Eating Crow When and if you get into a civilized discussion with a theist, this question seldom fails to arise sooner or later: "What if you're wrong?"

This question always makes be smirk because of the condescending tone that usually accompanies the question; which to me implies “I know I’m right and you’re wrong.”

So how do you handle this question?

My answer (more-or-less):
Well if I’m wrong, then I’ll have to stand in judgment. The way I see it by my interpretations it will most likely go one of two ways. 1) Its too late, it was too late from the start; I believed what I believed, faking would have been a lie; I’m going to hell because he predetermined I was going to hell. 2) I’m provided the opportunity to apologize and repent my sins; and the gates of heaven are opened to me.

Either way, there is noting I can do today to make ‘that scenario’ any different; because I’m not going to fake it for a “what if” and when faced with indisputable evidence I have no problem admitting I’m wrong. Additionally I’ve chosen to live my life the way I see fit; in a universally moral manner, not by the skewed outdated religious morals. I’ve chosen to live my life with a peace, balance and inner-spirituality that enriches my life and the lives of my friends and family. So if he has a problem with that, then maybe I have a problem with him. The real question then becomes, “Will I accept the offer of heaven?
I’ve found closing with that question usually shocks the crap out of most theists. Now if that doesn’t end the conversation, or chase them away; or you just want to keep them off-balance, be sure to ask them "What if you're wrong?"

It truly amazes me how many theists propose this question to non-believers but have never thought of it themselves. The typical knee-jerk response is “I’m not wrong.” So you have to be calm and coaxing, reminding them that you analyzed their question and came up with an answer to their hypothetical, now they should do the same.

I have yet to get a good response. How about you, ever get a good response from a theist with this question?

If I haven’t lost, bewildered, offended, or chased them away by this point, I typically attempt to volunteer my take (or something along these lines):
If you are wrong, you have wasted years of your life just in going to church. Thousands of Sundays (or Saturdays) plus all the other times you went. Time you could have spent with friends and family, enjoying nature, or working out to keep yourself in better health. Add to that the time you spent praying that you could have been doing instead. If you’re wrong, how much time have you wasted?

Now what about all the people you pushed your beliefs upon, some joining you in your beliefs that are wrong, others alienated forever. What about all the children you scared into submission with stories of hell or promises of heaven. What about the truly good people you shunned because they believed something different.

On that note, what happens if you chose the wrong religion? What if Pagans or Buddhists have the right religion? Or what if Jesus was really a tool of the Devil?
By this point most theists have written me off as a lost cause and either never talk to me again or never talk religion to me again. I did have one guy respond “Holy shit! I never thought of that!” after overhearing my conversation (I don’t know if I deconverted him but it was apparently an eye opener).

Those points don’t even get into all the hate, bigotry, and wars that religion has caused (I find most devout theists to be extremely unopen to hearing about these aspects).

So the bottom-line in my opinion, if I’m wrong then I get judged, what’s done is done, and I lived a good life. If you’re wrong you wasted this life while hoping for the next life and missed out on friendships with a different view while talking to an imaginary friend.

Views: 35

Tags: atheist-vs-theist, what-if

Comment by Morgan Matthew on January 19, 2009 at 10:00pm
Quite good :) Quite good! This is now featured!
Comment by Pam on January 20, 2009 at 10:38am
I answer that question mostly by rejecting it. I don't live my life by "what if I'm wrong?" And I certainly wouldn't make a religious decision based on "what if I'm wrong?" Fear is a poor substitute for moral principle.
Comment by Johnny on January 20, 2009 at 12:21pm
Pam, you're exactly right; I don't want to live my life by "what ifs." Especially in the realm of religion (got enough of that as a kid while questioning the church). But since it seems to be a question theists like to pose, I've played the scenario through my head on this particular "what if." It doesn't change what I believe or how I live, just provides a thought provoking answer for the questioner.

Thumper, you're right about the devout theists, it’s usually a fruitless battle. However, I do consider it semi-successful if I'm able to argue intelligently enough that they never come back to try to convert me. Of course you can also count it semi-successful when they say they need to research that (and never come back). Most are so brainwashed and blind they will never change; the true battle is pushing them just enough that they stop to think and just maybe do a little research for themselves.

Thanks for the feature Morgan!
Comment by Fox Anderson on January 20, 2009 at 9:19pm
I got a good response from my friend about this one.

Him to me, "If your right then then I end and I still lived a happy life."
My answer to him on this question was, "If I am wrong then I go to heaven and ask god if the bible was really it, if god turns out to be a good guy then I accept heaven. If god turns out to be the vengeful and hypocritical god in the bible then I walk into hell proudly and say 'What's up?' to Satan."
Comment by Pink mom on January 22, 2009 at 12:33am
I got asked that exact question the other day. My answer was I believe god will judge by actions and not my brain waves. She said it again. I said then the truth will be shown and I will be forgiven by a loving god and go to heaven. She looked at my dumbfounded! Got her! ha ha . She walked away!!
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on January 24, 2009 at 3:59am
My response has always been short and sweet.
"What if I am wrong? Well, the I suppose all those people that believe out of fear for the consequences instead of love and faith will go to hell, so what good would it do me anyway?"

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