I think this hypothetical question is bringing up some even deeper issues that concern this forum's purpose and the real problem of why people believe in gods. I think it's worth stating again that I do not believe in gods of any kind and I don't see good evidence for them. You bring up a lot of good points that we need to talk about.
You are assuming that I've not given this any thought at all. I have. The question has been on my mind damn-near constantly since it was first posed. And I hope that I would still have the strength of conviction to deny the creature that I firmly believe is a monster, no matter what happens to me. Because if I don't, then what is the point?
I thank you for giving it a lot of thought - so have I over the years. Because someone brought it up the other day I wanted to get it out in the open. The main problem I think is that you are using human goals and human struggles against human "evil" - dictators/mass murderers/bullies/fill in the blank ______ as a comparison to a hypothetical struggle (which you couldn't win) against this deity we call Biblegod. Convictions and struggles against human baddies can have lasting consequences. Some of them are in no order of importance -
1. Passing examples of strength to others in the struggle
2. Passing along values to younger generations
3. Receiving medals
4. Defeating the bad entity
5. Taking torture or imprisonment long enough to survive
None of those items serve any purpose in the hypothetical. There is no point in denying Biblegod because it doesn't compare to human struggles. To put it frankly,
A. Nobody else will give a shit if you bravely deny it
B. Given A, you'll wonder what the point of denying is also - who are you setting an example for?
C. Given A & B, plus your own humanity, you will opt out of eternal torture.
It would mean that I would fall down in front of the thing I regard as most wrong, most evil, most despicable there could be. You may feel that that is a position that can be taken easily - I don't. Standing for what I think is right is important to me - though I DO have worries over whether I would, at time of crunch, have the strength to go through with it. But to say, right here and now, "yeah, I'll do whatever to save myself?" No, that I won't do - not least because it would be the start of the slippery path to justification that might be the tipping point to my caving in.
It's a tough situation isn't it, if it was reality? You say you struggle with it now - just wait till the reality of it kicks in (if it were true). Unlike human struggles you are going to lose this one - no chance of winning. It's not a dictator that can be defeated, it's not a bully that can be kicked in the balls, it's not a force that can be changed. Your tiny little stand against it would be as meaningless as a speck of dust in the universe, and you won't take the chance of eternal torture to make a meaningless statement, whereas in human struggles you might risk death to make a meaningful statement for posterity. No offense, but I don't know if you are the hero type or not. You might not even take these bold stands even against a human baddie. I'm not claiming I could either.
You want a really honest answer? I put off cleaning my shower for a long time. Uh, let's just say it was in really bad shape. I spent nearly 2 hours yesterday cleaning it - yes 2 hours, it was nasty, a suck task, and a pain in the ass. If Hell was cleaning that shower over and over for eternity - I would choose worshipping Biblegod. Forget about eternal pain. That's a really honest answer. Forget about red hot cigars, staples, and all other manner of torture, that shower torture would do it for me. I don't know what that makes me, probably a lame, weak, unconvicted human in your eyes, but that's an honest answer.
It's pointless to choose eternal torture for no good reason. That's why religion wins, the threat of nasty consequences - they've thought of everything. Once that's in the minds of the theists it's all over with. The difference between them and us is they accept it with poor evidence, whereas in the hypothetical it's somehow proven that Biblegod exists. That's the difference. It's foolish to believe in something that has poor evidence. It's not foolish to accept valid proof that a thing exists and act on that proof taking into account that you are checkmated - game over - do not insert another quarter in the slot, which is what happens in the hypothetical.
You claim that you know me.
I only claim that, as some others have eloquently stated, I know that you are human and I know your own humanity will completely take over at the point that the hypothetical became true. I don't know you as far as what you will eat for dinner today, what you regard as the best beer, or what type of flat screen TV you prefer. There are many things about you I can not predict because they are trivial states of mind - trivial choices. Mistakes or lapses of judgment choosing your next toaster oven are no big deal and I can't predict what you would do choosing one. Encountering/choosing those things are not cases of your own humanity overpowering a frail human mind. This case is, and I think by now you are starting to doubt what you would do. Nothing wrong with that.
Then you will also know how I would feel to accept that my personal safety means more to me than standing up for what is right.
But what is "right"? Why is your opinion "right" anyway - because you say so? Maybe you were wrong all along? There's lots of human laws I don't like but I obey them because it's the right thing to do. If you don't like the law have it changed. In the hypothetical, if it were true, what the law is is what Biblegod says it is - He's the law giver and you can't have it changed. Not because it's objective either, it's because He says so and he'll bust your balls otherwise. If he says it's right to worship Him then it's right, it's the law, and you have to obey the law. If he says stone to death so-and-so because they stepped on a holy mud brick then that's what's right. Don't you obey the law Anfauglir? You say you stand up for what is "right", well, what Bible god says is the law, is what's right - period, so I guess you'll be standing up for Biblegod.
Besides, your standing up for what you claim is "right" has no chance of succeeding or accomplishing anything in any way. Many people have stood for rights that were against current human law because they wanted the laws changed. What's the worst that would happen to them? They get put in jail, some died and that was that. You can't get Biblegod's law changed so there's no point. Not just that, if you do try it, you'll get your balls busted and get eternally tortured and can't die. So you won't try something that can't succeed and will send you to eternal torment and which is not "right" by definition of the law giver and is for all intents and purposes pointless. So to talk like HAL - Your stand would be, by any practical definition of the terms, foolish and incapable of success.
The best people in the wocrld [sic], to me, are those who risk themselves for their convictions. Your point - ultimately - is that every person in the world will ultimately choose self over conviction. And if that's what is going to happen, then what IS the point?
If the hypothetical were true? There would be no point Anfauglir. I know you really, really, desperately, gosh-darn-it want there to be a point to having convictions in the face of Biblegod, but unfortunately, there wouldn't be a point. The convictions you held were for another world, another time, a time before Biblegod was proven to exist. That's part of the hypothetical's consequences - the "point" is that Biblegod is in charge, and the point is he set it all up. You can't change any of it, you can't die for your beliefs, you can't get a medal, you can't pass along your convictions to others, because you know how it would go down? You'll be getting tortured and nobody will give a rat's ass.
It'll go like this -
Anfauglir - "C'mon everybody! Stay with your convictions and join me in Hell! Don't be scared of eternal torture! Nam's with me and he says it can't be much worse than having a burning cigar touched to your skin or even a staple gun wound!"
Everybody else - "Fuck that Anfauglir! Fuck that! Are you fucking insane! This isn't some debate on the WWGHA forum - this shit is REAL now! This is not a game! There's no point to resisting and suffering eternal torture! Nobody cares about your convictions anymore so don't be a fool! We were all wrong! See ya wouldn't want to be ya! Zankuu, how high is the altar we're building for Biblegod supposed to be? Get the plans, and 12 Monkeys, take charge of burning some pleasing aromas, Ricky - please slaughter a lamb". I'll try to make sure we're not pissing off the Big Guy.
Anfauglir to himself - "The real situation really sucks ..."
Anfauglir to Nam - "Hey man - can you do me a real quick cigar burn before I commit? I just want a small taste of what's coming to make sure ..."
Nam - "Dude it really does hurt, and you know how I am on forums, I talk big, but I'm outta here to help build the altar!"
Anfauglir to himself - "Why I am going to do this again ..."
If that's the final result, then all the "fun" we have hear is pointless - whistling past the graveyard, "I don't believe in spooks, I don't , I don't , I DON'T" - and to say that, when push comes to shove we would essentially recant on everything we ever bother saying here, then.....well, agree your point, and in my opinion it makes ALL our posturings here pointless and rather childish.
You are right, if the hypothetical was true. But it's only a hypothetical that we don't believe now. It's just a thought experiment - an apparently nasty little thought experiment from the looks of it. I'm quite glad that I am causing people to think about this .But what you are saying is a problem too Anfauglir. What you are implying is, if we do not believe in ghosts, goblins, angels, gods, devils, etc. now, but they were proven to be true later, that you wouldn't want to accept the reality of it. You wouldn't want to "recant on everything we ever bother saying here". Isn't that telling the readers that we can't accept what we
have not believed all our lives if proven false? Isn't that just as bad as what theists do here all the time? Well, it is.
I further believe that even by pushing this point it makes this website pointless. The committed Christians that come here KNOW that god exists. So if you are correct, there is no way at all that they will ever renounce their god because of our sophistry and clever arguments that show how evil god really is. Even if on some level they think we may be right, THEIR choice (of worship or burn) IS already being made. Its not a hypothetical maybe some years down the line - its NOW, and always. So not one person who knows Christ will have their position swayed by this website.
Then maybe it is pointless. Either it has a worthwhile purpose or it doesn't, and you might be entirely right. Maybe we should all agree and I can write the owner and convince him to shutter the place. If they KNOW Biblegod exists, then why are
we here, I've considered that for a few years. How many people have deconverted because of this place? You see, the hypothetical really brings to the forefront the hold that this religion has on them. I believe it's the main thing that holds them. They think - What if this god is real? What if Hell is real? What if I make a mistake and get sent to eternal torture because you fucking atheist bastards tricked me? What if ... Shit man, you atheists make some good points but ... I'll just play it safe just in case - no harm really. Logging off now ...
You see, their humanity is already at work and it's powerful medicine. The designers of this religion were damn good at their craft. Our humanity isn't at work now, for us, because we do not believe. But it will be the most important thing
to you if the hypothetical were to become true, I can 100% assure you of this.
It also gives great support to the view that anyone who becomes an atheist was never truly a Christian. Someone who is a Christian KNOWS god exists - and so, again, they make that choice on a daily basis. You've stressed that there is only one choice to make in that position - continued belief and worship - so how could one lose belief in that position, knowing that to do so means they are making the "torture" choice?
They won't lose belief, because in effect the hypothetical (what we consider hypothetical) is real for them. You've said what the problem is Anfauglir - what we consider hypothetical is not hypothetical for them. It all goes back to what is considered good evidence and what they are willing to "risk" to accept that there is no good evidence. To them, it's not a good bargain. It's like joining in the office lottery like I used to do. I didn't think there was a good chance we'd win, but fuck it - I sure didn't want to think of me being the one who was the single guy who decided to opt out if they won. It was only $1 for peace of mind, and we do know there are winners in the lottery.
So it goes. They'd just as soon not take the risk of Hell and go about their merry way. They say their Hail Mary's and join in the religious lottery at little real risk if they are wrong (I know, Pascal's wager but that's the way they see it anyway). I foresee no risk now because I have no good evidence. The point is, are we to be hypocrites in the face of proof of Biblegod that we would still be so blustery in the face of Hell. I don't think so.
From the position of the person who has experienced their god, that's how things are. They can never renounce their god, no matter what we say - and they can quite honestly refute any "I was once a believer" argument with "no, you were not - you couldn't have been, else you'd never have chosen to forsake the salvation".
Yep. I have nothing to add to that. We've seen that for years and I expect it won't change.
Your position might not make the True Christian position valid. But it lends it a hell of a lot of support. I know that doesn't make your position wrong. But perhaps it makes it a position that we would collectively do better to stand against?
Well it's too bad that discussing hypotheticals does that Anfauglir. If admitting I'd worship Biblegod using a given hypothetical causes theists to be more secure in their belief, then we really are up against a tough mind virus - one that looks like it can't be defeated. Or are you saying something like Mitt Romney said when talking about economy/distribution of wealth "You know I think it's fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms."?
I even got PM from members that don't want to post in the thread agreeing with me.
Does that surprise you? That someone who is so nervous about openly expressing an opinion on the interweb would succumb to threats from Yahweh? I agree it supports your point, sure - I'd be surprised if it didn't happen - but so what? I guess the meek really will inherit the earth.....
I don't think it's succumbing to threats from Yahweh, they just don't want to be seen as somehow weak or not firm enough as an atheist among their peers here. I really don't know. It doesn't bother me to talk about it because I don't care what people think about me having said all this. It's important to talk about.