Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Can you afford to be wrong?

If God really does exist and He created hell as home for sinners, then can you afford to be wrong about whether or not you will end up there? If one person believes in God and that He created hell as a home for sinners and is therefore terrified over the possibility of ending up there, and another person does not believe in God or hell and therefore lives comfortably, how can you tell which one is correct? Can you afford to be wrong? If God does exist and created hell as the destination for sinners, then not believing in Him or in hell has absolutely no effect on their existence. What if you are wrong? If a Christian is wrong, then they are wrong for their lifetime but if an atheist is wrong, then they are wrong for eternity. Are you willing to make that gamble? Are you willing to challenge the Creator of the Universe? Is it easier to believe that nothing created everything or that creation must have had a creator? You know that your house exists, it is a building and must have had a builder. Perhaps you were that builder. You know that the cars on the road exist, they too had a creator, Ford/Chevy/Dodge/Honda/etc. You know that sun exists, you can feel its warmth and see its light every day, it too was created. So is it really so hard to believe that God created everything? You know the answer.


  1. Pascal's wager has never been a good case.

    First of all, you have narrowed things down to only two possibilities ignoring all others. This is what is known as a false dilemma. What if the muslims are right? A muslim could present the exact same argument to you and you would think it absurd, would you not? But according to them you would be going to hell. Can you really afford that risk? Of course you can.

    And this could go for any religion. Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Norse traditional, Roman pantheistic. In the end why is it your deity, of all those that have ever been created by man that would have to be right? WE skeptics and atheists believe that because there is no good evidence of deity, let alone the identity of which if any exist, why should we worship or follow any? If it is a just God then infinite punishment for temporal crimes is not reasonable, which makes an eternal Hell that much less believeable.

    I have listened to and read many apologetics, but Pascal's wager is extremely weak. I would recommend building a foundation on something much more substantial than threat and intimidation, which believe it or not is exactly what the threat of hell is.

  2. The "threat" of hell is a warning, much like road signs, it is meant to keep you from harm. I can think of no greater harm then to spend eternity seperated from all that is good. You can choose to ignore the warning signs and continue on your way, but sooner or later it will be too late and you fall off the cliff. So my question remains. How long are you willing to ignore the warnings? There was a man once who, during a massive flood, climbed up on his roof and decided to wait for a God to rescue him. After a short while, a boat came by and the occupants asked the man to come and join them and be safe from the flood. The man refused, saying that he was trusting God to save him and they went on by. After some more time passed, and the water has raised even higher, another boat happened by and again the occupants urged the man to join them and escape the flood. Again the man refused, insisting that God would save him. By now the water was almost over the roof and the man was getting nervous. Suddenly a helicopter came along but the man still refused to be rescued because he thought he would know when God would save him and a short time later, the man drowned. When he stood before the Lord, he asked, why did you not come and save me? The Lord answered, I sent you two boats and a helicopter, why did you not trust Me?

  3. Eternal Critic said: If a muslim presented the same argument to you, you think it absurd would you not? and If it is a just God, then eternal punishment for temporal crimes is not reasonable which makes an eternal hell that much less believable.

    First off, I would be completely contradicting my faith and message if I agreed with you and I do not agree. The message itself is valid and powerful no matter who presents it. Even for muslims, it is those who do not honor and worship God who are the infidels bound for hell. They honor and respect Christians and Jews, at least those who trully follow the Qu'ran and not the extremists who pervert it. My beliefs may differ slightly but I will still be going to heaven because I trust in and follow God.
    Secondly, it is exactly because God is holy and just that He must punish sin and make no differenciation of it. Sin is sin and it must be punished. If you go before a judge, convicted of a crime and you say to the judge, jusdge, I know I have been found guilty but since you are a good and fair judge, I believe you should let me go, being that you are so good and fair. What do you suppose that judge would say to you? They might give a slight chuckle but they would likely say, "because I am a good and fair judge, I cannot let you go free. I must see that justice is served and if I let you go free it would show me to be corrupt." And that is based on our standards. God holds much higher standards than that because He is perfectly Holy and Just. You can claim that His ways are unfair and unreasonable all you want but it makes no difference. We are without excuse and will all have to face Him on judgment day, where He will test even our thoughts and seperate the goats from the lambs.

  4. You actually completely ignored the important part of the question. If a Muslim presented you with the argument: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet. If you do not accept this and follow the tenets of Islam and submit to Allah's will you will be damned for eternity in Jahannam. If you do accept this you could spend all eternity in a heavenly paradise. What have you got to lose? If you choose not to believe, and are right, you lose nothing, but if wrong you lose everything! If you believe in Allah and his prophet and are wrong you lose nothing, but if you are right gain everything.

    This is the exact same argument put from a Muslim's perspective. And because I know you won't accept that argument, why do you think someone should accept yours other than because that's what -you- believe? I'm not sure who taught you about Islam, but there is no ambiguity in Islam that you would be going to hell for not being a believer.

    As for your claims of fair judgement you again avoid the actual question. How does one make eternal judgement on temporal crimes? If I stole a tee-shirt (random example) I would be punished based on the severity of the crime. If I steal a car, my punishment will be summarily more severe. Why would it be just to jusge a petty thief the same for all eternity as (forgive my Godwin) Hitler. Or, that being switched around, why should a great philanthropist who has contributed to the benefit of mankind and done many good works and little wrong (nobody being perfect) be punished for all time solely on not believing in something he has no good evidence for while a serial murderer in prison for multiple life sentences should be saved on the basis of one single belief in an ephemeral, unproven concept. If that's justice, any crime should be a capital crime punishable by execution.

  5. In regards to Eternal Critic's comments: That is not what you said originally since you mentioned nothing of Allah or Muhammad which actually was not the basis of my original post to begin with. I will reitterate that if I rejected my argument because someone else made it, I would be a hypocrit and my argument invalid. But you are right in that I would not accept the argument as you presented it. As for your argument about fair judgment I would remind you to stop insisting on your own ideas about is fair. Sin is sin and has no place in the presence of God. HE does not tolerate sin no matter how small WE think it is, and no matter how unjust WE feel HE is. He is Holy and just and will punish ALL sin. As humans, we make our own judgments about making the punishment fit the crime but WE ARE NOT GOD!! He also gave us a precious free gift in that Christ died to take our punishment for us so that we would not have to spend eternity in hell seperated from HIM! This is GRACE and it is given to us by FAITH through CHRIST alone and not by works that any may boast but a free gift from God.
    Think of it this way, if I am convicted of murdering someone for instance. The evidence is irrefutable and the case has been tried and I am found guilty. I know that I am guilty and so did the jury. The judge asks me if I have any last words before he passes my sentance. In a last ditch effect to appeal to his goodness, I say "judge, I know you to be a good and fair judge and I believe that because of that you should let me go since I have learned my lesson and it will never happen again. You are so good and fair so I think you will agree that I should be allowed to go free as this would show how good and fair you are. How do think that judge would respond? They would probably laugh at such audacity and then make it perfectly clear that it is because they are good and fair that they must see justice served. They would be corrupt if they let anyone go unpunished if they were guilty. The world seems to think that God is TOO GOOD to punish them for their sins but is exactly this,God's goodness, that will condemn them. Sin must be punished and the punishment is seperation in hell for eternity. Apart from trusting and following Christ as savior there is no escaping that punishment. But since Christ became that punishment for us and defeated death, we can go free in Him for He loved us so much.

  6. Hambone27,

    You said;

    "You know that your house exists, it is a building and must have had a builder. Perhaps you were that builder."

    How is that even slightly a good argument for there being a creator?

    Please, explain to me how you infer that the universe has a creator from the knowledge that buildings have builders (note that there are multiple builders - are you a pantheist?)

    And don't just change it from building to painting or watch - they're all the same; man. made. objects.

    I'm giddy in anticipation of your response because your attempts at apologetics with EternalCritic, above, have been a real hoot so far.



  7. To Matt: You completely ignored the intent of my message which is that the house WAS MADE BY SOMETHING, it was "Created." It does not matter whether one person built it or many, it was still built. Do you really think that attempting to make jabs at what you perceive to be a "false" argument and a "failed" attempt at apologetics makes you look more intelligent somehow? I am curious as to what makes you so confident as to condescend my statements and attempt to provoke an argument you have already preconceived to be false and inferior. I am curious as to whether you read the whole post or immediately passed judgement on your perception of an invalid argument?

  8. Mankind gets so caught up in trying to prove how the universe and everything we know to exist came into existence that we ignore the evidence staring us in the face, creation itself. We spend so much energy trying desperately to prove that creation was not created by God, the Creator and yet there remains to be a valid argument that actually disproves that fact.

  9. The problem is, you have yet to prove (or show any evidence) that the universe was created through a supernatural process. We know a house was built, we know a car was built because we can talk to the creator. The only reason you consider the universe to be
    "creation" is by your own fiat, not proof.

  10. moving past the creation aspect of it all, let's address the other side of Pascal's Wager: believing for the sake of avoiding punishment.

    Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that I accept the idea that Pascal is right, and I have nothing to lose and everything to gain with belief. Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that I accept that your particular brand of Christianity is the correct form of worship. I am still left with a problem:

    How do I make myself believe something?

    I can't. I can't make myself believe in god anymore than I can make myself believe in Santa or tiny pink unicorns.

    What am I left with then? The desperate attempt to fake belief in order to fool god into not punishing me forever.

    Are you positing that god couldn't tell that my belief was a lie? Or perhaps that god doesn't really care as long as I act as if I believe?

  11. You completely ignored the intent of my message which is that the house WAS MADE BY SOMETHING, it was "Created."What you've got on your hand is lazy analogizing and a deficit of the English language. It makes sense to infer that watches, houses, cars and poor arguments were 'made' by someone because (as ExPat points out) we recognize them as being man made. That they were made is part of their definition. Unfortunately for creationists, the verb 'to be' is not synonymous with a sensible interpretation of 'was made'. For example, a new father might look upon his child and say 'I made that', but he doesn't actually mean he was in the uterus attaching limbs and affixing tendons. It's an ambiguous misuse of the verb 'to make' and demonstrates that just because things exist does not mean that they were crafted by a person's hand. When you look at the Universe, you recognize its existence, but you cannot infer that it was 'made' for the reason I just demonstrated.

    I'll give you one more example. Look at a sandcastle. You see the rounded towers and the crenelated walls and you recognize that the structure was made because you're familiar with the tools and the procedure used in its construction. Now look at a sand dune. Superficially, you have a structure that looks ripe for analogy. It's a mound, and it's made of sand. But the process that caused it loosely to resemble a sandcastle is demonstrably different. The natural forces involved didn't plan that the sand dune would result; it's merely the byproduct of their apathetic operation.

    So, again: existence does not imply creation.

  12. "Are you willing to make that gamble? "

    I don't have a choice since I cannot force myself to believe in such a creator. So like Personal Failure, do I try to fake it and fool God?

    The fault of this lies in the hand of the creator who didn't give me a brain that could accept his book as being true. Perhaps he should have been a little less elusive and given me something I could work with. There isn’t much that was written 6000 years ago that I would believe today.

    Many religious people say that some day I will face God and I will be ashamed. Not true, I will face God and be angry at him for bringing me into a world that did more to make me not believe then believe at all. If I am sent to Hell for this, I’m not going to be blaming myself.

    So I could spend this life being miserable because I can not make myself believe. Or I can enjoy what little free existence I have.

  13. You cannot fake true and lasting faith in God. Either you believe in Him and put your trust in Him or you do not. If you really think that you can fool God then you obviously have a poor understanding of who He is. If you think you can avoid His judgment by pretending to believe in Him then you have a poor understanding of His judgment and why it is necessary.

  14. ImtheRabbit: You do have a choice because God created you with Free Will, the ability to choice between right and wrong. You already know what is right and wrong because it is written on your heart. Your conscience (which was given to you by God) tells you whether a particular choice is right or wrong, if you listen carefully to it. You can choose where to make your investment, either in Eternity with God or in this temporal existence without God.

  15. I listen to my conscience and it tell me the Christian Bible is not the word of God. I exist with my spiritualy and my conscience and the joy of learning all I can about this wonderful existance we have. I don't think God would really care if I decided not to praise him every day, He knows my heart and why I don't believe the Bible or any of the other Holy Books... I don't trust ancient humans.

  16. Well, its at least good to see you've abandoned Pascal's wager. Regrettably you've brought nothing to the table to back up a belief in your god other than blatant assertions and bad logic.

  17. Ancient humans, no matter how gifted or intelligent or thorough in the work could have possibly compiled the "Christian Bible" and had it be so accurate, inerrant, and powerful in their own doing. God's Word is far beyond the capabilities of man so I do not understand fully how anyone could believe that it is not His Word unless their understanding is clouded by something, like pride for instance, or unless they have not read and studied His Word for themselves from cover to cover thoroughly, which, by the way, could very well take a lifetime and they would still find new and exciting revelations even to the time of their passing.

  18. That would be your opinion. However the bible was simply the writing of teachings that were passed on orally.

    "Early Christianity relied on the Sacred Oral Tradition of what Jesus had said and done, as reported by the Apostles and his Disciples. These oral traditions were later written down as gospels"

    It is very easy to say that prophecies were fulfilled when they are written well after the fact by people who were did not even witness the events themselves. I don't see how anything could be "far beyond the capabilities of man" since it was man who wrote the oral teachings of others into the book you now call the Bible.