Home » Journey of Belief » Journey Of Belief: What if God doesn’t exist? PART 1

Journey Of Belief: What if God doesn’t exist? PART 1

If you’ve been part of discussions between theists and non-theists, you’ve probably heard back and forth that goes like this:

THEIST: What if you die and wake up and discover you were wrong about God?

NON-THEIST: What if you die and discover you were wrong about God?

Full stop.

Neither of these arguments actually make a point. It simply stalls the conversation because neither side can articulate a reasoning for holding their particular views.

So let’s have some fun and explore these two scenarios.

WHAT IF THE BELIEVER IS WRONG ABOUT GOD?

I’ve read blogs from many former theists that struggled with this question. I myself have even thought about this. So what if there is no God?

Is it fear of the unknown that keeps believers “shackled” to their faith? I think the answer is more complicated than it tends get. The answer to “what if there is no God” is huge and actually changes what a believer sees as purpose and truth. It’s a complete undoing of everything they not only believed, but also loved. So, if there is no God?

DEATH

Let’s start with the end game. Easily the first thing that comes to mind is that there is no heaven and hell.

“Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try…

OK, for some it’s easier than others. But when we seek the answer to what tethers a believer to their belief, heaven and hell are a huge part of it. In order to erase God, you have to also erase the punishment of God. In some Christian sects and denominations, eternal damnation is their core teaching. So the fear of eternal punishment keeps many of these believers at least with one foot in the door of a church.

But if we can really erase God from existence, then we have to acknowledge what a Godless truth looks like. Without God, when we die, who we are, our thoughts, dreams, emotions, feelings, and consciousness ceases to exist. This is more important than you know because if the questions asked “What if the believer dies and finds out he is wrong about God?”, then thr answer is, he never will. Because if God is not real, then there is no consciousness on the “otherside”. So, the believer will have lived his whole life believing God, die, and that’s it. There really isn’t a consequence. It doesn’t matter if it was a life well lived or a disaster, the absence of God means that death, in its finality, renders all that happened as no longer relevant.

Maybe it is to the people that the person touched or destroyed while alive, but the reality is, when death comes, and God is absent, the person death comes for can no longer be a part of anything. They are nothing. They become nothing.

Many atheists will conclude “and thats OK with us”. Maybe it is. But also consider that Hitler died. He died before Justice could be served. Mother Teresa also died. Right now, they are the same. Oh sure, our books and Google talk about their memory. But if there is just nothing, then right now, they are equal. Both died. Both rot. Both cease to exist.

Again, my dear Athiest, you are probably nodding your head but also nervous about where I am going next. Because my next question is, who lived their life better? “Mother Teresa” you shout at your screen. But. Why?

Clearly she did a lot of good things. Helped a lot of people. But Hitler, he rose to power. He became in charge. That’s quite a feat for anyone! Both died. Which one wasted their life? Answer: Neither (under our no-God scenario). They both did what they thought was the best use of their time.

Think of it another way. Bill Cosby was recently convicted for rape practically. He’s well advanced in years. Yet, he got away with it practically his whole life. He could basically sit in the jail cell happily because hey, we all die, but he got his good time out of it. He will die and be the same as Mother Teresa. We are appalled and think he should rot and jail. But see, so what? He still got what he wanted. When he ceases to exist, he will still have had his good times and no longer know that he spent the last few years behind bars. Ah, the joys of dying to get out of judgment. He got his pleasure. Now he can die.

If this is starting to make your stomach churn, then good. Truth isn’t about feeling good. In a reality without God, we have to talk about these things. You atheist can be a moral person without God. Dear Christian, stop telling them that they are not moral. We all know what is right and wrong. The problem is the motivation behind it.

Why are we moral? Because it’s just right? In actuality, if there is no God, no moral law giver, then the stupidest thing you can do is sacrifice your life for the sake of someone elses. What do you get? Death. You cease to exist. And unless you’ve become world-renown for something, your identity and memory won’t survive a generation or two (except maybe the ancestry.com data base). Remember Hitler? Some of us will do great things for people and will fade out of existence almost immediately while Hitler and all the things he’s done will continue to be remembered for ever (or until the sun dies and destroys the earth in what is likely to be something fantastic). After that event, even this blog won’t matter. All the good and bad, no longer will matter. There won’t even be a footprint left of us (unless the voyager craft get lucky and never meet a demise like crashing into a star or something). If all we do is cease to exist at the end of life, then any moral thing we do at the expense of ourself is stupid, and a waste. The only person who really cares what people think of you is you. Once you die, well, you won’t know. You won’t exist, right? So pillage and plunder, drive by that homeless guy. He might stop existing before you, but at least you’ll save a few dollars.

WHAT IF THE ATHEIST IS WRONG ABOUT GOD?

Before we continue, let me first say that this post is not a discussion on doctrine. It simply the very basic discussion on the existence of God. I am aware, believer, that should God exist, more pointedly the God of the Bible, He doesn’t want us to believe just out of fear of nothing. That discussion will come in other posts. The purpose of this post is to rationalize the existence of God.

So…

Unlike the believer being wrong about God, the atheist being wrong has a much bigger problem at death. If he is wrong, he is now face to face with the judge of the world. Imagine standing in a courtroom as the accused but having no idea what the crime is and the criteria the judge uses to decide your fate. What’s worse, you also find out you are representing yourself and have nobody that can stand as a witness to your character. This is what it will be like if the atheist finds out he was wrong.

As stated before, this is an oversimplification of what the Bible says life after death is, but it is important to establish a baseline.

THE END DRAWS NEAR

Atheists can be moral. Believers can cause great pain and do terrible things. But a moral person in a world without God is mostly irrelevant. In the big picture, if you aren’t getting everything you can out of the life, then it’s wasted. But hey, you’ll cease to exist one day so it won’t matter.

Next time we add Morality to the God-No God debate.

4 thoughts on “Journey Of Belief: What if God doesn’t exist? PART 1

  1. “Again, my dear Athiest, you are probably nodding your head but also nervous about where I am going next. Because my next question is, who lived their life better? “Mother Teresa” you shout at your screen. But. Why?”

    Um no, Mother Theresa was a horrible person who denied medicine to people and insisted that suffering was good. Your analogy fails because of this. It also fails because pascal’s wager fails, something you try to use but fail at since you assume only your god exists. No Christian can show that their version of this god exists; theists all have the same problem, lots of the same claim, no evidence that any one god is real.

    As for your baseless claim that a moral person without god is irrelevant, that’s silly. No one needs your god to be moral, and morality e.g. helping rather than harming people is never irrelevant if someone is happier, more contented, safer, has a full belly, etc. No one needs the fear of your god or the hope of an afterlife to have meaning in their life.and yep, we have all we can get out of life just on our own.

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    • The very fact that you point out the bad things mother Teresa did, despite the other good things she did, means you feel there is a very objective moral law that was somehow violated. You also seem to think that anything that doesn’t live up to that standard cancels out all the good. We all like this. If we can find flaws in the best people, then we feel better about ourselves. But this too is subjective. We tend to hold people to a different standard based on our own criteria. This is where inequality and injustices come from. When a man like Bill Cosby can go to jail for what he did but a very white man (Bill Clinton) can do things, lie about, and nobody cares because the guy in office now is way worse, it shows just how flawed our human made system of right and wrong is. Of course it’s always right to take care of others. But why? And what benefit does it offer? If it merely the benefit that it makes one feel good, a lot of violent crimes make the perpetrator feel good as well. So who’s right is right? And why?

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      • Josh, Mother Teresa did bad things and all of the “good” things in the world don’t make up for her harming people, nor for her trying to spread a lie she didn’t even believe in.

        No, I don’t believe in objective morality. I am quite happy with subjective morality that changes. You see, at one point, her horrible actions would have been ignored, but now we know that suffering isn’t “holy” or any nonsense like that. We know that lying to people just to try to support your waning faith isn’t a good thing. It’s just a lie told to try to take away people’s ability to make informed choices for the believer’s benefit.

        And yep, it does cancel out the good. We can say that Hitler did a great job helping Germany’s economy. Does that absolve him of what he did to the Jews, the disabled, the homosexuals, the Romany, etc? and what “Good” did she actually do, Josh? keep people in squalor? Deny them medication? Tell them that this god would do something for them when it never did? Indeed, Josh, per your bible, you and Mother Teresa should be able to heal anyone of anything, per the words in the Gospel of Mark that *any* baptized believer who accepts Christ as savior can heal people just like he did. Why didn’t she heal people, Josh? Why are *you* out there clearing out pediatric cancer wards? Why does your religion fail?

        It’s a shame you try to lie Josh. Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexually assaulting women who were drugged. Bill Clinton was engaged in a consensual relationship with an adult woman. He committed adultery (just like Trump but only once), and was caught lying about that. They are entirely different situations, and it is a shame that you try to lie to make them the same.

        Our idea of right and wrong is not perfect. But it is better than a vicious god that murders everyone who dares to agree with it, who needs young girls as war booty to give to it soldiers as prizes and slaves, who gives a law that raped women are to be forced to marry their rapists, that a woman who doesn’t scream loud “enough” should be murdered, that children deserve to be drowned or murdered in war, and who goes out of its way to murder non-believers and then intentionally turns its faithful believers over to its evil archenemy for shits and giggles after these faithful lived for an eon under their savior’s rule. Are you good with morality like that, Josh? Or is it only good if your god does it and not if humans do the same things? Again, Josh, you’ve invented subjective reality, where it depends entirely on what someone is if something is good or evil? Shall I say that you are okay with genocide no matter what or only if your god does it? That shouldn’t be a hard question to answer for you. What do you believe?

        It is always good to take care of others because I want to be taken care of if I need it. It is empathy and a healthy bit of self-interest. That’s quite a bit more moral than “it’s okay if magical beings want something”. And “feeling good” isn’t the only benefit. But perhaps you would want to claim that it feels “good” to your god, so it does what it does. As long as your god is happy *anything* is acceptable. Is that your belief, Josh? Might equals right?

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  2. On your first point about how “all the good she could have done doesn’t erase the bad”, you sound very much like God here. The Bible clearly teaches that all the good you can do does not make your right before God. So I am in agreement that even if we disagree on how much good and bad she might have done, the good doesn’t take away the bad. But that’s true for every single person on the planet. Just because you do a lot of good and maybe did one thing bad, to the person you did something bad to, that’s what you are. No amount of good takes that way. God agrees by the way.

    As for some of your other points. Is it always wrong to kill an innocent? Consider the 9/11 attacks. If we knew what was coming, would it have been ok to shoot down the jets to spare the 3,000 on the ground? Can we justifiy shooting down a hijacked plane if it saves us from a larger disaster? If the answer is yes, then it is sometimes moral to kill the innocent. If the answer is no, then the hijack plan is allowed to continue and it was moral to allow it to even though we could have stopped it. So which one is moral? Intervening by shooting down the plane or doing nothing and letting it destroy 3000 others? So yes, I admit that there are times when morality is subjective when it comes to circumstances. This is also the case with divine order.

    When it comes to parts of the Bible which you consider to be immoral acts of God, we have to look at them through the lens of what was intended and to what was actually happening. Jesus condemned divorce even though the law of Moses allowed it. Allowing something does not equal condoning it. Allowing free speech for example doesn’t mean you agree with every word spoken or that you even condone it. You allow people to make their own choices.

    When it comes to rape, contrary to what people say, the Bible doesn’t actually condone it. Deuteronomy holds the man accountable for rape always. Deut. 22:23-24 do not assume rape. It assumes that this was consensual (the reason for the woman not crying out). Why can we say this? Well, the next verse is quite different. While verse 23 talks about how a man meets a woman in the city (surrounded by others) and lies with her, verse 25 specifies “if a man seizes a woman.” In this case, the man is held solely responsible. He “seized” her, he didn’t petition her. 23-24 assumes they are in an area where others are around. It would be like raping her in the city square. But the next 2 verses assumes it was a force act and just the man is to be put to death.

    As for the rest of the chapter concerning a man lying with a virgin, they were compelled to take care of the woman “for the rest of her life”. See, in every history class, lecture, or seminar that I have ever been in, we are constantly told to analyze texts in the context of the time they were written. In this time (Deuteronomy), women lived in a day where they were regarded as property, and couldn’t own property, among other things. They also would be rejected for marriage in this time if they were not virgins. So, what is more merciful? Leaving woman to basically die, or forcing the man to take care of her for life as he would a wife? This is in reference to Deuteronomy 22:28-29. As you pointed out about being “enlightened” since Mother Teresa, we are more enlightened now. We allow women to have their own property, jobs, etc. But in those ancient days, God was trying to communicate in a way they could understand. If you are going to take this person’s innocence, you are responsible for them for life. You can never divorce her (though later in Deuteronomy we find that a woman could ask to divorce a man under certain circumstances which could also include this situation as well). If written today, God would probably have commanded that the man be turned into the proper authorities, castrated, or yes, even put to death (as the law allows).

    When Jacob’s sons learn of the rape of their Sister Dinah, they devise a play to get back at the people of Shechem (this is before the law was given). They trick the men into circumcising themselves (what a punishment for rape right?) and then move in and slaughter all the men.

    When Tamar’s half-brother Ammon rapes her, she begs him to marry her (because again, through the lens of time, that’s the only option she had). I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we just taught men not to rape woman. Or maybe that sex is an intimate thing that should only be done consenually (and yes, in the context of a monogamous relationship). But I digress.

    When it comes to God commanding genocide, we have to look (again) at the fact that the Bible is an ancient document and follows the same rules of other ancient documents. The first is that the ancients weren’t very good at details. Today we would write “At 5 o’clock on Tuesday December… “ and may even get specific of exact locations, people, etc. But the ancients weren’t as detailed. The account of the conquest of Canaan (the premise for the book of Joshua), used hagiographic hyperbole. This means not everything was to be taken completely literally. The alleged genocides for example. We can point to this form of writing style because while it might have said to completely wipe them out, we find in later passages that point to “the inhabitants that remained in the land”. If they were genocidal, why did they leave inhabitants in the land I wonder? And why did they live among them?

    This points us back to another topic on “rape and the Bible” and the spoils of war. When it talks of them “taking wives” for themselves from the people they conquered, it does not allege rape. The battle weary men were to consecrate themselves after the battle or “cleanse themselves”. They could not do this if they had sexually defiled these women. The law would not have allowed that (they could be stoned, declared unclean, removed permanently from the people, etc). So did some of these “foreign” woman marry the Israelite warriors? Yes. Did some refuse? Probably (and there were other “inhabitants” of the land that they could marry).

    So, when you ask me do I condone genocide? No. Do I condone rape? No. Do I think it’s immoral? Yes. Do I think the killing of innocent is wrong. Well yes, but as I pointed out at the beginning of this comment, there are times when the choice is not as clear cut in that aspect. That, I admit, is not as easy to nail down. But for rape, we can see that it is wrong always. And yes, genocide is wrong too.

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