I know that many believers have distanced themselves from the concept of ‘thought crime’, mainly because thought crime makes god seem quite petty. For those unfamiliar with this concept, thought crime is a doctrine associated with Christianity (among other religions), it suggests that a god can convict you of, and punish you for, crimes of thought. (i.e thinking about sinful things)
Most believers do however still feel that beliefs are fair and reasonable enough criteria to earn potential eternal damnation.
But what is belief other than a strongly held opinion? Belief is actually defined as ‘a firmly held opinion.’
And what is an opinion other than your thoughts? Opinions are partially defined as ‘a way of thinking about things.’
God’s judgment based on your beliefs, is nothing more than an elaborate case of being convicted of thought crime.
There’s an internet meme that’s derived from an old joke, it contains the following dialogue:
Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you did not know”
Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
The idea is that if you knew about any specific theistic god, it would be perfectly reasonable for that god to grant you an eternity of punishment, purely on the basis of non-belief.
This is simply another reason why religion makes no sense, why would any divine being care which version of certain partially mythological tales you happen to think comes closest to representing the truth? Even to a mere mortal like me, this seems ridiculously petty, and without a doubt inadequate criteria to determine which souls receive potential eternal torture or reward.
Surely you’ve all heard of deathbed conversions, believers usually tell stories of how some famous non-believer denounced his/her Atheism and adopted a certain religion shortly before dying. I find this idea amazing, could a last minute conversion get you into heaven? If so, god ignores the potentially immoral life of the Atheist and rewards his/her last minute belief OR had he/she not converted, god would have ignored his/her potentially moral life and punished his/her non-belief. Some religions and sects even claim that one can baptize or pray a soul into ‘heaven’ after death has occurred.
If a personal god exists, I would expect it to know how much evidence would convince me of its existence, or at least get me suspicious. I take part in religious debate almost daily, I was a believer for about 18 years, I have watched religious debates, I have read pro-religious literature, I have read scripture, I have attended numerous churches, I have attended numerous Christian youth gatherings, I have engaged in prayer, I have been on religious camps, I have probably been prayed for by numerous believers, I partook in many praise and worship sessions, etc. Yet I have not found a reason to believe in the existence of any gods, I was mainly previously a believer due to being indoctrinated into the Christian religion by my parents and the schools and churches I attended, Christianity was also very much the norm in the Afrikaner culture and for the biggest part of the first 20 years of my life, I accepted it without question.
My active search for gods (and I believe an objective search requires that you remove pre-existing bias toward any specific god) steered me away from religion, I didn’t become an atheist overnight, it was a systematic process that took a good year or two (and one could argue that it’s still an ongoing process)
An omniscient god would know very well that man has dreamt up thousands of gods, that parents indoctrinate their young offspring, that young offspring are very susceptible to indoctrination and that it would be near impossible for people, who find themselves in a society where belief in the wrong god(s) is the norm, where friends and family subscribe to belief in the wrong god(s) and where there might even be persecution or government legislation related to belief in the ‘right’ god(s), to change their current beliefs, especially if existence of the right and wrong gods are all to be taken on faith.
If a just god (and its afterlife) existed, beliefs could not qualify as the criteria used to determine where you end up after you die, thus making belief in god completely and utterly pointless.
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