One of the biggest questions asked of us who have publicly announced that we are non-believers is "What if your wrong?" Here's my theory: The story goes that god forgives those that ask for it right? Or if we are truly sorry then we will be forgiven and won't go to hell. If that's the case and we're wrong, will we be forgiven by christian and catholic logic? It makes no sense to me because I can ask a "believer" the exact same question and they will dance around it or just plainly say "I'm not wrong, GOD is real and your going to hell" (Kinda rude but ok lol)... Just trying to pick a few brains here.
P.S. I was asked this question 2 days ago and thought i'd get a few opinions.
Have a good Thanksgiving!
One of the great things about being an engineer is that you're immersed in theories which are practicable, which can be tested and which work. What's even better is that when it DOESN'T work, you can dig into what's going on and figure out WHY it doesn't work. Virtually without exception, the explanation for why it doesn't work is clear and rational. The transistor blew, the relay welded closed, the circuit board wasn't properly seated, there was an incorrectly written line of code.
As a field service engineer, I've been able to participate in a microcosm of such practices: knowing how a given collection of things work and being tasked with repairing those things when they go wrong. It is important to note that this is a growing and learning process as well. The better you understand the mechanism, the more equipped you are to deal with new and unknown failure modes. The more you do it, the more you learn and the better you get at it. This action verifies and validates what you have learned in engineering school, whether it's Ohm's Law, Thevenin and Norton equivalents, or Kirckhoff's current and voltage laws. Ultimately, what you learn is that these principles are utterly RELIABLE, that they work and work repeatedly, and that no amount of outside interference will cause them NOT to work without clear reason.
Religion has none of this, obviously, nor has god in any of his/her/its proposed forms. There is no demonstration, no laboratory experiment, no mechanism to directly illustrate what god is or how god works. There is a bunch of hand-waving to this effect, with the suggestion that if you mimic said hand-waving that you will arrive at the same conclusion of those who taught the hand-waving in the first place. The problem is that, as the saying goes, "Your mileage may vary" - drastically, and indeed, that any result is not only not guaranteed but likely to be highly dependent on your acceptance of the veracity of the snake oil you were being sold.
Humankind is actually very early on the curve of learning how the world works, understanding its mechanisms and employing those mechanisms for its own benefit (and too often, its own detriment). Rather than accepting faith or dicta from supposed "authorities," we investigate, analyze and discover just HOW things work, why they do what they do and on a fundamental level. In so doing, we can move away from belief without basis and toward a growing and fuller understanding, with a strengthening foundation of previous discoveries.
This is what we've done with each of our own personal declarations of atheism. We've recognized that the stories and the lessons and the instructions from our religions were not workable, were not applicable, and had no relevance or resonance with us. Since they did NOT work, we set them aside in favor of something which either DID work or demonstrated a better chance of working. We opted to test what works and what doesn't for ourselves, rather than blindly follow what someone told us would work ... and we each began to become field engineers, building our tool kit and bag of tested and reliable tricks to conduct our day-to-day.
Fact is, peeps: we're not wrong. Because, as I said, we're early on this curve, we may sometimes need reassurance. Also, the matter of shaking old indoctrination isn't easy. It hangs on our shoulder sometimes, trying to lure us back with its simplistic bromides and warm-and-fuzzy stories. At some level or other, though, we do know that the emperor hasn't got a stitch on him, that he looks ridiculous that way, and we have zero desire to emulate him ... and so we don't.
We're Not Wrong.
Your muse returns with gusto! Clearly stated, powerfully worded. May I repost on Facebook? I want my family to read this. As always, Loren, your words of wisdom penetrate fog.
Please be my guest, Joan.
You have several styles of writing, one is to be sarcastic and make a point with a sharp dagger. I love this one.
Another is ridicule and you seem to have a knack of hitting the nail on the head. I love this one too.
Yet another, is to use metaphor, and use the device skillfully. This one is very valuable to me when I don't "get" something.
And of course there is your humor. Now, how can I lose when my dormant funny bone gets tickled?
Thanks for each one Loren. (I tied to send this as reply to your message and it wouldn't "Send". So here is attempt 4)
I have tried 5 different ways to send the above message, and apparently I am unable to send through messages.
I love your statement and I find the end interesting. Were you raised in a religious family? My parents are atheists. My father from a Jewish family, my mother from a Catholic one. My uncle, through marriage to my aunt, was born and raised in Pakistan to a Muslim family. He too is an atheist.
I have to say religion for me has never held warm fuzzies. Quite the opposite. I spent my life defending myself against it. I wasn't indoctrinated at a young age. I didn't hear the name Jesus Christ or the story of Adam and Eve until I was around 12 years old and then it wasn't from family but from a friend who was amazed that I could be so casual in my disbelief of god. By the time I started to really hear the stories, it was far too late for indoctrination. I had been taught our evolutionary heritage. I had been taught to question things and that "I don't know." is a perfectly acceptable answer to a question.
When I did start to get religion thrown at me, it was from several different directions. I grew up among Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Ba'Hai. What I learned is they all thought they were right and none of them had the same story. All I saw was a mish mosh of contradiction with no hint of logic.
Religion to me has never really made sense. I've spent a lifetime trying to understand it why exactly people still cling so strongly to it and the only answer I can really come up with is that it has to do with a fear of death. People are afraid to die, people are afraid to lose those close to them to death. Religion gives them the feeling that no one is really gone and they won't be either. That's what I think it really comes down to. But really that's answer I've come to only from standing on the outside looking in. That's all.
What interesting family dinners you must have with so many cultures seated together. I suspect these individual and different cultures bring traditions that are uniquely yours. My ancestors all came from Protestant or Roman Catholic faiths of Europe and our traditions reflect those roots.
I have one more observation to add to your excellent assessment. Many of the Christians I know, whether family or friends, fear not belonging, not being wanted, not being capable to accomplish a task, of not being good enough. Some pray for things that I find repulsive, i.e. to win at sports or beat some else at something. Some pray for help in doing a difficult task and feel they can't do it without supreme powers. Some pray for forgiveness as if by doing some wrong they can make it all be right with prayer. Some thank god for a healing when surgeons and nurses and technicians, and janitor and housekeeping staff and kitchen staff have all worked to restore one to health.
I agree with you that religion makes no sense. It is like those people who deny their value and worth reach out to a cloud for meaning. Many of my devout family and friends often report to me their deep depression and anxiety and don't make the connection of being dependent on an outside source for their meaning, purpose and abilities.
We exist and therefore have the power to be. We also have the power to do what needs to be done most of the time and we can seek advice and instruction from those who know better than we. We, as human beings, are social animals and need community, whether family friends, and nation. We have a brain with which to think, reason, solve problems, resolve conflict, and imagine a preferred future. We are attached to the earth by forces of gravity, and to the universe by whatever forces in nature that sustain us.
We now have the capacity to destroy life as we know it and the Earth will go on as if just another extinction occurred.
Shavante, of course we are wrong ... sometimes, and we are right until and unless we get more information that demonstrates that we are wrong and why. I can't count the many times I have made a statement that was in error and my friends on Atheist Nexus quickly address the issues. In most cases, they make their point and on reconsideration I can gratefully accept my error and restate what I believe. The power of the written word, as opposed to the spoken one, is there is a visual concrete statement that can be challenged or defended. I welcome being challenged. It is a gift of a friend.
This is Pascal's Wager: there is more to be gained from believing than not believing. Best answer might be that since you believe consciousness begins at birth and ends at death, whether you were right about your non-belief or you were wrong, that there really is a God, you will never know it. It is a circular argument in that it comes back to whether there is a heaven and/or hell. Who can say? Rely on what can be known. I see that in many ways, your question goes to the very heart of the argument.
Personally I think choosing to remain ignorant rather than seeking knowledge is too much to loose. Pascal's wager is really just the whole "Better safe than sorry, argument." But the way I see it, you can't really choose to believe something. Either you do or you don't. You can choose to act like you believe. But if there really were a god, and it is the one described by Christians, then I don't see how pretending would do any good.