Sunday, July 03, 2011

Better sorry than safe

There's a chance that there's a god, I suppose, although the more I think about it the more I suspect that the only reason a supernatural creator even exists as a possibility is because you hear it nonstop from all directions. I mean, if we weren't constantly brainwashed to believe it, would it occur to us to assume there's some invisible anthropomorphic being pulling the strings?  Anyway, I guess it's possible that there's a god.  And I guess it's possible that he gives a shit about what happens in his ant farm. And I guess it's possible that he has put down some random arbitrary rules of conduct to make sure we stay in line, and that he only lets people who follow the arbitrary rules into happyland later. I also guess it's technically possible that he would design a horrifically terrible place full of pain for people who don't follow the random and arbitrary rules.  I suppose that each of these things could happen.  And I guess that's the reasoning behind the "Better safe than sorry" argument for worship (which only makes sense if there's only one religion, but you never hear of someone who worships ALL gods just to be safe).
But even though a very distinct possibility exists that the Christians have it right and that I will eventually regret living my life outside of the cone of protection afforded by choosing a religion and hoping it's the right one, I cannot help but fall back to playing the odds.  There's a slight chance I'll go to Hell and wish I'd done things differently.  But what if I lived my whole life in self-denial? What if I refused to do things I wanted to do, and refused to love people I wanted to love (as in the case of gays who remain celibate because of their churches), and followed all of the rules both explicit and implied, and then it turned out to be nothing? What if, in my last moments of life, right on the cusp of death, it became clear that all we have is our one life, and I had wasted so many opportunities? What if life is just a series of small pleasures and happy moments, and I had walked away from some of them in hopes of a reward that would never come?
There might be an afterlife, but there is a life.  I've known people who don't allow themselves to fully experience one in the hopes of being allowed to experience the other.  But we're guaranteed to have one, and only vaguely suspicious that the other one exists. (Sure there are folks who claim to know, but the whole point of faith is believing in what you can't really know.)  So when people (family) say "Better safe than sorry", my first instinct is to throw back the whole "What if the Jews are right, or the Buddhists, or the Shintos?" argument, but the real reason I'd rather be sorry than safe is because if there is a god he gave me this life, and I don't want to squander that gift on the off chance that he weighted it down with a ton of random and arbitrary rules.
Also, even if St Peter is the bouncer turning people away from the club, what's to say he's forcing people to go into another club instead?

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