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?
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?
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.
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.