Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reversing Pascal's Wager

atheism, atheist, religion, christianity, rapture, premillenial, dispensationalism, depression,
Most of you are probably familiar with Pascal's Wager by now, but for the uninitiated, a brief review. Pascal's Wager states that if the atheist is right, and there is no god, they lose nothing by worshipping anyway, but if the atheist is wrong, they lose everything by not worshipping, and gain eternal reward by doing so.

Pascal's Wager is silly for a variety of reasons, but one central tenet of the Wager is especially flawed: you lose nothing by worshipping.

Really? What if you're a premillenial dispensationalist, and you think Jesus is going to rapture the faithful to heaven very, very soon? Like now. Or now. or . . . . . now!

If you're one of those people, you waste the only chance you're getting at life by treating it as a placeholder, something to be barely endured until your eternal reward arrives.

At the Rapture Ready message boards, JefferyDollar asks:

Do I need to change my attitude?

Hello all,I need your opinions on my perspective I think I may need to change it.... ever since coming to this board after being changed from one that would rather have the rapture occur 50 years from now to one that really just wants its to be today I dont know if maybe I need some balance.Here's an example. My dads a pastor and hes been one for about 15 years now. He has preached nothing but the Word of God which is one reason why I think we havent gotten large like some on the other churchs in the area sometimes people dont want to stay where they are challenged every sunday so Ive seen alot of people come for 3 or 4 weeks then they fall off. But recently we have seen a change I believe people are beginning to wake up to the fact that time is running short and we need to get serious.

Just recently we have decided its now time to sell some land we own and begin building on to our church. Now before when I wanted the rapture to occur much later in my life the idea of building on to our church and having a larger ministry was exciting but as of late because I so desire to be caught up when my dad talks about the ministries plans to build Im very much not as excited Im sure it would take at least 2 years from when we first broke ground and then if this is God's plan it would further seem that he would want it to at least operate at full capacity for some amount of time. I just feel really different about it and feel like I am wrong for feeling this way, when my dad talks about this ministry the things he talks about would need at least 10 or so years to be accomplished and I cant help but be like ummm I dont really want to be here that long but I feel like I am kinda being selfish because many people could be saved from this ministry ..... i just get kinda down when I even hear about long term plans even when its about a ministry that would save many souls.. i think I am wrong for feeling this way... please help am I wrong for this??

To paraphrase, "I don't really want to be here anymore, I'm sick of living, and I want it to all be over now. Is that bad?"

First of all, that's a huge red flag for depression. If you lose interest in the things you used to enjoy, and don't replace them with other things to enjoy, chances are, you're depressed. If you can't get excited about anything in your life, I highly recommend an antidepressant and a good therapist. These people take this grey, pointless endurance of life as a given, a virtue even.

Chicken5516 (someday I have to find out what the reference is) God wants you to continue to live your life and fullfil your obligations. But I have noticed talking with people and reading comments from folks like you, that the desires that we all use to have for 'future' endeavors is just not the same as it use to be.

I am so convinced that the Rapture is going to occur soon, and I am so at peace with it, that I'm not concerned with retirement or buying that new 'big' home or even buying a new car.I just want to go home to be with Jesus. That is all I think about - Day and Night. THAT is my soul's desire. But I know that while we are waiting, I am to continue to go to my job, continue cleaning and doing repairs on my home and car, and continue to spread the Word to the Lost.

But I have no desires for anything like a vacation or adding on to my home or anything like that.I just want to go home!!

I'm not saying that mental health is measured by how many cars you buy or how often you go on vacation, but to be this unconcerned with your life cannot be healthy. I don't think I'm doing a very good job of expressing exactly how appalling I find this attitude.

WaitingonHisReturn isn't even interested in her children's lives: I feel the same way, just yesterday my husband and I were talking and we have 2 girls one in 1st grade and 1 in 5th, they want to buy their yearbook this year...

I said I would buy one and they could share, my husband looked at me and asked why would'nt i buy 2 i explained that I don't think we will be here when they are old enough to really look back at it for memory purposes...

I know I am not supposed to think that way but it is hard not to

I couldn't care less about yearbooks, but I wonder what else she isn't doing for them because she thinks they'll never reach adulthood?

Mrs. B is dragging herself through decorating. Yes, I think we should live as though we COULD die tomorrow (or be raptured), yet at the same time live as though we might live a long time yet. We must be about our Father's business. Whatever that is for each of us.

Mothers and fathers need to be godly mothers and fathers. Ministers need to minister. All of us need to live for Christ.

Personally, we have added on to our house last year and my dh wants to go through each room and fix it up. My heart really, REALLY isn't in this project. I'm more into delving into God's word and spreading the gospel and raising our dd to be a child of God and being a "sister in Christ" to my "brothers and sisters". I've been selling things to give to missions. The last thing on my mind is a redecorating project. But...as my dh's help meet, I will help him.

Oddly, as soon as I embraced my atheism, I became very interested in decorating. The two seem to have no connection, I know, but I believe that the only beauty I will see is the beauty I see in this life, so I decided to surround myself with as much beauty as possible. That includes walls in colors I like, paintings I like, floors I like. Hey, I see it every day, I should like it.

And then we get the real reason JefferyDollars can't wait for his life to be over: it is depression. Poor boy.

But to make a long story short my life took a drastic change when my mother went home to see our saviour on August 30th 2008, before that I had always deep down had that It cant happen to me mentality and when I would hear of stories of people or their loved ones dying early deaths I never thought it could happen to me.

But God being so good and so able to turn bad things to good things for his glory allowed my response to such a tragic event to be that everything in my life that I had before God fell back drastically to well below 2nd place. After my mom died I finally realized how quickly this life passes and how everyday we need to live for Jesus. Now all I want is to fall at his feet and to hear that sweet trumpet, I want to fall into his arms and thank him for getting off his throne and stepping into time and suffering at the hands of his own creation just so my mom would have place to go when she died where we could all be reunited some day. His love is simply mind bogglingly to me its truly beyond words. I simply now long to see him high and lifted up in all his glory because he loves me beyond measure. I finally realized that everything down here is so fragile and imperfect and every good thing we can get down here can quickly be ruined by this fallen world (moths and rust) now I just want to be where the joy never ends and no evil exists (no dreams of success or vacations or experiences here on earth can compare) and when my mom had had enough suffering in this world he allowed her to simply and quietly fall asleep with all her closest family around her. I just cant describe how much I love him for that and now I cant wait to see him part the sky he is truly my hero..... I hope this explains it sorry so long!

What makes me mad is that this belief system encourages his depression, it encourages his withdrawal from his own life. Grief is natural. Of course poor JefferyDollar feels the way he does, he just lost his mom less than a year ago (and posted this question on Mother's Day, no less), but at some point he needs to live his life.

This may very well be the only chance he gets at life. And he's wasting it. If I were able to respond to this I would, very gently, urge him towards grief counseling in an effort to get him back among the living.

Not the Rapture Ready crew.

Cocopea9052 either can't recognize grief, or she finds it admirable:

Wow Jeffery, I'm near speechless and tears. I cannot believe you are just 22. This is so amazing and it seems I do recall reading bits and pieces about your Mom's passing before. I am just blown away by your insight and love and trust in the Lord. Your honesty about wealth and what you wanted to pursue. Wow, I mean my son loves the Lord but he does not have the maturity you have. Your Mom would be so proud of you for the wisdom you came to know of our Savior. You are an amazing young man! It just goes to show, it is not just old people or those who are struggling with life that want to go be with Jesus. It does not take much if you really look into the world to see what it really is.

You know the insight and discernment you have is truly a gift from God. I only WISH I had known the Lord at that age. Most of us don't get that until we are older and have been through much. I thank God for the way he comforted you after your Mom's passing. Wow, what a beautiful note to end Mother's day on. Thank you for sharing this, it was wonderful to read and really blessed my heart. I will share it with my son. God bless you.

This sort of thing makes me reconsider my stance on attempting to defaith people. I normally find it to be pointless and rude, but this whole mess . . . I dunno.


  1. Generally if a Christian quotes Pascal's Wager to me, I tell him he might want to start believing in Islam just in case. After all, what if he is wrong about Islam? He'll be doomed for all enternity.

  2. This is why I don't go to the Rapture Ready boards all that often, these people make me want to cry. Well, cry and give them big hugs and get them into some serious therapy. Poor old Jeffrey there, man, he really really needs to talk to someone about his mother's death. There are times when having faith gets you through things, and there are times when you're just using it as a subsitution for actually dealing with your problems.
    I realize that not all Christians are like this, but damn, these people have actual problems that can't be addressed just by promising them that they are all going to die (or be Raptured, whatever, it's the same damn thing).
    The religious leaders that allow these people to wallow in this state of depression and sadness should be ashamed of themselves. They are worse than any "anti-christ", they are leading their own followers away from happiness.

  3. When I consider my own move away from Christianity it's never a single moment. It's a lot of little moments when I just thought, "Wait, this is what I signed up for?" One of the big ones I went back to a lot happened in college.

    I was the Outreach Coordinator for the InterVarsity chapter at Western (I'd like to thank IV, by the way. They did more to ruin Christianity for me than anyone else). I was the oldest of the students in leadership by several years due to my own non-traditional path through college. One night we were sitting in an Executive Team meeting (hooray!) and one of the other leaders said, "You know, I think I've accomplished everything I want to accomplish in life. I'm ready for Jesus to come back now." One of the other leaders agreed with him. I was dumbstruck. Here was a twenty year-old who had never accomplished anything, hadn't gotten married, had kids, climbed a mountain, written a novel, or, for that matter, graduated from college and he was ready for Jesus to come back. I said nothing. What is there to say, really?

    One of the things that I've noticed is that ever since I left I've been far more excited about life and less prone to wallow in depression. Sure, I still hit those points when I realize that I'm not where I want to be and I get down for an hour or an afternoon. But then I realize that the only proper response is to get on with my life and change what needs to be changed, which is usually myself. Without having god to fall back on I'm now burdened with the knowledge that I've got, what, fifty or sixty years left if that and those years are mine to make of what I can.

    And Jesus might have said that his yoke was light, but my new burden is far less encumbering. It's taken me a while to get used to the freedom, but I love it.

    Over the weekend I sat down and built a spreadsheet so I knew exactly when I'd be out of debt. I then started trying to figure out what to do with my money in order to invest intelligently and hopefully use my good fortune to help those who aren't as lucky. I've found that planning for the future makes the present so much more bearable.

    Sure, when you're life expectancy is thirty you don't have to worry about such things, but if I'm going to live to eighty or ninety I don't want the last few years to suck. I just don't get the Christian elevation of stupidity. I don't think I got it when I was one, either. Which is probably why I left...

  4. The only way you could accomplish all your goals in life by the age of 20 is if your only goal is life was to reach the age of 20.

    I was in Youth Symphony Orchestra with a girl that I realize now was raised in a Quiverfull family (the uncut hair, no makeup and ugly pastel dresses at a time when neon and leggings were the rule- yes, i am old enough to remember neon and leggings from the first time around), and she was one of the most talented violinist I have ever head. I am including professional violinists in this list.

    Her goal in life? To get married at 18 and immediately start popping out as many babies as possible, and to continue doing so until her uterus committed hari kari.

    I asked her once if she believed that god gave her the talent that she had. She said yes, of course she did. I asked her why god would give her such a talent if he didn't want her to use it. she never acknowledged my existence again.

  5. Failure! Is that really you? I had no idea you were capable of such compassion. It looks good on you. It must have been especially hard when confronted with such desperately unwell people. Good for you.

  6. As one of those who vote on quote approvals at FSTDT.net I get to suffer thru these every day. Rapture Ready is easily our biggest source of "darndest" quotes, but it certainly can be depressing seeing them constantly.

    R.R. is a death cult, you can't read their stuff for any length of time and not come to that conclusion. Not all of them are quite as far gone as those posted on fstdt routinely and by you above. However the site is so self-reinforcing that I fear for the sanity of any Christian who gets mixed up with them.

    The Mods there ruthlessly enforce the ridiculously lengthy and restrictive site rules on anyone showing any independent thought. Meanwhile the loudest and most stridently opinionated longterm members are allowed to break those rules and trample on everyone else. To question one will bring ridicule, questions about the validity of your faith, accusations of being a troll, etc, even if you have hundreds of posts there. No dissent or rationality is allowed, theirs is very much a black or white worldview.

    I try to work up sympathy for them sometimes, but then along comes another news item relating to the endless Christian attempts to theocratize America and disgust replaces pity.

  7. Makarios: i only allow this sort of thing from you because you provide me with such fun. do try to keep that in mind.

  8. sort of off topic -
    where did DH ("dear hubby") come from, and why is EVERYONE, from RR to radfeminists at Twisty's I Blame the Patriarchy, using it?

    pity. these guy's have been saying the Rapture will happen tomorrow for 20 CENTURIES. that's a looooooong time to be disapointed...


Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

I am attempting to use blogger's new comment spam feature. If you don't immediately see your comment, it is being held in spam, I will get it out next time I check the filter. Unless you are Dennis Markuze, in which case you're never seeing your comment.

Creative Commons License
Forever in Hell by Personal Failure is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at foreverinhell.blogspot.com.