Saturday, March 28, 2015

What if you're wrong?

What if?

If you don't live under a rock and live in the same day and age as I do, you have probably heard this painfully irrelevant question: What if you're wrong about God?

The most popular way it's posed is from Christians to atheists, typically this way: "I'd rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live as if there isn't a God and die to find out there is." The basic idea here is that if you believe in [the Judeo-Christian] God and behave accordingly through your life, and you die and He doesn't exist, you haven't really lost much. On the other hand, if you don't believe in [the Judeo-Christian] God, and so don't build your life around His precepts and laws, and you die to find out that He does in fact exist, you're in for a hell of an eternity...literally

Flaws (That Should Be Obvious)

This abysmal attempt at something vaguely resembling evangelization, otherwise known as Pascal's Wager, has been the go-to pseudo-argument of many a fundamentalist when all else has failed, as well as the most easily brushed off and scoffed at challenge faced by any atheist. At this point I'm surprised atheists even have front-facing eyes after how many times I'm sure they've rolled their eyes into the backs of their heads when confronted with this question.

As you might expect, atheists are quick to call the bullshit on this. If God is all-good and all-loving, why is the concept behind Pascal's Wager, which is unarguably meant to be threatening, even something to worry about? How can Christians proclaim a peaceful, loving Jesus in one breath and in the next insist that unless someone pretends to follow Him he'll meet a zealous tyrant determined to crush him under His might and fury?

I found this gem here
It should come as no real surprise that this question has often had the exact opposite effect on people than the questioner intends. "What if I'm wrong about God? He'll torture me forever? I'll gladly burn in hell before I worship Him a day in my life." Perhaps you've heard Mark Twain's famous quote regarding heaven and hell: "Go to Heaven for the climate and Hell for the company." The "what if" game is as tired as it is useless. Atheists aren't buying it, and they shouldn't. Praise God that they don't.

Another often (shockingly) overlooked flaw in this approach is perhaps the most simple objection: what if we're wrong? What if Christians believe in and worship the wrong god? What if we die and -- oh shit -- we're the ones in for that hell of an eternity? Is this compelling to you at all? No? Good. It shouldn't be. This is a dumb argument.

 A Loving God

As you can probably imagine, most atheists (and people in general) aren't exactly turned on to a deity by the believers in that deity displaying a form of unabashed Stockholm Syndrome. If the best and final argument we have at our disposal is "Well, I've told you how much God loves you and has done to save you, and if you ignore it you'll burn in hell forever because He is oh so just," we've completely failed at this whole evangelization thing.

The heart of Christianity is not, believe it or not, "living as though God exists" (though this is certainly part of it). The heart of Christianity is an unrelenting devotedness to trusting in Jesus Christ (we call this faith) to save us from the wicked world we find ourselves caught up in (we call this grace). The saving Person and mission and work of Jesus seem to be curiously absent from this "What if?" question game. Am I the only Christian honestly disturbed by this?

Evangelization is about spreading the good news of Christ's victory over death and its hold on us. Evangelization is not about half-assedly attempting to scare people into buckling their faithbelts.


Please, God help us all, just stop. This argument helps no one. This argument annoys everyone.


Christianity has a rich intellectual history. If you're curious how to engage atheists, there are countless saints and scholars you could turn to that will gladly answer your deepest questions. We have no need for silly questions and endless "what if?" games. So, please....just stop.

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