A Nice Quote From a Smart Man

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July 29, 2013 · 2:32 pm

A Brief Rant

Out of pure frustration over all the B.S. that seems to be dominating the atheist community (at least online), I posted the following comment to Matt Dillahunty’s Facebook page, in which he announced the removal of Justin Vacula from SkepticInc, and Matt’s expectation of an apology from Justin. (Not sure what the apology is for, but ok…)

 

I’ve been an atheist for most of my life, but never really wanted to do something about until recently (last 2 years or so). I’ve got to be honest, after reading about all the in-fighting, accusations, attempts to smear people, getting people fired from their jobs, taking their livelihood, I could not be more embarrassed to be an atheist. So many atheists out there don’t know how to act, how to treat people, or handle opposing viewpoints. It’s sad, really. Fortunately, I haven’t observed any of these problems in real life (conferences, humanist functions I attend, or just hanging out with fellow atheists), but the crap that happens online, the way people are treated, and how non-skeptical some alleged skeptics really are, is an embarrassment. The more I read, the more I think I’m surrounded by a bunch of children. I started tweeting and blogging about a year ago, and the more this crap goes on, the more I want to give up. The head of steam I was gaining, the desire I had to personally make positive change is now almost completely gone. I can only imagine how many others there are out there like me, who wanted to make a difference, but gave up because it seemed so damned fruitless. ~End of rant.

 

For the record, I’m not taking any sides here. In fact, I’m not even aware of any specific issues between Matt and Justin, nor do I care.

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What Pascal’s Wager Really Means

If you’re an atheist, you’ve likely heard Pascal’s Wager from a Christian at some point. It’s the “what if you’re wrong” speech. Essentially, it goes like this:

  • If you believe in God, and God exists, you go to heaven. (only upside)
  • If you believe in God, and God does not exist, nothing happens. (neutral)
  • If you don’t believe in God, and God exists, you go to hell. (only downside)
  • If you don’t believe in God, and God does not exist, nothing happens (neutral)

So essentially, the point is that, by believing in God, there is no downside, and by not believing, there is no upside, so just believe in God as a good bet.

One of the many problems with this matrix of outcomes is that it is, at a minimum, incomplete. So what I’d like to do is lay out some more potential outcomes that actually belong in the matrix.

 

Scenario 1: You Believe in God, and God Exists

  • All atheists are wrong.
  • Some theists may be right (if they picked the right religion), or all theists are wrong (“true” religion is not followed, or God is deist).
  • You go to heaven (or some other desirable place) after death.
  • God is a deist God, and is indifferent to your belief in him. This is not a neutral outcome, though, because your actions in life may have negative outcomes, including (1) wasting money by tithing or spending money on religious materials; (2) wasting time attending church and worshiping a God who is indifferent to worship; and (3) promoting actions and ideas that are detrimental to society, such as intolerance/bigotry, stifling science, not using contraception (unwanted children, STDs), etc. Let’s also consider that money spent on religion could have been spent on positive improvements in society, or could be spent on taxable purchases, which brings more money to the government, and thus, more services for everyone.
  • The god you have been worshiping is the wrong god, or the criteria you believe will get you into heaven is the wrong criteria. Thus, you may still go to hell (or purgatory, or some other undesirable place) after death.

  • Your belief in God is based on Pascal’s Wager, and thus, insincere. If God is truly all-knowing, God would know this, and will likely deny you entry into heaven (or other desirable place) after death, anyway.
  • Heaven doesn’t actually exist. When you die, that’s it. You just wasted the only life you have for absolutely nothing.

 

Scenario 2: You Believe in God, and God Does Not Exist

  • All atheists are right.
  • All theists are wrong.
  • The outcome is essentially the same as bullet 2 above, in Scenario 1. You have likely wasted your time and money. Your bigotry has slowed progress. Your ignorance of science stifles inquiry. You have taught your kids to rely on a 2,000-year old book, stifling their progress and ability to understand the nature of evidence. Your tithing slows economic growth, and results in lost tax dollars.

Scenario 3: You Do Not Believe in God, and God Exists

  • All atheists are wrong.
  • Some theists may be right (if they picked the right religion), or all theists are wrong (“true” religion is not followed, or God is deist).
  • You go to hell, purgatory, or some other undesirable place after death.
  • God is a deist god, and is indifferent to your beliefs, thus a neutral outcome.
  • The Bible is wrong or misinterpreted. Thus, there is no afterlife, heaven, or hell.

Scenario 4: You Do Not Believe in God, and God Does Not Exist

  • All atheists are right.
  • All theists are wrong.
  • Nothing happens.

I think that about sums it up. If you can think of other outcomes, please share!

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Religion: The Ultimate Con

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June 12, 2013 · 3:16 pm

Well Said, Mr. Dawkins

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March 8, 2013 · 3:57 pm

Great Meme!

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March 6, 2013 · 1:43 pm

So True…

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March 6, 2013 · 11:37 am