What if you are wrong?

Okay, I’m asking this question to Christians and Athiest, but anyone who has an opinion please weigh in.

Chrisians, what if you are wrong? What if there is no God and after you die there is nothing? Say, you wasted your life believing a lie. Are you ready for that possibility? Are you okay with that?

Athiests, what if you are wrong? What if there is a God and after you die there is a Heaven and Hell? Say, by not believing in God you don’t go to heaven and end up wasting away in Hell for eternity. Are you ready for that possibility? Are you okay with that?

Which side of this would you rather be on, Spending your whole life believing in God and being wrong, or denying there is a God and after death there turns out to be a God and you are faced with eternity in Hell?

What are we all willing to risk?

I’m not trying to scare either side here I am just asking a real question that I think is very valid and will generate some interesting discussion. Thanks. :cool:

Isn’t this what we are already discussing here:
What if?: Past viewer disproves the bible. Still believe?


Oh, and your name wouldn’t be Pascal, would it?

Yeah… but this one doesn’t have a stupid time machine…

That is if we had some kind of “past viewer” to look through.
This question is with what we know now and what we believe not would you change your mind if I could prove…

How much are you willing to risk for your belief, not are you willing to change if you are given proff one way or the other. I read the other thread and thout that it was interesting though.

No, it says Puzzle Boy! I am very new to this whole site. Who is Pascal? :confused:

If I am wrong, I will have the pleasure of knowing it. Conversely, this is the exact same pleasure I already have about being right.

Hoo boy!

What is Pascal’s Wager?

Blaise Pascal, 17th century French philosopher. In short, he argued that even if we can’t know for sure that God exists, we should play it safe, considering the stakes involved (eternal bliss v. eternal damnation). Not one of the stronger arguments for belief, IMHO. Commonly referred to as “Pascal’s Wager”.

A) Blaise Pascal was the seventeenth (I think) century philosopher/mathematician who first put this conundrum into print. It has hence been called “Pascal’s Wager”.

B) Pascal’s Wager suffers because it assumes there are no alternatives but Christianity and atheism. But what if Buddhists are correct? Hindus? Sikhs? Moslems? Pagans? In all these circumstances both atheists AND Christians would be wrong.

By the logic involved in Pascal’s Wager it makes most sense to find the faith worth the worst possible punishment for not believing and believe in that. That faith would certainly not be Christianity.

C) Not to mention the fact that you can’t make yourself believe something anyway. You either do or you don’t.


Woah: trip-simul-post.

Okay, I thouht that Pascal may have been another poster who had posted this in the past. I’ve never hear of Pascal’s Wager, but that is interesting.

I’m not trying to use this question as a reason or case for Faith I just want to know what people are willing to risk for thier beliefs. I think if you start to get into the possible other Gods you get away from who this question was to. Christians (who believe in one God) and athiest (who believe in no God).

Thanks for the clarification on Pascal.

Why would that change based on who the question was directed towards?

If a Christian is wrong, she can be wrong about there being a god, or she could just be wrong about which god(s) she believes in.

If an atheist is wrong, then he has to choose the correct god(s).

The good news for me is that if I’m wrong, I won’t end up as just worm food, not that I have a problem with that.

Yes, I am prepared to take the risk.

Firstly, I have to consider the following: Take, for the sake of argument that I am wrong and that Judaism is a crock. OK, so now where do I turn? Do I become a Christian? If so, I may still have the same problem. Maybe Christianity is a crock. Do I become a Muslim? Maybe Islam is full of hooey. Ditto for atheism and any other religion out there.

So, where to turn? Since the “risk” is the same, no matter which religion (or lack thereof) you turn to, I’ll kindly stick where I am, thank you very much.


Zev Steinhardt

How can we possibly be “getting away from the question” if we bring in other “Gods”? The question is “What if you are wrong?” Well - both atheists and Christians might be wrong. The answer might be Hinduism.

You can’t just assume that if atheists are wrong the answer is Christianity and vice versa.

I’m an atheist. If I’m wrong and some versions of Christianity are right then I will be prodded with fiery sticks for all eternity.

If I’m wrong and some other versions of Christianity are right then I will simply have oblivion.

If I’m wrong and yet other versions of Christianity are right then I will know a Godless eternity.

If I’m wrong and yet yet other of Christianity are right then I will spend eternity in purgatory.

I’m sure there are many, many other Christian thinkings too.

That’s before we even start on non-Christian alternatives.

So what’s your point?


Let me respond to that with another what if.

What if I fell in love with a woman. We dated, we got engaged, we were married. I thought we’d be married until death. It didn’t work out and we were divorced.

Did I naively believe in something that didn’t really exist? You could call it that. Was it a waste of my life? Well, I had the joy of loving someone and a set of experiences (both good and bad) that I wouldn’t have had before. Certainly the experience would have changed me. I could argue that it even changed me for the better.

Even if I’m wrong about an afterlife, the experience of believing has changed me. It’s given me a point of view and a set of experiences. I could argue that it’s made me a better person. It’s certainly made me happier than my father, an agnostic, who spent his life looking for proof of something that can’t be proven.

So in answer to your question, yeah I’m okay with it.

So… ** Kabbes **, If Christianity is not “the faith worth the worst possible punishment for not believing”, what is? Sorry for the Hijack, just curious. I always just assumed the Judeo-Christian “Hell” was pretty standard.

Well Sgt, as I pointed out above it depends which version of Christianity you are talking about. Most mainstream Christianities believe that hell is simply the absence of God. Which is bad to Christians, but not so bad if you aren’t.

There are cults and religions out there that believe in a whole lot worse than that.


Puzzle Boy,

The counterpoint to your argument is the Atheist’s Wager:

“It is better to live your life as if there are no Gods, and try to make the world a better place for your being in it. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent God, He will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in Him.”

Some of us are quite happy going this route with our lives.

Well, if a person lived a christian life, and acted as such, at least the life wouldn’t have been wasted. Good acts for those around you is a good way to live your one chance at life. At least it makes me sleep better at night when I balance my mental tally and it appears that I did more good for people than bad today.

To this one all I can say is oops. Pass the BBQ sauce please…
I think the Bible has a passage on this. Something about wailing and gnashing of teeth. I really can’t think of anything else I’d be doing, except trying to make a last minute deal…


Right now I’m betting my “soul” on it. I am a firm believer in this one thing: Everything, bar none, decays and goes back into the cycle of things. Why (in our arrogance) should we think that whatever makes us our “self”- the brain, the soul,the mind,etc.- doesn’t decay and go back to which it came from?

While I can intellectually flutter around the concept of eternity and the infinite, I cannot grasp it. I can only grasp myself and by doing so maybe make myself better. The betterment of self and world is my bet for eternity. Call it what ever religion you want.

Well if I died and found out there was a god and the god was a type of god that sent you to hell just for not believing in him and not sitting bored out of my mind every Sunday listening to some guy who from recent events was most likely thinking about how he was going to bugger the cute alter and boy going on and on about said god then I’d be pissed. There would be absolutely nothing I could do about the situation.

I could pretend that there was a God and go to mass every week not eat meat on Friday and give up Chocolate for Lent but inside I’d know that there wasn’t a God and God would know that I felt this so I’d be screwed.

However I’d like to think that if I’m wrong and there actually is some form of governing supernatural power it would be a god that just looks at the person. I think I’d be grand under that sort of judging. I treat people in the same way I expect to be treated and respect their personal freedoms. I’m actually not a bad Christian IMHO without the religion part :slight_smile:

I’d rather there be a god and not ending up in Hell but unfortunately I’m going to end when I die and nothing of yojimbo will be left apart from the memories of others, kids if I have them and a small pile of Ashes :frowning: I’d like for there to be a Heaven but as far as I’m concerned it’s as likely as there being a Narnia or Disc World :frowning: