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Thomas Pringle
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Are you betting that God exists, or not?

14 July 2014, 07:27

There are many stories concerning Voltaire’s death at the venerable age of 84. According to Concordet in his ‘Life of Voltaire’ a certain Abbe Gaulthier received a confession and profession of faith from Voltaire on his deathbed, where he declared that he ‘wanted to die in the Catholic religion in which he was born'.

On hearing this, the parish priest was enraged. Voltaire had denied the divinity of Christ in his many tirades against the Catholic Church. He apparently kept shouting in Voltaire’s ear;

“Do you believe in the divinity of Christ?”, to which Voltaire replied;

“In the name of God, Monsieur, don’t speak to me any more of that man and let me die in peace.”

I am entertained daily by articles in this forum  by both theists and atheists. Everyone has an opinion, and as the saying goes, opinions are like ars**oles, everyone has one.

Does God exist? I believe so. Many people I know don’t.

I like the philosopher Pascal’s point of view:

Pascal points out that all humans bet their lives that God exists, or not.Given the possibility that God actually exists and assuming an infinite gain or loss with belief or unbelief in said God (as represented by an eternity in heaven or hell) a rational person would live as if God exists and seek to believe in God.

If God does not exist, such a person would only experience a finite loss (wealth, pleasures, luxury etc.)

So to put it simply, if one bets on God, and he exists, then one would experience an eternity of his grace and pleasure.

If on bets that there is no God, and he does  in fact exist, then one would experience an eternity of hell.

If one bets on God existing and he doesn’t, then there is only annihilation at death.

No matter what one believes, it is certain that one will one will find out if God exists when one dies: definitely the point of no return concerning one's options!

Let us shoot back a couple of millennia to the trial of Socrates.

Socrates had been condemned to death in a political show trial. On facing his impeding demise he said that death was one of two possibilities:

“ Either it is annihilation, and the dead have no consciousness of anything; or, as we are told, it is really a change; a migration of the soul from this place to another.”

Having been condemned to death, Socrates concluded his speech with the following words;

“Now it is time that we were going, I to die, and you to live; but which of us has the happier prospect is unknown to anyone but God.

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