In my post from a few days ago about my problems with Christianity, I discussed how lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about God and religion and how it all fits into my worldview.
I have a sort of dilemma though. I believe in God, and I want to be on his/her/its good side when I die, just in case there really is a hell, which I don’t think there is. But there’s still that niggling little voice in the back of my mind just the same: what if hell is real? What if the born again Christians are right and I am going there, no matter how moral a life I try to lead, because I have not accepted Jesus as my personal savior? I can’t accept their dogma (my brain and heart just can’t get on board with it). I have serious issues with biblical literalism and the divinity of Jesus, but…what if hell is real? I don’t want to go there!
Now, I’ve heard of Pascal’s wager, which basically means going ahead and getting “saved,” even if you have doubts, just in case they’re right. The logic goes like this: if they’re wrong, nothing’s lost but if they’re right then you’re safe from eternal torment. But my problem with Pascal’s wager is that I simply don’t believe in evangelical Christian doctrine. If my brain and heart don’t buy what they’re selling, then taking Pascal’s wager means I’d be living a lie, something I think is much worse (and probably more offensive to God) than being honest about my true feelings about evangelical Christianity. If God really is omnicient and knows what’s in my heart and mind, then he’d know I was being dishonest. It makes me wonder how many born-again Christians actually really believe the doctrine they’ve embraced–and how many of them converted only because they were afraid of what might happen if they didn’t. That alone is a huge problem for me. Religious fear tactics just seem so…wrong.
So I made a little deal with God. Not to challenge or test God or anything, but to help me out of this conundrum. Since I actually believe in God, this part wasn’t too hard. I told God I didn’t believe what fundamentalist Christians were selling, and that “praying for faith” in the past hadn’t worked. I told him that if in order to escape the fiery pit I had to embrace dogma I simply didn’t believe, then could he please give me some sort of concrete sign that would show me this was actually the truth. If I could believe it was real, maybe then I could accept it. I reminded him that conversions like this were performed all the time in the Bible–heathen Saul’s miraculous vision and subsequent conversion to Paul, for example–so if things like that happened so often back then, why couldn’t it happen today? I reminded him that sending me yet another person trying to save my soul or coming across some Bible tract in a laundromat or gas station would not work. It hasn’t worked before and it wouldn’t work now. I would need something more dramatic, much more dramatic than that. I would need an actual miracle, something like, oh, maybe Jesus himself talking to me (hey, some Christians say that’s happened to them). I told God that I was open to it, if it was his will for that to happen, but if nothing happened, I wouldn’t have any other choice than to go on assuming Jesus was just a man, heaven and hell are probably mythical places, and the Bible is nothing more than a collection of ancient fairy tales.
So far nothing’s happened. Maybe tomorrow.