It seems as if every time I’m in contact with a Christian, and I tell them I’m agnostic, they like to hit me with Pascal's Wager: “What would you lose if you simply chose to believe in God…”
My response: "I would lose my soul."
I would have to give my “life” over to God. I would have to surrender my “will” to God. And that’s exactly why I would never give my life over to any deity. As an agnostic, I will always have the option of choosing humanity over dogma, and compassion over “morality.”
For example: if I am a father, and my teenage daughter is raped, as a Christian, I am morally obligated to tell her that this was God’s will, that it was probably her fault, and that she must accept it. Then I must go through and discover which type of rape it was: Gift from God rape; Legitimate rape; Enjoyable rape… After which I must proscribe a certain set of behaviors that she must follow regardless of how she feels.
As someone who hasn’t sold their soul, I can comfort her, share her anger, her fear, her frustration, her confusion, and be a safe place for her to grieve and heal. If she finds herself pregnant, I can support her choice in how she handles that pregnancy. Together, the two of us can work out the best way to handle our emotions that support us as human beings.
If someone I love, let’s say my son, announces that he is gay, having sold my soul to God, I am morally obligated to inform him that he must reject this legitimate part of himself, or else suffer the wrath of a God who loves him so much he murdered his own son. I must ostracize him, and, even if I love him, I must oppose his right to be safe, happy, and free.
As an agnostic, I can take the human approach: I can love him, support him, and learn about his life and what being a gay man involves in a world so opposed to him. I can teach him what I learned trying to discover love and that loving is something we do not only to make ourselves feel better, but also to bring humanity together. I can support his search for happiness, and I can do my best to keep him safe—even from a legal perspective.
As a Christian, when I stare out into the universe, I must deny the wonder and glory of the universe because I’m not allowed to entertain the possibilities of a universe free to build upon itself and to create from within. I am not allowed to see a creative universe, but, instead, a passive universe simply doing what it's told. I must surrender wonder and awe for dogma.
As an agnostic, I am free to bask in the wonders of an amazingly creative universe. I can embrace the majesty, the wonder, and… dare-I-say... the mystery. When observation challenges belief (dogma), I am free to leave the belief behind in favor of a new discovery. I need not fear education, science, or reason.
In all situations I am free to choose compassion, humanity, kindness, and understanding over “God”. I am, therefore, more free. Free to be human and to embrace all humanity, even those aspects I'm uncomfortable with. *I* choose the direction my life goes. *I* choose how to respond to others. *I* choose not to let anyone’s will supersede mine. *I* choose to keep my soul.
This is a great post. Thanks.
I've approached Pascal's wager from a different direction. I think the premise of the wager is dishonest - let's posit the existence of "God" (or we could call it a sky ghost or something similar and remove some of the Christian connotations) who has a whole pile of extraordinary powers, then cross our fingers and "believe" in it just in case it exists.
I think that if you respond directly to Pascal's wager you've already halfway lost the argument, because you're accepting the possibility of this posited God. Perhaps a more fundamental response would run along the lines of "Could you remind me what the evidence is for God and heaven?" and see how the conversation goes.
Not to mention pascals wager isn't a 50/50 as it makes it sound. Not only do you need to believe in God but you need to pick the correct God out of all the religions in the world. Odds would drop a bit even if there were a God. For all, we know the Mormons have the right answer. And I agree that was very well written. You're an inspiration.
Those who believe in a god are illogical to the point of fooling themselves. Believers actually want to know why atheists wouldn't want to "believe" just in case there is a god? Are you are saying that god is too stupid to know that you may not really believe he is there, but you want the safety net just in case? Out of thousands of gods, what if you pick the wrong one? If you pick Jesus, then Allah is going to punish you and if you pick Allah, Jesus is going to punish it. Ganesh the elephant god is going to crush you. So let's say I decide that I can fool god and he won't know that I really don't believe in him. But what if it is the wrong god?