilty of a greater sin.”
Pilate was doing the best he could with what he had! He gathered what evidence he could, heard both sides, and basically said, “I’m not sure”. He didn’t just jump to whatever conclusion made him feel better, or what others told him he should believe. Instead, he asked questions, sought real answers, and was content with some uncertainty.
Jesus gives us both an invitation and a promise when he says, “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Pilate asks the right questions, like, “Who does Jesus claim to be?”, “How can I know for myself?”, “What is truth and how do I come to know it?”. I don’t know if Pilate’s questions were totally answered. The Bible doesn’t keep up with his life, and he wasn’t a sufficiently notable figure to be recorded in secular history. But I wonder if, perhaps, from his brief time with Jesus, to his wife’s serendipitous dream, to the claims of people all over the place claiming to have seen the risen Jesus, he would have come to believe the claims that Jesus made.
Whether or not Pilate became a believer in the divinity of Jesus is not of much concern to me, I suppose. It’s just such a relief to find someone I can relate to in the Bible. I would much rather someone be honest about their disbelief than dishonest about their belief. I don’t think lying is a requirement for being a Christian. I think we can be fully honest, fully rational, fully critical, and fully skeptical, and in the midst of that depth of thought and commitment to truth, ask questions and consider various well educated perspectives that estimate at the answers.
Hallucinations and hearing voices in your head are requirements for a mental institution, not a relationship with Jesus. Pilate was too sane and rational to be swayed by delusions like the rest of the Bible’s characters. Pontius Pilate is my favourite Bible character, precisely because he is the only sane one.