Many religious types, when arguing with an atheist cite Pascal’s wager as an argument for a belief in god. Let’s take a closer look at what Pascal actually said.
I find this attitude to be not only disingenuous, but if there is a god, highly insulting to him/her. If there is a god and he/she is omniscient, then don’t you think they know that your are just hedging your bets. If only true believers are to go to heaven, then this type of behavior would be seen as a one way ticket to a flame filled afterlife. At least atheism is honest.
I see three camps when it comes to belief in a deity. The first group doesn’t know, but believe with all their being that a god exists. The second group doesn’t know, but due to an overwhelming lack of evidence choses not to waste their time believing. Then there’s the third group who doesn’t know and doesn’t care (agnostics). There is currently a battle waging between the first and second groups. The believers believe that they are being persecuted (IRONY!!) for their beliefs. The second group just want the beliefs of the first group to stop hindering their lives via the government or any other area of life that has been taken over by religion and are willing to stand up and fight against the first group. I don’t understand why the religious types need so much for everyone else to believe as they do, but they do. Hence they are constantly trying (and failing) to convince us atheists that their god exists via arguments like Pascal’s wager and sayings like “There are no atheists in foxholes”. This saying basically means that in a life and death situation everybody turns to god and prays.
As an atheist who has been in a life and death situation, I can tell you, that is simply untrue. A few years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to the position of the tumour, there was some question as to whether or not a mastectomy would be necessary. As I went under the anesthetic, I had no idea if I would wake up with breasts or not. For those of you who have read my post entitled, I hate my big breasts you know which way I was rooting. It had been discussed that if the doctor had to take the breast, that he would take both. When I awoke after surgery, I looked down and saw to my dismay, that both my breasts were still there. My doctor then gave me more bad news… chemotherapy would be necessary. This whole cancer ordeal took a lot out of me over a period of months, but not once did I find myself talking to an imaginary person in the sky. I was insulted when friends told me they would pray for me, for I see the act of praying for an atheist as, not only insulting, but purely selfish and more than a little smug. Instead of wasting your time praying for someone who does not believe in your god, perhaps you could spend that time making sure there is plenty of ice cream available for after the surgery (or whatever hardship they are facing), or just being there and listening to your friend as he or she goes through a difficult situation. Instead, some believers feel this is a situation in which their friend is ripe for conversion and they are ready to take full advantage. I actually had one friend who, before I went into surgery, told me that maybe I should get myself right with god. Way to be there for me! Not wanting to hurt his feelings (said the cancer patient to a perfectly healthy individual), I told him that I had come to terms with god. Not a lie, as my terms were that god doesn’t exist, but it seemed to make him feel better (because, of course that was what was important… that he feel better). With actions like these, I don’t understand why believers think that they should not be persecuted. It’s really tough to get on board with the whole, “we’re the good guys” thing when you act like this… or worse.
Another part of religion that I never understood is the need for an afterlife (or reincarnation). This seems very egotistical to me… and entirely exhausting, not to mention unnecessary. Again, if there is a god, it’s like you are saying to him that this gift of life he or she has given you is great and all, but there should be something more. (Gee Grandma, thanks for the 50 bucks in my birthday card, but why didn’t you get me a present too?) Talk about a slap in the face. I take great comfort in knowing that after this life is over, I will cease to be. This life was more than plenty, why would I ever want more? I have suffered in this life, I have known joy in this life. I have laughed and I have cried. I have experienced most of what this life has to offer and I am good with that. When I die, even if that may be tomorrow I feel that I have lived my life to the fullest and have absolutely no need of more as neither a reward, nor a punishment. I have gone all in and when the game is over, I will fold.
And now for something completely different…
Notice how the shop owner never argues that the parrot has gone on to a better place?