If I am wrong and you are right, what have I lost

If I am wrong and you are right, what have I lost - nothing, and what have you gained - nothing. But if I am right and you are wrong, what have I gained - everything, and what have you lost - everything.
This is a pretty stock standard quote from a recent christian commentator on my blog. I appreciated the time s/he took to help me out, but I have to shake my head at the reasoning. What would I lose if I entertained one particular afterlife possibility over another? I'd lose my own intellect and freedom to think as an individual for a start. That's not the sort of life I want to lead, following the pack and baah-ing with each other in mind numbing bible verse hair splitting (sigh, yet I still do that anyway). I don't want to set myself up as 'saved' while worrying about all the unsaved. It'd be like reliving the end scene of Schindler's List every day. And even if I did force myself to a church according to what I can best make out of the Bible, I'd have to side with the Universalists and go with Ultimate reconciliation, as it makes the most sense to me theologically.

Normal Bob puts it best:
I would reverse the question back onto you and ask you, what if you are wrong about your God, and instead you're supposed to be worshipping Allah, the Muslim God who commands you to worship him? If you are wrong, then that means you will go to hell forever and ever for not worshipping him. What then? If Islamic Fundamentalists are correct then you are at this very moment an infidel who deserves to be punished for your betrayal of The Great Allah!

When you are standing before Allah, cowering in your shoes, it will be too late. You will try to beg like a dog for Allah to forgive you and let you into heaven, but there is no chance that he will. Then you might remember this email to you and Islamic Fundementalists commanding you to listen to their Prophet Muhammad and follow his laws, but sorry. You will be in hell, without hope or relief. The Koran says that there is a lot of praying to Allah in Hell. You should consider all of the other gods who 'may' be right. what have you to lose?
But okay, Christians can comment here and I'll appreciate your ideas and promise not to bite. Did the honest decisions I made as a Christian to take on Jesus' teaching start a binding contract, or do my current fence-sitting notions of god non-existing negate the salvation I was gracefully given? If I die today in my inability to accept the Gospel as gospel, while living out my years, in this brief moment in time, do I have a good chance on missing out on eternal bliss to come? If that's true then so be it, I suppose, I am given a chance to see if I'll follow blindly or continue to ponder. This angry, jealous god sounds a tad emotive to me and even tested one's faith by asking him to stab his child to death. I find it hard to relate to that.

There is a part of me, a tiny flicker of flame, that believes god is real and that he wrote us a book, but then that's how I was brought up to believe, so of course that mixture of faith and doubt plays out as much as it ever has. Do I have to study for years to try and work out why this god, who is in three parts, one of which is a son, had to let part of himself die very temporarily so that everyone who acknowledged his soon resurrection from the dead, and lived their life according to his moral laws would get the lucky door prize of immortality? The rest, die... just after sheepishly (or goatishly) staring at the floor in front of an enormous 'throne', or get eternally separated, whichever comes first.

13 comments:

Michael said...

It's just a form of Pacal's Wager and it's boring. :)

1. If you believe in God

a) If God exists, you go to heaven.
b) If God does not exist, you lose nothing

2. If you do not believe in God.

a) If God exists, you burn in hell
b) If God does not exist, you gain nothing

Here are my stock respnses to the wager.

1. This is not an argument to prove that God actually exists. Anyone that tries to use it as such is missing the point. It simply points out that it is in our interests to believe in God. That’s a very different proposition to arguing that God exists.

2. If God is all knowing and all powerful, then believing in God because of the reward is not going to go down to well. He would be able to see through it. If you only believe in him because you feel it’s in your best interests to do so then you’re unlikely to gain much favor with him. It’s tantamount to using belief as an after-life insurance policy.

3. There is more than one religion. If there are other gods that require one to believe in them then the wager is flawed because a person of another religion could use the same wager to support their own faith.

4. If you were to follow the wager then you should follow the religion that offers the best possible outcome. I personally like the female of the species. Perhaps therefore I should become a Muslim because for me, 72 virgins doesn’t sound that bad. Far better than a few angels with some nice clouds. Your choice of religion would then come down to the one that offered you the most attractive afterlife.

5. Here’s one that a friend of mine uses which I like very much “Why don’t you believe in the tooth fairy? What is the worst thing that could happen if you did? You should just forget religion and believe in the tooth fairy.”

MothandRust said...

Thanks, I like it.

I'm of the mind that if God were the 'perfect' judge then he'd completely understand how unbelievable he is for a lot of us. He'd have to know our thoughts and comprehend perfectly the confusion the thoughts of his existence give us. He'd have to forgive such misconceptions.

Deacon said...

I was reading in your Header that you were devoted to Christianity or religion (some people few them differently) for 17 years. Why did you leave if you don't mind me asking? Was there some defining moment that solidified it for you?

The Alpha said...

Great post. I think, at its heart, Pascal's Wager is an argument from cowardice. It says, "I don't care if this is quite possibly the biggest lie ever told because I lack the intellectual fortitude to ever think otherwise." What do you have to lose for believing simply because of fear? My answer: You're self-respect.

MothandRust said...

Hi Deacon, I'd have to say there were a series of moments, and I'm not sure how defining they were, that brought me to atheism, although I've backed up into agnosticism again lately. I haven't closed off that part of my mind that entertains the possibility of an unseem realm outside of our view of physics.

I woke up from the cult I was in when I had an epiphany that someone's life shouldn't be deemed saved just because they could speak in 'tongues'. Our church was extremely heavy on that idea.

After a couple of years in a more mainstream church I came to a conclusion that not everybody needs to be 'changed' or comformed to a 'Christian' Mindset. We're all unique and I love my friends and don't want to assimilate them into a bunch of sheep who nod at the pastor and quibble over scriptures.

Something along those lines. I don't want to worry about converting people because I like them just as they are... flaws and all. Of course some people should change some parts of their character, but that's life.

Eek said...

*waves to Deac*

... even though he'll probably never come back and read these comments

Eek said...

Oh, and I'm too tired to actually offer an opinion cept to say I agree with Michael. :P

Deacon said...

*waves to Eek*

I'll always come back lol.

Mike-
1. I completely agree. This isn't a valid argument to prove God's existence. I think if I were to use it though it would be for the listener/reader to hopefully become open to the information being provided. I think we would both agree that many of us, myself included, frequently make the mistake of arguing from a position with a preassumed definitive truth of that position. Therefore making logical discourse impossible.

2. YESSSS!!! Now if I could only get most of these gold digging Christians to understand that. I'm a youth pastor so understand my position. I don't love someone because of what they can do for me. If you do then it's not true love. Unfortunately, I would say your far ahead in wisdom, based on that point, then most faithful Christians.

3. yes I agree
4. I do, understand that there is so much more to life than sex though and personal pleasure. Honestly people do pick the religion or doctrine that suits them best though. Whether it's prosperity preaching or you get your own earth. Unfortunate that the basis for most doctrine Christian and non-Christian is what can a get FROM God.

5. Why don't you believe you're a horse? I bet that would be fun. Just forget logic and go eat hay. The tooth fairy isn't backed by history at all. At the very LEAST you have to say SOMETHING happened that science couldn't explain upon creation and it effected the world. You can patronize if you like but you can't equate the tooth fairy, St. Nick, etc. with God and still be considered in the realm of intelligent discussion.


I understand you on that though Mothandrust. I hate churches that teach that crap, for lack of a better word. The reason I asked is because I've experienced a lot of people that have experienced church but not God. Church will screw you up honestly, especially if you get caught up in the wrong one but so goes the world. People too often equate a religious experience with God and therefore retract from even the notion of God if these are "His" people. Ref. Romans 2:24, Paul addresses the same thing. If you would like to dialogue about God and questions you have in regards to Him I'd be more than happy to offer you what I have. I don't know it all but if you are open to the idea than I'll attempt to answer your questions. In the end if you can't accept it then that's cool, that's your choice. I would ask you to at least try though and forget your "church" experience as a valid reflection of God. Honestly, I believe that every atheist, agnostic, muslim, christian etc. would agree that we should be continually open to knew information and the willingness to accept that we may be wrong, myself included. If you accept than let me know on my blog and we'll work it out.

WWKnight said...

You know, you could always have your faith in Jesus and stuff the bible...

The bible is not the Holy Word of God™, but man's interpretation of said word. In fact, during the Roman (?) occupation of the Holy Lands, christianity was outlawed. All bibles were burnt, and anyone found speaking of the bible or God were killed on the spot. So much of our modern bible (admittedly, Old Testament only, and who cares about that?) was carried through this period only through hushed whispers.

So we have man's interpretation of Divine Will™, burnt and destroyed, going through decades of chinese (jewish?) whispers. I'm sure along the way you are gonna get fuck ups, be they minor or otherwise. And a fuck-up in the bible, no matter how big or small would equal infallible.

Then we go into the whole crap about the catholic church deciding what books would and wouldn't be included in thier version of the bible.

Etc, etc, etc blah blah blah, end result = The bible is full of shit. However, that doesn't mean the values and love of Christ are. The way I see it is this. You love Christ, or you dont. You do = Christian. You don't = Ain't Christian. All the other stuff, bible reading, church, convertions, works...it all depends on the spirit of the situation, but that stuff isnt what christianity is about.

As someone above me said, if you love God for the sake of avoiding the place you don't even believe in, well that ain't gonna cut it. You love God or you don't. Church is meant to be a place for fellowship, and a community of people who love God. But if thier beliefs differ from your won, you are nto recieving fellowship, so don't go. If you aren't comfortable converting people (at least vocally) don't do it. The greatest representive of Christ speaks through actions, not words. No-one can ever second guess your actions, but with words you can easily be forced to back them up.

My point Mr. Moth is this. You can be all "Ain't Christian" if you want. But IMO, you are christian. As long as you love Christ, everything else is insubstantial. Don't like church, fine, but don't blame God for that. Don't wanna save your friends and make them say "baaa", then fine. Instead talk to them about Batman or your favourite porn or the porn you saw with Batman or whatever it is you talk about.

But your crusade is laughable. I snicker at your "Ain't Christian" protest because all it is attention seeking behaviour made in an effort to heal past wounds done to you by people who you thought were fellowship but really weren't. So you had a bad church experience...join the club. Find a new church. Or don't. Even discussing God in a blog like this is fellowship. "Where two people gather in God's name, there he is". Welcome to the Church of Moth, where you get to dictate how much hypocrisy goes on. You are the pastor and we are your congregation. Now, I wonder what happens if you use your powers for Good instead of Evil.

WK

MothandRust said...

My blog is laughable? I hope so. You snicker at my attention seeking? All bloggers are attention seekers to some degree and any publicity is good publicity for us comment sluts.

You think this blog is my fellowship, heck you should see my forum. I'm nearly up to 2000 posts there. For all my rambling there I actually feel like I'm doing some good. I can't detach myself to Christianity... it's weird.

It's certainly been said that I am the pastor of my online church fellowships. I just wish more people would tithe to my community.

I've many faces. Ain't christian? Reluctant christian? Thanks for the comments, some good thoughts.

Eek said...

Hmm.

You can all blah blah on as much as you like about the history of the bible and belief/non-belief in God etc. Heck you can even discuss all the other religions of the world and how they compare/contrast to one another in an effort to find some sort of evidence one way or another for the existence of god.

Fact is... all organised religions are forms of social control. Religion provides a meaning for life and it provides authority figures. And most importantly, it reinforces the morals and social norms held collectively within a society.

Think what you like and believe what you will, but... religion provides social control, cohesion and purpose for people, as well as another means of communication and gathering for individuals to interact and reaffirm social norms/common beliefs.

On an individual level, a particular belief in a particular religion gives the person a sense of understanding and hope and belonging. The whole "meaning of life" stuff.

Does this make it wrong or right? I don't think anyone can answer that question for anyone else.

Definitely steer clear of overly-controlling, hypocrisy-filled stupid churches like Moth's old arm-raising, tongue-speaking church. And definitely steer clear of the often-seen christian desire to judge others (and themselves) for the choices they make.

And while I'm on a roll, don't try to blame satan for every bad choice you make either lol... remembering the old "he only had an affair cos he allowed satan into his life by looking at porn" convo. I still laugh sometimes at the thought that I'm a "puppet of satan" lol. Hmm, memories. How can ppl be that god-damn stupid, pun intended? (apologies, apologies, but its my comment and I'll say what I like, bad mood and all!)

Oh, and remember to think for yourself - first and foremost. Just cos your pastor or your church or your christian friends believe a certain specific "ideal" doesn't mean you have to sheep along.

That said - I don't have a problem with religion when we're talking about an intelligent, free-thinking person. If you're aware that religion acts as a mechanism of control... and isn't simply a divine supernatural thing... then sure, go ahead. Believe whatever you like, christianity included.

Meh, in a mood. The more I think about that puppet of satan convo (you know how there are some things in life you never quite get over lol - makes me really angry sometimes)... perhaps all stupid people should just be shot? Or maybe sterilised so they don't pass on their dumb genes? I mean, if there were no stupid people in the world then we wouldn't end up with stupid christians now would we lol? Problem solved!

Man, now I DO need to apologise. Another "meh" moment. Doesn't matter, Moth'll probably delete this comment cos its personally offensive lol.

Oh well.

taoseeker said...

i hate that stupid paschal's wager business. i've been struggling with faith for a while and that gets thrown at me every now and then. the argument that if there is no god but you believe in one that you have lost nothing is bull. what if you spend your life miserable because of trying to believe in a god and trying to please it in spite of your doubts, and then find there is no god after all? i say you've lost quite a bit. you could have had a happier life without religion. that's the direction i'm heading. i can't make myself believe something i don't so why be miserable?

Anonymous said...

I've NEVER once seen ANY healings or miracles done in the name of ALLAH. I've seen people RAISED from the dead in the name of JESUS.