What if You Are Wrong?

Pascals Wager

Christian to Atheist:

“If I’m wrong, it’s no big deal, but if you’re wrong? Uh oh…”

At first, this argument seems strong. Christians seem to have all the bases covered: If a Christian dies and god indeed exists, the Christian is home free and will spend eternity in Heaven.

  • If a Christian dies and it turns out that god does not exist, so what? That means there is no hell, and death is simply the end. No harm, no foul. Nothing lost.

This is one of the most common arguments made by Christians. Why not just believe? It gives you immediate fire insurance against Hell’s never ending flames, and there’s no down side if you happen to be wrong.

However, this argument is actually one of the weakest arguments a Christian can make.

When presented with this argument, I ask the counter question:

“Well, what if you are wrong about Islam, Hinduism, Baha’i, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrinianism or any of the hundreds of other religions and cults and their dire warnings about the various hells and other negative consequences they say await you as a “non-believer”?

Out of the many times I’ve countered with this question, no Christian has ever been the slightest bit concerned about the consequences of their non-belief in other religions or cults.

Just like none of those other religions or cults are the slightest bit concerned about the Christian version of Hell.

And what if Christians are wrong? Is it really no big deal? If there is no god, what has a Christian really lost?

If you spend decades wrapping your life around a fable, and basing your life on that fable, choosing your mate and your friends and your job and your possessions and where you live and where you go to church and who you socialize with, or not, and who you do business with, or not, and what you do with your time and your money and what you teach your children, all based on that fable… well, the fallout from that is a life wasted on an entire reality that doesn’t exist, and the possibility that you may have influenced others to also waste their lives.

That’s a wager I’m no longer willing to make.

Are You in a Cult?

Cult

What’s the difference between a cult and a religion? Is it merely the number of followers as some have joked? Some believe that a cult is any organized belief that isn’t their own. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa used to refer to Catholicism as a cult.

Early in their histories, religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism were all considered cults. All three of them are clearly recognized as religions today.

One writer suggests that the only difference between a religion and a cult is the amount of time it has survived (link below).

What do you think? Are you in a cult, a religion, or neither?

https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/bs-xpm-2011-10-13-bs-ed-mormons-20111013-story.html

The Perfectly Inaudible Voice of God

I can't Hear You

An old friend I used to know when I was a Christian sent me a few questions. Here’s one of them:

“I’m just curious what you think about the personal experiences you once thought were God/the voice of God. Do you now think you were just a little crazy yourself?”

When I was a Christian, I never physically heard the voice of god, nor witnessed any supernatural events that I could actually connect to a god. Neither did my old pastor Chuck Smith, according to the many times he said as much from the pulpit. To demonstrate this, Chuck used to tell the story of a drive he once took up the coast. Because it was such a lovely day, he decided last-minute to drive up PCH. I don’t remember the details – something to do with a hitchhiker – but something really cool and spiritual happened to him because he took PCH, and he attributed that to a supernatural god redirecting his path in a very natural way. That story was Chuck’s way of demonstrating how god directs us without actually saying anything or showing himself. However, we don’t really know if god told Chuck to take PCH that day, or if he just wanted a prettier drive, and we’ll never know what even cooler, even more spiritual things may have happened to Chuck had he taken the 101.

I don’t think Christians are crazy, and I don’t think I was crazy when I was a Christian. I think I was guilty of poor thinking, incomplete and inconsistent logic, and a whole lot of cognitive dissonance.

Our minds are flawed. We humans have the capacity to believe things that aren’t true. We make errors in our critical thinking. We have lapses in judgement. We commit logical fallacies with our thinking. We hold conflicting values, beliefs and ideas. We draw illogical conclusions. We go with our gut, even when our gut is flawed.

In another post I mentioned the very weak argument that convinced me to “accept the Lord.” For some reason, that argument made sense to me at the time. I don’t think I was crazy. I just wasn’t examining the argument closely enough, and then my human emotions took over from there.

Liar, Lunatic, Lord… or Legend?

Who is Jesus

An old friend I used to know when I was a Christian sent me a few questions. Here’s one of them:

“What is your current view on the historical person of Jesus now? Was he just a crazy person?”

I do not believe we have enough historical evidence to conclusively determine whether or not the Jesus character of the New Testament existed. Of course, if we can’t determine his existence we certainly can’t determine the truth behind the supernatural claim that he was divine.

The Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument is incomplete because it leaves out the very real fourth possibility, that of “Legend.”

Is it possible Jesus is merely a legend, a collection of stories passed down and exaggerated through the centuries? An extended game of telephone on a grand scale?

We don’t know who wrote the four gospels. Their authorship is anonymous, and the books were written several decades after the purported timeframe of the death of the Jesus character – we certainly do not have any eyewitness accounts of Jesus.

Historians of the time, and there were many, don’t mention Jesus at all, which is astounding to me, given all the amazing things that supposedly happened around him. There is only the single, brief mention by Josephus, but that is an obvious after-the-fact forgery.

This is a real problem for me. If our eternal salvation actually rests in our being convinced that Jesus existed and is the Son of God, why would god allow the record of his existence and divinity to be so thin and questionable?

Oh Hell No

Hell

Do you agree with the following Biblical thoughts?

> God is good. There is no greater good than God.

> God loves us and wants only the best for us.

> God is omniscient. He knows everything and always has.

> God created every human being complete with an eternal soul.

> Our short time on Earth is nothing compared to where we will spend eternity.

> Hell is an eternal place of great torment, suffering, separation and agonizing pain.

> The road to Heaven is narrow and few will find it.

Finally, consider that throughout history, approximately 101 billion people have been born and have since died, leaving approximately 7 billion people alive today. The Bible teaches that at the very second each of those 101 billion people died, the destination of their souls was locked in for all eternity.

NOW…

If I accept each of the above assumptions, there is only one conclusion I can draw, and it’s not a good one:

God has knowingly created billions upon billions of souls that he knew in advance (omniscience) would spend eternity suffering in Hell. Yes, each of these people had choices to make, but nevertheless, God knew before even creating them that they would each end up in eternal torture. Thousands of trillions of years from now, they’ll still be suffering in Hell due to what they did or didn’t do during their brief few years on Earth, and their intense punishment and suffering will never end. And, Hell is so horrible that if given a choice, each one of these rational people would choose to have never been born at all rather than to suffer for all eternity in Hell.

SO… this doesn’t make any sense to me (a huge understatement). How could God be good in the above scenario? It would be an evil thing to knowingly do to even one person, let alone doing it to over a hundred billion people… and counting.

In order for this to make logical sense to me, at least one of the above assumptions must be incorrect. Consider:

If God was evil, this would make sense.

Or,

If God wasn’t omniscient, this would make sense.

Or,

If God didn’t have our best interests at heart, this would make sense.

Or,

If God did not create humans complete with eternal souls, this would make sense.

Or,

If God gives us at least one more chance to change our ways after death, this would make sense (but the Bible is clear – there will be no second chances).

Or,

Hell is not an eternal place of great suffering.

Or,

Nobody will go to Hell.

When someone dies, what do you think happens to them?