I was asked last week by a friend if I was scared by the risk of there being a "god" and the fact I could go to "hell." I had to really think about a good response for this. So later, I responded to her, instead questioning why she would ask. I said: Even if there was this possible "risk" why not just leave the atheists alone, rather than ridicule them for their only possible "good" portion of their lifes? Because if this was true, then the religious people would have an eternity of "heaven" and good fortune while the atheists would only have had about +/- 75 years of "good" life and then suffer for ever. Why disrupt that person's only "good" time? When YOU (the christian) have nothing to loose yourself if you don't disrupt the atheist's life.

The past few days I have been thinking if that was a good response to such a trivial question. I don't know if I regret that response. I don't know if that response was strong enough to justify the scenario she put out there.

Any ideas? Was that a rational answer?

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The question is very similar to this one with its accompanying response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mmskXXetcg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPJQw-x-xho

If you were to take a look at any christian church, they would tell you that they are right and the rest are wrong. That argument could be expanded to most religions.... so who is right?

As far as your answer goes I don't think it was bad at all. I word it a little differently.

I don't know if we existed before this or if we will continue to exist after this. What I do know is we have this life, which so far as we know is precious and rare. Take advantage of it, enjoy it, live and learn from it. Do not waste it!
The question your friend asked is nothing more than Pascal's Gambit (aka Pascal's Wager). The simplest response is to ask is if the Gambit is a worthy reason to adopt, hold and maintain a belief in a god, how they can be certain they are believing in the correct god. Even if one limits oneself to the god of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) what certainty is there in their particular belief. Each of these faiths are, despite believing in the same god, mutually exclusive by the very tenets of their respective beliefs. And then there are the various sects and divisions within each of these religions, each claiming to be the one true faith.

Under the Gambit, belief in itself (despite the conditions of the gambit) is no guarantee of the claimed reward. A wrong belief is a wrong belief is it's a belief in the wrong god, and will still result in damnation. And despite the claims of various religions, there is no way to accurately determine which of the faiths (or beliefs) to adopt, presuming, of course, any are correct.
Your friend basically used the old Pascal's Wager. You gave a new take on it that I had not heard before. I like it. But you might also look into what other people have said about the wager. Voltaire addressed it hundreds of years ago so I really don't see why Christians still use arguments that have long been refuted.
-Staks
Ask your friend who would a god look upon more favourably ? An honest, compassionate atheist ? Or an obsequious, judgmental believer ?
I'd prefer spending an eternity in Hell with all the heathens, than an eternity with a bunch of crazies.
I like your response, and wish I had thought of it! But what I say when asked is this: What if there are guardians but not gods, and they want us to expand our thinking and evolve. And what if religion is nothing more than a limiting blockade to the evolution of mind, and when you (my friend) die you find you were wrong in deliberately refusing knowledge, and you don't get to go to your grand reward?
Let me answer that as an atheist. Since I do not believe in "God", then "God" is a human invention. Humans can invent whatever they please. Let us suppose that there is a grand overlord, who is evil, and wants us NOT to be "good". This overlord is almighty, all powerful etc. The overlord has put it about on earth that there is an entity called "God", but that is a fictional god.

If we do not see through the overlord's fakery, and renounce "God", when we die we will end up in a place called hell, (which the overlord has untruthfully put it about on earth, attributing the destiny of hell for rejecting the false "God"). The truth is the exact opposite of what theists tell us.

Suppose in fact, that to get into the good place when we die, we need to reject "God" on earth. Does it sound silly? Well yes it does; just like the theology we are asked to swallow now. So why: 'Aren't theists scared by the risk of there being an overlord and the fact, (fact ???), they could go to "hell" '.

Nothing about these two silly inventions is better or worse than the other. Of course I haven't spent thousands of years polishing up my invented overlord-ology. The point is, what if the theists are actually wrong, and the truth is that they will be punished after death, for their convictions while alive?

What if / what if / what if ?
Well, if I'm wrong, I'm screwed either way. Either as an atheist I'm doomed to hell or, along with Blaise Pascal, I could go along with something I don't believe in, which would be living a lie, and wouldn't that lie be big enough to condemn me to hell?

What about Keight's wager as a counter argument?
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Yes, Martin, if you lied and said you believed, then you'd go to hell for "bearing false witness" ;)

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