C Rulon: By accepting God, I have everything to gain and nothing to lose…or do I?

By | March 18, 2011

by Charles L. Rulon
Emeritus, Life & Health Sciences
Long Beach City College ([email protected])

Pascal’s Wager: “How could I give up eternal salvation by choosing not to believe in God?” I’ve been asked. “By accepting God you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. It’s a no-brainer.” Here’s my response:

Which god? There are a great many diff­er­ent gods and religions worshiped today, each with diff­erent dog­mas and beliefs regarding just about everything. Obviously they can’t all be right. But since there’s no rational way to deter­mine which ones are wrong, if not all of them, how can I choose? What happens if I pick the wrong god? What happens if I choose a Hindu god, or Allah, or the bib­li­cal god and the real god turns out to be a jealous, vindic­tive Egypt­ian Sun God? Now I’m really dammed to hell!

Which Christian sect? So suppose I flip a coin and it comes up “Jesus is my Lord and Savior”. I still have to select from among the hundreds of different Christian sects and denomi­nations which disagree­ with each other on all sorts of trivial things…like how to get to heaven, or the time of ensoulment, or the morality of birth control, abor­tion, homosexuality, or woman’s place, and so on. Why so many differ­ent sects? Partly because our Bible is filled with scientific absur­d­ities, contradic­tions, ambi­gui­ties and incon­­­sis­t­encies, thus making it a “pick-n-choose” Bible.

Faking is out. Also, you can’t fake it. You have to really believe in this medieval nonsense. Feigning belief? Don’t even think about it. Any omniscient god would see right through the deception. So now what? How do I throw out decades of acquired knowledge that devastates god beliefs, including much of my entire scientific back­­ground and become a true believer?

Horrors! Suppose I “miraculously” do become a true believer, say in the god of the Christian Right and of the Republican Party. Suppose I spend the rest of my life worshiping this god and doing what I am told is his bidding. Then suppose I discover near the end of my life that this god was either the wrong god or never existed in the first place. Horrors!! I’ve just spent my life trashing large chunks of excellent, life-advancing science in this god’s name.

I’ve spent my life trashing rational critical thought and human­istic com­passion in favor of an intol­erant medieval theocracy! I’ve spent my one priceless life increasing the pain and suffer­ing of gays and lesbians, and people with terminal illnesses who just wanted to die in peace and dignity. I spent my life trying to force untold num­bers of desperate women with unwanted pregnancies to be unwilling embryo incubators! I’ve even fought against the survival of demo­cracy in favor of a fascist theocracy!

I’ve squandered my precious time on Earth worshiping, sacri­ficing to, and fighting for some evil deity or one that never existed in the first place! In fact I’ve actually spent my life working for the extinction of the entire human species by preaching and supporting Arma­geddon End Times beliefs! Horrors!! And Christians actually have the temerity to tell me that I have everything to gain and nothing to lose by accepting their god!!!!

Here’s what I think. If an all-good, all-wise deity really did exist—a deity respon­sible for all the laws of sci­ence, including relativity and quantum mechanics—this deity would certainly not want us to waste our time kissing His ass and sending money to charlatans with bad hair pieces. Instead, He would want us to live lives of kindness, gener­osity and humanis­tic compassion. He would certainly not want us to follow the irrational, destruc­tive, intolerant, and self-serving dogmas of the Christian Right.

Also, since this deity saw to it that we had brains which could scientifically discover and explore the work­ings of His creation, He would regard the honest seeking of truth as one of His highest virtues. He would want us to use our rational brains and the scientific method to improve life on Earth instead of wallowing in endless superstitions.

Hell: If Christian fundamentalists are right and I’m wrong, I could be going to Hell (I’ve been told) for trying to destroy the faith of good, honest, God-fearing Christians. (Mark 9:42). But consider: If the Jesus of the New Testa­ment really did exist and, despite all evidence to the con­trary, his words really were recorded accurately in the Gos­pels, then those “Christians” who have not done their best to conform to his moral dictates could also be joining me for an eternity of fire and brimstone. That could be a lot of Christians!

After all, Jesus was very clear in his explicit admonition for the wealthy to give all their money to the poor if they ever wanted to go to heaven (Matthew 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-25; Luke 18:18-26). Yet, Christian Ameri­cans remain incredibly wealthy compared to the two billion people on our planet who live on less that $2 a day. So the express train to Hell might very well be stuffed with those who spent their extra money on BMWs, Botox injections, Armani shoes and trips to Vegas instead of on poverty relief. Also in danger could be those men who committed adultery by marry­ing div­orced women, those who didn’t turn the other cheek, and those who spent their time judging and condemning homo­sexuals, secular huma­nists, Jews, and Janice Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.

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