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Sunday, May 29, 2016

WHY IT MAKES SENSE TO BELIEVE IN HEAVEN

Earlier this month, on a Sunday, of course, my posting on SOON AFTER THE BEGINNING, MAN CREATED GOD, was one of my most read blogs of the year.  Also, on that day this site reached one million viewers.

It's Sunday again, so I thought I'd reach for the opposite extreme in my prefrontal cortex and suggest that logic argues for belief in something like an afterlife.  Richard Dawkins and most of the subscribers of Free Inquiry would not be pleased.  But the reason the possibility of Heaven (by most measures I probably do qualify) remains in my thoughts is that there could well be psychological value to believing, for the other fearsome option is eternal gloom.

There is, of course, Blaise Pascal's Wager:

Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).[2]

At this point I have not yet advanced to the stage where I actually can believe in a God, which just about dooms anything like an afterlife, but I continue to search.

Here is the wager itself:

  1. God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then 'at least learn your inability to believe...' and 'Endeavour then to convince' themselves.

  • There are something like 4200 religions, so if you pick the wrong one 4199 Gods will be pissed, and you won't get into their Heaven.  But does this matter, as any Heaven is better than eternal gloom or Hell.
  • If you accept Pascal's Wager, take a look at the Atheist's Wager, which is funny with valid points.
  • Do you really think God is that dumb as to be fooled by your bet-hedging?
  • If you presently don't believe, no way will you suddenly believe because of Pascal's Wager.
Many Muslim terrorists have faith that killing heathens will get them, and their family, into a landscape of milk and honey, plus, just for you, 72 virgins, or white raisins, depending on one interpretation.

Here is the world breakdown, according to the Ipsos Social Research Institute:
  • About half of the world believe in an afterlife.
  • A quarter think they will just cease to exist.
  • Another quarter, not sure.
Americans, however, are really religious:


So what will Heaven be like?

About 90% say peaceful and happy, while only 4% believe Heaven will be boring.  Interestingly enough only 14% think they will have sexual relations with their spouse.  But, of course, these are just human feelings having no link with reality, which might be nonexistent.

In the meantime, my analysis of the below is beginning to convince me that belief, per se, might not actually be necessary to gain access:


I haven't quite made the argument for why it makes sense to believe in Heaven.  Here are a few reasons to believe:
  • Most people around you will less likely look upon you as some kind of untrustworthy malcontent.
  • An attitude off belief might well diminish the frightening feelings of eternal gloom upon death.
  • There must be something to why more believe in Heaven than not
  • I could be wrong.
Yes, weak, but I'll keep working on the above list.  In the meantime, a few friends are praying for me and maybe that will ultimately save me.  For if not eternal gloom, it could get worse.

  
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