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How do you answer "It's safer to believe"?

I live in a very religious setting. When I bring up that fact that I have never seen proof of God in my life, even when I ask for it. I get a response of, “Isn’t it less risky to just believe… whether he is real or not. Will it hurt anything if you believe and he isn’t real? Won’t it have made your life better for believing in something bigger than yourself. And on the other hand if you don’t believe, but he turns out to be real after all, then you’ve lost everything.”

How would you answer this? And if you believe he doesn’t exist does doubt of that belief ever cloud your mind?

Posted: August 29th 2011

EXSTEN

Assuming you’re talking about Christianity, it IS less risky to believe. I agree completely. I checked one time; it has the lowest probability of going to hell—you can even go to heaven if Islam turns out to be true. Maybe.

But if you can’t believe something, you can’t believe it. I tried to keep on believing, but I couldn’t. So I don’t.

Posted: January 4th 2013

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Dave Hitt www

I always pull out my favorite God joke, which I’ve used here before.

“Ok, I’m going to believe in Thor, and celebrate by getting hammered.”

They insist that Thor isn’t a real god. I ask them to prove that to me.

It’s fun to watch.

Posted: August 31st 2011

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Eric_PK

I would ask them, “which god should you believe in?”

There are thousands of gods, and ones like Odin will not treat you well if you choose to believe in somebody else.

I’d also point out that it’s a bit silly to claim that spending tens of thousands of hours and dollars on something that was wrong has no downside…

Posted: August 30th 2011

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Philip www

Oh cool, Pascal’s Wager! I know others have explained this brilliantly but I’d thought I’d add my opinion anyway.

There is so much wrong with it, it is hard to know where to start but these people who think that by toadying up to some deity with some half arsed promise that pretending to believe in that particular one – “Just in case” – are really not the most honest people on the planet are they?

The odds of it turning out to be THAT particular deity from the 3,002,850+ gods that have been created by humans down the ages – they all have different rules and regulations and I’m quite sure if they found you toadying up to some other deity, you’d be for the naughty pit before you could blink!

If we are going to postulate wild and impossible things about what this particular deity wants, I’m pretty sure honesty is a better virtue that lying, from what I’ve read about the celestial dictator that is the Chistian God, telling him fibs won’t get you too far past the pearly gates!

My advice on your response is simple – say it is better not to believe – it is more truthfull and more honest of you. Since I don’t have any religious beliefs at all, worrying about what something non existant is not thinking about me seems a little silly, I’ve got a life to live for goodness sake!

Posted: August 30th 2011

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George Locke

I fail to see the safety in choosing to delude yourself. If the only thing motivating your faith is fear that you might conceivably end up in hell (make no mistake: that’s what these people are saying you’d be “safe” from), then all you need to do is ask yourself which hell you want to try and avoid: Naraka, Jahannam, Tartarus, or any other of the thousands of hells that humans have dreamed up. Maybe there’s a hell that you go to if you believe in God?

Your neighbors are quite mistaken if they think the only thing “bigger than yourself” that you can believe in is a fantasy. How about hope for the future of humanity? Or love? Or justice? There’s so much to hope and strive for in this world.

How “safe” is it to invest your entire life in a fairy tale?

Posted: August 29th 2011

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Galen Rose www

You have outlined Pascal’s Wager, a very old argument, and one with many flaws. To my mind, the biggest one is the assumption that we can control what we believe and don’t believe. If you doubt this, try believing in the Tooth Fairy, or that you can fly if you run and wave your arms real fast. Or, try to stop believing that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, or that gravity will stop pinning us to the earth. Can you do it?

We can’t actually believe something which makes no sense to us, we could only pretend. But would an omniscient god be fooled, if one existed? Of course, we could perhaps fool ourselves into thinking that we believe, if we refuse to think seriously about that belief. I think this happens with a lot of religious people.

Another problem with Pascal’s Wager is that there are costs involved in a false belief in gods. Millions of people waste billions of hours praying to the air, and billions of dollars in collection plates and church fund drives. Millions more suffer with guilt for their supposed sins, or with paralyzing fears that they may end up in hell. So, sometimes there are very large and agonizing psychological costs, as well, associated with belief.

Then there is the problem of which god to believe in. Should one pick the god who promises the least punishment in the afterlife (assuming one had any control over his choice)?

Many, many people are afraid to think much about these things because they are afraid of the answers they might come up with. But, really, what kind of screwball god would give people a brain and curiosity and then punish them for using them to the best of their ability? It seems that faith gets people into god belief, but only reason can get them out.

Posted: August 29th 2011

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