I know people I like and respect that have some strange ideas they claim to believe. Some know that Heaven exists because they have talked to God and were assured that if they behaved well they would be admitted into Heaven. They are good citizens and, so far as I know, behave well within the published rules of Moses’ Ten Commandments. And, so far as I know, behave well within the published Laws of our Country, State and City. It would seem reasonable that if being obedient to official law is sufficient their eternal life of Heavenly bliss is assured.
I know other people who are obedient to those same laws, but haven’t had those same personal experiences with God, and so that short path to eternal bliss is uncertain. These people choose to believe in God as a hedge against being wrong and being forced into an eternal torment in Hell. It’s known as Pascal’s Wager, but I have warned these people that God is all-seeing and all-knowing, and he doesn’t like to be played for a fool. Because of their false belief they might be condemned to the worst torments imaginable to God because of their lying to Him!
Some of my friends are Agnostic, and perhaps their thoughtfully intellectualized opinion is most reasonable. They don’t see any evidence of God, and don’t consider the existence of the Universe and all of the wonderful things within it as sufficient. They are worried that in such a huge universe any God would not have an interest in their particular being, and so they doubt. They have hope that when they meet, God or his representative at the Gates of Heaven, they can say in perfect honesty they didn’t disbelieve in God, but they didn’t believe either. Now, looking through the Gates they see and believe in Heaven, and looking the other way they see the fiery pits of Hell and believe in that too. They can now say upon this observation, that they truly believe and would prefer Heaven. Perhaps all the really interesting people are in Hell, but it’s no fun talking to them when they spend all their time screaming in agony. Although Heaven may seem boring at least it doesn’t hurt.
The Atheists I know come in two distinct categories. Those that never believed in any Unitary God, or even little gods, and hold that all things in our Universe are the interactions of material stuff. These folks believe their bodies will lose their life force when they die, and their elements will become part of the materials making up the non-living world. They believe their mind is a natural functioning of their body and its brain, and that when their body ceases to function their brain dies and their mind vanishes. What some people call the spirit is a construction of the mind, just like making sentences are constructions of the mind and when the brain ceases functioning the spirit, no matter how it is defined vanishes.
The other group of Atheists are former believers raised from childhood as true believers. These people are the more dedicated to their belief than any of the people discussed above, and the reason is that they were compelled by their own conscience to observe the contradictions within their former beliefs. This is a painful experience because it requires denying the validity of their parents’ beliefs, and rejecting a major part of the society they formerly lived within. For them to become atheists requires courage, and thoughtfulness, and their commitment is deep, because they are not only rejecting those former companions’ beliefs, those friends and family will be rejecting them. Sometimes their rejections are accompanied with emotionally painful, perhaps physically painful experiences. The reward is a feeling they are living a more honest life because it is obedient to natural reality rather than a verbal construction by men.
What do I believe that’s false? Religion is based on questionable assumptions, so do I believe in some things that are false?