I was initially pushed toward atheism by my realization that neither Christian apologetics’ argument from evidence nor its the argument from experience were actually valid. After realizing this I had an additional problem: the core doctrines of Christianity stopped making sense. End the end formulating my own version of Pascal’s Wager, which I call Libby Anne’s Wager, allowed me to make peace with the God question and accept my lack of belief.
The Argument from Evidence
I see no evidence of a God or a supernatural realm. Little by little, science has eliminated the need for God, explaining the causes of rain, disease, and earthquakes. If there was a God out there, you would think it would be fairly obvious. Wouldn’t a God make himself known, show himself to be real, leave some evidence of his existence? Nope. Christians often point to the Bible or the Resurrection or young earth creationism as proof of God’s existence, but none of these arguments hold up to scrutiny.
The Argument from Experience
Many Christians will argue that God does make his existence known – through personal connections in our hearts. Many Christians will speak of having a “relationship with Jesus.” I had one too. And then I realized that it was all in my head. If God really does form personal relationships, I began to wonder, why do people who all claim to be trying to listen hear such different things from him? Why has the church been forever fractured? This made no sense at all.
Christianity Stopped Making Sense
Even as I came to see that there was no evidence for God’s existence and that feelings alone weren’t enough to justify belief, I also began to realize that basic Christian doctrine makes no sense. Christianity is a religion based on human sacrifice. Why, I wondered, would God set up a system where he has to have his son brutally murdered in order to forgive humans, whom he created flawed in the first place? The Trinity, which I had so long justified as “a mystery,” also stopped making sense. How could God turn his back on himself on the cross, and how could part of God “die” while the other parts remained alive? It made no sense.
Libby Anne’s Wager
Yet for a long time I was afraid of identifying as an atheist, afraid of being wrong and afraid of being damned to hell. I clung to the idea of a God and clung to faith, mostly because of Pascal’s Wager. But then someone pointed out to me that Pascal’s Wager was inadequate: What if it turned out that it was the Muslim God, not the Christian God, that existed? What if God valued skepticism rather than belief? With these thoughts in mind, I developed what I call Libby Anne’s Wager.
When it comes to the question of God, there are four basic options:
1. There are no gods.
2. There is a god or gods, but he/she/they do not care about humans.
3. There is a god or gods, and he/she/they are good and loving.
4. There is a god or gods, and he/she/they are evil and hateful.
In the case of options one or two, what we do or do not do here on this earth does not ultimately matter in a cosmic sense and will have no consequences after death. In the case of option three, a loving God would care more about whether we live by love and help others than about whether or not we believe in him or her. In the case of option four, do we really want to serve a God who cares more about legalism than love, a God who sentences humans to eternal torture for not worshiping him or her?
After formulating this wager my fear left. I was raised a Christian and have little to no experience outside of Christian traditions, but this wager set my mind at ease as to the existence of the Gods of other religions because it applies there too.
In the end, I’m fairly certain that there is no god or gods – about as certain as I am that there are no fairies or unicorns – but if there turns out that I am wrong, I’m not worried.