What’s the worst that can happen?

“What if you’re wrong?” the Christian asked the atheist.

The atheist answered:

“I think you are asking, ‘What if the Christian god is real and your lack of belief in him is what disqualifies you from salvation?’

“If that is the question, it is an example of an either-or fallacy. It suggests there are only two possibilities: that there is no god, and that there is a god whose only requirements for salvation are those presented in Christianity. Ironically, the question is also an appeal to fear of the worst-case scenario. So I must point out that there are countless other logical possibilities to consider — some of them far worse cases than the two you have presented.

“Just think of any established religion whose salvation requirements are stricter than those of Christianity. What if you are right about the existence of a god but wrong about what he requires for salvation, and you don’t make the cut?

“If you were consistent in your appeal to the worst-case scenario, you would be striving to identify all the religions that have salvation doctrines and then striving to meet all of their salvation requirements. But it would be absurd to do that. You have to take probabilities into account.

“For whatever reason, you have concluded that the claims of Christianity are so likely to be true and that the claims of other religions are so likely to be false that you can rest assured that you are saved.

“The same kind of scrutiny that has enabled you to rule out the claims of all non-Christian religions has enabled me to rule out the claims of all religions.

“Neither of us is prepared for the theoretical worst-case scenario. But I think both of us feel safe from eternal damnation according our individual views of reality.”

See also: Dear Christian: Do your beliefs pass the pillow test?


Posted on October 12, 2012, in Arguments for atheism, Arguments for theism, Christian truisms, Logic. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I like this.

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