love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

of pascals and nudity

The original title was going to be of pascals and the unseeable clothes, however, it struck me that the word nudity might get me some random hits… 😉

I was recently asked to reconsider Christianity (in all its splendor) in another Pascal’s Wager type argument: I was asked to consider it from a risk-benefit analysis. (hell fire of course being the risk)

Imagine a child growing up, in a village and being taught about the Emperor’s new clothes. Told by everyone from birth that they are real, (and how wonderful and beautiful they are). And in fact everyone in the village wears the same, putting them on every morning.
The child puts the “clothes” on too, but sometimes wonders about the weird feeling that they cannot see or feel the clothes. She looks around at the others and wonder if they truly cannot see too, and if they can’t, why would they say they can?
I fully realize that the flip side to this (for those who believe) is like a scene in Hook. That if one believes they will begin to see. (Bangarang)
However, if one tries to believe, in god, and prays and talks to him (and spent a large amount of their life attempting to do so)
And it is a bit like the child in the village venturing out and seeing the next village and seeing them call her “naked” and laugh at her as she sees clothes for the first time. The child begins asking fervently about their clothes. All sorts of questions. Could they really not see hers either?
The child grows up, and wonders…how many really see the clothes? was it just her that had the problem?

In the above scenario compared to my own life, I am quite willing to admit there are more than one possibility.

The first, being there were no clothes to begin with.

Another being, the clothes can only be seen by certain people. Those elected and called to see them. Others can try but will fail.

Then there is the Divine Hiddenness theory: that one must seek to find. (bangarang)
However, with this theory: for one who HAS sought, prayed, fasted, asked, hoped, and still not seen….
Would a good/loving/compassionate/benevolent God prevent reasonable non-belief?
Or as Nietzsche’s asked: “a god who is all-knowing and all-powerful and who does not even make sure his creatures understand his intentions — could that be a god of goodness?”

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11 Comments

  1. As always, very well put.

    • Just ran into this :George Smith’s wager…
      “My wager says that you should in all cases wager on reason and accept the logical consequence, which in this case is atheism. If there’s no god, you’re correct; if there’s an indifferent god, you won’t suffer; if there’s a just god, you have nothing to fear from the honest use of your reason; and if there’s an unjust god, you have much to fear but so does the Christian.”

  2. Like it!

    I’ve had to deal with this sort of thing at lo, now three great junctures of life. Coming from a cult type upbringing, there was a point where others looked at my beliefs about what the Bible said (about Jesus and the Trinity) and more or less informed me that the labels had be swapped on my compass. Its actually sort of hard to tell if you compass came from the factory with the poles backward. How does one discriminate the fact from fiction?

    You have to find a fixed reference point. They may require hunting, but eventually there will be located a basis to determine the collapse of one assertion set.

    For the villagers, there is a test. Conduct blind trials of people just after bathing. Ask participants whether the bather is clothed yet or not, and compare the answers to those of the bathers themselves.

    I believe it is always possible to find such fixed points and cause false propositions to buckle. But we the people of faith like to end the conversation before it gets that far, (1) demurring at how hard it is, (2) how objectivity doesn’t work on these questions, and (3) how its about faith.

    To those things I simply say (1) put your shoulder into it and knuckle down, (2) you need to prove that contention, and (3) what does faith mean? 🙂

    Cheers!
    Matt

    • I like your blind trial idea, Matt. May I ask where you are now in your journey and how you got there?

  3. CHope

    Very well written, Holly.

    I can relate to your religious past, all the effort, waiting, seeking and winding up with nothing in the end. I find Christians’ arrogance exhausting when they accuse me of not ever having a REAL relationship with Jesus Christ. I think to myself “what more was there for me to read, write, study, sing, say and do after a four decade search?” So many Proselytizers think that they’re relevant and loving, especially when they describe themselves as “progressive”, “spirtitual” or aiming to be “Jesus with skin on”. I just find them annoying.

    • ((CHope)) I got so tired of being told “you were never truly saved” “you have never truly known him” that I now carefully say “when i believed i was saved” 😉 when speaking of my “deconversion”.

  4. Brilliantly put and that Nietzsche’s quote is apt for the question at hand!

    • Thanks Mak!

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