I wrote this back in 2007. Since that time I think I have grown as a person and have a little be more patience when it comes to theist arguments including Pascal’s Wager. I present this older post again as a way to both remind myself of a time when I was a little bit more angry and to hopefully show some level of maturity as the years have progressed. I still argue that Pascal’s Wager is rubbish but I suspect I could make the argument in a more eloquent (and less sarcastic) way.
I seem to be getting to a point in my life where I can no longer stand by and allow the religious right to espouse their philosophy while not living by their own rules. I am regularly told how I am going to “burn in hell” by people who are morally corrupt. Usually I just laugh and shrug it off, but the urge in my heart to stand up and at least point out the hypocrisy of those around me is growing. I recently had a discussion, and by discussion I mean I was subject to stream of “hell awaits you” type arguments, that centered around one flawed argument for believing in God. Instead of excusing myself from the fight, I offered what I believe to have been counterpoint. Somethings, however, just don’t get through to some people.
I am constantly presented with Pascal’s Wager as a reason to believe in God. The shortest way to explain the argument is that it is safer to go ahead and believe in God because you don’t want to die and only THEN find out there really is a magical old man with a sadistic streak looking for a reason set you on fire for eternity.” Simply put, being a Christian is like having afterlife insurance.
I usually counter this argument with a very simple explanation that this is not a good reason to be a Christian because it lacks the basis of true faith. The faithful person does not need the threat of hell to believe in God and his shorty, J.C. In fact, I argue that anyone using Pascal’s Wager as part of their belief system will be sitting right next to me when it comes time to ride the elevator to the basement after taking our eternal dirt nap. If God is as powerful as the Christians make him out to be, he will see right through that bullshit argument and send those casual followers straight to the lake of fire along with the murderers and rapists. True faith is not the same thing as being afraid of hell.
The thought that comforts me here is that if I am wrong then I will have a lot of company. Sadly, that would be my definition of hell. Maybe there is something to the whole idea after all. You would not have to burn me alive to punish me for eternity, just put me in a room with a bunch of casual Christians. I’d be begging for forgiveness within an hour.
“By dividing humanity amongst different sects with conflicting ideology and allowing war in His name, God is evil.”
The simple fact that the Christian religion comes in more flavors than Kool-Aid should be enough to prove the invalidity of the faith. Does it really make sense that man’s one hope for salvation comes in the form of a Mad-Lib? Take one principle from column A, one from Column B, and one from Column C, put them together and BLAM, there ya go. Convenient sure, but certainly not something a rational person should fall for. At least the Catholics stick to their guns when it comes to the principles of their faith. Protestants, on the other hand, shape the religion to fit their lifestyle. Not only that, but if you don’t like what your church is saying, screw them and go form your own church. Just don’t forget to give your 10%. God gotta eat I guess. If not that, God gotta buy a bunch of land to put up a mega-church right?
I’m getting off topic here and it is time to reign it back in. I was presented yet again with Pascal’s Wager just last week. I challenged the person to take the argument to his priest, minister, or reverend to find out what they had to say. I promised him $20.00 bucks if that religious figure told him that believing in God out of fear of hell was part of the road to paradise. He has yet to claim the cash. I would like to think that he is re-evaluating his faith. I doubt it. However, if I am wrong about Christianity and my friend doesn’t come to a better understanding of his God, at least I’ll know someone when I get to the pit of doom.
Don’t forget, bring your sunscreen.