Just to be clear: this is not an argument against God. I may at times refer to aspects of a religion or a certain God but this won’t be in an attempt to debunk religion. Instead, this is going to be an antitheist’s perspective on why one may be glad that no God exists. You don’t have to agree with me but understand that this is from my point of view. It doesn’t involve arguments or facts or figures. It’s impossible to tackle all religions in one sweeping statement so at times I’m going to have to reference certain beliefs. I will focus mostly on Christianity as it’s the main religion in my country. Just understand that these may not be YOUR beliefs but they will be somebody’s.
If you’ve never come across any of my posts before then you’re perhaps wondering why I refer to myself as an antitheist. The late Christopher Hitchens expressed it in a more concise fashion I’m sure, but the reason is this: Someone can be an atheist and have absolutely no belief in God or religion whatsoever. They may not believe in heaven, hell, the soul, angels, the existence of certain Holy figures or prophets…and yet they may still wish that some of this stuff was true.
They may wish that Heaven existed because they fear death and the loss of their friends and family for the rest of eternity. Perhaps they wish God existed to pass judgement on every soul that walks this Earth. They may wish that such a being exists so that all of this (the universe, life, etc) makes sense and has some sort of purpose. They may even wish that hell exists so that the cruel and evil people of the world who perhaps escaped justice on Earth can suffer punishment in the next life. I don’t. I’m GLAD that no God exists. I’m GLAD that religious texts have little to no historical value. I’m GLAD that when this life ends, that’s it and I don’t have to suffer through whatever existence awaits for all of eternity.
If you are religious then you may be wondering why anybody would be glad of these things. Surely everyone wishes there was a higher power…right? No, not at all. I’m going to start by exploring the nature of the Holy Books themselves. Why would I be happy that these aren’t historical documents? (I understand that not every religious person views their holy book as being 100% factual). Well for starters, it paints a picture of a very angry, obsessive, controlling God. Regardless of whether you’re a Christian, Jew or Muslim, your Holy Book contains a violent God who floods planets, murders almost all animals, kills children, burns cities, promotes genocide, provides troops for war, allows slavery (and the beating of slaves)…I could go on. Even if you are Christian, you may argue that Jesus changes all of this. Perhaps, but for most of human history, your God was still OK with all of this.
So I have no desire for such a being to exist and if I was given a button that would bring such a being into existence, I would destroy that button so nobody could ever push it. Such a being also opens up the question of morality. Many religious people view God’s will as the purest morality i.e. if God tells you to murder your son, that’s moral because nothing God does or commands can be seen as immoral. I don’t think there is such a thing as objective morality. Morality is something that we (as humans) have gradually altered, tweaked and fine-tuned to what we have today…religion has never been ahead of the curve and so I wouldn’t want to betray my own views of morality simply to appease a God. Blind faith can lead to immoral acts.
An Eternity in Heav…Hell!
But surely even an antitheist must wish there was a heaven? Well actually, no. There’s nothing I find more terrifying than the thought of existing forever with no “off switch”. The fact that something is temporary is what makes it special. I LOVE watching movies but would I want to sit through a 40 hour movie? No. Would I want to have sex non-stop for a week? No. Would I want to smoke weed every day for the rest of my life? No. I find that the same thing applies to life. I have no desire to live past the age of 50. Whether it be in a physical form or something non-physical.
This is taken a step further when we consider the nature of this “eternal existence”. It’s one thing to live forever. I mean, if I was free to live my life the way I am now without aging or my mind/body deteriorating then sure, I could see the benefit. But if you told me that the rest of my eternal life was going to involve me being relocated to North Korea where every room I enter, every building I visit, and every street I walk down would have cameras and microphones, I’d perhaps be a little worried. Furthermore, I have to spend the rest of eternity worshiping a God who essentially created me with two choices: worship me or don’t but if you don’t, you’ll go to hell. Heaven and hell begin to sound pretty similar from my point of view.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the things I find most terrifying about this idea is the concept of there being no way out, no rest, nothing. People in North Korea may have it tough but at least they can just kill themselves or if they are lucky: escape. You don’t have that option in Heaven as there is no sin in heaven…and if there is no sin then there is no way of getting kicked out and thrown down to Hell (I know not all Christians believe this but some do). Thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick to my relatively short life that ends!
If you’ve ever seen Black Mirror then we have a great comparison point. There is a Christmas special where one character explains his old job: he copied the consciousness of a client into a device. This consciousness couldn’t die, couldn’t escape, couldn’t do anything other than the jobs it was given to do. If it chose not to do this job, it was left for months with literally nothing to do. That’s sort of how I imagine Heaven to be like.
Your Friends and Family are Temporary
Imagine being in Heaven after death and waiting for your best friends or your brother or perhaps your partner to arrive. What happens when you suddenly realise that they aren’t coming? What happens when you realise that one of the few people you wanted to spend eternity with…got sent in the opposite direction? You then spend eternity with the knowledge that that person is experiencing hell (quite literally). Not to mention that your pets don’t go to heaven so my dogs will just cease to exist while I live on with my memory of them.
Not to mention that you never know who is going to end up in Heaven. The rules are arbitrary and many people believe that you can essentially do absolutely anything but as long as you believe in God and ask for forgiveness, you might still get into heaven. What if I got to Heaven and Hitler was there? Nobody (even those who believe) know what Heaven is like, right? They have ideas, they have interpretations and they have beliefs but Heaven could simply be a giant church where you sing hymns and bow to God for the rest of eternity.
All-Loving and yet Non-Caring
Another reason that I’m glad God isn’t real is because of the way he lays blame. Two humans eat from a tree, just two. Yet for some f’ed up reason that blame gets passed on to every single human. We are all born with original sin and the reason that women suffer so much during child birth is because of one woman at the start of God’s interference in Humanity’s affairs. The Egyptians take slaves and yet, rather than visit one of the slave owners to deal with him personally, he murders children. What sort of God creates a companion as loving as a dog and then doesn’t give them a soul?
I understand that humans have free will but even as a mere mortal, I can promise you that there are better ways to handle situations. For example, God could prevent literally everyone going to hell. I don’t mean by closing the highway and directing traffic up the stairway to heaven but rather by appearing to all. If God were to appear to every single person on this Earth at the same time, with the same message (in each person’s language of course) and simply prove his existence to all beyond a shadow of doubt, wouldn’t the world be a much better place? There would be no religious differences, there would be no doubts about religious messages, we would live in a much more peaceful manner and people would stop sinning.
I understand that religions require faith…but to me, a God cannot be all-loving and yet let millions, billions, trillions or more souls suffer in hell for all eternity simply to show those who had blind faith from those who do not.
Final Point: Pascal’s Wager
I want to end this with one final point. If you haven’t heard of Pascal’s wager it’s the idea that humans bet on God’s existence with their lives. So if someone chooses to believe in God, then all they lose are a few freedoms and luxuries but they are wrong, nothing else happens. Whereas if someone chooses NOT to believe in God, they get those luxuries and freedoms but if they are wrong then they will suffer for all eternity. Ultimately, it makes more sense to simply believe because the input outweighs the potential risk of being wrong.
I (and many before me) would have to disagree. I imagine God giving my profile a read-through before deciding whether I go up or down after death. Perhaps you get an interview, I mean who really knows, right? So say I’m chatting to God and he asks me why I didn’t believe in him. What answer do you think (I know, I know, how can a mortal mind begin to remotely comprehend the mind of a God) he would prefer: someone who responds by being completely honest and forthcoming or someone who claims they believed (even though they didn’t really)?
God can see into the depths of our souls (as far as I’ve been told) and as such, he would know if we truly believe or not. What many people don’t seem to understand about belief is that it’s not a choice. If you DO believe then you can choose to what extent this belief impacts the way you live your life. But if you DON’T believe at all, you can’t force yourself to find the concept any more likely. You could go to church, you could pray, you could read the Bible over and over but none of that necessarily makes you any more of a believer. So I don’t fear death. There could very well be a God (although I’m fairly confident it wouldn’t be one that people worship today) but I can’t imagine that my lack of belief would be a negative thing providing I’m completely honest about my point of view.