How Would You React?

Neil Mammen, a guest blogger at Christian author Frank Turek‘s blog, throws out a question to the atheists:

Atheist readers, what if you were to suddenly find out tomorrow that the God of the Christian Evangelicals was real?

I.e. that He HAD created the world, had created you, the Bible was true, Jesus had died on the cross for your sins etc etc.

What would you do?

Anger? Agreement? Kowtowing to this being? Resigned acceptance, passive aggression, active aggression, resigned damnation?

Would you fall on your face and worship him? Why or why not?

He acknowledges that this isn’t going to happen tomorrow. (Let’s extrapolate and say “never.”)

He’s also not asking how this would happen — just asking what the reaction would be. It’s just a hypothetical.

So let’s put the big IF out there and see what the response is like.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://thinkingzygote.blogspot.com Isla

    Honestly? I’d probably try to pick a fight. Not a truly aggressive one, but I would be rebellious nonetheless. I would confront him and bring up all the problems I have with his followers here on earth, and of his own actions, but I would also want to have an actual conversation with him.
    Not only that, but even if this did happen, I still wouldn’t be convinced that this god was the ultimate force of the universe, that a single conscious entity was the alpha and the omega of everything.

  • http://emergingdesign.blogspot.com Jim RL

    IF that happened, and I have no idea how it would happen then I would become an Evangelical Christian. This seems like a stupid question.

    Hypothetically, if you found out I was right, would you agree with me?

    It doesn’t build to anything. Yeah, if you are right and I knew you were right then I would agree with you. As it is, I think you are wrong and I cannot envision anything proving me wrong. We aren’t atheists due to blind faith. We are atheists because no relgion has any evidence to back up its claims.

    Asking them the same question may be interesting because I wonder if they would be as honest about it. They may add little extras like they would start stealing, cheating and killing if they didn’t believe in god too.

  • Tracy

    I would be SO pissed that they played mind games for so long. I’d be mad because THEY didn’t try harder to make themselves believable. Then I’d strike a deal with Satan :)

  • http://joshuamcharles.com/blog Josh Charles

    If god truly damns people to an eternity of torture, I wouldn’t worship him no matter what, though I would accept his existence.

    Sadism and hate is never to be worshiped.

  • http://www.kieranbennett.com Kieran Bennett

    Any god that lives up to the descriptions of the bible and evangelical Christians is both unworthy or worship and worthy of staunch opposition. If god turned out to be real, I would oppose god.

  • http://thenappycat.com Will

    If there was satisfactory evidence, I’d have to reevaluate my current a-theist stance.

  • http://dergeis.livejournal.com Geis

    Of course, the counter, straw man question would be to an evangelical Christian, “If you were to find out tomorrow that all of the Bible was a lie and everything you had been told in Church was a lie, what would you do?” Those sorts of hypothetical simply don’t work.

  • Todd

    I for one welcome our new bearded overlords.

  • Amber

    I’m thrown that question almost every day at school, and honestly, I don’t think a lot of kids get the fact that my reliance on scientific evidence isn’t at all like the relationship people have with religion. If I’m given an explanation for life on Earth that’s undeniably more truthful than the Big Bang, evolution, ect., then I’ll accept it. I wouldn’t hold onto belief system just because I prefer it to the alternative.

    Which, any way you put it, would suck pretty badly.
    Good thing I’m too intelligent to dwell over something that I know is irrational.

  • tropp

    If god were a reality, so would be his famous opposition.

    I’d read through the fine print to see how to protect my close ones, and find a way to contact said opposition.

    Even if real, Yhwh would still be a psychotic. Can’t stand’em.

  • Ada

    Then I wouldn’t be an atheist anymore, but I don’t know if I’d become a Christian. The thing that drove me away from Chrisitianity originally was the realization that I didn’t particularly like the god described in the bible, even if said god was real. That wouldn’t change. I’d be inclined to do a lot more research into the matter if I was sure that he really did exist, though.

  • Daniel

    That’s an incredibly difficult question, at least for me. I guess it’s hard because I’ve been consciously an atheist since I was around 13 but I never really believed in any of the bible even though I was taken to church and Sunday school (Methodist) every weekend since I can remember. It’s also difficult, and seems like such a ridiculous and (pardon) stupid question because it turns inside out my entire worldview. It’s like asking somebody what would they do if they woke up and found out the sky had always been red or that they had all along been the opposite sex; it just wouldn’t make sense.

    But I thought about it for a while, and I have an answer. First off I’d need to know the exact method that proves the existence for myself and I’d have to try it again and again and analyze the method until I was convinced. Once I was convinced I think I would be relieved knowing that I was no longer responsible for my own actions. No matter what I did, I could always scapegoat my sins away by asking for forgiveness. I’m not saying this as a joke. Currently when faced by moral questions I have to think and ask myself if I can live with decisions I make because I know that the weight is entirely on my shoulders, I am the only one accountable for my own actions. It can be a tough burden to bear. I do envy those that believe they can get away with anything and just ask for forgiveness and release their portion of guilt. I can’t live with that hypocrisy without a believe in a redeeming god.

    So knowing concretely that there was a god and the bible was true would make me a worse person, and probably an evil person because I would know that I could get away with anything as long as I asked for forgiveness and really meant it. And knowing that it was all true would make that easy for me.

  • Matthew T.

    If the Christian god existed, I definitely wouldn’t fall on my face and worship him, because he is a psychotic, hateful, murderous god that defines himself as “love.” I would be angry and a bit scared that he actually existed. He would be worse than any terrorist that exists on this planet. That would be the worst thing, EVER.

  • http://inurblag.blogspot.com Andrew

    I know this is *the* obnoxious response, but seriously: It’s really a meaningless possibility. I cannot consider how I would react to that IF, because I cannot imagine the sort of world in which that IF would be possible. (This is the, “It isn’t going to happen, so I don’t have a reaction to it” response.) When I try to think of a way I could be convinced that the Evangelical Christian god exists… it just doesn’t compute.

    And what really *is* that god, anyway? How much of the Old Testament is a reflection of him? Is he still the genocide-promoting, gay-bashing, whore-stoning bastard he was then, or is he nice-little-lambchop Jesus? That would *really* influence how I would react were I convinced that he exists.

  • Rest

    Being of weaker mind than some of you, I may end of up “worshipping” Him out of fear of going to Hell. It would be a horror movie come true though, the realization that we are being ruled over by a callous dictator. I don’t see how I could enjoy Heaven, though, knowing that many of my friends and loved ones, and just plain good people, are suffering for eternity in Hell. Maybe I’d start a coup against God, decend into Hell and set the captives free. Ha!

  • Sudo

    If the Evangelical God is ‘love’ as they say, I would have no problem becoming a Christian. I’m thinking that if I somehow received direct knowledge that he is real, then I would also understand the Bible and the problem of suffering adequately enough to have a relationship with this Being.

  • http://www.xanga.com/drew85 Drew

    Well, I definitely don’t share the animosity towards the idea of God that many have expressed. I obviously have a lot of strong emotion tied to the issue of God, and surrounding many who follow ihim, but if I found out he were real, yeah, the first thing I’d do is beg him for forgiveness, and the next thing would be to beg him to grant me understanding. Let’s be rational here, if the Christian God is real, my morals don’t really matter, and my little hissy fit rebellion upon discovering that he is real is just making me all that more likely to end up in Hell for eternity.

    As atheists, we’re all used to having to stand up for our moral choices and making sacrifices at times with no reward. If the God of the Christians existed, he would have the power to throw us in hell for all eternity. That’s enough to make me swallow any pride, indignation, or personal moral code– I’m sorry. For this short life on Earth, I can make sacrifices for what I believe is right, but when I’m faced with an eternity, and some third party is in charge– my own morals are out the window.

    I feel so selfish! But I guess that’s because I also know that if the God the Christians teach about really existed, he is the one who created morality, and gave me my OWN sense of what’s right and wrong, so his reassurance that X is right and Y is wrong would trump my own ethical thinking.

    It makes me feel so spineless to admit that I would give up my morals if there were a God. It makes me feel better to argue that I wouldn’t be just giving in to God’s physical superiority, since in the Christian worldview, again, God’s morality is Right and True beyond question. But who am I kidding? Even if this were some petty Greek-type God, if we were talking an eternity in Hell here, I think I would commit some pretty terrible acts to avoid that.

    If a God with the power to damn me to Hell for eternity or send me to Heaven for eternity existed, I’m pretty sure I would murder to get to the better place.

    Wow. Like everyone else, I can’t just leave this as is– I have to point out that, thank god, there is no God, and so I will never have to consider such horrible things. As long as I live, the worst I ever have to consider is whether short-lived physical pain and the remaining years of my life are worth someone else’s life, and for me that answer will always be no. But throw in an eternity of suffering or pleasure…. that’s an offer I can’t refuse.

    (Okay, before I leave, I guess maybe someday I will have to consider pitting the life of a loved one against the life of an innocent, etc, and so even without God there are some tough moral decisions. But throw God into the mix, and it becomes impossible to even consider whether actions are good or bad, in their own right.)

  • http://www.xanga.com/drew85 Drew

    By the way, for those questioning whether heaven could be that great–

    You’re making the mistake of applying your known experiences to this made-up Christian world. If Christian heaven were a reality, then you would enjoy it. That is part of the definition of the Christian heaven.

    By definition, it would never get stale, boring, repetitive, etc. It would be an eternity of never-ending joy and pleasure.

    And the same with Hell. Agony and torture. And after several million years, you’d be no closer to getting out than you were after the first 5,000 years.

    When anyone says “if the Christian God were real, I’d fight against him,” I think they’re guilty of one of two things: either complete lack of imagination, or an unwillingness to think about what it means for the Christian God to be real. (In other words, they grant that some god is real, but he still has to hold to certain logical truths and consistencies to what we know. This is not the same as the Christian God being real, and therefore is a misunderstanding of the question.)

    What I’d like to know, is for those of you WITH imagination, who would be willing to trade infinite pleasure for infinte suffering in order to stand up for what they believe is right– where do your morals come from? Meaning, how can you be that staunch in your views, unless you believe in some absolute authority?

    Personally, I don’t believe in absolute morality, and I think my morals come from a combination of my biology and my environment. I hold to these morals very strongly. I think I’d even be willing to give up my life for many of my morals, with the knowledge that my life would have some day ended anyway. I mean, my views are not this simple, but still… I can’t imagine having a firm enough set of moral principles that they would be worth an eternity standing for.

  • http://stereoroid.com/ brian t

    Well, if that (or any) god was real, and talking to us, then we could ask him/her/it what he/she/it wanted. No need for any middlemen to intercede/interpret/interfere.

    Maybe he/she/it doesn’t want anything at all from us? I imagine that would be one of the advantages of being a god.

  • Sudo

    Why do you think you’d have to commit some type of murder to go to Heaven, if the Evangelical Christian god is real? Or throw out morals? The Evangelical Christian god, the way they see it, is allegedly a God of love, who died for human beings, wants them to be in Heaven, etc. No murder necessary.

    The Christian God is also supposed to be the one who created the Universe. The one with colliding galaxies, billions of suns, that one? I think saying you’d be defiant towards a being who expressed that much power is disingenuous. Only if he allowed it would you be able to do or say anything at all.

    And I would expect, that if he did allow it and you asked questions about morality, war in the Old Testament, or whatever it is that troubles you, he would give satisfactory answers.

    My replies to this question are framed by the way the original question is posed. I am having a direct encounter with this being, or I have been given direct knowledge of his existence and his attributes in such a way that I cannot doubt it.

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    This question is a game that evangelicals love to play. I have no answer because the hypothetical is entirely outrageous and insulting to me. It’s like asking: If you were suddenly to find out tomorrow that you were a mentally deficient person with an IQ of 50, what would you do? Or: If you were suddenly to find out tomorrow that you were an herbivorous dinosaur and were being chased by space aliens, what would you do?

    Instead, I’d ask a different hypothetical to Neil: If you were suddenly to find out tomorrow that all gods are myths and that there are no gods whatsoever, what would you do?

  • http://www.deliberatepixel.com Jen

    If irrefutable evidence of the Evangelical Christian god came to light, then I would consider the evidence at hand and decide accordingly. In this scenario, it makes sense that then I would be a Christian. However, I’m pretty sure I’d still have some questions about some of the details.

    I’d like to know what Evangelical Christians would answer to the question, “What if you found out tomorrow the Muslim worldview was actually the correct one, or the Hindu? Or the beliefs of the ancient Romans?”

  • Siamang

    I don’t tend to give thoughtful answers to flip questions. Esp. about the evangelical position. Why? Because I believe that right now, some fundagelical is combing these responses and selectively reading them to come to the conclusion about atheists that they want. “AHA, even if they had proof, they wouldn’t worship! They ARE God-haters!”

    This is a question that we get a lot here. I prefer to ask a different question: “why do we hear this question so often?”

    I think it’s a standard apologetic tactic to ask your opponent to ‘assume I’m right, then where will you be spending eternity?’ It’s a Ray Comfort tactic. It was used in a discussion here just last week. These people are really really comfortable arguing the consequences of them being right and you being wrong. They’re also very comfortable arguing that if atheists are right, no big whoop for them, because there’s no atheist hell they’re heading to forever.

    It’s their preferred argument.

    What they’re terrible at is arguing step one: where’s any evidence at all that what you believe is true?

    Don’t let them jump ahead to consequences. It’s just pascal all over again.

  • c.darrows

    that would be great, finally a “christian” capable of delievering meaningful answers: why there is a universe, why we are so insignificant in the universe, why there’s no reasonable evidence for a god, why he did expect us to believe without evidence, why he created evil/satan, why he created imperfect men just to kill them off in the flood, why he sent everyone born before jesus to hell, why he did wait so long to do something about it, why he needed a son to save us from the hell he built for us and why he couldn’t just do it himself, how many gods there are out there (1? 3? more?), why mary needed to be “virgin” even after the birth of jesus, why his son needed to be killed, why we need to eat him alive and drink his blood, etc. etc. etc…

  • http://mygoddlessdrama.blogspot.com/ Stacy

    I guess I would answer with ” Probably the same reaction an evangelical Christian would have if he was shown irrefutable proof that Santa Claus existed.” Since Evangel-Chix don’t believe in Santa any more than we do, I would think it would be a fair question back to them. No?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Well, my *very* first reaction would be to double-check and triple-check and make totally sure (or as sure as I can expect) that this “finding out” was real. The “no God” hypothesis has stood up very well so far, and I see the God hypothesis as not only unlikely, but internally contradictory as well. (The hypothesis of the evangelical Christian God, anyway.) And when evidence comes up that contradicts a useful hypothesis that so far has stood up well, in support of a hypothesis that so far has really not, a fair amount of initial skepticism and fact- checking is in order. Especially since the human mind is so good at deceiving itself.

    But let’s take that as a given, and assume that I really was convinced.

    Honestly? My reaction would probably be what it usually is when I’m proven wrong about something big. At first I tend to get sulky and defensive, and come up with rationalizations for my original belief. And then I suck it up, change my mind, and adjust to the new belief.

    Basically, I agree with Jim RL. If I agreed with you, then I’d agree with you. Like, duh.

    So now, like others here have asked, I’d like to ask the opposite question: What would you do, Christian evangelist, if you found out that you were mistaken?

    And perhaps more importantly: What kind of evidence would it take to convince you that you were mistaken? Ebonmuse poses this question in his excellent Theist’s Guide to Converting Atheists. He provides a clear guide for what kind of evidence would convince him that any given religion was correct… and then points out that, almost invariably, believers’ answer to this question is, “Nothing would change my mind — I have faith in my God.”

    And then he points out the irony of atheists being called close-minded.

  • Zal

    Resigned damnation for sure.

    I wouldn’t be too prideful to admit I was wrong, but beyond that, nothing would really change. I’m a grown man with free will and that means I don’t have to worship anybody or anything, and can live my life well with morals and good attitudes towards others.

    So that said, if it’s really the “God of the Bible” as mentioned before that was real, that’s strike two against it. I don’t appreciate anybody who does sadistic acts, gets by with threats/intimidation or claims they have the one true answer to life. Since this god has done all three and more, there’s no way I’d worship him. Hell might be punishment, but to me, so would worshiping him.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Anbody else notice that they changed the question part way through? At the beginning they ask if the “God of the Christian Evangelicals” was real and at the end they change it to the “God of the Bible” as if those two things were interchangeable. This reveals the way that the evangelical mindset works in a way that is actually more interesting than the intent of question itself. I wonder what the Catholics and non-evangelical christians must be thinking.

    Honestly though, there are so many contradicitions in the Bible that it is hard to tell what that god would be like if he really did exist. That’s because the descriptions of god in the bible do more to reflect the values and assumptions of the people writing the bible than it does to shed any light on what an actual omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent god would really be like.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Atheist readers, what if you were to suddenly find out tomorrow that the God of the Christian Evangelicals was real?

    I would not change anything.

    Yes, I’d believe he is real since this hypothetical situation obviously means evidence for his existence came to light, and it would be reasonable to believe in his existence. But from my perspective, the God depicted in the Bible is mean and vindictive, misogynistic and hateful. And I would not worship him just to stay out of hell.

    To me, that would be the same as working for Hitler to stay out of Auschwitz.

    And I hope I’d have the moral fiber to resist being a craven coward in such a situation.

    (Yes, I know that the God depicted in the New Testament is not as bad as the OT meanie, but according to Christianity it’s the same God. And he’d still send those who don’t accept Jesus as their personal savior — we’re going for the evangelical version of God, remember — to hell to suffer for eternity. That is not a God who loves unconditionally.)

  • http://wherewemakeourstand.wordpress.com JJ Berg

    Hemant? Your response?

  • Bharat

    The existence or not of God is irrelevant to my behavior.

    I have my set of morals and mold my actions based on that. And IF god existed, and IF he didnt like my rules, too bad for him. I will stand by them. And if he throws me in hell for my insubordination, I guess I am willing to pay the price.

  • http://www.suziesbookpages.co.uk Sue

    I’d buy him a few beers and ask him what he thought he was playing at.

  • http://www.suziesbookpages.co.uk Sue

    But seriously, I hope that I’d be like those Russian Christians I used to get told about, who were threatened with immediate death unless they denied Christ. My journey from Christianity to atheism began – like many of your other commenters – with the realisation that the god I worshipped was vindicative, inconsistent, sulky, mean and nasty. Not believing in His existence came later.

    Therefore, I hope I’d have the guts to look Him in the face and tell him how much I think He sucks, even if it meant my eternal damnation.

  • Rest

    “[i]You’re making the mistake of applying your known experiences to this made-up Christian world. If Christian heaven were a reality, then you would enjoy it. That is part of the definition of the Christian heaven.

    By definition, it would never get stale, boring, repetitive, etc. It would be an eternity of never-ending joy and pleasure.[/i]”

    What you’re implying is that you just won’t be allowed to care about your loved ones in hell because caring would ruin the experience. I understand what you’re saying, but it’s so twisted and Orwellian. Many Christians believe that people deserve to suffer in Hell so they’d be praising God anyway for justice served. I suppose, by your explanation, I’d be somehow made to feel the same way. I asked my dad this before and he said that, well, God would just make him forget that I ever existed. God would have to manipulate your memories and feelings. Yet it doesn’t negate the fact that the biggest concentration camp in the history of the universe exists.

    Off to take my loving dog for a walk. I can’t believe it’s snowing in May!

  • Miko

    Based on what I’ve read (i.e., Judges 1:19), I think we could take him. Finding out that the genocidal Biblical god really existed would certainly make me reconsider my position on nuclear armament reduction, however. Also, it’s one of the few situations in which I’d consider a preemptive strike as being justified. My one concern would be the response from his followers, but I think that they’d lose interest in him pretty quickly if they ever actually met him.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Hemant? Your response?

    Be cautious. Explore the evidence. If it’s true, say I was wrong. Convert.

    Is there really any other option?

    I’m not worried that I’ll have to do this, of course.

    But if I were wrong, I wouldn’t be afraid to admit it.

    We do reserve the right to be skeptical, but the hypothetical assumes it actually did happen for real.

  • Julie

    That would suck if he were real.

  • Julie

    I think it’s more fun to think about the Easter Bunny being real, which might be possible if the whole Easter thing were real. Okay, so Jesus rose from the dead, and that’s freaky, but yum, chocolate eggs for all!

  • http://atheistokie.wordpress.com/ Atheist Okie

    Well, I won’t play into hypothetical questions. They are all full of shit. The Evangelical Christian god obviously doesn’t exist, so I won’t waste my time answering what if.

    It’s about as silly as hearing the responses from an evangelical Christian if I asked them what if the real and true god said that only homosexual relationships were kosher. They wouldn’t even consider the possibility and would never admit to changing their worldview.

    It’s all just juvenile apologetic tactics to seed ignorant atheists.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Hemant:

    Convert. Is there really any other option?

    Yes. Spit in God’s face because he’s a schmuck.

    Why would you convert? I don’t get it.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Why would you convert? I don’t get it.

    Well, if God existed… and the Christian story was right… why not?

    The only thing stopping me from doing that now — with any faith — is that there’s no evidence for any of them being right.

    It’s a hypothetical that will most certainly never come to fruition.

  • http://joshuamcharles.com/blog Josh Charles

    There is the important distinction that needs to made between belief in god, and worship of that god as well.

    Even the christians recognize this difference: satan believes in god, but does not woship him.

  • mikespeir

    He’d have some serious explaining to do. There are too many things the Bible says he’s done or will do that don’t square with what I believe to be good and right. Just being a god or even The Creator doesn’t by itself make him worthy of worship.

    Still, I would expect a god’s ways and thoughts to be higher than mine. But if he can do anything, then one thing he should be able to do is make me understand why horribly wiping out men, women, and children at various points in history is a good thing. If he could do that, yeah, I’d probably go back to being a Christian. I will say this, though: none of his followers have been able to come up with any believable excuses.

  • Karen

    It’s all just juvenile apologetic tactics to seed ignorant atheists.

    I agree with this and with what Siamang said about evangelicals combing through the responses to reinforce their ignorant stereotypes. It’s a pointless, tired exercise.

  • Spacesocks

    If the Christian God exists, I sure hope he isn’t the humorless, sadistic megalomaniac his evangelists make him out to be. If he really sends all unbelievers to hell, I don’t think I could worship him. I don’t think I could live with myself if I get into heaven while people like Gandhi are being tortured for eternity. I’d go to hell as a conscientious objector.
    If he’s not actually the type to torture people eternally, I might be willing to worship him. I’d need a good explanation for why he allows all the suffering here on earth, though.
    Mind you, I would first need some damn good evidence that he even exists.

  • JimboB

    “Well, I’ll be damned.”

    That’s what I’d say, and that’s what I would prefer.

  • Sudo

    Maybe we could defeat the Evangelical Christian God by riding in our iron chariots?

    “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

    — Judges 1:19

    Does a car qualify as an iron chariot? What about a tank? I wonder if God would be able to defeat an army riding in steel chariots instead of iron..

    I’m still kinda ‘lol’ @ everybody though who says they would give a hearty FU to the creator of black holes, galaxies, stars, planets…if that God existed and revealed himself with that kind of power, nobody would do anything but fall on their face and cower in dumbstruck awe.

  • Claire

    Drew said:

    That’s enough to make me swallow any pride, indignation, or personal moral code– I’m sorry. For this short life on Earth, I can make sacrifices for what I believe is right, but when I’m faced with an eternity, and some third party is in charge– my own morals are out the window.

    Greta Chistina said:

    Basically, I agree with Jim RL. If I agreed with you, then I’d agree with you. Like, duh.

    Hemant Mehta said:

    Well, if God existed… and the Christian story was right… why not?

    Sudo said:

    if that God existed and revealed himself with that kind of power, nobody would do anything but fall on their face and cower in dumbstruck awe.

    Wow… These responses just leave me stunned. Why not? Because might does NOT make right. Because the god of the bible, as described therein, is psychotic, sadistic, twisted, and evil. Having all the power in the universe still doesn’t make it right to worship a being like that.

    Josh Charles said:

    There is the important distinction that needs to made between belief in god, and worship of that god as well.

    Even the christians recognize this difference: satan believes in god, but does not woship him.

    Exactly. There is still a choice. If the rest of the package is there, then free will is there too.

    (For those of you fundies reading this who want to say ‘gotcha’, I do not mean a choice between god and satan, I mean a choice to worship or not.)

    Bharat said:

    I have my set of morals and mold my actions based on that. And IF god existed, and IF he didnt like my rules, too bad for him. I will stand by them. And if he throws me in hell for my insubordination, I guess I am willing to pay the price.

    Word for word, exactly how I feel. I just couldn’t do anything else.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    I wonder what the Catholics and non-evangelical christians must be thinking.

    I’m thinking that if the God of Evangelical Christians existed then I’m not sure I’d want to be a Christian anymore. I’m not sure I can worship that kind of God, for many of the same reasons others here have said.

    However, knowing my own cognitive limitations I’d also want to give that God a chance to explain himself. I can imagine that there is some ultimate justification, something that makes it all make sense, that I am not capable of grasping right now. So I would withhold judgment and outright rebellion until I had a chance to actually have my questions answered by God himself.

  • Keith

    I agree with this and with what Siamang said about evangelicals combing through the responses to reinforce their ignorant stereotypes. It’s a pointless, tired exercise.

    Karen and Siamang,

    Though you guys are undoubtedly correct, I did just want to check in as one Christian who is reading through the repsonses and listening with empathy. The comments about the nature of hell especially reach my heart, I wouldn’t want to worship a God who tortures people for eternity either – regardless of whether he was true.

    Today I publicly “came out the closet” as an annihilationist at my church. I do not believe that God tortures people in eternity for hell, and I believe that Scripture does not support it. The sermon I preached today on this point of view will be available online in a few hours. If any of y’all want to hear it, I’ll post the link, though I don’t presume that anybody wants to hear them … I don’t come here for sermons, and I don’t suppose you guys do either. In any case, thanks to all who posted so honestly … the sermon was designed for a church service and will assuredly containt some stuff that it wouldn’t if it was designed for friendly atheists, but might at least give some material to throw back at Christians who like to spend all their time talking about an eternity of torture …

    Reading these repsonses has confirmed my stereotype that atheists are thoughtful, courageous, and moral. Thanks, guys.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Well, if God existed… and the Christian story was right… why not?

    Because to me that is the equivalent of becoming a Nazi to stay out of the concentration camps. I think that the evangelical God — as portrayed in the Bible — is evil. Would you really want to bow down and worship that God and voluntarily follow him? I wouldn’t.

    Of course I wouldn’t be an atheist any more if I found out this God was real based on unrefutable evidence; I would believe in his existence. But I would not surrender my soul to him and become an evangelical Christian again either.

    I also echo what others say about not being able to enjoy heaven knowing that others were being tortured for eternity. I just would go insane.

    (This has nothing to do with why I left the church or became an atheist. I didn’t see God as this evil schmuck until I started reading the Bible again recently.)

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    I’d see if Satan wanted a hand. Better the devil you know and all that. I mean, God needs to be taken down a peg or two if he exists.

  • MTran

    Yick, how disgusting. If the psychotic genocidal sadist god of the Old Testament and evangelical Christians were proven to be “real” then I would acknowledge its existence. I guess that means I would no longer be an atheist.

    But:
    1. I would not worship the creature

    2. I would do anything within my abilities to resist, undermine, and oppose the creature

    3. I would use the aforementioned “iron chariots” because to bronze-age tribal desert war gods, iron is like kryptonite to Superman

    4. I would consider the creature to be a natural phenomenon, not a supernatural entity

    5. I would seek the assistance of the numerous other gods in my quest to get rid of the god of the evangelicals. Kali might be a good start, along with Shiva, Sekhmet, Zeus, Athena, Loki, and all the other disenfranchised gods. Rhadamanthus can judge his soul after he is executed for his crimes.

    Now if the peace and charity godling, Jesus, were convincingly shown to be a “real” god, and he had taken over the job from his old man, then I would attempt to follow his good example as it is set out in the Jefferson Bible.

  • Jim

    I would change my mind and believe God exists, I could probably accept Jesus, but I don’t think I could ever be a go-to-church-every-Sunday kind of Christian who posts those silly psalms in their cubes and consider everything non-Christian to be evil.

  • Karen

    Today I publicly “came out the closet” as an annihilationist at my church. I do not believe that God tortures people in eternity for hell, and I believe that Scripture does not support it.

    Keith, that’s quite a bold step! I’ve never heard that word – annihilationist – before, but I assume it means that you think death is the end and there’s no eternal torment for non-Christians? What about eternal reward for Christians and/or other theists?

    Also: What was the response of your congregation to your sermon?

    I assume you already know all about Carlton Pearson, but if you don’t, listen and/or watch the coverage about him making a similar decision and the fall-out that occurred over it. He’s definitely one of my heroes. :-)

    The sermon I preached today on this point of view will be available online in a few hours. If any of y’all want to hear it, I’ll post the link

    I would love to hear it. Please post the link.

  • Pingback: Daily How To 41 « My Little Corner

  • http://kkbarrett.blogspot.com Kristopher

    If it was proven to me that god was real … and intended to end the world in the kind of holocaust described in Revelations?

    Try to kill God the Psychotic, and his henchmen, the Angels.

    If we can prove that God exists, then we have enough of a handle on his plane of existence to annihilate the bloody bastard before he does the same to us.

    Heh.

  • http://ecstathy.blogspot.com efrique

    I think I’d start with “What the heck were you thinking?”

    And then I’d have a whole /pile/ of questions about stuff that makes no sense whatever if /that/ God actually exists, and then I’d ask again

    “What the heck were you thinking?”

    Then I think I’d be asking what the heck he wants to be worshipped for, how the whole Jesus thing counts as any kind of a sacrifice at all, and if that’s why we’re supposed to worship, that’s fee for service, so again, how is that a sacrifice, and what the heck is up with the eternal torture thing.

    If the bible is really the inspired word of God, why is it so full of contradictions and historically documented falsehoods.

    But I think “What the heck were you thinking?” would come up a lot.

    There’d be no worshipping. You don’t revere someone holding a gun to your head.

  • Elsin Ann Perry

    I’d be deeply disappointed that the Creator of the universe….megaverses?…is vengeful, hateful, childish and sadistic, as he is portrayed in the bible.

    That god—the god of Moses (there is no record of him or his tribe being in “the promised land, not a shred)—is not worthy of being worshiped.

    But I know that this question makes no sense, since we were not made in the Creator’s image. He was made in our image, as were all the gods of old.

    Yours in Zeus,

    Elsin Ann Perry

  • Elsin Ann Perry

    p.s. And as to Efrique’s comment about sacrifice—excellent point—Jesus (so goes the bible) knew that three days after he died, he’d be wow!!! up there in heaven, sitting at the right hand of god, etc.

    What kind of sacrifice did he make?! Big deal!

    How many millions of people have died even more horribly than he supposedly did, with no hope of sittingattherighthandofgod, etc. And among these millions of people can be counted the many who died because they did not believe in this Jesus. Inquisition, anyone?

  • http://www.runicfire.net ansuzmannaz

    Better to burn a righteous man than live a sycophant in heaven.

    And if that’s showing a lack of imagination, then I’m not a writer.

  • http://www.wayofthemind.org/ Pedro Timóteo

    I’ve already written a reply to that very question as part of my still unfinished Atheism FAQ, called What if you’re wrong, and God does exist?.

    Not too different from most around here (basically, which god? Because the Christian Bible god is certainly evil, and, to quote Heinlein, has the manners and morals of a spoiled child…), but you may enjoy it anyway. :)

  • Christophe Thill

    Last night I saw a TV documentary about Kim Jong Il’s North Korea.

    Kim Jong Il, according to official propaganda, was born in extraordinary circumstances. Songs say that he created the fire and the dawn. People bow to his portraits every time they meet one. At lunchtime they turn to his picture and wish him a good meal. Whenever he visits a factory, his smallest comments are noted down and applied. He’s supposed to be knowledgeable about everything.

    This is just what the world would look like under a fundie god.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    If the concept of the Christian God and bible turned out to be true… every word… then I would have no choice but to theorize that the Christian God evolved by natural processes from a more primitive entity by various mechanisms including natural selection. :)

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Jeff, I think you win for having the best answer in this whole thread!

  • jdcollins

    I would say to him/her, “So, umm, what the fuck with all the crazy shit?”

  • Jamie

    Well, here’s the thing, how I find out is important. There are so many big IFs involved. Like: the Bible can’t be entirely literally true, because there’s contradictions all over the place. Do I just “know” all the answers? Do I just knew that “God is real”, but nothing else?”

    I guess this reveals that the first thing I’d do is try to figure out all the answers that follow from the knowledge. The Christian God as literally described in the Bible is quite disturbing in a lot of ways. If I had some direct link that had given me this newfound knowledge, then I’d be having to use it to find out answers. If not, however, I’d have to find my own answers (much as I always have). I would still not trust any mortal who claims that he/she knows the answers. Organized religion would still be highly suspect. I’d have no better information, really, as to which Christian splinter sect (or church even) to trust, so I’d make the most logical assumption of trusting none of them.

    Which, I guess means I’d become more heavy into philosophy, and probably come up with my own version of the Christian religion, which I’d imagine would probably have a lot to do with how I view the world to begin with, which would probably mean I’d live my life a lot like I do today.

    I’d probably pray though. Not publicly, but at home. It would be more like a conversation though (probably lacking one side, of course). Discussing my philosophical musings. Complaining about the stuff that goes on down here. Asking all my questions all the time. Who knows, maybe God would find me quite annoying and revert me back to atheism so I’d stop bothering him.

  • Grimalkin

    I remember when I was a little kid and I found out that light (and colours) were actually waves that we perceive as light and colours. My first reaction was “how does that make sense?” Then it was explained to me and it made sense. So I accepted it and moved on.

    That’s how I deal with any new piece of information about the world that, at first, seems to contradict my own observations. If I were shown proof of the existence of god, I’d accept that.

    Now, something like light being made up of waves doesn’t require much for lifestyle change, but I suppose finding out that a god is real would (especially if it’s the Christian god and we all know just how jealous, possessive, and childish he can be – speaking of, I used to date a guy like that…). Once my thinking had been readjusted to incorporate this new information, I would alter my behaviour as well.

  • Keith

    Keith, that’s quite a bold step! I’ve never heard that word – annihilationist – before, but I assume it means that you think death is the end and there’s no eternal torment for non-Christians? What about eternal reward for Christians and/or other theists?

    Also: What was the response of your congregation to your sermon?

    Thanks, Karen. The congregation’s initial reaction has been entirely positive. Either folks aren’t sure they agree with me, but are willing to think it over … or they’ve felt that something like what I proposed is true for a long time but didn’t know how to express it. I think it gave some people hope, and I think it challenged everyone to study for themselves – which can’t be a bad thing.

    I definitely believe that there is eternal life for followers of Jesus as part of God’s kingdom, but I don’t believe that he tortures others for eternity. Still, the idea of someone being destroyed and non-existent isn’t a pleasant thought either.

    I am familiar with Carlton Pearson, and I think I saw a profile on him on a PBS show, but my memory fails me. The annihilationist position is very much a minority, but is gaining support even in conservative circles. Guys like Clark Pinnock, John Stott, Edward Fudge, Michael Green, and Russell Boatman are all annihilationist.

    Here’s the link you requested:
    http://www.coppercreekcc.org/Sermons_Online.html
    The sermon in reference is the March 4th one, titled “Double Hockey Sticks.”

    Thank you, Karen.

  • http://joshuamcharles.com/ Josh Charles

    Keith:

    It’s quite refreshing to hear a view like that compared to the usual doom and gloom.

    Josh

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Oh noes! I accidentally posted a bunch of times (editing the wrong window, I guess), then right after that asked if the duplicates could be removed (the post this morning at 7:03am was the most complete, I think)…now all of the posts are gone. Gone!

    Have I been banned from the internets?

  • Keith

    Thanks, Josh.

  • Brian

    I would immediately call the police to have him arrested as a terrorist and a threat to both our national and global security. Hopefully they would put him up in Guantanamo Bay.

  • http://www.wayofthemind.org/ Pedro Timóteo

    then I would have no choice but to theorize that the Christian God evolved by natural processes from a more primitive entity by various mechanisms including natural selection.

    Actually, it’s species that evolve, not individuals. So there would have to be a species of gods which evolved from more primitive god or god-like species. :)

  • Brian

    Everyone is missing the real fact of the matter! If he were real, I’d be crapping in my pants. A world where god really does exist would be far worse than our current reality. We’d have a vengeful, jealous, psychotic, murderous god who is supposed to be the good guy. Let’s not forget that if god exists, then his old pal Satan must exist as well. Now Satan is a dude who doesn’t even try to play the part of good guy, he’s literally out to get you and you’re soul (which must exist if god exists)! It doesn’t matter what you do because will either be taken out in the rapture, taken out because Satan won, or taken out because god decided to initiate another global catastrophe killing off everyone except his favorite few.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Modusoperandi — I think I deleted your posts in the moderation queue when you asked for some of them to be deleted.

    Please try again. Everything should work now.

  • cipher

    Keith,

    What about universalism? There are evangelicals who feel that the Bible supports it, e.g. Tom Talbott.

  • http://kkbarrett.blogspot.com Kristopher

    Looks like my response got deleted from that blog.

    Apparently my notion of snuffing God before he snuffs us didn’t go over well with them.

    Heh, again.

  • Claire

    Brian said:

    I would immediately call the police to have him arrested as a terrorist and a threat to both our national and global security.

    Not such a good idea, not with our goverment as it stands today. The world court at the Hague would be a better idea, and charged with crimes against humanity.

    That’s not an original idea on my part – the book is called Blameless in Abaddon, by James Morrow, and it’s really funny in a very dark way.

  • Rest

    I would not support sending Yahweh to Guantanamo Bay. I’m against torture (waterboarding) and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

  • Steven

    Terrific posts on this question – I especially like the general notion that if God existed it would be a huge catastrophe.
    I’m not sure how one would fight back againt an omnipotent, omniscient being (Chariots of iron? Doesn’t that seem a bit – silly?).
    Lucky for unbelievers that this is only idle speculation.
    Not so lucky for all the folks that live their lives in the absolute certainty that their god (whichever one, there are lots to choose from after all) is real.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    Let’s not forget that if god exists, then his old pal Satan must exist as well. Now Satan is a dude who doesn’t even try to play the part of good guy, he’s literally out to get you and you’re soul (which must exist if god exists)!

    At least Satan is consistent. As the great adversary I’d prefer to sign up with him against the big guy. Unless either could show that they’d been terribly misrepresented. Maybe the bibles are not good representations of god’s message. If god exists he’d get one chance to clear up the mistakes.

  • http://breakfastindavenport.blogspot.com markbt73

    I’d happily go to Hell. Even if they’re right, they’re still smarmy bastards, and I’m not going to suffer through an eternity of “I told you so”s.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Pedro Timóteo said,
    Actually, it’s species that evolve, not individuals. So there would have to be a species of gods which evolved from more primitive god or god-like species.

    That seems reasonable to me. Since the creation story of the Old Testament was very Earth-centric, it stands to reason that there must be other Gods involved with creation and salvation on each of the other inhabitable planets in the universe. It is quite possible that these various Gods engage in sexual activity among themselves. Why not? Assuming the purpose of sex (as the fundamentalists say) is for procreation, then there would be plenty of God offspring. If there is almost always a Satanic influence, it stands to reason that there would be survival pressures at play for the offspring and therefore all the ingredients for natural selection. Yes, I would have no choice but to believe all this if the bible were true. :)

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I’d congratulate him for women. That’s some fine work, there.

    I’d ask him why, if he made us in his own image, did he not realize that we’d be both curious and really bad with obedience.

    I’d ask him if, in his infinite wisdom, he’d ever thought of proportional punishment (as he has a habit of going overboard with such things).

    I’d ask him why he didn’t write “Thou shalt not kill” as “Thou shalt not kill, unless they’re in the way, or I order it. Oh, be sure to run the broads and the brats through, too. Keep the girl virgins for yourselves, though, wink-wink”, as a disturbing amount of Joshua (and, to a lesser extent, Exodus, if memory serves) is exactly that. Apologist logic that makes bad good notwithstanding…why the children?

    If he’s the Evangelical’s god (with “evolution is a crock”, “6,000 year old universe”, “worldwide flood”, “no common descent”, and the like…although god varies enough even under Evangelicals that some will, no doubt, disagree with some or all of those), I’d ask why he went through all the work of making the real world specifically not match up, or conflict with, the book. Let’s face it, a world where Ken Ham and Duane Gish are right, while pretty much every branch of science is, at best, way-way off is…odd, and uncomfortably so.

    Lastly, I’d ask why he gives children cancer.

    Depending on the answers to these questions, and any others that pop up along the way, I’d either bow the knee and beg forgiveness for being human (how messed up does that sound? “I’m sorry, LORD, for being exactly what you planned me to be.”), or I’d take my licks and go to the firey place, with the wailing and gnashing of teeth. The answers would have to be pretty good (perfect, in fact) for me to willingly do the former. In the very least, choosing the first would require me to redefine words like “love”, “mercy”, and “justice”.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    There’s a Unitarian Universalist (UU) joke about two UUs who die in a car crash and — much to their surprise — find themselves meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates to heaven. This joke could also work with liberal “social gospel” Christians and Quakers too.

    In this joke, the two UUs are surprised to find out that this part of what they thought was Christian mythology was true and St. Peter tells them that all it was true.

    St. Peter also says that both UUs are good persons and are eligible to go to heaven.

    One UU asks about hell and St. Peter says “yes … there are some who are condemned to an eternity of torture in hell too.”

    The two UUs decide at this point to remain outside heaven at the pearly gates where they start walking a picket line and protest God’s unfair policies of eternal damnation.

    And they spend eternity walking a picket line and protesting God’s injustice.

  • Maria

    probably convert

  • http://blackskeptic.wordpress.com blackskeptic

    I’d convert. Simple as that. As long as there’s sound evidence for the Christian god, then count me in.

  • http://blackskeptic.wordpress.com blackskeptic

    I’d convert. Simple as that. As long as there’s sound evidence for the Christian god, then count me in.

  • MTran

    Steve Caldwell,

    Your UU joke sounds a great deal like what I encountered in the churches I attended in my teens. Which is one reason why I had an unrealistically positive view of “believers” before the whackaloon fundies took over the US government.

    Now I want to see all the theistic, supernatural, religious stuff gone forever. It’s poison, worse than crystal meth.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    At least Satan is consistent. As the great adversary I’d prefer to sign up with him against the big guy. Unless either could show that they’d been terribly misrepresented.

    History is written by the winners. So of course the bible is biased against Satan. It all started when he wanted to give knowledge to Adma and Eve, God got pissy and decided to tarnish Satan’s reputation. So I’m “down” with Mr. S, pitchforks never go out of style.

  • http://dbzer0.com db0

    Just in case anyone is interested, I wrote a “riposte”-reply here.

  • Rest

    Talking of Satan, I just came across this amusing paperback cover (probably SFW) and thought I’d share it with you guys.

  • Meh.

    Sorry about the 2 months and many days late response lol. But I just had to reply to this. I’m reading the old blog posts because I don’t have a life or anything to clean.

    I’m only a teenager and I’m afraid of roller coasters and scary movies, nevermind an almighty God who can send me to a fiery furnace with the teeth and stuff. I mean, saying “If I have to go burn for eternity in pain, then so be it” is easy to say, but I’m not sure if I’d truly be able to do such a thing. I don’t really know if I’m Atheist, because even though I think to myself “does this make sense..How horrible…wtf..wow that guys hot” in Church, I also feel a little bit of fear of damnation and all that. I guess I’m “Agnostic”.

    But if he was real, I might just have to convert too. That, or get Philip Pullman and go find Lord Asriel, since book characters are apparently coming to life.


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