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Richard Dawkins Isn’t Being Rational

Richard Dawkins. Photo credit: Matthias Asgeirsson via Wikimedia Commons

If you were booked to fly in an aircraft, and the plane’s mechanic told you that it “probably” won’t crash, would you still board it?

Prominent atheist-turned-agnostic Richard Dawkins has a campaign proclaiming “There’s Probably No God.” The term “atheist-turned-agnostic” is appropriate because “probably” implies that you’re not sure there’s no God, and thus agnostic. Dawkins, who had been one of the world’s most famous atheists, is now one of the world’s most famous agnostics. He called himself an agnostic, admitting that he can’t be sure God doesn’t exist.

Richard Dawkins isn’t being rational. Just as if someone definitively told you your plane probably won’t crash or has a decent chance of not crashing, it wouldn’t be rational to board that plane. Even if someone told you it only had a 1 percent chance of crashing – meaning of 100 similar planes taking off that day, one of them will crash – you wouldn’t board it (unless it was some life-and-death matter where you really had to fly).

For an agnostic, the rational thing to do is to accept Pascal’s Wager: If God exists, then if you follow His teachings you have everything to gain in an afterlife, and everything to lose if you don’t follow His teachings. If He does not exist then if you follow His teachings, you have nothing to lose. (Well, one could argue that you could lose a little bit in this life, such as having to go to church on Sunday when you instead could be sleeping in, but actually, those who go to church on Sunday win in this life because churchgoers live an average of seven years longer than non-churchgoers.)

Richard Dawkins and other agnostics, atheists, and non-practicing believers are taking a tremendous personal risk. An irrational risk. They’re putting themselves in grave danger – especially considering the enormous circumstantial and eyewitness evidence for the existence of God. If it turns out they’re wrong, they’re in for a rude awakening the day they die. According to the best sources of information on what happens to us after we die, someone who doesn’t follow God’s rules (i.e. the Ten Commandments, as well as others) here on earth could be consigned to be eternally separated from God after he or she dies. That essentially means being a slave and victim of some fallen angel, for an eternity. Ouch. Rationally, you wouldn’t want to remotely entertain that possibility.

Assume you think there’s a 1 percent chance of there being a place of eternal separation – better known as hell. Then, just as with your decision not to board that plane when it has a 1 percent chance of crashing, the rational thing to do is ensure that you never wind up there – by repenting and by dusting off those rules referred to earlier. To do anything less is irrational.

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