Living a fulfilled life without God
There’s a great video on Youtube where Richard Dawkins responds to this question from the crowd. He really says it best. The idea that’s behind this question is why would you risk eternal damnation by not just choosing to accept a religion and follow it “just in case”. This is commonly referred to as Pascal’s Wager. As Bertrand Russell pointed out, with the sheer number of gods and religions that exists and have existed historically which often claim that their way is the only correct way to salvation, a person of faith should always just assume they’ll be damned from a sheer statistical standpoint. If there is one true way, then it’s extremely unlikely that the way you choose will be the correct one. You’re worse off if you don’t seek other religions and just assume that the one that you were raised in is correct. You’re then placing your wager on the accident of your birth and not on some supposed revelation that you discovered (which I obviously believe you wouldn’t find anyway). There are so many different gods. Ricky Gervais puts it this way, “Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities. So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say ‘Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…’ If they say ‘Just God. I only believe in the one God,’ I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.”
So my chances of being wrong are as likely as anyone’s. I’ll stick with Marcus Aurelius: “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
NOTE: This post is part of a series of posts that were introduced in this blog. The idea is to offer short summaries of responses to some of the more typical questions that come up when someone finds out that I’m a non-believer. These are not intended for scholarly debate, but rather to offer responses in an attempt to help people understand those of us who choose a “godless” life.