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What if you’re wrong? Isn’t it safer to believe in a god because if He is real, and you don’t believe in Him, then you’ll lose out?

In the 16th century, the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal posed a suggestion that the existence of God could not be determined through reason, so a rational person should wager as though God exists, because one living life accordingly has everything to gain, whilst one who doesn’t, has a lot to lose if God truly exists. This ‘wager’ is more commonly known as Pascal’s Wager. It is however, flawed in many ways and is a false dichotomy.
First thing I would ask you is ‘which God?’. Civilizations have believed in thousands of gods throughout human history, so first, you’ll have to pick the God to believe in. If you are a Muslim, Allah is just as real to you as Wotan was to the Vikings, or Zeus was to the Greeks, or the God Brahma, who has been believed in far longer than the Abrahamic God of the Muslims, Christians and Jews, is to the Hindus even to this day. Pascal’s Wager ignores all other possible religions. It ignores all other heavens and all other hells. It makes the claim that believe and worshipping costs you nothing. This is wrong. Time and money spent in deference to a God is wasted.
Secondly, it makes a complete mockery of your God’s intelligence by claiming that your God can be fooled into believing you have belief in Him. A rational individual can not come to make itself believe in something without evidence, but a brainwashed person quite easily will.
If God can be defined as omnibenevolence, all loving and caring, and omniscience, all-knowing, He would know me better than I know myself. He would know me better than any person knows me. He will know everything about me, including the turning point in my life when I lost belief in Him. He will be aware of all my experiences that led me to the conclusion that such a being as God can not exist. God will understand my reasoning, my thought process and how I came to the conclusions that I did.
Bertrand Russell once said if he had to present himself in front of God, he would say “God, you didn’t provide us with enough evidence”. I would go one step further and ask God that if He provided me with this critical mind, one that listened to reasoning, and questioned superstitious beliefs, why then punish me for something when I did exactly that?
If I did found myself standing in front of God, say specifically Allah, my immediate reaction would be of complete shock to find that such a being exists. I would want to know how my reasoning was wrong. I would really want to know that. I would beg for Him to explain to me where did I go wrong. If God truly is omniscience, He will know that I took truth very seriously. He will know that my disbelief was an involuntary reaction to what I perceived a deficit of evidence for God’s existence.
If God truly is omnibenevolent, then I can sooth myself with the knowledge that such a loving and caring God, would not see it fair to punish me for simply using the critical faculties that He provided me with. If God thinks I still deserve to go to hell, then He isn’t omnibenevolent and isn’t merciful, and He isn’t worthy of worship. In which case, I can reverse the question to you; what if you’re wrong about the God you worship?

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Doesn’t it require as much faith to be an atheist then it does to believe in a God?

‘Faith’ by definition means to believe in something without evidence. Atheism is simply the absence of belief, or the rejection of the claim for gods. It wouldn’t make much sense if I told you that it takes as much faith NOT to believe in unicorns than it does to believe in them. In the absence of evidence, it takes faith to believe that unicorns exist.

TOPIC: ATHEISM

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. – Edward Gibbon

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. – Stephen F. Roberts quoted in Like Rolling Uphill

What is an atheist?

An atheist is a person who doesn’t believe a God or gods exist, or in the broader sense, rejects the claim that a God or gods exist. I can make it even simpler: it is the absence of belief in a God.

If you are unsure a God exists, doesn’t that make you an agnostic?

Atheism and agnosticism mean two different things. Atheism and theism has to do with a person’s ‘belief’. Agnosticism and gnosticism are an address to knowledge; what is knowable and what can never be known. The ‘a’ in atheism turns the word ‘theism’ to ‘without’-theist. For example, atheism is latin for ‘without god’. Theism is ‘with god’, therefore, atheism is ‘without god’.

Here is a brief definition of each term:

Theism – belief a God exists.
Atheism – lack of belief that a God exists.
Gnosticism – the existence of something is knowable, and can be known. In this case, the existence of God can be known.
Agnosticism – the existence of something is unknowable, and can not be known. In this case, the existence of God can never be known.

Let’s take part in a little thought experiment. You were asked if you believed trolls existed. You can classify yourself in one of these categories:

Do you believe that trolls exist?:

– If you do, then you are a trolleist.
– If you don’t, then you are an atrolleist.

Let’s take this slightly further:

– If you say that you know that trolls exist, and that you have proof, and that existence of trolls can be known, and that you believe that they do exist, then you are a gnostic trolleist; you know trolls exist, and that’s why you believe they do exist.

– If you say that you can never know if trolls exist because we haven’t looked everywhere on earth and there might be a place on earth where trolls do exist, maybe in some underground cave in a remote jungle and they have kept themselves hidden from people, and you believe that they do/might exist, then you’re an agnostic trolleist; you can’t know if trolls exist, but you believe they do anyway.

– As above, if you say that you can never know if trolls exist, and their existence is something that can never be proven, but you believe that they probably/most likely don’t exist, then you are an agnostic atrolleist ; existence of trolls can never be known and you believe they don’t exist.

Now this situation can be applied with God. I am an agnostic atheist. I don’t claim to know that a God exists or doesn’t exist, because the question ‘does a God(s) exist’ is unknowable, but I believe that His existence is very unlikely, and most probably He doesn’t exist.

Atheism is NOT:

– a religion
– an ideology
– a belief system
– faith
– a guide
– a way of life

It is simply the absence of a belief in a God and gods.