You’re Not Supposed to Bet

You’re Not Supposed to Bet

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B: You might notice that my viewpoint on this subject is very much like Pascal’s in his famous “wager:” back in the day – like the 17th century or so – a guy named Blaise Pascal (French, I believe) made a bet of some kind that he could prove the futility of not believing in God. The idea was thus: if you believe in God, and there is none, you lose nothing. If you believe in God and He exists, you gain eternal felicity. If you don’t believe in God, and there is none, you gain nothing. If you don’t believe in God, and He exists, you’re condemned to eternal misery. Anyway, the main point was that one has nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in God.

One of my arguments in favor for believing in God is much the same. The only thing that one could potentially “lose,” by choosing to believe in God, is the carnal indulgences he may have denied himself due to his belief in God during his mortal lifetime, which itself, as I’ve said before, is of negligibly short duration in comparison to eternity anyway. If there is no life after this one, then it wouldn’t matter whether we believed in God during this life or not, since we would cease to exist afterwards regardless. Finally, if we find that there is a life after this one, we will be far better off having prepared for it during this life, especially seeing that the length of the next life is incomparably larger than that of this life’s.

Considering this argument, it seems strange to me that anyone would think a person foolish for believing in God during this life; in fact, I would think that the opposite is true. Not only that, but the more prepared we are for the next life, it seems, the better it would be for us; hence, the only sensible course to take in this life is to believe in God, and that as wholeheartedly and devotedly as possible.

And yet why is it that so many of what we think of as the world’s brightest minds refuse to believe in God, and even mock those who do, thinking them ignorant? One reason for this may be because they think that the idea of a God is too simple an explanation for the Universe, that it was undoubtedly just a concoction of some primitive society that had no better explanation. Perhaps they’ve fallen so far in love with their own intellects that they can’t accept such simplicity, which would undermine a vain hope they may have to distinguish themselves from everybody else because of their mental abilities; their pride, then, would effectively keep them from believing in God. They may think that there is no satisfactory evidence of the existence of a God, and perhaps this may be true – with regards to what constitutes scientific evidence – but it is certain that there is no evidence to the contrary: one may explain a Godless Universe away all he wants, but none of it could definitively prove that there must not actually be a God, as I mentioned before. Also, yet another possibility they don’t believe in God is because they don’t want to consider what His existence would actually mean for their lives and lifestyles – it may interfere much more than they would desire.

Details

A: Have you ever heard of the “Atheist’s Wager?”

B: I jolly well have. In my view, it’s really the same as Pascal’s. In that case, instead of believing in God, the best “bet” is to “live a good life.” Whatever “living a good life” means, it includes some belief in some overarching good, which really is a kind of God, if you ask me. So living a good life, believing in a God – sufficiently similar things for this discussion.

A: Well then why do you make such a big deal about believing in God specifically? It seems, according to you, that everybody believes in some kind of God.

B: You could say that. The reason that I emphasize it, however, is really to encourage people to differentiate between their own desires and those of their God’s, and to choose the latter. I mean that it doesn’t make logical sense, in consideration of the grand scheme of things (including preserving purpose and a sense of moral good in our lives), to simply do according to your own pleasures and whims. In such a case, a person has really made himself out to be his own God, even though he may ostensibly believe in some other God. While I’m sure that many, and perhaps even a majority, of atheists try to live as best they can according to the dictates of their consciences, I fear that too many of them try to use their lack of belief to excuse them from feeling so restrained.

2 Comments

  1. Profet

    What if you picked the wrong god? Do you have even more to lose?

    Reply
    • Blog Author

      This is a good question. Really, I’d say it’s an unanswerable question. But a natural question, for someone who may be trying to decide whether or not to believe in God.

      How could anyone know which of believing in God, not believing in God, or believing in the wrong God is best and which is worst? What can you do except act according to what you know and/or believe, as I asked in the caption to the Calvin & Hobbes cartoon in the post “Eternity vs. Mortality?” If one truly believes that he will be worse off believing in a “wrong” God than if he doesn’t believe in God at all, then he should act accordingly. To such a person I can say only that there is more to know than that, which may evoke the natural question, “what?” The answer may be found in reading on.

      (If you click on the word “Details” at the end of the post, it uncovers more material which may address your question.)

      Reply

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