Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dialogue With a Bear

I've been having a mostly cordial discussion over at , and wanted to post this recent comment of mine to this blog; so, here goes...

Unfortunately, when we procreate, we aren’t the ones taking the risks. Our children will be the ones to bear the new generation’s fill of pain through disease, starvation, mental illness, murder, war, the sundry accidents that maim and kill, etc. etc. Of course, since I’m an atheist, and don’t believe in an afterlife, it’s all for nought, since we wind up in the same place we started from i.e. non-existence, though our friends and loved ones will add our loss to their own personal lists of suffering.

But for those who believe in an afterlife, the stakes are even greater, and the situation more dire. According to the bible, most of us will enter a metaphysical torture chamber the likes of which makes this earthly existence seem like a heaven in comparison, with absolutely no hope of escape, forever and ever, amen. If your religious beliefs are of an eastern fare, we’ll all enter the circle of re-incarnation, experiencing lives of pain and loss over and over again.

Imagine you’re standing in front of a panel with a red button in the center of it. You are told that, if you push the button, there’s a five percent chance that someone’s child will be taken and tortured for the rest of its life. And the kicker is that you’re not forced to push the button; you can simply walk away, refusing to play the game. No harm done. Would any sane person push the button?

Now consider Jesus’ words:

Matthew 7:13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat
:14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Let’s be generous and say that, oh, 25% of humanity passes the test. That leaves 75% of the earth’s population destined for eternal damnation. That’s more than 4.5 billion souls headed for hellfire, with another 3/4 of a billion on their way, for every billion new people added. Now, if the raw numbers don’t give you at least some pause, consider that a few of those just might wind up being people you care about. Perhaps your children, or grandchildren. Of course, you can niggle over the percentages if you like, but my point won’t change one bit. Just pick the child you love the most, and imagine that they’ve gotten their theology wrong, and are destined for a date with eternal torment. Can you honestly say that it wouldn’t have been better if they had never been born?

Here’s what Jesus had to say:

“The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

Of course, Judas Iscariot is being referred to here, but doesn’t the same apply to anybody who happens to miss the Heavenland Express? As a Christian, your position is much more horrible than mine, because you are forced to affirm a system in which the preponderance of eternal human souls will experience unimaginable sufferings…forever! Being an ex-Christian myself, I understand the mental hoops one has to jump through in order to justify; nay, praise such a state of affairs. But I don’t appreciate them…they force one to turn a blind eye to many fundamental realities about existence.

Is this the ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ you speak of that gives life value? If so, I think your premises deserve a little more examination. Whether metaphysical or secular, the price of admission to this ride is just too steep. It’s all about the risks, Bear, and the insult to human sensibilities in taking them.

No comments: