Saturday, September 04, 2010

Change Your Life - Prepare for Everything

Would you change your whole life on a possibility?  That’s what many Christians want us to do.  On the possibility that we might be wrong about the existence of a god and Jesus, in particular, they want us to embrace the nothingness of faith and believe. 

Setting aside the ridiculous idea that you can just make yourself believe something at will, they are asking for what they themselves are not doing.    Is it possible that I am wrong and that a god exists? Sure, it’s possible, but I would say not very probable.  Is it possible that the Bible is an accurate reflection of that God and that the story of Jesus is true?  Again, it’s possible, but not likely.  They argue that the risks of being wrong are just too great to ignore and that we should believe in order to save our immortal soul from Hell.  We should totally change our lives to account for this highly improbable possibility because to do otherwise would have consequences that would be unacceptable to us.
But do they follow this advice?  No, not when it comes to other highly dangerous and more probable events.  It’s possible that a meteor could come crashing through my ceiling and kill me; it’s unlikely, but possible.  Aliens could land on Earth and take over the planet.  Again, it is not likely, but possible and very deadly.    I could be hit by a bus, catch a fatal disease, or any of an almost infinite list of other unlikely and very deadly possibilities.  All of them are more probable than the existence of a god or the discovery that the Bible is true.  But do we or they totally alter our lives to ensure that none of these items will affect us or at least do what is necessary to minimize the negative results?  Do we prepare for the worst of every improbable event, “Just in case”?  No.  Instead, we make an informal analysis of the risk and take reasonable precautions based on the probability of the event and the gruesomeness of the consequences.

Given the horrific outcome of my afterlife should I be wrong about their buddy Jesus, you would think that the answer might be “yes” and that I would change.  But the probability of God/Jesus is so remote that it isn’t worth abandoning reality just to lie to myself about a happy ending.  Plus, if they are right, the consequences of believing in God/Jesus and thus spending eternity with Him are too horrific to contemplate.  To me, that is the more horrible ending; spending eternity with a being that would torture my fellow humans simply because they wouldn’t suspend reason and morality and call evil 'good' just to save their own ass.

So their pseudo-“Pascal’s Wager” is untenable to me and they apply it lopsidedly to their own lives when it comes to all the other deadly, but improbable events that could occur.  They are not altering their lives by hoarding water, food, guns, and fuel.  They are not building bomb shelters and walking around covered in motion detectors and bubble wrap to protect themselves from even moderately improbable events let alone events as improbable as God.  When I see my Christian friends collectively preparing for imminent catastrophe from asteroids and aliens, disease and disaster, or every possible random traffic accident, maybe then I will think they actually believe in Pascal’s Wager themselves.

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