Damnation Wager

Fundamentalist Christian: If atheism is true and I’m wrong, then when we die the atheist and I both suffer the same fate—extinction. But if atheism is false and I’m right, then the atheist goes to Hell and I go to Heaven. If you can’t be absolutely sure about whether Christianity is true, it’s the prudent choice to be a Christian.

Atheist: Your logical argument doesn’t hold because it contains an internal contradiction. On one hand, you say that God is insane, so insane that he’d torture fallible people forever for making mistakes. On the other, you say that, given His insanity, there is a prudent choice that will let you benefit from that insanity rather than suffer from it. But that’s self-contradictory. If your premise is that God is insane, then there’s no point in talking about a “prudent” choice. All bets are off. There’s no telling whom God might damn or save. If He’s crazy enough to create Hell, there’s nothing He wouldn’t do. Nothing is beneath Him. It might look like God’s telling you that you can get on His good side by believing in Him, but if He’s cruel enough to create Hell, He’s cruel enough to lie about who gets put there. Especially as His track record isn't great.

December 2004

Christ's Failure: Implication of "believe or be damned" Christianity.

Peter H., JoT

     Peter D.