I recently received an email from a Christian who is experiencing doubts about his Christian worldview. He asked me to respond to a number of his questions. I will respond to each question in a separate post here on the blog. His identity will remain anonymous unless he chooses to identify himself.
Question: The idea that I embrace naturalism and then end up meeting the Judeo-Christian God after death makes me shudder. Even though I am interested in truth, I frequently find myself back at Pascal’s Wager.
Pascal’s Wager: If God does not exist and I worship him, I have only wasted my time. But if God exists and I refuse to worship him, the consequences are horrific (eternal damnation). Therefore, it is a safer bet to bet that God exists and to worship him.
Gary: Ah, yes. Good ol’ Pascal and his “wager”. I too dealt with this terrifying conundrum when I left Christianity. I grew up in fundamentalist Christianity in which I was taught (from a very early age) that those who reject God will burn for all eternity in the Lake of Fire. What a wonderful concept to teach a child!
This is why I consider conservative (and moderate) Christianity to be a cult. Any belief system which threatens you with eternal torture for refusing to believe the group’s claims is a cult. Plain and simple.
But if Christianity is true, it doesn’t matter what accusations I hurl at it. I will still roast like a stuffed pig on a spit for all eternity, right?
Yes. If Christianity is true, I am in big trouble.
The problem with Pascal’s Wager is that Christianity is not the only exclusivist religion. Islam, Mormonism, and other world religions claim that they possess the one and only truth. Fundamentalist Muslims believe that if you do not worship Allah, you will burn for ever in the Muslim hell. Fundamentalist Mormons believe that if a Mormon abandons Mormonism, he or she will spend all eternity in “outer darkness”. And the witch doctor in the deepest jungle will tell you that if you do not worship the giant gum tree in the center of his village, you will incur the wrath of the gods in the underworld after death.
So you see, there is no “safe bet”. Pick Jesus, and you must reject Allah. Pick Allah, and you must reject Jesus as your Lord, Savior, and God. You can’t win, my friend.
I suggest the best way to approach this conundrum is to do what I did: Investigate the truth claims of Christianity. Investigate the accuracy of the Old Testament prophecies. Study current scholarship on the authorship of the books of the OT and the Gospels. Just how good is the evidence for the resurrection/reanimation of Jesus’ three-day brain dead corpse?? Is the evidence for Christianity’s claims excellent or even good?
I investigated the claims of Christianity and came to the conclusion that the evidence for the truth claims of Christianity are neither excellent nor good; the evidence for the truth claims of Christianity in reality is pathetically poor.
I cannot prove that the Judeo-Christian god does not exist. But neither can I prove that an evil Boogeyman will not be hiding under your bed tonight. I cannot guarantee that such a being will not magically appear under your mattress and box springs when you turn out the lights and crawl into bed. But the evidence strongly suggests that boogeymen do not exist. Just as I believe the evidence strongly suggests that the Judeo-Christian god does not exist.
Pascal’s Wager is just one of many arguments used by the Christian cult to terrify it’s followers into staying in the “fold”. Don’t be intimidated by this cult’s scare tactics, my friend!
Boogeymen, ghosts, devils, spirits, and ghouls do not exist. The supernatural is not real. Step into the light of Science and Reason and out of the darkness of ancient ghost tales.