Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Why Do Atheists Evangelise?

Yeah all right. Evangelising isn't exactly the right word, but it gets the point across.

This is something I wonder about. A lot of atheists seem to want to spread the message that God isn't real and are pretty aggressive about it too. Beyond their own feeling of self satisfaction about being right, I don't know what the point is. I'm sure plenty of other atheists feel this way too as they simply get on with their lives and let religious people believe what they want.

Does everyone know about Pascal's Wager? It's something like this:
If you feel that the weight of evidence for the existence of God and the non-existence of God is balanced, then why not gamble on the safe bet? If he exists you win eternity in heaven, if he doesn't you just die and that's the end of it and you lose nothing. If you decide he doesn't exist, but he does, then you're risking eternity in hell. So betting on his non-existence is a lose-lose situation.

Some people see Pascal's Wager as an argument that should convince people to believe. I don't think it works that well on that front. Plus Christianity isn't just about believing, it's about lifestyle and a relationship with God, so the Wager doesn't cover the more important things.
Essentially, this post is an extended Pascal's Wager, and I've already said I don't think much of it, but this stuff is worth considering when it comes thinking about what it is that atheists are trying to get people to accept.

If Christianity is True and We Believe It

Mere Christianity teaches some very simple things:
1 - Believe in, trust, and love God.
2 - Be a good person/ try to be like Jesus.

That's about it. Yeah different groups have other doctrines specific to them that they feel there's scriptural support for, but it all comes under these two main points.

So Christians want everyone to build a better society, give everyone equal treatment, share the wealth, and generally live as loving, tolerant, generous people.

The goal is to make life on Earth as close as we can to what life should be like in Heaven - if we can imagine such a thing.

If we all strive to make that happen, our reward at the end is that God will do the rest of the work for us, clearing away the evil and renewing the planet as a paradise.

If Atheism is True and We Believe It

A lot of atheists would like us to believe that atheism ties up with humanism. Basically they want to the same stuff the Christians do.

But firstly, atheism does not necessarily equal humanism. Atheism has nothing to base moral right and wrong on except the opinions of the majority. As long as the majority of atheists are also humanists, the world is OK, but if they decide to be more like the Nazis, then there's trouble.

Let's just say that at the moment, most atheists are decent people. So they work hard to make the world as perfect as possible, with equal treatments, and opportunities for everyone. That's great... in the short term.

But at the end of it, the Sun burns out, the planet dies, the human race goes extinct. It was nice while it lasted, but it's all over now, and was ultimately pointless. The outcome will be no different if humanists or Nazis rule the world.

So atheism's only offering is that everything is pointless, we might as well do whatever we want, but at least we know the truth about the way things are.

Then we have the problem of consciousness. Atheist would have us believe that free will is an illusion. Everyone is just an extremely complex meat robot that has built in programming to behave in certain ways in certain situations. No one has any control over their actions, we just automatically react to whatever flicks switches in our brains.
If this is true, then no one should ever be held accountable for anything that they do. Nobody can help doing bad things because they are just wired to be like that. And because there's nothing outside of humanity to be the basis of right and wrong, once again the only way to choose which laws to follow is to listen to the majority vote.

So not only is everything pointless, there's not even any reason to pretend that there's a point.
We're no better than cuckoos who destroy other birds eggs to lay in their place, or ant queens who kill their rivals so that they can rule the entire empire alone. They get by fine. No one says that the things they do are actually morally wrong because they just do it on instinct - automatic programming. So if we're just complex animals, it's the same for us.

If Christianity is True and We Don't Believe It

I think Pascal's Wager uses the eternal fiery torment view of hell to scare people into belief. Which is one of the reasons I don't like it.

For one: belief isn't what gets you into Heaven. It's belief and faith, plus the lifestyle of Christianity. People have the free will to choose whether they want to put their trust in God and to live by Jesus example or not.

For two: The Bible actually teaches that sinners destined for hell aren't put in a flaming pit, but are destroyed entirely, so that only good pure things are left in Heaven.

So, those who aren't going to Heaven (based on the choices they make) will no longer exist - which in many cases is what they expect to happen anyway.

If Atheism is True and We Don't Believe It

If we're behaving as Christians should, always aiming for more perfection and more good, realising that we need to be humble and that we will never actually reach that goal, avoiding pride, arrogance, selfishness, and violence, we're all going to have better lives.

When we die, we die. That sucks, but at least the time we had wasn't filled with the horrors of war, persecution, starvation, famine, and disease. Our reasons for doing it all might have been based on a lie, but it helped us progress and grow into a society to be proud of.

To Sum Up

OK so here's the short version. On the assumption that there's no evidence for or against the existence of God (which in itself is crazy because there's loads of evidence for and nothing against), here's the updated version of Pascal's Wager:

The Rocker's Wager

A Bet On Christianity:

If Christianity is true we:
  • have a basis for moral right and wrong.
  • have a purpose in life.
  • have free will.
  • win an eternity of rewards for choosing the right things and being humble.

If Christianity if false we:

  • die, but we enjoy life.

A Bet On Atheism:

If Atheism is true we:

  • win self satisfaction of being right.
  • win justification to do anything whether it's good or evil.
  • are meat robots.
  • have no meaning in our lives.
  • are no more important than ants, and could be compared to a parasite living off and destroying the planet.
If Atheism is false we:
  • end up in hell - whether the reality of it is fiery pits, empty separation, or utter annihilation.