DarkMatters2525 shows us what could happen if atheists really converted on the deathbed:
Christians never think that’s an option when they ask, “What if you’re wrong?”…
If they’re right, then their god is an evil scumbag who punishes thought crimes, and I wouldn’t want to spend eternity praising that.
In addiion to Jasper: the way believers picture heaven it’s a horribly boring place.
“What if you’re wrong? What if you go to hell for spreading lies about God?”
People often ask: What if you’re wrong about Jesus and I’m on a road to hell. The boiler plate answer most atheists give is what if the believer is wrong about the other 1000’s of gods out there. And that’s correct. I often use the image from “The Mummy” w/ Brandon Frazier of the guy who’s wearing a few dozen religious medallions (http://youtu.be/pDWR5RkWRTY) to illustrate this point.
But another part of this question I rarely see addressed is “What have you lost?” I’d like to point out some of the things I may lose by becoming (and having been) a believer.
I would loose any excuse to discriminate against my fellow man.
I would loose the hate associated with religious bigotry.
I would loose the inability to date others outside the flock simply because they didn’t believe as I did.
I would loose the guilt associated with being human because my mate and I choose to do what came naturally.
I would loose having to give up my money to perpetuate a myth.
I would loose the judgmental looks and accusations that come from not being christian enough.
I would loose having to struggling with science/religious conflicts.
I would loose the fear of not being christian enough.
These are but a few things I have to loose. I’m certain there’s more but that’s off the top of my head. It’s a small price but one I’m willing to pay.
People often ask: What if you’re wrong about Jesus and I’m on a road to hell. The boiler plate answer most atheists give is what if the believer is wrong about the other 1000’s of gods out there. And that’s correct. I often use the image from “The Mummy” w/ Brandon Frazier of the guy who’s wearing a few dozen religious medallions to illustrate this point. (see below)
I would lose any excuse to discriminate against my fellow man.
I would lose the hate associated with religious bigotry.
I would lose the inability to date others outside the flock simply because they didn’t believe as I did.
I would lose the guilt associated with being human because my mate and I choose to do what came naturally.
I would lose having to give up my money to perpetuate a myth.
I would lose the judgmental looks and accusations that come from not being christian enough.
I would lose having to struggling with science/religious conflicts.
I would lose the fear of not being christian enough.
*Lose not loose. Sorry, but I had to say it. Good points though
Doh! Fixed. Thanks.
Spending eternity repeatedly telling some guy that he’s awesome would be kinda boring, yes.
I had this discussion with a very Catholic friend. I told her to look at my life — happily married for 35+ years, adopted special needs children, teach Emotionally Disturbed children, and etc — if god is fair, I will go to heaven. On the other hand, I would not trust a god who did not want me.
Something Christians who bring up Pascal’s wager never seem to consider is that if you choose to believe in God purely for the sake of hedging your odds in a potential afterlife, then you haven’t actually accepted God into your heart and are only pretending to believe. Do they think their god wouldn’t see through that ruse?
The worst example I’ve encountered is a few years ago when my sister sent me a letter urging me to become a believer, concluding with “Why not give it a try? What have you got to lose?” What hit me most about that suggestion, is that she seems to regard belief as something so facile that one can just arbitrarily start believing something without the slightest bit of conviction.
Whew, thank goodness I picked the right religion, not these false ones like Christianity or Islam.
In my experience as a Christian, I have “lost” all of the things on your list as well. Please know that not only is that not uncommon in the Christian community, but the Bible addresses all of those things as well.
– The story of The Good Samaritan / “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” are a few anti-discrimination / religious bigotry texts, in fact Christ forgave those who crucified him,
– Dating others “outside the flock” is a Biblical concept,but not a commandment or law. Marrying a like minded person is spoken about- which makes sense purely from a compatibility standpoint. Either way, it’s a recommendation, not a law or something considered sinful,
– “Feeling guilty for being human” is an emotion that I observe much more frequently in people who decide that there is no God, Christians generally feel loved and forgiven, which is the opposite of feeling guilty. Knowing that God created us and cares for us is not guilt – producing. Freud spent a lot of time dealing with guilt from a scientific perspective,
(too long to get into, interesting to google) because so many people struggle with it. In my opinion it’s the opposite: Feelings of guilt are part of the human condition, and one of the reasons people respond to the “good news” is that it can alleviate guilt and anxiety. I have atheist friends whose primary reason for going to therapy are “feelings of guilt and anxiety” (I don’t mean ex Christians, but people raise in secular homes).
– Giving up money to perpetuate a myth is in the eye of the beholder, plenty of money is spent on things that people love that does not always seem practical to others.
– Judgmental looks? Only from people who didn’t pay attention to Christ’s constant reminders not to be judgmental!
– I’m pretty well versed in science and I don’t have any conflicts in that area. Science and religion are absolutely compatible.
– Nobody should fear “not being Christian enough.” When the disciples asked that question the answer was that we need only “as much faith as a mustard seed.” The whole point of the Gospel is that Christ does the work, not us “lest any man should boast.”
I respect everyone’s authentic belief – I’m writing this only to say that as a Christian I dislike the very things that you dislike, and I don’t want to feel any of those negative things either.
When Christians say that, it only makes sense based on our concept of the nature of God. If God is real, and someone were to “give it a try” and pray, read the Bible, etc., it may indeed lead to a very real faith.
“Giving it a try” and Pascals Wager are two very different things. “Giving it a try” assumes that the result could be “I tried it and I still don’t believe.” Whereas PW suggests a forced belief whether one believes or not.
I see your distinction, but ultimately they are both examples of just pretending to believe.
“Make believe” is fun when playing with kids, but it doesn’t make a solid foundation to build a worldview on.
Just a quick reminder- as a Christian, you probably literally believe that someone who’d been dead three days got back up again, that someone walked on water, and that there was some serious alchemy going on for loaves and fishes to be multiplied. Not to mention you believe an intangible, non-physical being got a girl pregnant.
How do you square that with science at all?
Along the lines of the “The Mummy” clip posted in this discussion, this guy has superstitions covered as well.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-mnxKtFhdY
“Feeling guilty for being human” is an emotion that I observe much more
frequently in people who decide that there is no God, Christians
generally feel loved and forgiven, which is the opposite of feeling
You may not feel guilty, but you are declaring your guilt. After all, if you haven’t done anything wrong, then there is nothing to forgive.
If you do consciously accept that you have done something wrong, then I don’t think being forgiven by a third party (whether real or imaginary) is valid for obviating your guilt feelings. The only thing that can truly do that is the forgiveness of the person you wronged.
It would be like the old Chris Farley interviews on SNL. “Remember that one time, when you turned water into wine? That was awesome.”
Valhalla sounds like a lot of fun. Do modern-day pagans practicing the Norse faith believe women will go into battle as well? That’d be cool.
Jews believe that people lie around in their graves until the coming of the Messiah, at which point the good dead will be raised up to reclaim an Earth made clean and beautiful. This is the origin of the cliche, “The meek will inherit the Earth.” (When we went to my grandmother’s matzevah, my mother commented on “what a nice neighborhood she was in,” meaning that the inscriptions on the nearby graves were all Jews of a similar generation. “Aunt Lil is over there, and Uncle Jack is down by those trees.” Like they’d be hanging out and playing Canasta until the final trump.)
Muslim men are perpetually aroused in heaven, and are surrounded by houris, who are always virgins when they are penetrated. (I’m not prepared to say whether or not this is a good thing. Personally, it sounds exhausting.) Nothing is said about women, though, and what they get. The Koran does say women are more likely to go to hell, although heaven is possible. There are so many who disobey their husbands, though.
That list wasn’t all encompassing however fact of the matter
is that every point I made there has either happened to me or people I know. I appreciate your desire for discussion. So here’s my thought process to my post.
My brother for many, many yrs was terrified of hell. He went to counseling for it and that still didn’t help. He very much thought that if he wasn’t perfect, like Jesus supposedly was, then he was going to be burning. Now I’m sure you’re going to tell me that the church he went to wasn’t representing “real” christianity. I really don’t care. Every single christian believes they represent “real” christianity.
Dating outside the flock may be “only biblical” but it was enough to have a father ask me to leave his daughter and never call
her again because I wasn’t Christian enough. I’ve also read many accounts of this sort of thing happening to others.
I don’t see how you can say that it’s atheists, not christians who feel guilty for being human. It’s the christian who believes they’re undeserving. When I was a believer and had sex w/ my GF, I felt like I let “god” down. How many girls are being brought up right now to fear their own bodies because they may lead “boys to sin?” It’s not an atheist telling people that they’re horrible evil people for simply being born. It’s not the atheist who anguishes and debates whether babies are burning in a lake of fire because they died before being “saved”. It’s not the atheist who’ll let children die while praying for a miracle rather than take them to a doctor. I don’t believe I’m guilty of anything other than being myself and as such have nothing to be forgiven for or “saved” from.
What would you call giving money to an org that denies
evolution, says’s the entire the earth was flooded, believes in talking snakes, donkeys, etc ,etc. They’re myths. Plain and simply. Tithing helps to perpetuate this.
So am I and no they’re not. The earth simply was not flooded, the exodus is highly implausible. Raising of the dead, walking on water, talking snakes and donkeys, earth created in 6 days???? Really??? And you say this is compatible???
Forgive me, I have to say it: those tits are RIDICULOUS.
This rational would also only make sense when approaching a life long atheist. I don’t know the statistics off of the top of my head but I believe most unbelievers deconverted. So to tell us to give it a try is stupid since we’ve already given it a try (and many of us quite devout in our trying).
You obviously didn’t grow up Catholic. Guilt, fear and intolerance is the underlying theme. These Religions have been corrupted by man to justify their actions. They do did in the name of God. As Gandhi said: I like your Christ but not your Christians.
“Feeling guilty for being human” is an emotion that I observe much more
frequently in people who decide that there is no God, Christians
generally feel loved and forgiven, which is the opposite of feeling
In my experience this is completely inaccurate for a number of reasons. Depression, guilt and other negative emotions are not talked about in the church because it ruins the selling point of finding joy only within Christ but it is certainly a pressing problem. It is only upon deconverting that I found out what true joy and self-acceptance was. And it’s not “sinning” without recrimination despite what so many Christians believe. In fact, quite the opposite.
That’s always been my thought. I’d rather be in hell. Satan seems like a way cooler dude than god. Also, if god is as hypocritical, sociopathic, and all around a liar as the Bible says, then the odds are pretty high that hell isn’t anywhere as bad as he says it is.
This is the same kind of nonsense used by alternative medicine scams.
If it worked, there would be some evidence. The treatments have been thoroughly tested, but continue to fail to do better than placebo, because they are just placebos.
Some are more elaborate placebos than others, but they are still just placebos.
Religion also claims What’s the Harm?
There is a good site that explains the harms and can be extrapolated from religion alternative medicine to alternative medicine religion.
Understood, I would not tell someone to “give it a try” if they were a “deconverted” Christian. I do meet many people, though, who went to church as a kid and considered themselves “Christian” who never actually “gave it a try.”
No, just the PW version is pretending. “Give it a try” presupposes that the “try” will be authentic – and that the result may very well be non-interest in faith.
From the perspective that God is real “give it a try” makes sense, from the perspective that God does not exist it makes no sense whatsoever.
I know, right? I think that’s the real reason the patient said, “Jesus Christ!”
You missed my point. The reason I mentioned Freud is that he was one among many who felt that “feeling guilty” was a complex reaction (etc, etc) and part of the human condition. I happen to agree – and I find it amazing that faith can alleviate a human condition shared by many. The feeling of guilt is complex, but manifests as anxiety or lack of peace of mind.
You are correct – forgiveness by a 3rd party would make no sense, unless that 3rd party is God.
“This is the origin of the cliche, “The meek will inherit the Earth”
Doesn’t that come from the Sermon on the Mount?
You provide this example –
Should we try to compare the nice good verses with the horribly cruel bad verses?
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’” 1 Samuel 15:3
Good people will ignore these horrible parts of the Bible, but this was a command from God who was cranky because the Amalekites were worshiping another God.
If jealousy were a virtue, this would be evidence of an awesome God.
If I responded to rejection this way, I would be locked up.
Maybe I should give it a try.
If I am arrested and sent to prison, it could just be an example of persecution for my religious beliefs.
You’re speaking about some of the miracles in the Bible, and that’s what makes them miraculous. The concept of God doing the miraculous has no bearing on scientific thought being true or false.
No, I did not. And I guess I’m thankful for that, since some of my closest friends at Church jokingly refer to themselves as “recovering Catholics.” And understandably – since it’s impossible for me to read the Gospels and determine that the main idea is guilt, fear, and intolerance.
“Depression, guilt and other negative emotions are not talked about in the church because it ruins the selling point of finding joy only within Christ.”
I don’t say this sarcastically, but after years on FA I’ve come to the conclusion that I am blessed to be a Christian in the NYC area. Every good church I have attended is all about speaking openly about those very things – to the point that there are support groups specifically for depression, etc. that take a holistic (mind/body/spirit) approach to wellness.
Self acceptance based Christ’s love is is literally the bedrock of many ministries.
I’ve used both the rebuttals to Pascal’s Wager and the “the overwhelming majority of humans must be wrong” arguments in the past, and will continue to do so. I would also add that even within Christianity there are vast differences of opinions. For example, many of the fundies that we deal with on a regular basis will probably insist that Catholics aren’t Real True Christians. So, by that logic, the “personal experience of God” that the majority of Christians feel? Fake. Also, some Christians will insist, based on their “personal relationships” or what have you that Hell is either:
A) the torture chamber for everybody except those who hold a very specific dogma
B) cessation of existence
C) possibly one of the above, but if you’re a good person, it doesn’t matter what you believe
D) A, but only temporary; depending on the magnitude of your sins, you’ll be there for a long, long time, but eventually you’ll get either B or C; this idea is supported by the Apocalypse of Peter, a heretical book which was not approved for Bible canon.
Did you ask her to give Atheism a try? What’s fair is fair!
“Now I’m sure you’re going to tell me that the church he went to wasn’t representing “real” christianity. I really don’t care. Every single christian believes they represent “real” christianity.”
No, I won’t say that – partly because it’s the #2 FA taboo (#1 is Pascal’s Wager) and partly because it’s a silly construct – it’s like saying cars don’t work because there are bad mechanics out there. We are all literate, I would only ever tell someone to read the teachings of Christ in the Bible and see for themselves.
I can’t find Christ teaching any of what you wrote:
“It’s not an atheist telling people that they’re horrible evil people for simply being born. It’s not the atheist who anguishes and debates whether babies are burning in a lake of fire because they died before being “saved”. It’s not the atheist who’ll let children die while praying for a miracle rather than take them to a doctor.”
The other areas you mention – guilt about pre marital sex, giving money to church, etc. don’t make any sense if Christianity is not true. That part comes back to faith, like it always does – it’s impossible to debate. The argument that “The Bible has rules which when broken make me feel guilty = it must not be true is not logical.
I think it would be hell to be one of the houris!
The disciples who followed Christ were just fine being fisherman until they met him. The book of Samuel (if they had read it at all) was not “life changing” to them. Christians follow Christ, and to pull out an OT verse when the NT is literally translated as the “New Covenant” isn’t the best way to discredit Christ’s teachings. There is a reason why he came – and it wasn’t because the OT had everything worked out!
Perhaps it is the bedrock. It doesn’t take very well though at least not for those whose psychological makeup involves an innate desire to question. The reason I think is because of substitutionary atonement. It’s a noxious belief that because we are sinful and thus repellant to God that we are separated from him and deserve to be crucified. In order to bridge this separation God killed himself for us. Sure God loved us so much that he died for us but that doesn’t mean we were worthy. We weren’t. Nope, we are so horrible that we deserve to be physically tortured and burned for all eternity and it’s only because God is so nice that we have the option of living forever with him. Anyway, a lot of theologies are moving away from teaching this self-hate (aka substitutionary atonement) and couching Christ’s sacrifice using different language. I’m all for this. But for those who still teach it (and it’s still by far the most prominent view of the crucifixion) and abide by it the damage to it’s practitioners is great.
You do know that Jesus was a Jew? The idea that the good people would someday reign over the Earth would have been part of his religious upbringing.
Heaven, heaven is a place
A place where nothing, nothing ever happens
— David Byrne, Talking Heads
It IS hell for the women…
Yeah the not really saved phenomenon. “My parents raised me in church, I was baptized as a kid, even became a deacon but I never made the decision to follow him! Now I am. Praise be to God!”
Even as a Christian I thought those stories stupid and nothing more than an attempt to manipulate people into more devout behavior. Now the sincere conversions from those who never even attempted to worship are different and perhaps that’s what you’re referring to.
Sure – but I don’t know if Jesus actually said any of the things he is quoted as saying. Only one author quotes Jesus as saying that particular beatitude, Matthew, 50 or 60 years after Jesus’ death. And while that author was probably a Jew, we have no way of knowing that for sure.
Furthermore, you didn’t say the *idea* comes from Judaism, you said the “cliche” does. It’s not a cliche, it’s a quote, and it comes from Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount.
Atheists generally know a fair bit about the bible, not just the really popular parts everybody knows. You’re letting down the team.
That’s the point… a caring person reads the Bible and finds it justifies their compassion, an authoritarian reads it and finds it justifies their cruelty. Both demand their interpretation is correct and vetted, while the atheist scratches her head.
You are correct – forgiveness by a 3rd party would make no sense, unless that 3rd party is God.
Is this the Kalām Forgiveness Argument?
“Valhalla sounds like a lot of fun. Do modern-day pagans practicing the
Norse faith believe women will go into battle as well? That’d be cool.”
I don’t know about the women specifically, but I just wanted to point out (as one of those modern-day Pagans) that Valhalla is not the equivalent of heaven, there is only a 50% chance of anyone who dies in battle going there (at least by some sources — the other 50% will wind up with Freyja in Folkvangr instead), and there are many, many possible non-Valhalla endings for a person, including Helheim (NOT THE SAME THING as Christian Hell despite the vaguely similar names and it would be useful to keep in mind that Baldr, himself one of the Gods, winds up there) or reincarnating later in your family line.
Christians follow Christ, and to pull out an OT verse when the NT is literally translated as the “New Covenant” isn’t the best way to discredit Christ’s teachings.
Jesus was Jewish. Did he ignore the Bible (the New Testament was not around, yet)?
I am not criticizing Christian teachings, but Biblical teachings.
Jesus is specifically just in one part of the Bible.
However, Jesus is supposed to be the same God and a different God from the God who ordered the slaughters of the Old Testament.
There is a reason why he came – and it wasn’t because the OT had everything worked out!
I wan’t suggesting that the Old Testament was almost perfect.
I was stating that the Old Testament, still part of the Bible, is horrible.
Do you claim that the Old Testament is not horrible?
Did you remove it from your Bible?
I knew I wasn’t the only one!!!
I think those stories do exist, there are lots of people who go through the motions and never even think about it / have no interest, but later they do.
Not really, I’m saying “unless that third party is God” and the kalam is first cause (?) argument for God’s existence.
I sincerely think that Christ’s teachings, when read directly, point more to love and compassion. In order to use it to justify authoritarianism you need to read “into” it.
Atheists on FA are smart. I believe if a panel of atheists were to read the Gospels and decide – based on them – if the intent is love or evil and power they would vote for the former. I can’t explain why people “don’t follow the handbook.”
I have had the same thoughts, of course. I think I look at it as less that “we are sinful and thus repellant to God that we are separated from him and deserve to be crucified” and more like a mathematical equation: If God is perfect and can only be in the presence of perfection, we have to be “perfect” to be with him. (similar to eastern philosophy, except they get infinite chances to achieve “perfection).
So: Imperfection X Christ = perfection.
(Awkward, I know, but if I were to be honest that’s more the way I look at it – not so much being “blamed” for being “sinful” more like another law of the universe).
The change in language that I’ve seen is more along the lines of taking very literally the idea that Christ died to save “everyone.”
No one is attacking Christians – its called Backlash!
OT verses are a good way to demonstrate that the same god who is Jesus later in the story had some very skewed priorities. His first attempt at a covenant was mostly concerned with telling his followers to kill people and animals for his pleasure. Even if he changes the covenant later, the old one still reflects on the character of its designer.
Sure, the new testament proposes a different god than the old testament, but then it tells us repeatedly that this is the same god.
So you believe in miracles with no evidence whatsoever that they occurred, even though science literally says they cannot happen.
That seems like a pretty big conflict to me.
I do. Since I believe in God, miracles are a small stretch!
So you believe in an invisible, intangible, completely unmeasurable, completely untestable intelligent force that can nonetheless interact with our world and break the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology on a whim.
Again. How does that not conflict with science?
You mean universalism I assume. I’ve also heard it explained as Christ died because of our sins not for our sins. Both of those explanations of course are less psychologically damaging. Substitutionary atonement in the strictest sense is beginning to lose favor I believe.
Just for the record there are problems with your mathematical equation analogy most of which have to do with the whys of a God that has to be around perfection creating beings who can choose not to be perfect and then condemning them to hell for being tricked into succumbing to the fatal design flaw. Unless of course they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, a man that lived two thousand years ago written about in only one ancient book that is full of inconsistencies and mistranslations.
I wonder how many of the “give it a try” believers consider their belief as something they themselves “choose”. Did they originally “choose” which lead faith, or think it will work for others? It seems to give it a “moral” quality. Do they think continuously choosing to behave and think piously in a state of hope when one might otherwise have given up count as faith? They probably don’t think that far into it.
Deathbed Woman has an oddly impressive rack….
If they’re right, then I would still not worship their god. That egotistical god does not deserve an ounce of my time.
Either way it doesn’t matter, ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all that. No matter what, we are destined to be consumed by mother nature and to be recycled by the cosmos.
The reason I say “mathematical equation” is that there is no trickery, just simply what “is.” If i created the ocean, and part of it’s beauty was it’s power, depth, and storms, along with that comes the danger of shipwrecks and drowning. We don’t get mad at the ocean, that’s just its nature.
The “fatal design flaw” that you speak of is, I suppose, why the Bible shows salvation as being so easy to attain – like the thief on the cross next to him who simply says, “remember me…” A few moments earlier, he was mocking Jesus. “Man is not saved by works but by faith” means that “succumbing” is not the problem, the problem is not acknowledging the creator.
There are no more inconsistencies than there are at an archeological dig – things that seem wrong start to make sense as one spends more time pondering and studying. And Christ’s message was a pretty clear: “trust in me, follow me, pray to me – as best you can.”
If i created the ocean, and part of it’s beauty was it’s power, depth, and storms, along with that comes the danger of shipwrecks and drowning. We don’t get mad at the ocean, that’s just its nature.
Of course we do not get mad at the ocean.
The ocean does not claim to be a perfect Creator, while making excuses for imperfect creations.
There are no more inconsistencies than there are at an archeological dig – things that seem wrong start to make sense as one spends more time pondering and studying.
Time does not convert wrong into right.
Spending time studying homeopathy, or any other scam, does not make homeopathy any less nonsense.
Time does not convert. gullibility does.
Every religion can make the same claim about spending time pondering and studying.
All religions are equally valid and equally invalid – as long as they make claims to the supernatural.
True, once you drink the Kool-Aid you might as well finish the whole damn glass.
Then you end up with cases like this.http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/national-international/Third-Doctor-Declares-Jahi-McMath-of-Oakland-Legally-Dead-237179681.html
Valhalla is, in fact, open to both genders. If you die honorably, in combat, and win the coin toss between Odin and Freyja, you can end up in Valhalla regardless of whether you’re a Man or a Woman.
When Ragnarok comes, EVERYBODY in Valhalla will fight. 🙂
Also, just for the funny.
The time that bloke in the movie wasted fiddling with his religious medals and mouthing incantations would have been much better spent running away.
But then time spent on any form of religious observance has always struck me as being time wasted.
also, if hell is real that’s where I’ll finally meet George Carlin…the old f###.
Hm, I think it’s time I make a comic that draws in a guy’s over-sized bulge every time I portray a male.