Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe when there is a significant lack of evidence of his/her existence.
Firstly, the premise:
Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place.
The wording choice, “you should” is illogical. “Should” implies “ought,” a moral or rational obligation. “Ought” and “Should” appeal to a pre-existent law or principal that we (humans) agree upon. In common terms – we already agree on an idea of what’s a “good action” and what’s a “bad action.” And where might we get these crazy ideas? And why should I agree with this obligation? What is your standard for judging what should and what should not be done?
A pragmatist might say, “Because it benefits society.” In this particular statement they reason that you should because it makes, “a positive impact on those around you.” And why should I desire to make a positive impact on those around me? (Also, what defines a “positive impact?)
Common response: Because society benefits me.
This is Selfish reasoning.
The argument above commits logical suicide. You start by saying that we should be selfless… by being selfish. You would have more luck creating square circles.
Moving on: What factors need to be obtained for the world to be considered a “better place?” How well do selfish motives factor into, “love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance?” If I can make myself “happy” – why should I care about the rest of society?
If I see you drowning in a roaring river, why ought I help you? I gain nothing from the situation. In fact – it is highly likely, I will also drown in the river if I attempt to help. But then again – you just can’t shake that nagging feeling that you must help, regardless of the danger. This is selflessness, not selfishness. There is a name for someone who denies this, “ought,” this “should do,” urge in light of their own well being: That man is a coward. But even here – we are automatically agreeing on an existing standard.
Another example: I am walking down the street. A man sticks out his leg and trips me. Why am I angry with the man if he laughs because he did it on purpose, yet I am not angry if he apologizes for an accident? Because the man (a total stranger) and I already assume that we both agree on a the same basic rules of what is “right” and what is “wrong.” If no such standard existed, I would have no right to be angry with the man whether he tripped me on purpose or by accident.
What standard do we base “ought/ought not” and “should/should not” on? Why do I expect the man to agree to the same standard unless the standard is universal?
Furthermore – as Atheism is most often based on Naturalism (the absence of Super Nature): What are the concepts of “love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance,” grounded upon? Are they not simply words describing responses to chemical reactions in a physical brain and nothing more? Thus – the decision to be compassionate is not grounded on rationality. Reasoned thinking demands rational grounds. Without a standard of agreement, how can love be defined? One man may love to give gifts to his children, another may love beating them senseless.
An even greater mistake is the inclusion of the word Tolerance. Tolerance cannot exist without disapproval (by the opinion of the majority) and/or disagreement. But today in society, someone who disagrees with another persons position is labeled, Intolerant. A classic example is how Christians are constantly labeled “intolerant” for their disapproval of homosexual behavior.
Webster’s defines tolerance, in part, as:
2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b : the act of allowing something.
If we are to tolerate, then we must not object to the man who does not hold to, “love, kindness, compassion, and mercy or tolerance“. Nor can we ever label anyone intolerant, lest we become intolerant ourselves. In other words – according to the first tenants of this wager – our position in the face of both great good and grave evil must be only silence.
If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe when there is a significant lack of evidence of his/her existence.
First – a definition: Benevolence characterizes the true goodness of the mind and spirit, the unbiased kindness to do good. It confers thought and regard for the welfare of other people, and finds expression in sympathy and kindly gentleness and compassion, with charitableness and kindness. It is the expression of agape love (unconditional love).
“Unbiased kindness to do good” has no place in Selfishness.
“If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions.”
And by who’s standard will we be judged? Is not God, by definition, above our sense of justice? Would not God have had to create our concept of fairness? Not to mention – if the only reason I do selfless things is so that I can get other people to do selfless things to me – ultimately a selfish desire – would I not answer for this?
“…your ability to blindly believe when there is a significant lack of evidence of his/her existence.”
In a way, I actually agree with this section, though it obviously implies that people who do believe in God have no basis for for their beliefs. You hear this all the time on Television and in Movies: “You just need to have faith and believe!” But beliefs are based on reasoning – not nothing. It’s not how much you believe in something that justifies it’s validity, it’s how solid the item you build your reasoned beliefs (or faith) upon. One friend pointed out that, you can put logical faith in a chair (that it will hold your weight) but if it’s structurally weak – when you sit down on it, it collapses. You wouldn’t have been illogical – you would have just been wrong. The strength and power of a belief really stand on the object of your faith. The wager assumes that both the object of faith and the reasonable grounds of the believer’s faith to be non-existent.
Here, the wager maker clearly underestimates the extent of real theology and apologetics and places a mass stereotype upon religious believers. They should go read some articles at Stand To Reason [str.org].
Even if there weren’t large amounts of theological and philosophical grounding for the existence of God – “lack of evidence” is not a proof on non-existence. In fact, given that most Athiests hold to Naturalism and Scientism – they should know that the scientific method cannot prove a negative. Scientific methodology can only suggest what is most likely to occur, most often under specific circumstances.
The first half of the wager hedges it’s bet on the idea that all people agree to a certain standard by appealing that the should do one thing. However, Atheism, Scientism, and Naturalism fail to explain why a standard exists, what it is, why we should all agree upon it, or even how we could possibly judge what is write or wrong in any circumstance.
The wager instructs us (intolerance by definition) that we should (there’s that universal standard again) be loving, kind, compassionate, and merciful. It then self destructs by adding in the concept of Tolerance. Tolerance (by modern definition) destroys the entire premise of the wager as it commands an intolerant “ought” upon those whom you disagree with. In common speak this is, “Forcing your morals down my throat.”
The second half of the wager lays down a huge assumption followed by a condescending stereotype/misrepresentation. It starts by assuming that a hypothetical God would agree with our idea of justice (the mysterious guidelines that we all agree on…). It also assumes that God is Just (the universal concept again) and that our concepts of love, kindness, etc. are also just.
It then paints all religious believers with the broad stroke of naivety – claiming they have no ground for their beliefs (this belief itself – having no grounds). This is provably false if you have ever studied even 30 seconds of religious theology.
It further implodes as it non-scientifically states “lack of evidence” (once again – a statement ignorant of philosophy, theology, apologetics, etc.) – as a proof of non-existence. (Non-existence being something impossible to prove through science.)
It turns out, this isn’t a wager. This is the blind.