One of the annoying things about not really having a religious faith and believing in a god is that you’ll never really find out if you were right though you could, just possibly, find out you were wrong. The precise opposite is the case of course for those people who need to believe in a god. If they’re wrong they’ll never know but if they’re right they will. All very confusing.
Then there’s the thorny problem of what the hell happens if you don’t believe and yet, against all the evidence, you turn out to be wrong. If the god is one of those vengeful ones who needs to be worshipped he or she could make the rest of eternity rather nasty for you. Possibly the best option is to hedge your bets and simply decide to believe in one anyway. You won’t have lost much except all that tedious time spent hanging around places of worship. This option, unfortunately, seems awfully hypocritical to me. Just why a god should demand to be worshipped has always puzzled me; it seems terribly ego-centric somehow.
I guess believing in a god is all about being dead. This has fascinated me since I was very young; I’ve always had a morbid streak. If you don’t believe in a god then you might spend your entire life (though not every second of it of course) wondering what being dead is like. If you do believe in a god this particular problem is much diminished. The only answer I’ve ever come up with is that being dead is probably very much like not having been born yet which is something which hasn’t bother me in the slightest for most of the past fifteen billion years or so.
9th December 1997
Since writing this I’ve read large chunks of the Qur’an. The annoying thing about that book is that if you leave the God stuff out of it then it often makes an awful lot of sense. It seems, to me, to be largely a practical guide to living your life without seriously stepping on other people’s toes.
I know it’s meant to be the received word of Allah but I do just wonder whether that’s simply how it had to be presented at the time it was written.
It has been pointed out to me that the thoughts expressed here are similar to those expressed in Pascal’s Wager except that I come to the opposite conclusion. I must say that at the time I wrote this little piece I had not heard of Pascal’s Wager. 3 March 2008