The ‘risk’ of Atheism?
Sirkolgate made this comment recently and I wanted to capture it before it went into old post Limbo.
He said: What you do in your life is up to you and you can make it good or bad. Main difference is I think you’re making a scary choice, because if you’re right… I’ll be dead having still lived my life the way I wanted. If I’m right, well shit, sucks to be you.
This seems to be a variation of Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal basically said that the rewards for a belief in God are infinite whilst the dangers of not believing in Him are just too terrible to contemplate. Therefore it is far more reasonable to believe in God than not – because you lose nothing if you’re wrong (dead is still dead) but gain everything if you’re right.
There are so many things wrong with this philosophy that it’s difficult to know where to start. I actually think that Pascal’s Wager is the argument of a coward. It basically states that we should believe in God because of the fear of the consequences of not believing. It is essentially a negative belief. Personally I don’t believe in things just because I’m threatened – indeed if a belief is based on a threat then I am less likely to believe its validity.
As an Atheist I, of course, recognise that I could be wrong in my belief. However, I think that the odds of me being wrong are pretty slim. I have given the subject a great deal of thought and have come to what I believe is a reasonable conclusion. If God does indeed exist I find it hard to conceive of Him punishing me for all eternity for an honestly arrived at mistake. I think that He’d be a bit bigger than that.
There is, of course, the very real possibility that the Christians are wrong and that God does not in fact exist. What few Christians seem to contemplate (apart from the fact that their beliefs might be wrong) is that both of us might be incorrect. Maybe the Hindu’s are right or the Buddhists? Maybe an obscure tribe deep in the Amazon are the only ones clued into the real Dive Plan? How can we possibly know? There is a very real possibility that your particular religion – whatever that is – is the ‘wrong’ one and some God you might never have heard of is really angry with you. It’s about as likely a scenario as your God being the ‘correct’ one. So to be on the safe side which God should I worship and how would I know (for definite) that He, She or It was the right one?
Sirkolgate made a point about ‘living my life the way I wanted’ and still being either rewarded (by God) or just going out like a light bulb (if Atheists are right). Well, I too am living my life as I want and with as much integrity as I can manage. I have developed my beliefs and do my level best to live by them. If God does indeed exist and He’s a good as He’s cracked up to be I’m confident that a life of integrity would mean something to Him. If, however, in His infinite loving wisdom He casts me into the pits of Hell I’m sure I could give Satan a few ideas for a campaign to re-take Heaven.