Friday, April 13, 2007

First Post

I have been an atheist since I was twelve years old. Most of my friends are atheists too, so sometimes I forget that most people have a belief in God. I’m not much for political correctness and rarely censor myself, but I don’t go around provoking religious people. There is very little to be gained by arguing with those who have faith. Their beliefs cannot be proven and they are not going to believe me regardless of my arguments against faith. I don’t usually have the time and energy for a senseless disagreement where neither side gains anything but annoyance with each other.

On a beautiful summer day, I found myself at a party talking to a friend. I had mentioned how some Mormon missionaries were out in my neighborhood and said something about wanting to convert “them”. At this point, a girl who had been eavesdropping turned to me and asked, “But what would you offer them?”

“I don’t have anything to offer. Maybe some more free time on Sunday.”

To which she replied, “I would prefer hope and salvation over a few hours back.”

I removed myself from the situation, it wasn’t my party and I didn’t want to cause a scene. The debate we would have had comes down to Pascal’s Wager. To sum it up, Monsieur Pascal theorized that belief in God was rational based on game theory and probabilistic outcomes.

To Pascal, there were two choices – believe in Christianity (I’ll address this later) or not. Along with these two choices are two possible outcomes – go to heaven or don’t.



Pascal's Wager
 ChristianAtheist
Go to heavenExtremely good outcomeVery bad outcome
Don't go to heavenHarmless outcomeNot a benefit


As we can see, an atheist can’t go to heaven (or at least according to Christianity, heaven is gained by faith not works). The two possible outcomes for our atheist is God is really and won’t allow the atheist into heaven or God is not real and our atheist doesn’t go to heaven because heaven doesn’t exist. Either outcome for the atheist results in a losing proposition.

For a Christian, their faith is justified in the next life and they get to go to heaven which would be an extremely good outcome, or their belief was wrong and there is no God and no heaven in which case they are no worse off than the atheist. Even if we assign a very small probability of God existing, the benefit is so great, Mr. Pascal would have you believe, that the only rationale choice here is to be a good Christian. Since this is the only way to heaven and the reward is so great, a rational person would have to be a Christian. Who wouldn’t want a little “heaven insurance” at the cost of a few prayers and a few hours in church? You’d have to be crazy not to, right?

Hey, thanks Blaise, but your little game theory diagram is woefully simplified. The problem isn’t choosing between Christianity and atheism. How amazingly Eurocentric of you to lay these out as your only two possibilities. In Western cultures, the choice comes down to the big three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim. Even within these faiths there are Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, and Orthodox Jews. Muslims have the Sunni and Shiite denominations. Christians? There are Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, etc.

That’s just the Western World. The Eastern World has Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and that’s just to name a few. The choice isn’t so easy between Christianity and atheism, is it?

Now ask oneself why one has chosen their faith? The most likely reason is because it was the faith inherited by their parents. They have been indoctrinated into the faith at an early age before rational thinking has been established. In the theists basic desire to be perceived as good, they absorb their religion and cling to it as true. Still, one could ask what harm does religion do? For starters, it divides humanity rather than unites, see the following list of just a few of the atrocities done in God’s name:

Jews

  • Detailed genocide against rival tribes throughout the Old Testament

Christians against Jews

  • Spanish Inquisition
  • Crusades
  • Holocaust

Christians against Muslims

  • Crusades
  • Bosnia

Muslims against Christians

  • Crusades

Shiite against Sunni

  • Iraq

Protestant against Catholic

  • Northern Ireland


It is without exaggeration to say that millions of people have died because they have different unproved religious beliefs inherited from their parents along tribal lines. Now imagine that Earth was invaded by an alien force with superior technology. Imagine, if you will, that humans were kept in cages and forced to fight each other to the death for the amusement of the aliens. Would you kill your fellow man and hope to gain favor with the aliens or would you resist by any means necessary and strive to regain human dignity? Which is the more moral option?

I propose as my answer to Pascal’s wager, two choices and two outcomes. The choices come down to theism (of any religion, not just Christianity) vs. atheism. The outcomes include going to heaven or not going to heaven.


Atheist's Wager
 TheismAtheist
HeavenInherit the “correct” beliefs from parents and go to heaven at the expense of every human who inherited the “wrong” beliefsStand up to a corrupt God and demand dignity for the entire human race beyond my tribe
No God/No HeavenWorship a non-existent deity and not be rewarded in the afterlifeConcentrate on this life and focus on the issues that matter


If God only rewards those who follow the “correct” faith and faith is inherited from one’s parents, then the God who refuses to prove his existence is playing favorites over his creation based on tribal lines pitting groups of humans against each other just like our aliens. If, by chance and chance alone, one is born into the right religion and curries favor with God Almighty, then this person is actively collaborating with the enemy of humanity. The atheist may find himself in hell for his disbelief, but at least he is not a traitor. Until God accepts that religion is His responsibility and can provide some real proof and guidance as to His plan, He is completely unworthy of our worship. To continue to worship a deity that arbitrarily divides us as a species, rewards a chosen few for their faith in which there is no evidence, and has deliberately chosen not to intervene when His name is used inappropriately is no different from collaborating with the alien cage fighters. By dividing humanity amongst different sects with conflicting ideology and allowing war in His name, God is evil. To worship a deity like this is to commit an act of treason. Unless God proves his existence and changes the outcomes, we as a race owe it to ourselves to not worship Him.

355 comments:

1 – 200 of 355   Newer›   Newest»
Donna said...

Hi there, great first post! I recently told my Christian mother, "I wouldn't worship God to stay out of hell even if I thought God and hell were both real. That would be the same as following Hitler to stay out of Auschwitz."

SpiN said...

Hi, glad to see you out here! I am looking fo atheist friends, as I am myself one and it is (I have found) a bit hard to find other atheists (or others willing to admit they have doubts)in Texas! But I am glad to see your blog and hope to see lots of participation!

MomSquared said...

The idea that worshipping the god of the bible would be a treason against mankind is an interesting and compelling one. Thanks for the post, I look forward to more.

Anti-nonsense said...

I agree it seems to me that the bible-god is an asshole and I don't really see why he's worthy of worship.

Atheistwager said...

Thanks for the positive comments. I plan to post about once a week. I think I live in a pretty liberal area where atheism isn't that big a deal. I do, however, monitor a Christian alias where I work and plan to share the thinking of the Christian mind in a future hall of shame post.

FuzzyGamer said...

I agree with most of your post, right up until the Atheist's Wager. It sounds like you are taking the view point of an atheist who, somehow, accepts God, but refuses to worship him.

For a good read and a poignant attack on the idea of the God you described, take a look at Heinlein's "Job: A Comedy of Justice".

Love your response to the girl at the party.

vjack said...

Welcome to the atheist blogosphere! Great first post.

Joel said...

Brilliant post, I find myself thinking the exact same things.
Very good read :)

mackers said...

A nice theory, but there is a small flaw: the vast majority of theists believe that those from other faiths will also be allowed into heaven - only atheists are exempt.

As a pastafarian, I'm not sure where this leaves me...

Ryan said...

As you say, Pascal simplified his wager so much that he also forgets to mention Hell. So for the Christian they also will probably fail to get into Heaven if it existed due to the very strict 'entry requirements' (I hear it is suit and black tie, no running shoes).

All too circular for me, I agree with you, life is too short to argue with people like that anyway.

Ryan

c said...

I've used the same logic with my very fundie mum. She and I are very close and, because she loves me, she often likes to warn me of my impending firey doom. And I ask her how she can follow a god who would consign 90+ percent of the human race to eternal torment.

Those discussions never end well but I'd like to think I've at least introduced a little doubt into her worldview. And she likes to think she's introduced a little healthy fear into mine.

But mostly we stick to topics about gardening and about how terrible George Bush is. Those subjects are much easier and agreeable.

John said...

I like your post, but I hope you can also appreciate Pascal's wager for what it is. Pascal was a great mind living at a time when Christian Faith was even more suffocating than it is today. I've always thought of Pascal's wager as a cry for help from an atheist born in the wrong century.

Kabir said...

You are missing a key peice - What about Theist religions which believe any god-fearing person (and in some cases even those who do not believe but live well) will be rewarded?

Case in point: Sikhism. Their god belief includes salvation for those that are even not Sikh.

Kabir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Hmm. An atheist that presumes to understand god? That assumes god's logic is ours, that though human reason we can know god? God's god, man, he makes the rules, he can break them.

Not that I'm a theist -- I'm an atheist who tries to remember how little I know.

Ash said...

Nice post, just one thing... "In Western cultures, the choice comes down to the big three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim."

You meant to say Judaism, Christianity, and "Islam"... "Muslim" is what you call a follower of Islam.

Alex Epstein said...

And there is also the possibility that God truly is infinitely merciful and cares not whether we believe in Her or not. And so we will all go to Heaven whether we worship Her or not.

Rob said...

I see you've brought absolutely nothing new to the debate.

But congrats on giving yourself and like-minded atheists yet another huge self-congratulatory pat on the back.

satanist said...

"That assumes god's logic is ours..." Uh, excuse me, but the idea that somehow there are separate but equal 'types' of logic merely undermines the entire concept of logic itself. Speaking as an neo-Objectivist, I have to point this out: there are certain axiomatic concepts, one of which is the law of identity. A corollary of the law of identity is that contradictions don't exist - if they did, we couldn't make any statement of fact at all. "God" requires the assumption of ridiculous premises and directly violates the law of identity. Invoking some bizarre and somehow separate and undefined logic won't fly.

snowykittenz said...

Hi, I can see exactly where you are coming from with this argument.

The problem is, it is just that, another argument.

Why do we need another argument to seperate us?
We are all human, and according to your wager the best thing to do in this life is focus on the issues that matter.

Christians aren't all branwashed sheep. Same with Muslims, Sikhs, the Jews.
The amount of people who believe in a faith and do good because of and out of that outweighs the people who do bad.

Also, with your argument concerning things that are bad done in "Gods" name. For such an argument to be hypothetically acceptable, you would have to accept that a God does exist, therefore contradicting yourself completely.

It's silly, most people think that all wars are casued by religion. That in itself isn't true though. Most wars are caused by people having disagreements and acting upon those with violence.
We are all human, metaphorically speaking - we're all big fish in the same ocean.

Rather than fighting over silly things, talking about things that cause arguments we need to all get along and keep the peace.

One of the things my friend who is an atheist complains about is the lack of "open minded" people.
Accept that other people believe different things, but dont use that as a reason to judge them! Anything but!
Its not going to be through people being afraid of Muslims, Atheists and Christians...ect that the world is going to become a better place; It is going to be through people who are from different faith background saying "hey lets make a differnce!"
As the cartoon on reddit said today, In the past it was black vs white, the it was menvs women. In this day and age alot of the problem is not theisism vs atehism, christianity vs islam...but infact the root of the problem is human vs human.
If people WANT to delibriantly fight, their going to use what intelligence they know to back it up, even if its not true. George Bush does it all the time with Iraq.

You are on the right track m8.
To make the world a better place we need to take responsibility for ourselves, and our views towards others, not trying to take responsibility of others and bring them round to our thinking.

In the world today, the last thing we need is hate: As John Lennon/ Jesus/ Moses and Guru Nanak said: "All you need is love, Love one another, Love your neighbour including your enemies and Seek love"

Keep seeking the truth.

Amy

Josh said...

Amy,

You seem to be ignoring the fact that people are causing great harm to the human race, based on their religious beliefs.

Theism is the divisive factor, not atheism.

I'm afraid your arguments are weak and childish. I don't have to believe in any god to say that something wrong is being done in that god's name. By your logic:

1) Muslim extremists blow themselves up for the greater glory of Allah.
2) Anyone who blames their actions on the muslim's extreme religious beliefs acknowledges that Allah exists.

So, do you believe that Allah exists? No? Didn't think so. Use logical arguments or shut the fuck up.

snowykittenz said...

Josh,

I hear you.
I have no intent on being immature, our sounding childish.
Sorry if what I wrote seemed to sound as such.

From your point of view you see atheism as not leading to wars.

You wanted logic so here it is, and so as to improve your logic, look up what religion Stalin and Mao were.
Also read this article on Hitler: http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mischedj/ca_hitler.html
It might be of interest to you.
(By the way, that wasnt meant ot be threatening. I know that emotions are stupidly difficult to pick up on whilst reading what poeple type.)

If you want to emial me Josh you can do so here:
snowykittenz@gmail.com

Cheerz

Alex said...

Amy, you seem like a lovely person, honestly, but you seem to be missing the point that not everything is split into black and white. Atheists don't cause wars by virtue of being atheists. Wars are by nature caused by conflict and violent. Some wars are caused by religious conflict, but most are political these days. You also said that the good people do because of religion overpowers the bad. That all depends on what the good is, what the bad is, and now you look at it. "Good" could be converting people, in which case Charlemagne was a REALLY REALLY good Christian, but he ordered people killed if they didn't convert, so that all amounts to what you make of it. The holocaust was started by one man using religion to mass-murder, but he obviously thought he was doing the right thing! On another topic, you certainly don't have to accept God to accept that people fight in His name. Under that logic and being an atheist, I would have to discount history to say that no one has ever done so. People don't all want to argue for the sake of argument. Curiosity is in human nature and trying to prove your beliefs and back them up is at the very base of that. The fact that they argue is positive if the outcome is a sensible, truthful, or reliable answer. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be in the cards in terms of the theist - atheist argument, but if argument means scientific or logical closure, then argue on! My point being, Amy, that there are a million sides to take on everything and you can't assume that everything can just be explained away or solved by universal love.

-Alanna

Alex said...

---- ok, I'm not sure why it's calling me Alex, but whatever :]

sRp said...

I thought quite a bit about Pascal's wager, and had several people use it on me when i was on my way out of the religious door.

The problem is that it breaks down on analysis. One of the major simplifying assumptions is that god is good and that he honors people who worship him.

So if i'm so unsure as to the existance of god, why should i be sure about what he wants and his disposition. The god in the bible is a random acting bastard. But that asside there are a number of options: god is good and likes people that worship him; god is evil and likes people that are evil; god is random and makes random decisions about liking people; god is not a trivial personality and doesn't appriciate brown nosing worshiping; god is smart and most appriciates people that worship him for the right reasons....

I finally decided that if there was a god (which i highly doubt at this point) if he was so trite as to only like those that worshp him brainlessly, and punishes those who want to worship for intellegent rational reasons, then that god is not something worthy of being worshiped.

Kevin said...

Without being prideful, I feel Atheism is in part a result from a flawed understanding of God. It is because the person (like many Christians even...) doesn't really understand what God is. It seems to me that many base their disbelief because they are told God has x,y,z, characteristics, but fail to see how these attributes are apparent and demonstrated in the world here. I would compare it to someone who received the wrong prescription for their glasses. More often than not, the wrong prescription is a result of pride, disappointment, OR more importantly false conflicting beliefs inside Christianity. However, in order to really understand and see things as they are and will be we need to have the correct framework to 'get' what is going on.

sweet adeline said...

Thought provoking post. It is great to see this kind of discussion. It's a tough subject to approach. Obviously, none of us are going to be able to prove our point or know for sure what the truth is, but I don't think that is the most important thing here.

I agree with what srp wrote: "I finally decided that if there was a god (which i highly doubt at this point) if he was so trite as to only like those that worshp him brainlessly, and punishes those who want to worship for intellegent rational reasons, then that god is not something worthy of being worshiped."

If there is a higher being I would certainly hope that being would be more concerned with how we are living our lives and how we are treating each other than how much time we spend in worship. I choose to do what I think is right in this life rather than being concerned about the next life.

The Pseudonymous Guy said...

Your logic is basically sound and you effort is admirable, but I think you're allowing theists to frame or limit your definition of and connection between god, religion and humanity. By accepting the traditional definitions of these concepts, the scope of the argument becomes limited and more of a confrontation than is necessary. I would argue that religion -not God - is the root of all evil, and God is either nonexistent, impotent, or a very fricking "hands off" kind of guy.

You wrote "Until God accepts that religion is His responsibility and can provide some real proof and guidance as to His plan, He is completely unworthy of our worship."
Why is it "his" responsibility, not ours?
Also, "To continue to worship a deity that arbitrarily divides us as a species, rewards a chosen few for their faith in which there is no evidence, and has deliberately chosen not to intervene when His name is used inappropriately ... By dividing humanity amongst different sects with conflicting ideology and allowing war in His name, God is evil."
I agree with the logic of this "if..then" statement, but I sense a bit of rebellious righteous indignation and I don't believe that any such Medieval God exists outside of the minds of millions of backwards-thinking people.

"To worship a deity like this is to commit an act of treason."
I'm with you.
"Unless God proves his existence and changes the outcomes, we as a race owe it to ourselves to not worship Him."
This would be true and is the entire basis for some varieties of Luciferian religions.

What do I think? "God" does not necessarily have to be a sentient, omniscient, anthropomorphic, and omnipotent super-being which needs to be worshipped, and IMHO all of religion is a human creation which is inherently flawed or imperfect. I can go on, but think this enough for a first post.

marcel said...

You forgot to mention Nazi Germany.

Nazi Germany was creating a almost athiestic religion that persecuted everyone else.

Stalin was a communist that killed 12,000,000 of his own country men.
Let's not even talk about China.

So let he who is without sin cast the first stone....

Jeff said...

Intelligent debate, huh? Okay, I have a few observations you might be interested in.

First off, I am not an atheist---I am a rationalist. You want to prove or disprove the existence of God to me---build me a God-detector, built around a strictly scientific theory of God. When it beeps---or doesn't---you've solved the problem.

The responses posted to this question have, to my mind, gotten two things tangled together that are not actually logically connected.

The existence of God---AND the existence of souls. These two things are simply NOT logically connected. It is entirely possible to have one without the other.

It is not possible to prove or disprove the existence of God in a strictly scientific manner.

This is NOT true for the existence of souls.

If souls exist, IF---it must be possible to deduce this based STRICTLY on observations of human behavior, by completely objective, unbiased reason. Since a soul is, by definition, an eternally existing, thinking and feeling structure that survives death, it must be possible to find the assumption of eternal existence buried in human behavior.

I have found these assumptions. They are in my blog at:

www.theninepointfivetheses.blogspot.com

However, I certainly don't expect everyone to believe this simply because I say so. The Nine Point Five Theses are exercises in pure logic and reason, and therefore, everyone who reads The Nine Point Five Theses will be able to read my blogs and decide for himself/herself whether they are correct and rigorous---or not.

One last kicker: If souls exist, WHY? What it is about souls that a Universe has to have them? It would have to be an EXTREMELY fundamental, powerful reason for such incredibly odd things as eternal souls to exist in a Universe.

I have found that reason, too. The answer is contained in the essay titled: "ON THE SENTIENT CONSTRAINTS OF A SENTIENT-CONTAINING UNIVERSE." This is the rock-bottom of it all, why souls MUST exist.

Whether you wind up agreeing or not, I guarantee you all an interesting read.

Shivanath said...

Ok, *none* of this makes any sense outside of a very narrow group of religions - the "Desert Monotheisms" as some people call them. Judaism doesn't have a hell per se, even. So we're talking about Islam and Christianity. And, there, sure, maybe this logic is sound.

So let's look at Hinduism. I'm a Hindu, and Agnostic, and a scientist.

The hell you are, you say? That doesn't make any sense.

So, let's broaden our minds. Start with God.

To a Hindu, God is everything in the universe, and everything outside of it. In short, nothing exists apart from god, and "the universe" is something like a dream or a vision in the mind of this all-encompassing consciousness.

Furthermore, the "creation" is understood to exist in what is called "Indra's Net" meaning that it exists only as our *perception* of the universe, each being seeing it their own way, the whole made of the sum of these perceptions.

You are not in Kansas any more!

This is, to some degree, a *rational* religion. It's also a profoundly silly religion, just red the Ramayana and laugh at the jokes.

So then let's deal with Agnostic. A good Hindu meditates and does Pujas. Both of these practices are designed to make the real structure of reality more apparent to the mind. I won't go further into that statement, but it's well documents in books like the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.

So finally, heaven and hell.

Karma. Karma literally means action: you tool people over, there are more of them than you, they beat the tar out of you, you suffer, that's your karma. You're nice to people, they think nicely of you and take care of your needs if they can, that's karma too.

The Hindu "heaven" and "hell" are seen as being conditions brought about by very good or very bad karma. You are "reborn" in one state or the other if you have reached a peak or fallen into a trough of human potential.

Of course, this posits reincarnation. It's our belief that consciousness, like matter/energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but simply is - eternal- and therefore when your body dies, it's matter goes on to new forms like trees and plants, and your consciousness moves on to new forms, which you'd call a future lifetime.

But that's not a testable hypothesis so it is taken as an article of faith by the masses, and as something *which can be rationally researched* by the Yogis, those who develop their abilities to reach into the places where data about these kinds of matters can be found.

I hope, by now, you've realized how silly it is to lump the Hindu tradition in with all these other religions. Most "pagan" religions are much less difficult to deal with than Christianity and Islam, and have a much more complex understanding of the relationship between humans, God, and the divine.

Finally: the "many-armed gods" are, in some sects, understood to be beings just like you and me - ordinary beings - who were "promoted" to supernatural status because of their enormous goodness. Other sects suggest they are primative functions of the universe like gravity that we personalize to help us understand them.

Make sense?

Shivanath

slackNhack said...

So, umm..are you trying to win an argument? Or convert someone? To show them the error of their ways? I don't see the point in trying as the probabilities are against your success. So what are you trying to do?

Matt said...

@Marcel

In Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, party rule acted in place of religion. They could have hardly been considered "atheist" systems, in that there was worship of a deified elite. Pointing out that one system is awful does not absolve another.

Asahel said...

A Christian is someone who follows Jesus the Christ. Jesus said “love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” He clearly showed this in his life and death (“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”). He also said lot about wolves in sheep’s clothing and that the way to tell if someone is a true follower of him is to look at that person’s actions (not words).

When you do something odious it is easy to pretend that you are someone else and put the blame on others. For example, what if the Canadians assassinated Gerald Bull and wanted to discredit the Israelis (for some reason). Leave some clues that point to Israel. I think that the same thing happens with the Inquisition and Crusades. To achieve political legitimacy, these people claimed to be Christians, much like most Republican’s have to do today – even if they are not really Christian. Don’t you see that people who do all sorts of evil and yet claim to be Christian cannot possibly be real Christians? Please make the distinction in your mind. Don’t believe every expedient thing that everyone says.

The Bible is a love story. See the comments on Reddit for more details.

“Christianity” is a different concept. I don’t know how to define it. Is it a culture? an organized religion? Anyway, the influence of Christ and the Bible has resulted in far more good than bad throughout history. See http://suzyred.com/jesus.html

[Quoted from another website below...]
In his excellent book, What If Jesus had Never Been Born?, Kennedy give an overview of some of the positive contributions Christianity has made throughout the centuries. Following this overview, he develops this in great detail. Here are a few highlights:

* Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
* Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
* Literacy and education for the masses.
* Capitalism and free enterprise.
* Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment.
* The separation of political powers.
* Civil liberties.
* The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times.
* Modern science.
* The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
* The elevation of women.
* Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic.
* Higher standards of justice.
* The elevation of the common man.
* The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache.
* High regard for human life.
* The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures.
* The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages.
* Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art.
* The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel.

Asahel said...

Oops. I shouldn't have added in that stuff from the other website below. Too bad I can't edit it and delete it. It distracts from my posting.

Ham Sandwich said...

I don't think the "atheists wager" makes any sense. Without a god, good and evil have no meaning and neither does anything else other than self-gain. And as to standing up to a "corrupt God," just because he likes people who believe in him does not mean he is corrupt. Many people also do not "inherit" their beliefs from their parents.
Last of all, if God doesn't exist, this implies that you are just a bundle of mechanical-esque cells and have no free will, that good and evil don't exist, and there is no point to anything you do or say. This strikes me as wrong, but if it was true, what is the point in trying to "convert" people to atheism at the potential expense of their happiness and hope? Shouldn't you just be trying to release the most endorphins into your brain as possible?

Ham Sandwich said...

Oops, forgot some of the post. You mention wars and such, but without God and the soul and etc, these "lives" mean nothing other than a collapse and recycling of a pointless-yet very complex system. I also believe that for all the wars religion has "started" it has done much more good than harm. Changing people's lives and helping the poor and such doesn't seem that bad, does it? I'm okay with people being atheist, and while I'm not saying you are anything like this, "combative" atheisim seems much more pointless and destructive than religion.

IndyChristian said...

I heard a story years ago that has stuck with me. As it goes, a farmer got a new plow and his neighbor wanted to borrow it. The farmer said, "Gee I'm sorry, but my wife has to comb her hair with it." The neighbor was taken aback, "She what? That's hardly a good reason."... to which the farmer admitted, "When you really don't want to do something, one excuse is as good as another."

The point of course is, that truth be known, we can generate any and every reason to avoid what we don't want to do. No amount of logic can override your hidden reasons for constructing a straw god in your image, and then disavowing him.

Further, the good ol' American spirit of 'independence' is alive and well. We believe that we're totally independent of this 'god'. We'll decide who is and who isn't god. After all, we're the final judge -- we choose. Right?

If so, then all the bravado is well placed. Do as you please.

But just on the outside chance that someone here reading this might be humbly seeking out your Creator and your purpose for being here... perhaps even intuitively sensing His love and your obligation to conform to His design for your life... I hope you'll go get to know a Christ-follower, and ask your important questions.

Adam said...

I got in an argument with one of my friends a while ago about Pascal's Wager. I made my own diagram.

http://forum.lankyland.com/hosting/Pascal03.JPG

Mario said...

Confuding god with religion is as stupid as being an atheist.
Being an atheist by reacting to the religious nonesense is very stupid as well.
Basically being an atheist is being very primitive and also bragging about not understanding reality is certainly sad.
You cannot prove that god exist, well prove that he doesnt

Good look with you life

from a former atheist

Mario

liam said...

who says faith must be inherited!?!

i would think most religious people would say that is not inherited and needs to be a personal decision

elissaf said...

Asahel said: Oops. I shouldn't have added in that stuff from the other website below.

Yeah, you sure shouldnt have, because many of the items on the list are simply due to the socio-politics of the time and hence their relationship with Christianity is spurious. Furthermore, people often invoked Christianity in order to justify the opposite of several of those things, for instance, Christians used the bible to justify slavery (and no, don't bother responding - you'll only commit the "One True Christian" fallacy)

Phaedrus said...

@Mario

You got it wrong. We must first begin with the assumption that god does not exist. Now try to prove that god does. If you fail to provide minimal proof, then it follows god does not exist.

aaron said...

I have struggled many years with the belief in a supreme being and I think that boiling it down to a simple equation like yourself or Pascal try to do, may be right in a mathematical / logical sort of way, it still is way too simplistic to explain or deny the existence of a God. There were many great minds who were strong believers as well as great minds who were atheists. Believing or not believing in God does not necessarily have a direct relationship with intelligence or with following a simple reward/punishment formula.

Here is another analogy you can make. An ant lives in an ant colony somewhere in the African savannah, far from any human beings or even large predators. To that ant, there are no greater powers and in fact it does firmly believe that it is out there all on itw own, a master of the universe so-to-speak, much like humans consider themselves on planet earth.

Is it possible that such an ant will have the ability to understand and perceive the rest of the earth, where it has not been?

gtanuel said...

Having spotted this post from delicious' popular, I was kind of hoping this post will indeed bring a fresher rationale against Pascal's wager. But nope, nothing's remotely new here.

If you really want to dismiss the wager against a (devoted) Christian, just point this:
Does not constitute a true belief [wikipedia]

While they may still stubbornly say "At least I won't lose" (which can be easily disputed as well with this: Assumes Christianity is the only religion that makes such a claim [wikipedia]), the last thing they want to get accounted to is having an insincere faith.

Take this from a Christian (me).

PS: actually a 'non-eurocentric' wager against an atheist will sound as: "Well, at least I bought the lottery ticket." While there's still big chance to lose, we do get the > 0% of winning against the 100% of losing of an atheist (if there's God). But that's not my wager :)

JS said...

Atheism is responsible for the murder of 144.5 million people in the 20th Century alone. Unfortunately, Atheist's Wager neglected to factor that into his misguided argument.

Kalman said...

The one thing I see wrong with your new theory is that you assume its either heaven or no heaven, when in reality, many different religions believe in a different afterlife

MPalmer said...

Good Post, keep writing.

James said...

Logic. pah! there is no logic in atheism. How would we live with no faith in the universal creation, where did absolutly everything come from the big bang had to originate somewhere. How did the feeling of sorrow, happiness, or even pain develop? If there is no God why would we not rape, murder,and show malignity to everyone in the world. There is no point life if it were so.
Logically if you look at all the things that allow for life here in our small section of the enigma and how all things originally came about you would see life could only come from one source. God. How did mass , and energy come into being if there is no GOD!?

You are all foolish! Give me a brake, and explain to me why you believe the things you do.

God be with you!

Jamal said...

...inasmuch as God is the one heavenly Shepherd and all mankind are the sheep of His fold, the religion or guidance of God must be the means of love and fellowship in the world. If religion proves to be the source of hatred, enmity and contention, if it becomes the cause of warfare and strife and influences men to kill each other, its absence is preferable. For that which is productive of hatred amongst the people is rejected by God, and that which establishes fellowship is beloved and sanctioned by Him. Religion and divine teachings are like unto a remedy. A remedy must produce the condition of health. If it occasions sickness, it is wiser and better to have no remedy whatever. This is the significance of the statement that if religion becomes the cause of warfare and bloodshed, irreligion and the absence of religion are preferable among mankind.

ABDU’L-BAHÁ

Jay said...

This quote - "according to Christianity, heaven is gained by faith not works" is only based on the belief of some Christians and those Christians tend to ignore almost all of the Bible. Therefore, I would be pleased if you would modify your argument based on this information. Simply put, why are there so many commandments in the Bible, both the New and Old Testment have them all over the place.

How is it then that Christianity is only based on faith and not works? Did not Jesus perform many good works and did he not command others to do good works also?

To quote "Christians" who only believe in 2 or 3 verses of the Bible and who simultaneously throw the rest of it out the window seems harsh.

In explaining this I wish no one any harm, this is just the way I see it.

Joel said...

Thread over! Godwinned by Donna in the first post.

Handsome Rob said...

"They have been indoctrinated into the faith at an early age before rational thinking has been established"

So someone can't be religious AND rational?

Matt said...

gtanuel:

The problem with your "> 0% chance of winning" assumes that one gains nothing from leading a rational, well-informed life, which most atheists/agnostics would claim is incorrect.

In fact, by believing in a single religion, you have "some" chance to win, but with the infinite number of possible "universal truths" out there, that chance is, for all purposes, zero. You are giving up your critical analysis and free-thinking for, effectively, zero gain. That is why the "lottery ticket" argument doesn't work... you are assuming the lottery is finite, when it clearly is not.

That said, this argument becomes an argument against atheism/agnosticism if one assumes they are actually happier because of their religion, and this outweighs the lost critical analysis or free-thinking. While most atheists would believe "The unexamined life is not worth living" as Socrates put it, there are some that prefer "ignorance is bliss". That said, if you choose ignorance, you should realize this, and while it may make you happy, you shouldn't let it impose your beliefs on others who do not gain the same happiness from religious faith.

WADemosthenes said...

As you mentioned Mormon missionaries, and Mormons, it's important to notice that the Mormon (or LDS) religion is very different than traditional Protestant Christian religions.

I am of this religion, and I realize how infinitesimally small the odds are of God. The idea of God is absurd. So there is no proof, really no real evidence of God. But, some religions actually recognize this. It's perfectly logical to be an Atheist, I respect many Atheist much more than some "Christians" (like a lot of Americas fake Christians).

You see, if there was proof there would be no reason to believe. If it was based in fact, it would not be belief. Some religions (including the Mormon religion) belief is based on feeling. I "feel" that something is true, instead of naively trying to rationalize that it is scientific fact. I do not "know."

Most of Christianity has degraded into some random dogma that everyone accepts as fact instead of on faith. Creationism is a good example. I may believe that the Earth was created by God, but I'd be stupid to think it had any scientific basis. Moronic to want to teach it in a Science class.

So we live in a world of stupid Christianity, and other religions, that are based on accepting dogma as fact, and make it up as they go. But there are some religions, such as mine, that are more enlightened, and actually quite rational. Mormonism is one of the most misunderstood religions in the United States today.

As a Mormon, I actually have more in common with an Atheist than a Catholic or a Protestant.

jake said...

Wow I wish I could get the part of my life back that I just wasted on reading this.

David said...

You know, you make some good points and I don't want to argue as much as I just want to say a few things.

I personally believe that a common reason for people to become atheistic is because they don't like the idea of being controlled. They can't and won't accept the possibility that there is a God and that they will be held accountable and that they MAY NOT be in complete control. This may be completely wrong however. It is just one thought.

I don't see how you can rationally say that worshiping God is like treason against mankind. The one main thing that Jesus teaches is love. There is never one time that God demands that someone be killed or any act of violence whatsoever be taken just because someone believes differently or they don't believe in him. That is why you don't see Christians running around committing mass murders. Now, that isn't to say that God has never done anything violent or had anyone carry out any violence, but it was always righteously justified.

I personally believe in God and know for a fact that he exists. Not because I was programmed, but because of what he has done in my life. He has brought me through tough times and pulled me out of my struggles.

Yes, I can easily see your point on how it looks like he just wants your mindless worship and you get nothing in return and if you don't then you die and go to hell. The problem is that you haven't delved deep enough into it. If you truly believe in God you will want to worship him and it will bring you joy. It was what I believe we were created to do. If you think that he's just a puppeteer toying with us, then I will have to disagree. The reason is that you have CHOICE. You HAVE the CHOICE to believe or not. You can do whatever you want. He would love for you to believe and worship him, but if you don't, then you accept the consequences and you at the very least were allowed to make the choice on your own for yourself. It's like hearing that there is a new camera to catch people speeding on this stretch of road, but you don't believe it because you think it's just a rumor. So, you go speeding on it one day and you get caught and get a $500 fine. You have to have faith. That's all I can say.

brain said...

yeah - atheistic communism has been a lot less violent and more tolerant /*sarcasm*/

IDontWantAnAccount said...

JS: Yielding your personal will and following a dictator has little difference from yielding your personal will and following a god. People have little reason to kill one another, mass murder is a phenomenon that generally happens when they're divided into groups and told to go kill in the name of (god, country, etc).

The real flaw in Pascal's wager is the assertion that if heaven exists, an atheist won't get in.

If god is all-powerful, why would he want or need to be worshiped? If there truly are things that humans do that piss god off, why wouldn't he change the universe such that we don't do those things? Yes yes free will and all that, but if we have free will, then how can god be all powerful?

Really, religion is a leftover relic from the past. It is a man-made tool to lead groups of people. It's too bad that we have it so good in the US that people are looking for ways to 'do the right thing' so they turn back to the same closed thinking from the dark ages.

As soon as you cede your will to a religion, you're really ceding it to another person, be it a priest in an organized fashion, or any random person who can convince you that something is the 'right thing' to do.

At the heart of being an atheist is saying 'I'm living my life for myself', which is really the modus operandi of every living organism, sentient or not. But when you cut through to that core of existence and get rid of the idea that there is something more important than you out there, you go through life with a lot less doubt and confusion.

And if there is a god, I would imagine that he would agree with me. And if he doesn't, and he punishes me for my thoughts, then is he not a tyrant who needs to be overthrown?

John said...

This is a ridiculous self-defense mechanism, and saying Christians are responsible for the Holocaust pretty much proves you don't know shit about shit. Good luck being taken seriously.

brain said...

but for the record, i don't think pascal's wager makes anyone a Christian. a "good bet" isn't the faith that the bible requires.

The said...

Good post. Usually when a theist mentions Pascal's wager to me, I just quote Stephen Henry Roberts for them: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

Cedric said...

Just look at the number of people who died because of the "Almighty" god in the bible itself. i find that hard to believe that it's because of love. and in the old testament, there is written that god led them into battles and helped them win them :/ so much for the image of the pacifist

glaiketbrat said...

You are an atheist, yet you dislike God? How can you dislike that which does not exist? Interesting that you use capitals for Him, His, He, etc. I believe you are not an atheist. I myself am agnostic, it is inconceivable that there is not a greater power. If God doesn't exist why does he have so many houses?

Daniel said...

Your version of Pascal's Wager is false. The two sides of the matrix are a belief in God and the benefit/loss of that choice. You linked to the Wikipedia article where this is stated. Your thoughts are well developed, but your foundation is not.

Cedric said...

he has so many houses for the simple reason that many people believe in him. and i believe he wrote them like that out of respect to those who Do believe.

Mike said...

I'm an atheist, too, but only in the larger context of not believing the in the supernatural... no magic, ghosts, spirits, elves, curses, luck, spells, etc.

What does that make me? I'd say, "Naturalist", but them people would think I don't wear clothes ;)

JMo said...

I like this. Definitely look forward to reading some more.

Dr Zen said...

Way to not understand Pascal, genius. Or what people believe about other people and their beliefs. Still, you could hardly feel superior to them if you credited them with the ability to think, hey?

kingb said...

Calling religions "faiths" is a Christian assumption. Faith is central to Christianity, but not necessarily to other religions. Buddhists call their religion a "practice" because Buddhism requires one to act to gain liberation - belief in itself is insufficient. Buddhists wouldn't refer to their religion as a "faith".

rmacapobre said...

the problem with pascal's wager is it discounts the existence of a host of other gods. what are the odds that the one you pick is the right one. ... too numerous to mention here the chances of getting the right one is slim as we count the host of egyptian , chinese, filipino, hindu, arab, persian gods. and a number of gods are being created even today ..

Ian said...

Many of these posts are disregarding the existence of Satan, another being in this universe other than God, who has deceived many good-intentioned people to do pretty terrible things.
John 6:57 "Just as the Father has sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me."

Patrick said...

I think you're post is very well written and thought out. I am an American Irish-Roman Catholic so there is obviously contradictions between you and my beliefs but i do not see a problem with this. Catholicism, as far as I've been taught, is not based solely on faith as other christian faiths and rather acceptance into Heaven is based on how one lives their life.

Therefore, according to your reasoning (which i agree with for the most part on how humans should act) you, and other, just people would obtain eternal life in Heaven.

Concerning the Alien paradox, I would agree with your stance. Fight back regardless of the consequences and ensure peace for humanity. However, the only problem with this argument is... aliens are tangible, God is not. Faith is not required to believe whether or not the Aliens are real so it is more black and white. With religion, faith is what makes something real.

I'm sure you already know all this.

I'm not trying to preach or convert, so I just, again want to say... Great Post, gives me a lot to think about.

Thanks

Pete515 said...

Hello, that is a well developed arguement. Do you suppose that, if there was no religion and everybody in the world were athiests, there would be peace and harmony? The April 16th edition of Time Magazine has an interesting article about how Albert Einstein came to believe in God despite his family's lack of belief. Of course, you may be smarter than Einstein.

Cody said...

@ Jay


Ephesians 2:8-9 says "For it is by grace that you're saved through FAITH and not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so tjhat no one may boast."

There is nothing we can do ourselves to ge into heaven.


Works do not give us a ticket into heaven.

James 2:18

"Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself."


Also....James 1:22 says

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who declude themselves."

The Bible clearly say not to pick and choose what to follow.

ACCTuary said...

I don't buy the 'Nazis were atheists' argument. This is propaganda of the Christian right to distance the crimes of Nazi Germany from something they would do.

Christianity was, and continued to be the dominant practicing religion of Germany during the Reich period.

German hatred of the Jews flowed from the beliefs of Martin Luther, not from some atheistic framework.

Galil said...

Your conclusions have some serious flaws in the logic. 1st you assume incorrectly that all religions are like Christianity in that those who are not believers are doomed to hell. This is totally not true no form of Judaism believes this(hell is not eternal either as it is a cleansing process not punishment), neither does Buddhism. 2nd you assume that Theists do not good in this world. How many atheist charitable organizations as opposed to religious ones, really there is no comparison.

Clearly by your post you have a chip on your shoulder for theists. You sound like a bigot who knows nothing about those he is prejudiced about. At least get your facts straight and stop applying your limited knowledge of religions by grouping them together unfairly. Ignorance is not pretty.

glaiketbrat said...

Cedric said...
'he has so many houses for the simple reason that many people believe in him. and i believe he wrote them like that out of respect to those who Do believe.' I doubt that he has any respect for any one, if he did he'd leave this old chestnut alone, I was kidding about the houses, however I find it ironic that there are so many churches with so much money and yet children are starving all around the world.

Tiffany said...

God is an atheist.

Simple, I know, but totally true.

Think about it like this...

Atheist's do have one belief and that belief is based in the action of proving that God is not the true creator of everything.

I often wonder why atheist's don't spend their time denouncing the existence of Satan... I mean, it would serve to do what they want most which is to say, "There is no such thing as..." and it would still not piss-off those that believe in God. The reason that they don't spend their time attacking the existence of Satan and opt for God instead, is because they know that God IS the bigger fish, the true creator of life, the maker of Satan; the only ONE worth going after. Get God and all else falls inline.

But you see, God knows that God did not create God. So therefore God knows that God did not create all things.

God is the true atheist.

sweet adeline said...

@David:
"That is why you don't see Christians running around committing mass murders." Seriously?

@Ham sandwich
"Good and evil should have the same meaning whether one believes in a higher power or not. I think it is quite sad to assume that human beings would only do good due to the hope of a future reward.

@James
"If there is no God why would we not rape, murder,and show malignity to everyone in the world." Because most of us have a conscience and can experience empathy regardless of the existence of a higher being.

I'm with IDontWantAnAccount:
"And if there is a god, I would imagine that he would agree with me. And if he doesn't, and he punishes me for my thoughts, then is he not a tyrant who needs to be overthrown?"

John said...

Very good and interesting arguments.

I will say that the idea that people preach and spread their message is an attempt to get beyond just the strict tribal lines. Believe me, they are definitely trying - as shown in the beginning of your story, the Mormon missionaries.

I also see how people worshiping God out of fear is a hard concept to understand. It's as if it's taught that way so you have no choice. I think the most important part of a faith is the fact that it is a choice and you believe it. Without that, you have bigotry.

Mary said...

Honey, I think, no let me rephrase, I know you are overthinking this whole thing. I mean, seriously, honey, when you need to start figuring out probabilities, well, you've kind of miss the boat.

If there is anything I can do to help, just ask.

Your friend, Mary

http://marygodsbitch.blogspot.com

litereddonut said...

I enjoyed reading this and how you presented a rational outlook on the atheist vs theist debate. One of the problems i see in your argument, though, is that i have been taught that if you are a good moral person you will go to heaven regardless of religion but i was taught that my religion would make me into the best moral person possible. This makes the most sense to me as well as many in my religion who believe that God would rather be hated but that we loved each other than all of us loving Him but hating each other.

bw said...

"Great First Post!!!"

let the blogo-hagiograophy begin, & on your 1st post even!

unfortunately, as is usually the case w/ atheists who believe they, & only they, possess the secret combination to the logic locker your arguments are, to be kind, preposterous.

1st, earlier posters were not correct when they pointed out that by attributing wars committed in the name of God to the faithful, you are assuming the existence of God, BUT THEY WERE ON THE RIGHT TRACK...

people commit acts of atrocity, wage wars, perpetrate inquisitions, crusades, holocausts & suicide bombings - people sin, people make intellectual mistakes & bad assumptions. God really doesn't have anything to do w/ it. if a person, or people, believe that their atrocities are committed in the name of God, or for God, THEY ARE MISTAKEN. THEY ARE WRONG. one might argue that this negates the entire Old Testament. so be it.

2nd, though there are many people who have been indoctrinated in many different faiths, there are millions upon millions of people on this earth who have chosen their faith, in adulthood, in their fully-right mind. the list of famous people for whom this is true alone would be too long to list: Paul Davies, Dostoyevsky, C.S. Lewis, etc. ad infinitum

it is absolutely ridiculous to be making what is supposed to be a formal argument on such shaky assumptions as "the most likely reason [people choose their faith] is because it was the faith inherited by their parents." where do you get your data? can you back up this claim, which seems to take the form of a quantifiable statement of fact? (not to mention the fact that this paragraph is filled w/ numerous grammatical errors...)

"Great First Post!"

3rd, i applaud the statistically accurate, fact-based approach of the poster who pointed out that is the world's atheist regimes which have wreaked more havoc & death on this earth than all the religious regimes combined. this is not to mention the converse truth of this reality: where are the Atheist aide groups? hospitals? charities? is there an Atheist Red Cross/Red Crescent? an Atheist version of St. Vincent De Paul, whose mission it is to feed the hungry? Amnesty International "does not support or oppose the views of the victims whose rights it seeks to protect." would an Atheist human rights group only fight for the human rights of those who denied the existence of God?

the God that is worthy of worship, of faith, is a benevolent God of love. all (allegedly) scientific arguments for or against are ludicrous - not because they will or won't insure you against the eternity of hellfire, but because at the heart of faith is a deep yet profound mystery - one that has been embraced by some of the most well-informed people that have ever lived, for whom the evidence of God's hand in the universe was self-evident: Einstein, Paul Davies, Isaac Newton, Leibniz, Spinoza, Georg Cantor, C.S. Lewis, etc.

even one of staunchest atheist intellectuals of our era, Antony Flew, who spent his life making arguments a hell of a lot more sound than yours against the conception of God came to see that the universe w/o first cause is totally senseless. so much for an atheist life.

another lame-ass argument making the same, whiny, weak-kneed, unsupported "atheist" claims does not do anything to change this.

Zack said...

Looking at the big picture is depressing.

Ben said...

First off I would like to compliment you on your intriguing and stimulating post. I am a fellow atheist and I also share your in your belief that we should dedicate ourselves first and foremost to the empowering and betterment of our fellow man. I would however, like to comment on a few points you made.

While I reject it, I feel that religion gets somewhat of a bad wrap nowadays. Yes, more people have died in the name of religion than any other cause, but one must consider the size and scope of religion throughout human history. Religion is the single largest human institution to ever exist. Literally billions of people have enjoined in one form of formalized religion or another. Figuring the total historic population of humans on this planet at a conservatively low 8 billion and the deaths attributed to religion at a very conservatively high 200 million, we see that only about 2.5% of the total human population perished due to religion. While it is quite a shame that so many have died in the name of a higher power, it's really not that outlandish, statistically speaking. That leaves billions who have gained something positive from religion. Condemning all of religion for the violence it has caused throughout the ages is analogous to damning the entire Middle East for 9/11 (not that we're doing it anyways Herr Bush).

In terms of God being evil and far from infallible, you must also take into consideration the nature of God. God is a very real force simply because 97% of the population believes in him. God in that sense is comparable to gravity and time; a priori knowledge. Assuming that people take a rational approach to their faith, they will naturally ascertain that their religion is the right one. Thus, every faith, every sect, every belief system is correct because they are accepted as truth by their denizens. God and religion ultimately, are human inventions. So, if you mean to declare God corrupt and unjust, you are essentially levying that charge against humans, but not God.

I acknowledge the fact that religion has caused much suffering and pain throughout history, but humanity would have endured such tribulations at the hands of some other cause anyways. War and persecution and dogmatism are intrinsically linked to human nature. Yesterday we fought in the name of God, today we fight in the name of money. We can only fathom a guess as to what it will be tomorrow, but we know for sure that we will fight.

Nevertheless, I believe humans to be fundamentally good and subsequently, religion to be good too. We all strive to make this world a better place to live in, and whether compelled by the afterlife or societal values, all progress towards this common goal is not only laudable, but essential.

Once again, keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samurai said...

Interesting post. First I recommend reading "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn.

Then start try to answer the question "Did God create mankind, or did mankind create God?"

mikew101 said...

Interesting, but seeing how you an atheist you do not believe in God. Which also means that you do not believe in the torah, bible, Koran etc.

For whatever reason you do not believe in anything means you probably do not believe an any interpretation of the aformentioned books.

So your assertion would mean that you would have to believe in the common interpretations of these books asserting that God makes all other religions go to hell. Well like you mentioned God is fath, but then again so are the smaller details. After all believing in God does not neccesarily mean that you know everything that god will do/think etc.

So what if there is a God, and he allows all types of believers into heaven: christianity, islam, jews or others. After all those three listed all stem from the same God.

The other major religions believe in completely different things. Hindu believes are polytheistic where as the above three are monotheistic.

Just a though. We do not know that God exists for sure, but we also cannot be sure that if God does exist what he is going to do. So regardless of what many people may believe it will only be known or unknown in your belief at death.

I for one believe that the questioning of God is actually God trying to seek you out. It is Gods one wish to know us. We are built in a way unlike anything else (philosophy, morals) Maybe we are built to question Gods existence for a reason.

Why else would you spend so much time thinking about God. Is he seeking you out?

Quaoar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Frazer said...

I recommend you read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. He has a rebuttal to Pascal's Wager. I will try to sum it up:

What is the value in believing anyways? If there was a God, wouldn't he more likely reward a benevolent life?

Quaoar said...

Atheists might not believe in God, but they sure do have an overdeveloped and unwarranted faith in their own powers of reasoning, if not in logic as such.

Anyway, they bend every question out of shape so they can fit it neatly into some logical scheme. It really just isn't convincing.

David said...

I imagine this has probably already come up in the comments, but time and atheistic theorems are limited:

atheist = the theory or belief that God does not exist

You seem to believe in god, but refuse to worship him. Not sure what you would call this. In light of my ignorance, I offer the name inyourfaceiest until a better title can be found.

Regardless, an interesting first post. Keep it up.

Henry said...

I think Love speaks for itself. Ignore God if you wish, but it's impossible to prove Him absent.

After all, is hope wrong? Is unselfishness wrong? We are not perfect. Never have been, or ever will be. Even an atheist can see that. And by that, how can we claim to be alone? How can we claim no God exists, when our very existence is evidence in His favor?

I echo many of the other Christians in their logic. God bless.

Daddy Slick said...

I'm not sure if this 90th or so comment will be read by anyone who cares. I usually never post of forums for a few reasons, those aside for now.. Also, maybe I should disclaim that I am not sided with any denomination and it is not my way to cause arguements. I only try as hard as I can to see all sides of a story before making my conclusions.

I think that it is important to refer to Atheism as faith. There is no way of proving that a God doesn't exist. It's my opinion that faith of any kind needs some basis. I guess either way it doesn't matter since, if there isn't an afterlife and my consciousness completely ceases to be after my mortal life is over, then I wont even know I am dead and will not be able to care. The alternative, there is an afterlife and my fate in some sense is already sealed.

In any case, I'm not making an arguemnt at all, I just wanted to point out that I (another nobody making a random response to a blog post) believe that Atheism requires faith and the only belief structure that exists that doesn't require faith is Agnosticism. I look forward to hearing comments if you have any

Brad McCauley
www.daddyslick.com

Bong4Peace said...

This is a great post, and I throughly enjoyed reading it. I was born a Hindu, living in a very religious country and still managed to turn out to be an atheist, I don't know how, but since the time started thinking, I was just amazed how the mankind is pushed back in every century by some lunatic posing to be God, or son of God, or God's messenger, and they have caused so much pain, killed thousands of innocent people just for not believing or being opposed to their faith.
I have no problem with faiths, religions, churches, gurus but these people have much bigger ambition, they want to control us, control our life, our future and all for the name of God.Every new scientific discovery has been sabotaged and it's still going on, even today, for example with stem cell research.
This ain't working, I don't know why people mix up there won peace with the their faith, you may have found peace in your God, but just remember that peace has caused a lot of pain to a lot of people, so for a change before every prayer, just think of how many people lost their life fighting for or against your faith, and just think if it is worth it, just think if this world didn't had a holocaust, or a Bosnia or a Kashmir we wold have had lot less hungry kids, just think of that ...

christopher said...

I grew up in a Christian home but I was never very religious. Then something happened. I met this Christian girl and WOW! I really digged her!

So what did I do? You guessed it. I read my bible. I wanted to know everything there is to know about the bible. I just had to impress this girl. Haha.

Although I grew up in a very devout Christian-home I never really read the bible to learn anything. Sure, I had to memorize chapter and verse. Sure I had to memorize how many books there were in the Old Testament and New Testament and a myriad of other factoids but I never really read it. This ultimately changed and I went on to major in Theology at the University level.

Today, I still don't consider myself a religious person. and I haven't been to "church" in god knows how long! But ask me if I believe in God and I would just be compelled to reply in the affirmative.

For me it's something you feel deep down, something you know. The bible is simply a tool. It's really not the holy grail that some Christian sects make it out to be. But, and this is a big but, the bible is still indispensable.

Not to confuse the different types of love but have you ever wondered how you could empirically prove that your significant other is madly in love with you? Brain scan? Increase in hormone production? Love? Nah, god doesn't exist, love doesn't exist, the physiological stuff? That's just her body's way of saying she wants to mate, right? Or is it? :p

Normally I just lurk but a great deal of erroneous things were written about Christianity and other religions by many people in these comments.

In my mind, the biggest mistake is to assume that the atheist has "god" and his "mysterious ways" all figured out. It blows my mind that an atheist could purport such a thing. A bit dogmatic don't you think? Interestingly this type of stuff has happened before and is documented in both secular and religious history.

Offalycool said...

We cannot know the world in itself, as it really is. We can only legitimately talk of how things appear to be. This is a metaphysical truth that has been discussed by philosophers and science from ancient times to today. As far as appearances are concerned nobody can point to the appearance of god as empirical evidence for the existence of god.

I do however believe in god, not as a figure with certain characteristics that I can define. I can only say that my life has sometimes been darkened with uncertainty, and other times it has been elevated with the secure feeling of love, a complete absence of insecurity. When I feel this I have no doubt, however unfounded, in the existence of god, I also have no doubt that god and I are one and the same.

Reflections on this suggest to me everything is one and the same. This is god. The appearances I observe in reality seem fragmented, an object here, an object there. It is logically possible that I impose this fragmentation of the world (the breakdown of the world into separate objects) unconsciously. It is an act of my subconscious understanding upon these appearances (of which I can observe), of things in themselves (of which I can’t observe). It is also logically possible that everything is one and the same.

A good example of this is space. Space appears to be limited, I cannot talk legitimately of space without referring to some limitation, because I have no empirical knowledge of space as infinite, I can only be in one place at one time. So how can I know space is infinite?

I know space is infinite, I know everything that exists is in one all enclosing space; we cannot imagine a world without space, only a world without objects in space. This makes any divisions in the world wholly my own, the act of my understanding. It does not mean that I am separate from everything else; on the contrary it is plausible everything is one and the same.

Your understanding can register this all encapsulating thing as something different to what I would, but I doubt we could disagree on anything if we truly managed to comprehend the complex simplicity of it. The only word I would reason suitable would be god.

Itanshi said...

I may be turning my reputation to shit for taking my stand as I will now. Yes it might hurt my business ventures in doing so, but like any heretic of a society, a voice self censored is a voice of a liar. I will speak my mind and be true to myself as I am. I will not condemn nor deny my truth and my identity. I think I am an Athiest now after reading this, its an odd thing saying that, as a heretic I hate being under a label, I hate being anywhere but the vastness of gray, but this is somewhere I can feel at home. So I will make a new argument. It may be useful in a debate should you have the misfortune of engaging in one.

As a heretic, I make 2 arguments, this is pro Religion. It states that the people are all sinners and sin in ways they do not know. So, purity is a sin, an abomination before God as there will be no other Gods than the God of Abraham therefor no one can make themselves so sinless as to equal their god. It is sinful to both sin and to never sin save the convenient argument of original sin. Regardless of whether or not you are sinless in order to sin in this fashion, your achieving of purity is a sin and abomination before God as you are seeking to become God like. War in God's name is a sin before God as God has said "You will not use My name in vain" yet we are broken as tribes as you stated.

Now I will make the Athiest argument. God is true purity, but the only true purity is absolute void. Neither can be proven to exist and all evidence is lost in analysis. A being of infinite power and prescence is both absolute evil and absolute good. There is no good and evil before absolute power. It is a contradiction to be absolute good and absolute power. absolute power can not have any attribute added to it, because this absolute power is the defining characteristic that overtakes all others in the description of God. It is what cause peopel to use His name in vain. Uses it for war. He is not a god nor a devil, but a mascot for a cause and a purpose an excuse. He's a bunny rabbit.

To paraphrase, purity is a sin greater than sin itself. To say you are something you are not is a lie, remember? We can not be pure because we can not be God like neither in self perception nor in factual definition. In death we are nothing, this is true and is also ironic that so many right wing evangelicals worship the end of life more than their God. I like to call them 'End Worshippers'. Somehow the joy of the entire planet getting wiped away in the great Apocalyspe will make this world better. Better yet, let's piss on God's gift to us in hopes his home has a fancier Television set. God and his people suck whether I'm pro religion or pro athiesm. That's my new truth.

kev313 said...

Your wager, and your treatment of Pascal's ideas, were both pretty intense straw-men. You chose the narrowest possible interpretation of the idea behind Pascal's theory, and then used absurd language to make your own idea sound impossible to argue with. Can you honestly say that you feel you treated either subject objectively?

I'm offended, not as a believer in the Hebrew God, but as a student of philosophy. Feel free to dismiss my input because I am a "Christian", but I'm capable of taking a step back and examining my faith and others with a critical but sensible eye. Are you?

bible student said...

I did not inherit the my parents religious beliefs, I'm much to sceptical. I do remember some scriptures though. Maybe you've heard: "The meek will inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5,Psalm 37:11) It hasn't happened yet. But the few that go to heaven, rule over the earth. (Revelation 5:10) God's Kingdom is a much preferable government to any regime or religion twisted by greedy and selfish men, misled by Satan (Revelation 12:9,2 Corinthians 11:14).

Despite all the bad mouthing of our creator, he remains perfect in his love, power, justice and wisdom. Even though we peg him wrong, he is be happy to have us back, forgiven.(2 Peter 2:9). Time is short, though. Noah's family survived when God decided it was time for a change because the earth was full of violence. (Genesis 6:13,2 Peter 2:5).

Thanatopless said...

Ironically, I am Christian and I think your logic is great. There is a widely held misconception that being Christian means subscribing to a narrow collection of creeds, mostly having to do with heaven and hell. I would say that the notion that Christianity has a monopoly on truth can be attacked through careful scripture reading. Of course, many other Christians tell me I'm going to hell for saying things like that...at least I'll be in good company with Gandi and Oscar Romero.

Edgewalker™ said...

What do you know that you have not been taught; beyond bodily functions?

After a few more posts I'll tell you the answer...

Edgewalker™

Jason said...

I welcome an army of young angry atheists, like post-modern Davids, attacking God the Goliath using slings loaded with equal parts resentment and self-righteousness. So long as they don't get out of hand like Stalin or the communists, it's actually refreshing, like hearing a criminal plead guilty for once. In fact protest atheism seems to be the trendy intellectual equivalent of heterosexual girls deep kissing each other. It's at once shocking, sexy, then boring and pointless, and, finally, funny.

Mike said...
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Mike said...

1) your statement that "Christians believe faith is the only way into heaven" is not correct.

"Faith Alone" (protestants) v. "Good Works" (catholics) is one of the major philosophical dividing lines between the two. Congratulations you're a lapsed catholic!

2) Your sentiments are nowhere near new, I'm pretty sure you just re-wrote the criticism's section of the pascal's wager wikipedia article

Enjoy the rest of your intro to philosophy course

Jake said...

Shouldn't the wager be;? If I am a Christian (or for sake of arguement) If I believe in God and there is no "God", Then I Lost nothing. and if you as an atheist don't believe in God and there is no god then you lost nothing, but if there is a God then you have lost EVERYTHING?

Dozer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dozer said...

/\EDITED FOR SPELLING/\

"But you see, God knows that God did not create God. So therefore God knows that God did not create all things.

God is the true atheist."
-tiffany



Atheism is the belief that God/s do not exist. For God to be an atheist, God would have to believe that God(himself) does not exist, which is not possible. Not knowing your creator does not classify you as an atheist. Also according to the Bible, God always was and always will be, so in other words he is infinite, never created and never will be destroyed.

Also I believe many of you in earlier post are confused or ignorant. Atheist believe in the non-existance of God/s. Agnostics believe there is not enough evidence to definitively decide in Gods existance.

So everyone in here claming to be Atheist has proof that there is no God? If so I would like to see that because you would be the first in the whole history of mankind to prove the non-existance of God.

Pete said...

on the topic that God is evil. I really don't think so. here is a quick analogy of why god killing us is not evil.

If you build a Lego castle and someone else destroys it, they are bad (evil). If you build a Lego castle and then you destroy it, It is not a problem. If God created us, and he feels that he should kill some of us...then fine, deal with it.

XnoedgeX said...

I am not atheist, but find it illogical to argue beliefs. Your post is well thought out and worth reading regardless of whatever faith or lack thereof one may have. I find things like doggie heaven humorous people really love their pets.

Blah said...

@Pete515

Did you even read the article in Time about Einetein?

"Einstein, on the other hand, believed--as did Spinoza--that a person's actions were just as determined as that of a billiard ball, planet or star. "Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions,""

Panchovilla said...

Pascals Wager is destroyed when confronted with the fact that there is not only one true god. Not everybody that believe in a god/s believes in the same one. All the religions see themselves as the answer and exactly as you put it the child grows up believing for the most part his/her parents beliefs.
Great post, looking forward to more.

Dave said...

@daddy slick

Good point.

Thomas said...

You might want to read Bertrand Russell's "Why I Am Not A Christian." Here is an excerpt:

"We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world -- its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it. The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to that make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men."

D said...

What's the point of debating? There's no way anyone could ever possibly prove atheism or theism correct.

Unless we see the virgin Mary in a grilled cheese again...

Daniel said...

I don't understand the "edited" wager you did. If the original wager is speaking about the Christian God then why would you edit that wager and group it as theism of any religion vs atheism? Jesus said he is the only way to heaven. So the original wager is more accurate (yet not completely) than the edited one. In this argument it should be still Christianity vs anything else. I do agree religion is a cause of hate and lots of destruction. But who said religion was made by God? Are the laws that govern our reality based on faith? If someone steals from you or hurts you in any way do you not feel violated? It is a more complex discussion than just "is this magical man from heaven real". The bible says the Holy Spirit is not something you can see. You can only see the Holy Sprit through its effects. It's effects is love. Is love real? Do you believe in love? Do you think love destroys? How can it? Do you think anything can be made without love?

Stephen said...

This is absurd. To the first post (one of two that I read), you aren't mad at God, you're mad at the abuses by those who claim to act in his name. They aren't real Christians because they aren't following the true ideals of Christ.


And to the main post, check you're history, the holocaust is known to be the result of the abuse of 'Social-Darwinism' ideology. In order to reconcile his ideas with Christianity he had to invent a version of it called "Positive Christianity".

if that's what you meant then that's a pretty loose use of the term "Christian"

And to the atheist blogosphere; this is a great post? weeeeeeeaaaak.


But uh... sweeeeet dood. Way 2 stick it 2 the x-ians... kinda?

Moo said...

Atheist's always forgot that the wars in 20th century were all fought over ideologies that were anti-religion. How many people died in the 20th century? More people died than all religious wars combined. Using your logic this proves atheism wrong doesn't it?

Next you ask God to prove himself. God has proved himself through His signs already. If you are too blind to see them than I question your intelligence. You know the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and other cool stuff. Oh I forgot, you want God to show Himself physically because you only believe in what you see. God is Infinite and is not a physical being that you can see and also does not need to prove Himself to your insignificant self.

The problem is not with religion it is with humans. Also, atheism is just a reaction to Christianity. Become Muslim and relax. One God, faith and actions, fear and love, and a practical blueprint for daily life. Success in this world and the next.

YerbaMan said...

Hi, I was trying to email you but there is no email address in your profile. You say you're "up for intelligent debate" yet where's your email? My email is "visarga[AT]gmail.com" Please aswer on this address.

OK now. My main theoretical objection is that you seem to have a vision of God that is predominantly judeo-christian typed -> "God is an old being, watching us from somewhere in the sky/heavens and wanting our dedication and adoration."

There are better models for what "God" means, models that even an atheist would find very palatable and that resolve the conflict between religions into a common underlying reality that transcends the differences and even embraces them.

I am talking about God seen not as a person but as an impersonal or transpersonal reality. In this definition, God is pure consciousness, unitary, blissful and unborn. The universe is created in this original consciousness in the same way you can create an imaginary world in your mind. Our consciousness even is but a fragment of this original consciousness that encompasses all. This point of view can stand all atheist attacks and is devoid of easy targets you can get when criticizing Christianity or other mainly non Asiatic religions.

Hope to get some objections for the "impersonal god" - the "sat/cit/ananda" definition of God from you.

Brian said...

Dozer:

I'm not quite sure why you think the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of the atheist. If I claim that an invisible unicorn has been grazing in the soccer field behind my apartment, certainly it's up to me to produce proof of the unicorn, right? Or can you prove that something completely undetectable by nature exists?

For me its not an issue of proving that no gods exists; it's sufficient to prove that no gods worth my worship exist, and David Hume proved that quite elegantly.

Mudboy said...

"If there is no God why would we not rape, murder,and show malignity to everyone in the world"

See Humanism...

Gareth said...

Gosh you atheist nerds need to get a life.
If there's no God, then why do you care so much?

Chris said...

Kinda funny how the original post seems like a brilliant, well-thought out, and persuasive argument to the atheists reading it, yet to the Christians and people of other faiths your arguments are weak and your logic is flawed. Putting aside the part of a Christian, I'll speak on behalf of anyone who believes there is a God and that the only way to benefit from His rewards are to follow Him and His commands. Your "Atheist's Wager," to a theist, is just as bad as you make Pascal's out to be:

1. If God exists, a theist will "Inherit the 'correct' beliefs from parents and go to heaven at the expense of every human who inherited the 'wrong' beliefs." As far as the inheriting beliefs bit goes, anyone who thinks they're of a certain religion just because their parents are needs to take a serious look at their reasons for their faith. I was raised in a Christian home, but the choice was mine to make, just like all the lil' kiddies who decide to be atheists just to piss off their religious parents. And it really isn't at anyone's expense, if theists are right: I win whether everyone else wins or not. This isn't a lottery, where a couple people profit off everyone else, it's more like the skill testing question for winning a bottle of Coke or a free burger: whether you get it right or not has no bearing on the next guy.

2. If God doesn't exist, a theist will have wasted his life away. I seem to remember reading a few years ago that a survey found people professing religious beliefs generally enjoyed life more. Even if God does not exist, there's something to be said for having a set of moral standards that aren't simply based a society that is constantly revising its views on morality.

3. If God exists, as far as atheists go I think the point is moot whether God is "corrupt" or if humanity deserves "dignity." Who is man, with his feeble mind, wicked heart, and prideful spirit, to decide what is corrupt? If God is who He says he is, He cannot possibly be corrupt - since anything opposite God is deemed evil, and corruption is evil. God cannot be against God. So you're going to demand dignity for a people that spit in God's face. The point is, is it a good idea to disagree with the all-powerful? Seems like the fast road to a whole lotta pain.

4. No God, atheists win by doing what they want, when they want to. Well, you're doing that anyway... I hope for your sake that you're right. I don't really like the "issues that matter" part - you make it sound like theists cannot contribute to society because they are too busy sitting around with nirvana-esque grins on their faces, sitting in their own urine and drool. I'll direct you to bw's 3rd point for that one, regarding the Christian organizations.

I'll cut it short now 'coz I have to get up early. Hope I've given you something to chew on and happy blogging.

B-Con said...

You must not be a philosopher or mathematician, because you got Pascal's Wager wrong. It doesn't evaluate Christianity it evaluates belief in God, making it a rather non-eurocentric belief. Also, it assumes that there is an absolute essence of God, making your various religions problem irrelevant because only one of them can be correct, with the other's being incorrect as there is only one essence of God. Religion is of no factor in Pascal's Wager, rendering basically your entire argument irrelevent.

Nice job attacking your hallucination of Pascal's Wager. Please do actual research next time.

B-Con said...

Actually, since you probably won't do much research, I should clarify what I just said above.

Pascal's Wager does indeed make reference to "Christianity", but it treats the term "Christianity" as a variable. In his use of the term, Pascal is basically waving his hands and letting the variable "Christianity" define the correct religion with the correct belief in God, whatever it may be. Whatever religion this is is unimportant, it's only significance is that it is the "correct" religion.

Mike said...

Interesting but your logic is too basic for the question. In fact the need for you to ponder this conflict implies that you have some doubts about your beliefs. the events you list as atrocities did not happen because of any religion rather they happened because of our D.N.A. We are pack animals by nature and we will find differences in other people regardless of whether god exists or not, religion is just a excuse. Most people born into a faith do eventually chose to follow it or not, you apparently did and my guess is you are no smarter than the next guy. In short get off your high horse and just shut up you're projecting your faith the same way Pat Roberson does, and you are no better.

colby said...

What abotu how we came to be. So we evolved from small single celled organisms? Also, think of it this way. Look at us in general. hwo we are made, what we look like and everything in between. We are the most complex organisms in what we know as our universe. Our brains are the most powerful computers in all the world. Did this design, this "perfect" design just happen because of evolution or is something bigger happen. I'm believing Christian and I think that there are so many things in this world that are so complex and so unexplainable, that something must have created them. But as a Christian, I don't need proof, like lots of people. I don't need to have Jesus turn the water into wine right in front of me to believe. I just need Faith. That's all there is to it. Believe and have faith and you don't know how much it will help you.

ROM 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe. There is no difference,

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of
observing the law? No, but on that of faith.

28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing
the law.

Now I know that if anyone reads this, they will argue that they don't believe in the Bible and they don't care what it says. but as far as I'm concerned, it is the oldest book we have ever know, the most selling and the most read book ever.

Here is my last point. A lot of people in here don't like religion and that's okay. But this truly angers me. That a lot of people get the views of Christians based on what society says. Real, true Christians don't hate and fight. We are taught to love and settle. We are characterized by the psychos at the Westboro Baptist Church. And we are shown on the news as the people who go on rampages and hurt people. The news will mention if a Church burns down by an ex-Christian. But you will never see the Christian mission group that goes and rebuilds the church. You will see the pastor or preist that molested a child. but you will never hear about the mission group that goes to Latin America and builds houses for the Children down there and busy them clothes. You will hear about the preacher who took money from the chruch funds. But you will never hear about the church that sent $200,000 to a poor country to help many people over there. These are the things that we should be known by. But we are not. Welcome to American.

colby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B-Con said...

Nice going, Colby. :-)

The Author said...

I do love how such things become slime fests...
I don't like to talk to hear myself talk, so I'll keep it short. Everyone here is assuming something. Atheists are assuming that God would be exclusive and tied to one religion, that God insures the existence of heaven or hell, etc. Theists are assuming that all things good and right have to come from God, people who don't believe in God are prideful and/or evil, God is all-powerful, exists forever, is all-good, etc.

The "Atheist's Wager" argument above isn't that sound, to be sure. But I haven't seen too many people who actually took any of the points contested here and looked at them objectively, for either side. Shame.

You don't need nor want my opinion on whether or not God exists. But I'd love it if this could be more of a discussion and less of a thinly-veiled flame war.

Mmmk? Good.

Josh said...

"Now I know that if anyone reads this, they will argue that they don't believe in the Bible and they don't care what it says. but as far as I'm concerned, it is the oldest book we have ever know, the most selling and the most read book ever.

Here is my last point. A lot of people in here don't like religion and that's okay. But this truly angers me."

Are you stupid? no, you just like to contradict yourself. just like the bible. 'AND THATS OKAY. BUT THIS TRULY ANGERS ME'
you can't say its okay, then it angers you. the bible was the most widely read/read purchased book because it was the first mass published book. its not like Jesus was xeoroxing this sh*t and just passing it out to people. theologians made hand written copies of it, and it was often the only literature available. also, every hotel/motel has to buy one for each of its rooms, imagine if they did that with Harry Potter :)

Ed said...

I find most atheists so confused about their faith. First they deny they have any religion. Then they go through extreme attempts to prove what cannot be proved one way or the other. But they all believe they have the only way and they all put as much effort in trying to convert people to your religion as any good Christen, or Muslim. You sited many examples of bad acts by faiths. But you don't mention, Hilter, Atheist 6 or 7 Mil dead ; Pol Pot, Atheist 1 or 2 Mil dead; Stalin, Athiest 8 or 10 Mil dead; Mao, Atheist millions and millions dead. The list goes on and on. We are humans, as individuals we are great, kind, sacrificing and loving. As a species we are the top of the food chain and for good reason. We like to kill things and we are good at it. Religion was not the cause of the slaughter you sited it was just the excuse used to get people to join in the fight. Just live your life the best you can, help someone and love someone along the way. If there is a god hopefully he/she will like what you did and take you in. If there is no god, oh well, maybe those left behind will think kindly of you after you're gone. What more can you ask for.

Me said...

complicated people...
this is what will happen...
if you are christian or a theist and there is GOD AND if he chooses to appear then HE will be quite pleased and will ask you "how did u know i was there"?
if he isnt there.. you will never know and will keep doing all the things you do assuming he is there..

if you are an atheist and if there is god and he chooses to appear someday then he will FORGIVE you for not knowing he was there since you really didnt know.. how can you acknoledge/worship something that you are not too sure about?.. i am sure he will understand
if he is not there then well, nothing happens to you

either ways no one loses anything or gains anything.. should get back to your lives

The Crew said...

Hello there,
Your ideas of inheriting all faith from parents is just as over-simplified as Pascal's Wager. The masses will usually live by law and not by principle, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a certain amount of sincere individuals involved with religion.

As far as all of the horrible things you mention that religion has caused, those are object lessons about why religion needs a reformatting; it doesn't need to go away completely.

Your taking the "wishful thinking" approach to life. Religion in many ways is stupid but so are atheists. It's too easy for an atheist to have their ears tickled by the ideas of men.

It's cute that you want to "focus on the issues that matter", but every existentialist that I run into is really just trying to say, "I want to play God". Natural Law, existentialism, Life-Force theory, and other ideas of relativism are just appealing to your comfort. You care about "issues that matter" which gives you the reassurance that religion offers, so that your life doesn't feel like the outcome of sporadic molecules existing together. However, you don't care much for the responsibility that comes with religion. You can try to have the best of both worlds, but be aware that your ideas are just as easily the product of something like liberal education when compared to the person who was born and raised catholic. So don't go geek out after you make a revision to an already flawed and overly-simple diagram; there are plenty of intellectuals that used logic to side with religion. We're not all dummies.

As far as my own conviction, I was raised Mormon, but after witnessing the contrast of the faith at the Mormon university BYU, I'm started to distance myself from the church. I found myself disagreeing with a lot of trends that have developed over time, and I feel completely alienated by my own people because their closed mindedness causes them to not even listen to my somewhat oppositional ideas. Even my mere appearance with long hair is a shock to the accepted status symbol of a well groomed man. How's that for a product of my environment;) I could take the easy way out like you and use the evidence I've gathered to abandon Theism altogether. But I've encountered too many incredible and sincere people from a variety of religions to give up my search for truth. I'm interested in breaking the artificial barriers religion has created and discovering common ground on moral absolutes. That is an issue that matters.

Alan said...

I have a wager for you, or more over a satirical way of debating the existence of a God or more specifically a Christian God. Please don't flame either, God wouldn't like it, jk.

The following link refers you to an article in LA Times, of an incident that happend this past Easter in Chicago. The title reads:

Chicago archbishop slips on holy water, hurts hip

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-cardinal8apr08,1,4575260.story?coll=la-news-a_section

So tell me, what kind of Christian God would allow one of his top proponents and followers of His religion to get injured on holy water? Is this proof that a Christian God doesn't exist, or merely that Cardinal Francis George may have deserved it?

These are, of course, rhetorical questions, that ironically have answers, but that might just be the way I look at it.

- Signed Alan, adamant follower of the Alvian faith, and may Alvis be with you.

The Author said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bennie said...

Poor fool.

You intend to differentiate between believers and athiests, but fail....woefully so.

Believers believe in God...denominations throughout. Atheists do not. Simple. Two sides of the same coin. They are distinct, get it?

Agnostics claim no knowledge as to our purpouse, get it "ag" - without and "gnostic" - knowledge.

You either have the hubris of, atheists and believers, or the folly of agnostics. Anywhere in between is a cop-out, as is your argument.

dirtydan said...

A good read for those of you that are readers... The Dark Side of Christian History. I am not much of a reader, myself, but I found it really informative.

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Side-Christian-History/dp/0964487349/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-1438340-0426554?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176705331&sr=1-1

Aidan Lister said...

Great post. It's always difficult to ascribe logic to these things, and you have done it masterfully.

The Author said...

(Above Deleted Comment to Fix Link)

This really violates my own rules about posting, but I am compelled to add one thing in the light of ed's comment.

For all of you who INSIST on using the Hitler/Stalin argument (or it's Atheist equivalent of Crusades/Jihads), please do yourself a favor and visit this site:

http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2007/03/
hitler-and-stalin-cliche.html

(apologies for the break- it's the only way I can get it to show in full)

It highlights what a MASSIVE FLAW IN REASONING it is for EITHER SIDE to use the argument.

And I really don't mean to tear you up Ed. You're certainly not the first person to use this argument (and won't be the last), and you seemed very sincere, so I don't want to tear you down. I'd just hate you to mar your sincerity with such a bad argument, even if it's to counter the other side of a bad argument.

I'm done.

Tim said...

i'm a Christian but i won't waste your time repeating the zillion tenets of my faith that i'm convinced you should believe to be saved.

but i find it disheartening to see that you (and others) quote time and time again all the negative stats regarding religion.

i'm not denying that religion has been the cause of many spectacular failures over history, but you should know that it is also the source of much good.

if all you are looking for are the wars, death and division that religion has caused, then that's what you'll find.

but you also don't have to look very far to find the good things that religion brings; peace and unity, especially in times of distress and uncertainty.

i've heard a saying, "there are no atheists in foxholes." and it's true. there are things in this world, in our lives, that eventually will be beyond our means to deal with, or to comprehend.

and that's when the atheist will feel alone and helpless, because their dependence on themselves, and on other humans for help and support, eventually will reach its limits, no matter how strong a family or social net you have.

you, who are, by your bio, are 'generally happy' can stand around and point out the failures of religion and emphasize how you don't need religion, because you don't feel the need to believe.

and i would agree. when things are going hunkydory, i find it easy to forget about God, too.

if only life stays that way, though.

perhaps the solution to the 'problem of religion' is to rid the world of all troubles and distress. then nobody will need God.

maybe that will be possible, one day in the future. but i think you and i will agree, certainly not very likely.

in the meantime, i am comforted by a God who loves me no matter how much the crud hits the fan, so to speak. and that my belief will enable me to say, 'your will be done' rather than the exasperated, 'why me?' when that happens.

also, i prefer the prospect of the possibility of heaven and eternal bliss to the atheiestic pinnacle of a life well-lived and then, nothingness.

just a few thoughts, i hope you can keep an open mind as i've tried to.

Greg Silver said...

The fact that you mention phrases that contain "If God" would lead me to believe that you're still searching for truth.

I truly believe it takes more faith to believe that their isn't a God than if there wasn't.

Klej Society said...

I think you've got a good concept here but you've got too many pieces that can be easily argued against. For one, you say that God needs to accept responsibility for religion, well whose to say that religion is God's responsibility? You said that it's God's duty to present us with evidence of his existence and master plan. Well if God were to do this, assuming he exists, you need to take into consideration what the consequences would be. For One, assume that God's master plan requires us to not know whether or not he exists, right there is a sufficient argument against your statement. Another possibility, is that there no reason for God to prove to us that he exists, according to many religions, God(or any other Deity) has no responsibilities to mankind, according to Christianity, it is our duty to simply believe in God and worship him without real knowledge of his existence, and that is why religions are systems of belief, they are not based on knowledge simply beliefs. But, I would also like to make the point that I do like the point you are trying to raise with this argument. I just believe that it requires a little more in depth revision.

Sangwoo said...

Gareth said...

>Gosh you atheist nerds need to get
>a life. If there's no God, then
>why do you care so much?

Why? Because dumb ass ex-jocks like you who believe in random s**t keep wasting our time knocking on our doors.


Chris said...

>I was raised in a Christian home,
>but the choice was mine to make,
>just like all the lil' kiddies who
>decide to be atheists just to piss
>off their religious parents.

Did it to piss off your parents did ya? You say it was your choice to make yet the first thing that types out of your fingers is that you do things based on what your parents think. Perhaps they thought it was a good idea for you to come back in to the fold too. Hmm?


Mike said...

>In fact the need for you to ponder
>this conflict implies that you
>have some doubts about your
>beliefs.

Doubt. Doubt is good. If you don't doubt then you're not thinking and if you don't think then you might as well be a rock. I guess that makes Mike... a rock.

But surely Mike is not a rock. He must think sometimes. Oh really?

Mike then goes on to say...

>the events you list as atrocities
>did not happen because of any
>religion rather they happened
>because of our D.N.A.

LOL! If God created everything like you say then didn't he create the D.N.A that makes you such a bad boy sinner in the first place? Oh, right. That's Mother Nature's fault isn't it. After all, it's not God's fault if that pagan bitch can't keep the damned children in line. I mean what does she expect? Is God supposed to do everything?

(At this point Mike is going "What the hell is this guy talking about?" Exactly. I rest my case.)

I could go on like this all night and shoot down every single dumb ass with some "holy" book stuck up their butts but really what would be the point? There is only so much laughing one can do about people on auto-pilot before depression starts threatening to ruin one's day.

Yes, ruin one's day. Some "rocket scientist" above mentioned that "religious people" lead "happier" lives. Makes sense to me. Wouldn't you be depressed too if you had to watch all you religious types praying for what ever you believe in to bring "peace" on earth, and all you can think of is "HOW CAN THERE EVER BE PEACE ON EARTH WITH ALL THESE IRRATIONAL SELF RIGHTEOUS SELF CENTERED HOLIER THEN THOU BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE OR YOU GO TO MY VERSION OF HELL NYAH NYAH ASSHOLES PARADING AROUND LIKE THEY'RE F***ing DECENT PEOPLE!!!".

Believe it or not, it is the Atheist who truly cares about all of "God's creations" including the ones under the "God Delusion". Why else would they keep bringing it up when trying to talk to one of you religious types is like pulling all four wisdom teeth at once while being punched in the gut and kicked in the groin at the same time?

Mairjan said...

Brilliant post.

I myself live with a household of devout Catholics, at least they have come to terms with my choice in lack of worship. Helps when they commend my virtues alone.

Zach said...

I disagree any time people make statements about how religion has caused x wars and y deaths. Don't fool yourself into believing this is true. Wars have been and will always be about money and power. Religion is just an all-too-easy tool for corrupt leaders to use in order to rally the masses behind their cause. They make it out to be a religious war, but ultimately it's just that leader trying to gain more money and power.

Klej Society said...

I just wanted to add that the post that sangwoo added just a few posts prior to this one is the reason for all of anger and hatred generated on this planet, people who are, quite simply, unaccepting of other's view and opinions.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't argue for your beliefs, I just think you'd do much better, and get much more respect for an argument that doesn't call someone a rock!

But that's just my opinion! People tend to listen to what your saying a little better when you're not insulting their intelligence.

Klej Society said...

Zach I disagree, Wars are not only about Money and Power, rather their are very few that have been!

Example:

American Civil War: Freedom

Wars tend not to be simply about money, if that were the case there would be many more of them. Wars are and always have been about belief, what one group of people believe to be true another disagrees with and conflict arises.

Now, I'm not saying religion is to blame, we are, as humans, we have faults and make mistakes, and none of us are perfect by any means!

Claire said...

I've read a couple of excellent counter-arguments to Pascal's Wager. Both Richard Dawkins and James Huger argue the wager only works for people who are effectively pretending to believe in a god on the off chance one might exist.

http://www.jhuger.com/pascal

Joice said...

I deem it possible that the benefits of believing in God accrue not only in the next life, but in the here and now. Love, hope, inspiration. These are the most important things that need not divide us. It is our choices today that send us to a heaven or a hell of our own making now. Religion in its holiest form should vanquish our fears, even the fear of death by living the full life we can live today, not promote it by emphasizing the fear of a fiery furnace that will judge those who have already judged themselves by living a miserable life here and now.

Andrew said...

"Imagine, if you will, that humans were kept in cages and forced to fight each other to the death for the amusement of the aliens."

...This analogy is so poor, it's difficult to respond to. We're forced to fight one another? You blame God for conflicts between people. We're "kept in cages" -- are you questioning free will? Its unclear. And this is all for God's amusement?

Nazi Germany was a secular regime. The church failed miserably, but Jews (and millions of others) were not killed in the name of any God.

And if you're going to add up the casualties of religious conflicts, why not add up the ones of secular conflicts as well?

Lets talk about the millions killed by communism and other secular institutions...

This argument is pointless. People are badly flawed, theist or atheist.

Also, many atheists wrongly assume that Christianity exempts those whom are not Christians.

Sorry for such a fragmented post.

;)

Rami said...

Thanks for a good post.
It still needs a little work though.

Muslim!= Islam for example.

Being an atheist I fully sympathize with your post. I also tend not to fight with religious people. Because any argument would be pointless if they do not have an open mind. And most of them don't.
Same thing as arguing with people that are either stupid or drunk or both.

But you assume in your table that God is corrupt. Same as Pascal assumed God is good.

You cannot make this assumption on the past actions of religious zealots alone.

Also throughout your post you view atheists as "good" people. They are people just the same. I have seen some atheists that I would rather not socialize with. Them being arrogant pricks. The same personalities can be found in all walks of life. Theist or not. That being said enlightened attitudes are more prevalent in atheists.

The amazing thing about most religions is that they give a rather ambiguous picture of their deity. The human brain abhors ambiguity and starts to fill in the blanks. So the god that one person believes in is not the same as another persons god. That makes god look more personal and approachable. Making it easier to believe in.

This ambiguity and the fact there are so many "one true religion"s were the driving factors of my detheism.

My solution to Pascal's Wager is this:

All we know about a certain religions deity is the word of some people. People are unreliable. Therefore their words are unreliable.
Therefore God is unknown. Therefore His/Her/Its intentions are unknown. Therefore going to heaven is uncertain even if one jumps through all the hoops of a particular religion. Therefore it is pointless to believe in an unknown deity. And therefore Pascal's wager loses its meaning.

Same thing as arguing about the existence of god.

Eric said...

I try imagining the world through a theists eyes and it makes me sad and depressed how overly simple and explained it all is. How clean and neat and boring and unimaginative it is. Not to mention the arrogance it takes to see this amazing universe every day and think they have the answers to all the mystery in the universe.

A Theists universe is an orderly, overly processed, designed, pre-planned, product. It's been test marketed to appeal to the most, and offend the least, it's been enhanced with additives to boost it's flavor. It's a frickin' McDonalds Happy Meal. It takes no aquiring of taste. Even children can understand and love every bit of it.

The universe as I see it is something else entirely. It is not planned out, not designed, and has no easy answers. To see its beauty and elegance and complexity takes a certain appreciation and a patience that is required of all aquired tastes... but once aquired.... McDonalds just isn't that appealing anymore. In fact it can seem a little disgusting and disturbing.

Klej Society said...

Rami, I'd just like to say you should have chosen your words a little more carefully!

You start out by comparing theists to people that are drunk or stupid

And I think you're confused about the meaning of Open-Mindedness

If you try and argue with a Theist from your Atheistic perspective, open mindedness would entail that they listen to your argument and accept it as your own!

Arguing for ones own beliefs is not close-mindedness by any means. If that were the case anyone with any spine would be close-minded, and that's not the case, at all.

Ed said...

Don't worry you didn't tear me up. But, I think you missed my point. Which is that the Church of the Atheist is just as much a religion as the Church of Christ. Both are founded on beliefs that cannot be proven. Both proselytize for converts. Both claim to have the right read on life and death. Both in some way large or small condemn non-believers. Both as a group claim to be harmed emotionally by hearing the beliefs of the other. As a result both make attempts to restrict the other from spreading the word. Look at the brew-ha over "In God We Trust" or "One Nation Under God". I'm just saying it's all a bunch of silliness. One advantage to a religious upbringing is it tends to fix a set of rights and wrongs for people at an early age and as such helps them to live in their society. The disadvantage is it tends to also teach that any other religious belief system is wrong and should be stopped from spreading. As a person you must establish for yourself what you accept as good and what you think is evil. How you get there is your business. I have more or less decided there is a deity out there. But that is as far as I'll go. If he wants to be worshiped he's out of luck.

Klej Society said...

Response to Eric:

I'm sorry but your point here is so completely off it's hard to respond to.

Calling a Theist world preprocessed and unimaginative, are you serious?

An Atheistic perspective believes in random mutations of DNA that eventually lead to changes in functionality and evolution, how is that imaginative?

Belief in an all powerful Deity that created the Earth and Sun and Stars, as well as creating an intelligent life form to reign over all creation, that just seems to take a little more imagination to me.

Atheism goes off the basis of Science, Math and Random Chance, where's the beauty in that?

Alexander the Great said...

It would seem most people have no idea how evolution works. It's pretty simple; scientists don't sit around imagining or day dreaming about how they might convince people of dreadful lies. They examine all of the evidence that's available, and put together a best guess from the facts at hand.

If you don't believe in the scientific method, you should question the theories of quantum physics that allow you to read this blog over the internet, by sending and receiving electrons through your computer.

Mike said...

Sangwoo I never said god created everything or anything.

spanatko said...

Hello,

interesting reading, I´m stunned by some of the comments here.

After reading through I had the feeling that you see a human being as given only 2 chances - have a faith (in any form & name) or not to have a faith (atheist). And I really do not think that this is the right way to put it.

You do not need to follow any faith to believe in God and not accepting religious paradigms in any form does not make you automatically an atheist.

What I think is happening today is that people have faith (or at least are trying it) without sticking to religions and that certainly is the right way to go.

A religion is only a paradigm, a way to think so it affects your mind first not your spirit.

Some people are starting to realize that the paradigms and ways how to see & define God through their minds (religions) are not longer giving any sense as they are not supporting each other, not highlighting parallels to achieve unity and the world is simply more than something to perceive through one, if any paradigm. Religions are not constructive, only the things that people do and how people behave can be constructive.

To be an atheist is only a decision made with your mind, billions of others similarly decided to stick to a specific belief, it does not take away the miracle of your life.

Religions would like to get humans closer to God, but ironically what they had achieved is the opposite - lots of crazy people trapped inside their thoughts.

Those who have met God do not need to believe anything anymore, no religion, no prayer, no ways of thinking.

Ed said...

Klej Society I have to disagree with you comment on the Civil War. There is a good argument that all wars are fought for population expansion. Even the Crusades had expansionism at its' heart. The war we are in now can be explained as a growth war. The Muslim religion when considered as a population is growing world wide and has run up against the Christian population barrier. Something has got to give so war is the result. The civil war was the result of the south wanting to expand their economic system and as such their population. This system included slavery which would have had a negative impact on the North's economy. It is really a much more complicated statement that you may think to say all wars have two opposing reasons. The jahadist we now fight are fighting a religious war against us. We however are fighting a political war against them. The Germans fought a territorial war against Europe. We fought an economic war against the Japanese and had to throw down against the Germans in the process. History would I think be very different if Pearl Harbor had not occurred.

ali said...

hi There! just a point. actually more people have been killed by communist regimes in China and russia then all the religion based wars combined. what do you say.

hittart said...

The problem is Hitler didn't kill based off religion he based his killings off the fact that Jew's were the "major polluters" of the Arian RACE. It's less about his religious ideals and more about the racial theories proposed in the 20th century.

rafer said...

@ Pete re: Legos. When (not if) humans can create new sentient beings in our laboratories, do we have no additional responsibilities in how we treat them over bacteria or mice? Or, are we going to be in the sorry state of having PETA be the only defender of human clones?

@ Klej re: Causes of Civil War.

Sorry, but Money and Power played a very large part in starting the civil war. Freedom was a great PR pitch, but unfortunately that might be all it was. This article isn't a bad primer [ http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/gettkidz/cause.htm ], but IMHO the author underplays how much of an economic mismatch there was between northern factory owners betting on mechanistic technologies and southern plantation owners betting on slave labor.

oo said...

Great theory.

One point I would like to object to is the inclusion of Bosnia as a religious war. It was not fought for religion, in the sense "my religion should prevail", but rather over secession and where each part of the population wanted to live - Bosnian Croats with Croatia, Bosnian Serbs with what was left over from Yugoslavia and the remainder to keep Bosnia as a whole.

The fact that there were religious differences (amongst other cultural ones) is not the actual cause of the fighting, hence not a religious war.

Philip said...

Just want to add something about the discussion on what causes war. Let's be clear here, wars are not caused by people who have religious beliefs, wars are caused by sick people who have NO beliefs and use religion as an excuse and as a means to make their actions acceptable. This is something that has been done throughout history. If you do your research, you will find that the entire Roman Catholic Church was set up by the roman empire as a political tool/manover. There are many people who abuse / pervert religious belief.

But the real point of faith is the belief in something or someone good and forgiving. It's a message of hope that even though horrible things are happening every day everywhere in the world there is a better place and that even though all humens are plagued by shame and guilt and uncertainty and fear of not being loved or whatever, there is someone who can free us of all that. I think that's the point at least. I am no expert...

Austin said...

The evidence for god existing are overwhelming.

The universe is full of rules. Rules do not generally just pop into existance.

Take light for example .. it travels at a constant rate through out the universe. Obviously some rule has been set to tell light to travel at x speed. Otherwise we should get light "deciding" to travel at 188,000 mph near earth and light around say neptune deciding to travel at 110,000 while light near mars is simply being unreasonable and traveling at a mere 25 miles per hour.

no.. a rule was set up.

you can apply this to just about anyting.. the specific weight of carbon or hydrogen. scientists can determine the specific weights of other substances on other planets via telescope or satallite and its always the same. thus rules have been established for these elements.

its not like carbon on earth decided to have an atomic structure of x protons etc etc while carbon on pluto decided to take over the atomic properties of say gold. nope.. its all uniform.

i would be much more inclined to belif that no god existed if rules were lacking.

anyway.. good luck.

Blaine said...

I'd like to mention that there are actually other arguments against Pascal's wager that don't involve acussing God of being a hypocrite that I think are worth pointing out.

So of course Pascal's Wager is inherently a game-theoretic argument, and a simple one at that. Philosopher's long ago proposed many different arguments that would invalidate Pascal's argument (see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager)
To summarize, the primary argument's against the wager are as follows:

1) The wager assumes that God reward's belief (God may in fact not care what we believe or may reward other aspects of our life such as our actions, rather than our beliefs).

2) The wager assumes that Christianity is the only religion that makes claim #1 (you address this point in your blog).

3) The wager assumes that a belief based on expectation of reward constitutes a true belief (Such a belief is insincere and may be disgarded or perhaps God may even severely punish insincere belief).

4) The wager assumes that it is possible to choose to believe something (just because we rationalize something doesn't and decide it is best to believe, doesn't necessarily constitute actual belief).

5) The wager assumes that the probability of God existing is greater than 0 (for those who understand measure theory, it may be that the set of events in which God exists has measure 0). Unless the existence of God has non-zero probability, the game-theoretic argument fails.

6) The wager assumes that God's reward for belief and his punishment for disbelief are infinite. If they are not, the dynamics of the game are entirely different and are highly dependent on the punishment, rewards and probabilities of the events.

These are the classical criticisms of Pascal's wager.

Your argument is appealling in that it seems to attack God's moral character, but in fact, you're really attacking the manifestations of religion amongst humans, legitimately or not. It's a pretty far cry to go from what God actually intends to how human's interpret it.

You actually make a few mistakes in your own argument.

1) Your argument fails to reconcile several of the flaws in the original Wager, namely, #1.

2) You assume that if God exists, he was responsible for dividing humanity into different relgious beliefs. Perhaps humans simply misunderstood.

3) You assume that if God exists, he deals out rewards in the way described by Christians, Muslims, or whoever. What if God simply rewards belief without regard for the specifics.

4) You assume that a deity, if they exist, would be responsible for the carnage wrought by men in his name. Why? Human's committed these atrocities.

5) You assume God has a moral obligation to straighten things out. First, God may have a different moral system than humans or at least play a different role in it than we do. Second God may not be able to intervene in the way you suggest.

6) If you're also making a game theoretic argument in your alternative wager as Pascal did, you should define the alternate "rewards" more rigorously. In particular, it could still be rational to choose "Belief" over "Atheism" depending on what you mean by rewards and punishments.

Overall, I find your argument interesting, but a little arrogant. Furthermore most of your comments on how bad God is if he actually exists seem well-intentioned, but perhaps, misdirected.

Blaine said...

There already is an "Atheist Wager" not really all that dissimilar from your proposal, but with the caveat that if God exists, they believe God would probably be a just God

The Atheist's Wager (from About.com)

"Instead, my wager is that if there is a god, and it is a just god, then living a just and moral life will be acknowledged regardless of ones beliefs. If there exists an unjust or immoral god, then I could never satisfy both my conscience and such a god. My wager is that if the Christians are right about god being just and all-knowing and all-loving, I will be rewarded if I act in morally sound, justified ways.

I don’t know if there is a god. To me, the idea of a god, or even of an afterlife pales in importance to what we experience everyday. Life. Life is the only thing that I “know” I have and when that is gone, I doubt I’ll be around to care, however, others will. I must live my life as I please, and since I believe I will only ever get one chance at it, I want to live it in the best manner that I can and help others do the same."

Marc said...

my confusion lies here:
why is it that athiests HAVE to focus on religious matters, specifically christian bashing. why bother? is it some sort of need for an organised religion in itself?

No, i am not a christian, just wondering.

Blaine said...

To Austin:

Why does the existence of rules suggest a god, or as you put it, "Rules do not generally just pop into existance"? Since I've never seen a universal rule created, I have no idea how they come into being. Your argument is that the existence of order requires a divine plan, but that's not necessarily true.

Also, the idea that particles could decide things like their mass and speed seems to portray a misunderstanding of Physical Science. For instance, carbon is not all that different from oxygen. It simply has a different number of protons (and neutrons). These particles themselves are thought to be composed of subparticles called quarks that also follow certain patterns in the way in which they can combine...

Admittedly, the theory is not complete, but it is a far leap from the incompleteness in our own understanding of the Universe to the necessary existence of a God.

ben said...

The only comments to this post that make me sad (theist, atheist, or other) are the ones that involve b*tch slapping. Please, no more more flaming, name calling, or overarching assumptions towards any "people group".

.:webmaster:. said...

Tremendous.

I'd like to request permission to cross-post this at http://exchristian.net. If this is something you'd allow, please contact me by clicking here.

Anyway, great post.

Soldado said...

I think you're reasoning is flawed.
I guess you are just trying to get attention and garner support for your point of view. That is human nature.
It is like indulging in hard or soft drugs, if other people join you in doing it too it must be ok? right.
Even if it is socially acceptable (smoking) then there is absolutely no reason to think it's normal.
Why not take it one step further and not believe in atoms? You cant see them can you? Or electrons? Or anything else - heard of brain in a tank?
I am not emotionally affected by your first post nor do I care, I don't even know why I am writing a post to it, maybe by me doing so you have got what you wanted, the attention factor. If so, maybe painting yourself green and walking down the street is statistically more viable for getting attention.
Why do people even blab this stuff on the net? Is it because in real life, like you said, you withdrew yourself from a real life conversation.
A lot of people with faith can put up a decent argument and possibly make your viewpoint look shaky.
Unfortunately I am not one of those people, so have a lovely day.

Bucky said...

Religions are confusing.

I wonder if there were no religion...would there be no wars?

BloggingWV

Rohit said...

I would also add that getting a few hours extra on Sunday is an extremely precious thing, and is not to be given away lightly.

Also, being forced into relentless conflict or into doing things which you did not want to do, and vice versa, is not at all an agreeable solution nor is it an equitable outcome for countless hours of worship. That is essentially the advantage an athiest enjoys - a feeling of control over his/her life.

On the other hand, theism has its benefits when stripped of ritualization. It is literally the greatest thing in the world to have if you want to get solace. Willpower will help you get out of problems, but to deal with them in the meantime is not easy.

For the record, I'm neither an atheist or a theist. I literally dont care to worship an arbitrary god and cant be bothered to deny its existence as that's an exercise in futility ending only in personal aggravation.

John said...

Perhaps its time for everyone to read Dawkins book, The God Delusion. When we were all little we believed in Santa Claus, and in countries around the world, there are similar beliefs. When we get older we realize this was something for our young minds to develop around, and the fiction makes little sense to us as we become aware of the world. Mankind has also now come through its basic infancy and grows towards adolescence. Its about time we disposed of these fictions (religions) and focused on making life better using facts, science and reason.

Jerry said...

While your arguments are sound and quite understandable, they are based off of lies that have infected the modern Christian church.

Lie #1) Hell is a place of eternal damnation and torture.

Truth)The Bible describes "Hell" (As in the alternative to Heaven, there are actually 3 types of "hell" mentioned in the Bible) is a final death, as in, the person ceases to be. This punishment is reserved only for those who have stared God directly in the face and still decide they want nothing to do with him (See # 2).

Lie #2)This life is the one and only opportunity to know the Truth before it is too late.

Truth)The Bible says in Revelations that when God returns, anyone who did not want to believe in Him, or who simply never got to hear about Him would be given an opportunity to know the truth.

One way or another, eternal pain and suffering DOES NOT await those who are unsure about God or those who have convinced themselves there is no God.

JohnatGist said...

Has anyone ever considered that the problems of humanity are inherent IN humanity. That our humanity is the SOURCE of our problems? There is no dignity in being human without God and that is the whole underlying truth of our existence.

I understand that you all think you are rational and wise and that God has some answering to do. But your destiny is sealed and has been from the day you were born. You are already dead. Faith in Christ is the ONLY path to life. God doesn't answer to you. But He loves you and has made ample provision for you.

I pray for you all.

Yours said...

Just like to say somethin... in regards to the first post by Donna, which raised a really delicate matter :) (Thanks donna)
_____________________________

I dont think it's about worshipping God just cus he's God or just to go to Heaven. What if someone ain't interested in Heaven or Hell?
I think it's more to do with feeling a divine presence. Here some say that we as humans need something to believe in, but that's not true because in saying that they're making the assumption that they have the right to cast this theory over everyone else.

In actual fact, just watch the sun rise or set, or anything else. Or just look at the seed germinate. Or reflect on yourself grow. Or watch your baby. Or reflect on the reproduction of humans. How. Science can't explain it. To explain reproduction, science pursued writings posted within a scripture which I won't post either. IF you want to do the research you do it.

All I'll reveal is that the reesarch was carried out in Canada.

Take care and stay safe!

John said...

people are sheep and need a shepherd - that I can excuse because of the stupidity of the vast majority of humanity.

however, someone who wants to have a serious theological discussion with me should be wont to not include a line such as the following when trying to make any sort of point;

"Now imagine that Earth was invaded by an alien force with superior technology."

Edday said...

Actually, not every Christian was raised on a Christian home. Plenty of people convert later in life, or even on their death bed. And "heaven insurance" isn't simply praying and going to church. By definition 'Christian' means 'follower of Christ' and it is an entire lifestyle that you choose everyday.

jamina1 said...

Thought provoking post! One of my good friends is an atheist. While I still hold true to a belief in a higher being or beings, I don't really believe whole-heartedly in one religions set deity-definition. So I'd guess I'm just a non-conformist non-atheist.
Keep posting :)

wheresjesus said...

Nice post, my friend. It certainly does seem to me that with atheism/agnosticism comes a greater protection of human dignity than some theists (largely the pro-lifers and anti-evolutionists) would say. By casting aside useless, immoral, and wholly false deities, we can focus on the here and now and make this world a better and more beautiful place.

Cheers, keep it up!

(And if you're wondering about my username, it's a blog dedicated to documenting "Jesus sightings" because they amuse me to no end.)

Reyn said...

I'm not just an atheist - I am ANTI theist
Yes it is time to offend Xians & Muslims every chance we get by blasphemy, dirty pictures of Allah buggering Jesus, whatever it takes to end this reign of superstition.
Faith is treason against reason

Brian Huntsbarger said...

I'm with you on that one. My point in life is that I have "one" to live, and there is nothing higher. Those that have a higher beleif think that they screw up here, its not a big deal, they get to go to heaven where its better. Personally I believe religion was made up from times of old to get warriors to believe for something they were fighting for, rather than a money/power hungry dictator that is just as mortal as they are.

Great post!

james said...

Not being facetious here, but from your post i get the impression that you are in fact a Logical Determinist - or at worst an agnostic... I agree with you about Pascal...!

Jania said...

The God of the Bible is not an "asshole" because he refuses to "prove his worthiness." We have the Bible, which tells us EXACTLY what to do to understand God and Christianity and go to heaven. It's actually a lot easier than you think...not really worthy of constant bickering.

james said...

JANIA::: Since GOD created us shouldn't we be able to understand him instinctively. It should, if he was real, be an innate feeling or force. We shouldn't need a big book to assist us. Just sit down, ignore the world and your disillusioned past, now think LOGICALLY. Take all the facts you know and you will eventually find that there is no conceivable way for there to be something so ..... (cannot think of an adjective)

Jarrod said...

Listen to a great talk by Erwin McManus titled "Is Jesus the Only Way?"

iTunes Link: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=74403741&s=143441&i=15070215

Corey said...

Atheism is self refuting.

Someone who says definitively that there is no God has no way of truly knowing if that proclamation is actually true. An atheist cannot prove the non-existence of a supreme being any more than a believer can prove that one actually exists.

The only certain way to prove that there is no all-knowing, all-seeing, omnipotent entity (GOD) in the universe is to actually be one (GOD).

In that same vein, if you are one, then one definitely exists and then the whole idea of atheism goes right out the window.

So, then this age old issue of belief/disbelief in GOD becomes not one of proof, but one of faith and outcomes.

Also, the argument of "religions" causing war is a completely invalid argument, because religion does not cause war any more than guns kill people. People, and ignorant people at that, cause war and violence.

In the end, all of this comes down to personal choice. For me, it wasn't a hard choice because I'm lazy and I don't want to sit around and try to figure out the universe and all of it's infinite questions and mysteries with science. I would rather just simply believe that there is something greater than myself.

Jonas said...

@Jerry "Truth)The Bible describes "Hell" (As in the alternative to Heaven, there are actually 3 types of "hell" mentioned in the Bible) is a final death, as in, the person ceases to be. This punishment is reserved only for those who have stared God directly in the face and still decide they want nothing to do with him (See # 2). "

Would be nice to have some references to book and verse here...

Patrick said...

Hi. I was wondering if anyone here has ever read the Conversations With God trilogy by Neale Donald Walsch? It gave me many answers to questions I had about God. If you have never read it I would definitely suggest them. You must be open minded though and willing to ponder what you will read in those books. They are fantastic and describe that God that I always hoped existed.

lance said...

You should have continued to let the Mormon missionaries talk to you because you box that says, "Inherit the 'correct' beliefs from parents and go to heaven at the expense of every human who inherited the 'wrong' beliefs" is not true and I'm not talking about what they are doing. The Mormon church teaches that there is an opportunity for salvation to all who did not hear Christ gospel message in this life. I do not know of any other religion that teaches this doctrine.

Joe Hammer said...

Superb!

I recommend looking up Terror Management Theory in wikipedia/googling it.

Todd said...

Nice post. I usually say to myself I just don't know. I would consider myself an atheist, but I say a prayer and say thank you to God almost every night. I pray, "God , if you exists, thank you for my great life."

Ron said...

great post. afterlife isn't the only thing religion has to offer ... perhaps there is a way for both religious and non religious people to use whatever inspires them to improve the world around them as upposed to the world that may or may not exist after we die. ....
I posted more about this article on my blog too:
letsgetmetaphysical.blogspot.com

MrSimpson said...

"most people have a belief in God" - yes but only about 3% are active believers

"heaven" heaven is now, not some future event. "For a Christian, their faith is justified in the next life" That's an incorrect and ignorant view.

God or no God, morals are necessary. Religous people choose to accept handed down wisdom.

Russell said...

Here's a thought. Take any natural disaster - the Asian Tsunami, for instance. Now, let's look at the reasons why it happened...

1. God made it happen. Therefore God is a violent, irrational, hateful entity not worthy of worship.
2. It was an act of nature and God decided not to stop it. God is a violent, irrational and hateful entity and therefore not worthy of worship.
3. It was an act of nature, but God couldn't prevent it and therefore he is irrelevant and not worthy of worship.
4. It was an act of nature, and God does not exist.

I think that just about covers it.

Ryan said...

I've had a couple of these conversations. There are a lot of people out there that will believe in, and warship a God that they will admit that probably doesn't exist, but lying to themselves is better than the possibility of going to hell.

It's like a naturally evil child behaving well the month before Christmas as to get presents, not coal, under the tree. It's a selfish and unhonorable crime of faith, and if there is a big guy upstairs, I think he would be more upset at that, then someone who chose to believe in himself.

-Ryan

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