muppet's wager

I’ve come up with what I think is a pretty good way to tell people (who get on my case about it) why it doesn’t matter whether or not I believe in (the Christian) God. I’m not a biblical purist by any means, but it has come in handy in arguments. Its based on a couple of assumptions, and it goes something like this:

If Jesus existed as the Bible says, then he died to forgive your sins.

Not believing in Jesus/God is a sin.

Therefore, you are forgiven for not believing in Jesus/God.

If not, it means there is one unforgivable sin, that God can’t forgive (or Jesus died to forgive all sins except one), and that’s the sin of not believing in Him.
I think muppet’s wager is pretty sound, if we can agree on these assumptions, and I admit there are some who would find them erroneous. So please, Dopers, poke holes in muppet’s wager. This is how we make things better, you know. :slight_smile:

I think your point is directly addressed in verse 18, where Jesus says those who reject him will be condemned.

It’s kind of like getting spammed by all of those online services–although they may offer a free service, you do have to register first.

Right. But if we say that, then we are agreeing that there is an unforgivable sin which God either can’t forgive (lack of omnipotence), or won’t forgive (spite, malice, stubbornness, laziness, etc… no Godly traits here).

Ethilrist: I think its more like an extended warranty. You’ll be covered, but you have to buy it first.

You gotta know the doorman to get into that exclusive club.


PosterChild and I posted a thread about Judaism which had a similar theme.

Our notion was that since in Judaism, non-believers are not punished post-humously, then Judaism is the religion to believe in if you’re not going to believe in a religion. That way, even if there did turn out to be an afterlife, you’re OK.

I like your take on the matter. If you ask me, the search for loopholes in theology is an excellent hobby.

Spooje: So it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? I feel better about that, knowing that I’m rebelling against the Elite Bourgeoisie of the Universe. Kinda makes me feel special.
choosybeggar: Yeah, I remember that one. Just like Pa]scal’s Wager, I see it as hedging your bets, which I don’t think God should reward. He probably would though. Loopholes in theology is a good way to put it. I sometimes wonder if the Pope wishes he could go back in time to when they wrote the bible and make them tie up their loose ends before they published the thing.

I’ve used muppet’s wager in debates before, and no one came up with a good argument against it. Someday though, I may come across someone who is better prepared or knows more chapter and verse than me, and in that situation, it’d be good to know that my line of reasoning has been put to the test. So point out any flaws in it that you can.

Your sins are only forgiven if you ask to be forgiven. So you’re going to ask Jesus to forgive you for not believing in Him? Sounds kinda flippant, dude.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked.” :wink:

And if you don’t believe He can forgive your sins, why ask Him in the first place?

If it’s any relief, failure to believe in Allah, the great redeemer, is also punishable by being condemned to the hell they don’t believe in… So if Jesus don’t get ya, the Muslims will!

This is a good point. Flippant or not, is it just the asking to be forgiven that does the trick, or is it believing that it’s possible?

::flashes of that ‘Westworld’ Star Trek episode::

Just so this doesn’t stray too far from the OP: If it’s belief, I argue that non-belief is still an unforgivable sin; not out of lack of ability or misanthropy, but a flaw in the system. Actually, maybe that eventually runs back to omnipotence or benevolence (He either couldn’t remove the flaw in the system, or He didn’t/doesn’t want to. I await further input.

God is merciful; He is also just. Man is created with free will. Those to whom God had been revealed (they are baptised and taught His Word) are expected to continue in His Grace, and if they turn away from Him, they are responsible for this sin.

All sins have the potential to be forgiven, as God is merciful, but the sinner has to repent and ask forgiveness, as He is just. Jesus said more than once, “Your faith has saved you; your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.” Jesus’s death saved us, but did not automatically wipe the slate clean for everyone going forward, no matter what. The sinner must truly repent sins (not just lip service, but believing in the mercy of God) and intend to do better in the future.

You seem to have a faulty understanding of Christian theology. Salvation is a gift, those who do not take the gift have condemned themselves. God gave them a choice, light or darkness and they chose darkness. This choice has consequences as all choices do. If both choices led to the same consequence it would not really be a choice.
You seem to be confusing God with Santa Claus.

Just to clarify, I was addressing the post by Muppetsoup and not the excellent post by ** Gigi**.

Here you point out what I am talking about. You say all sins have the potential to be forgiven. Explain to me how you would go about getting the sin of non-belief forgiven (if indeed it is a sin). You seem to be saying, like others, that God can’t or won’t forgive this sin.

The part about God+Man+Freewill+Mercy is for another thread, and I’m sure its been covered countless times.

Sure thing: They have to ASK for forgiveness.

But if they ask for forgiveness in not believing, then they are BELIEVING. Otherwise, why ask?

Ergo, they now BELIEVE.

It’s a Catch 22, I’m afraid.

And this does nothing to placate Allah in any event… :slight_smile:

I think there’s a saying… you can please some deities all of the time, and some deitities all of the time, but you can’t please all of the deities all of the time. Allah’s on the list, right after Shiva, but before Zeus.

puddlegum, I appreciate your stance on this issue, but you haven’t addressed the problem of a sin that can’t or won’t be forgiven (other than by ‘unsinning’, as Satan eloquently illustrated).

grrr… dammit, you know what I mean.

If you do not forgive others, your sins will not be forgiven.

Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.

No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

No one can be saved unless they are born of water and Spirit. If you love me, you will my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- the Holy Spirit.

(Jesus, perhaps?)


I don’t see how this relates. Whether or not I have forgiven others has nothing to do with whether or not I believe in the Jesus.

If I don’t believe in Jesus, his command to love Lord God here is meaningless.

You seem to agree with me here that God can’t/won’t forgive this sin, which by definition makes it unforgivable. We can also agree that Jesus uses the ‘either/or’ fallacy, and he really should know better.

Many things are considered sins by Christians that aren’t listed in the commandments.

Perhaps. Perhaps not. That’s what this whole thread is about.

Muppet, I think you are putting this is the wrong context.

Here is the gist of your wager, I think:

When I say the “wrong context”, I mean that you are approaching the “sin / forgiveness” question as a legal question: if you can “get off”, all is OK. This might be correct under a more Hebrew approach, in which the Law is everything. But the approach Jesus takes is one of love; he constantly places Himself in relationship to us as a bridegroom to a bride.

So consider this: if you forgive your wife for having an affair, but she never accepts your forgiveness, or even acknowledges that the affair happens, what chance does the marriage have? How long will the two of you last? What difference does it make that you forgave her at all? Doesn’t forgiveness take two?