Sunday, November 13, 2011

Culberson's Challenge

Here's what gets me.

Rational thinkers need a corollary with which to counter Pascal's Wager, which essentially is "Either God exists or doesn't exist, but if so and I believe in God, I will go to Heaven instead of Hell after I die; if God doesn't exist, I have lost nothing."

That's not believing; that's just saying you believe.

By that reasoning, then you might as well follow the teachings of your chosen "God." Otherwise, you are admitting that your "God" is so weak as to be fooled by lip-service believers and lets anyone into Heaven just for half-hearted belief, not for good deeds. That's not a God. That's a bored security guard.

Blaise Pascal lived from 1623 to 1662 in France and was a brilliant scientist, mathematician, and writer who also invented a calculating machine at 18. In 1654 he had a "mystical experience" and converted to Jansenism, a doctrine of the sect of Roman Catholics in opposition to the Jesuits.

In other words, Pascal himself had doubts about what he had been taught as a Roman Catholic, and if that isn't enough to make his so-called "wager" suspect, consider that he also wrote "Men blaspheme what they do not know" and "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction," both in his Lettres Provinciales [1656-1657].

So, for all you people with such weak religious belief that you take the easy way out to literally "save your soul" or with such weak intelligence that you cannot decide for yourselves what to believe, here is Culberson's Challenge:

Assume there is no "God." Then, priests, cardinals, the Pope, preachers, ministers, and all other self-appointed spokespeople for "God" are either liars or deluded into ignoring the empirical evidence of science and mistakenly believing that God exists.

Either way, they are not to be trusted, and as the growing evidence of widespread sexual misconduct mounts, that would seem to be the case.

Now assume there is a God who created us and all the so-called reality around us: the planets, the solar system, the stars, the universe, and the "world." Then we are all merely figments of God's own imagination and therefore do not exist outside of that imagination.

However, if we are figments of God's imagination, if we are manufactured "real" creatures in God's own image, or if we are truly independent sentient beings with or without free will, what would eternity in either Heaven or Hell mean? We would eventually become used to our existence in either one and inured to the pain that supposedly awaits us in the one and bored in the other of those futures.

And name one other thing in nature that lasts forever without wearing out, running down, burning up, or simply dying.

Therefore, I propose that neither future of "eternity" is anything to aspire to, and consequently believing in the existence of "God" is of no benefit whatsoever while we are alive, just as not believing in Santa Claus when we were children didn't change whether we got Christmas presents from our parents.

Thus, I challenge you either to give up your belief in a supreme being who supposedly created you and controls you and the world, or else to continue your disbelief in such a mythology, because either way, you lose nothing.

Of course, there are some misguided fools who will not accept this challenge and say, "Better safe than sorry," which is merely religious belief by slogans and sayings.

This thinking is the basis for all religious belief, and it is the most dangerous aspect of believing in a "God," because it leads to this sort of logic:

"There must be a God, because everybody says there is. Therefore, I can lead my life believing in God and do anything I want to, because if I ever do anything that God doesn't want me to do, God will stop me. Therefore, I can do anything I want until God stops me, including trying to convince as many other people I can that God exists, because there is 'strength in numbers,' and the more people who believe in God increases the chances that God does exist."

If you accept my challenge and choose to live without a belief in God, your life on earth will be much less complicated and frustrating and stressful, and it will be much more rewarding, enjoyable, and definitely free of self-imposed religious pressure.

"God" loses. You win.

I rest my case.

No comments: