One of my Facebook Friends posted this as their status tonight:
Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch and washes all the dirt off of you. He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed. He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see. This was passed to me by another pumpkin. Now it’s your turn to pass it on to the pumpkins in your patch!
If you ask me, this sounds a lot like a metaphor for a full frontal lobotomy. Seriously, how can this be something to be proud of? It’s a willful disregard for one’s own mind. A blind acceptance of the ‘soup du-jour’ if you will. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the mentality of surrendering one’s logic and reason for submission to faith and belief without any evidence.
Pascal’s Wager is probably the most popular tool that believers use to try to use to get non-believers to reconsider their positions. It’s also one of the easiest to refute. So, I’m not going to go into the arguments in either direction, as there are literally gazillions (I love hyperbole) of articles out on the web that do just that. Go look them up if you’re curious.
What I would like to do in this post, however, is discuss the hypothetical situation where I find out that I’m wrong. First though, here’s a definition of Pascal’s Wager for those that don’t actually know what it is:
An argument according to which belief in God is rational whether or not God exists, since falsely believing that God exists leads to no harm whereas falsely believing that God does not exist may lead to eternal damnation.
Look, if I end up being wrong, and there IS a god that I have to meet after I die, I would expect that he’s probably a reasonable guy (wouldn’t you expect that the creator of all that is would be?). I hope that he examines me honestly and understands that I went out of my way in life trying to learn the things that I needed to learn to believe that he existed. It wasn’t like I just turned my back and said ‘screw you’. I know myself, and I know that I’ve examined the possibility honestly and with massive amounts of thought and research. If that isn’t enough to convince him to spare me of some eternal torture based on rules that he put into a book several thousand years ago, then there’s not much I can do about that. I can’t force myself to believe something when all of the logical and rational processes of my mind tell me it’s untrue. But before he damned me to eternal hellfire, I would hope I could at least ask him a few questions. Questions like:
“What was with all the hiding?”
“Where’s the evidence?”
“What’s your hangup with foreskins?”
“Slavery? Slavery is ACTUALLY ok in your view? please explain!”
“You created women, and immediately turned around and wrote a book that demeans them in every possible way. What’s up with that?”
“Thou shalt not kill, but wiping out entire civilizations is ok as long as YOU command it?”
“If your book is divinely inspired, why are there so many inconsistencies and contradictions?”
Seriously, though, Pascals Wager is so tired that I can’t believe it’s even used anymore. But, alas, I hear it all the time.
In some ways it’s not surprising. In others it’s just downright baffling.
Recently, my great-aunt passed away. We weren’t particularly close and she lived a good, long life that should be celebrated. Of course, any death is a sad time, it’s also an inevitability for all of us. So, if that person has lived 70, 80, 90 or more years, when that time comes, grief (at least for me) tends to be quickly replaced with awe and respect for a long life, well lived.
That said, here is a run-down of something I read when my mom posted about her aunt’s death on her Facebook status. The response from one of my mom’s friends (who I’ve talked about here before) was this:
my condolences. I wish I was going with her
This just left me scratching my head. But only momentarily. As I said at the top of this post “In some ways it’s not surprising”, and definitely NOT the first time I’ve heard something like this. So, to understand the mentality of this fundamentalist belief is to understand that this life, in their view, is very temporary, and almost an inconvenience. They want nothing more than to get on to eternity in heaven. So, instead of embracing life and living it to the fullest and enjoying it, they seem to hate this life and wish it away. They seem to view it as a separation from their god. What’s sad is that none of them have a single drop of evidence to support the idea that ANYTHING happens after they die. Let alone their particular brand of afterlife. So, to squander this one and only life by wishing for it to end creates in me a sadness for them that I can’t even begin to conceptualize. I just wish they would have a wake up call and realize what they are doing.
I hope that one day we can lose the walls that divide us as a species.
I hope that one day we can all see the beauty in the world for what it is.
I hope that one day cruelty and hate will be replaced with kindess and tolerance.
I hope that one day people of all races & cultures will learn to live together under the only title that matters: human.
I hope that one day reason & logic will replace faith and belief.
I hope that one day the word ‘war’ will be just a distant memory that people only know from reading history books.
I hope that one day the least of us is permitted as loud a voice as the most of us.
I hope that one day we are able to answer all the big questions.
I hope that one day that living deeply, entirely, and fantastically ‘in the moment’ is a goal that each one of us works towards.
I hope that one day we all learn to appreciate that the most meaningful things in life are those other humans that we love.
I hope that one day we can all learn to appreciate what a rare and amazing thing life is, and to value every single fleeting moment that we have.
I hope that one day we learn to appreciate the vastness of the universe around us, and how tiny and insignificant this amazing place is that we call home.
I hope that one day we have an epidemic of smiles on this planet.
I hope I live long enough to see all of this.