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The Atheist Wager

I recently had a conversation about Islam, and I got the impression that if you didn't know you were sinful then you were safe from punishment by god. This reminded me of a similar point of view at one time (I have no idea if it still stands) in the Catholic Church: it didn't seem fair that all those poor people who hadn't had a chance to get to know god would be punished simply because of their ignorance, and so heathen tribes unaware of the message of Christ would pretty much be alright in the after-life if they lived what they believed were good lives. As a young lad I considered this to be rather unfair. Why should I have to put up with all this dull business of going to mass and having to take the sacrament because I happened to be born into a Catholic community? It seemed clear to me that the best thing that heathen tribes could do would be to keep as far away as possible from missionaries.

If these religious ideas are true, then it seems to me that theologically ignorant atheists trying to live good lives are in the best of all positions. They can avoid the incredible tedium of church services, they can live whatever lives they want according to their conscience and they get the unexpected bonus of an afterlife.

Surely then, this is an argument against faith schools based on the teachings of the very faiths who want such schools. Keeping religious doctrines away from children while teaching them how to live moral lives gives them the best of all chances of salvation. Ignorance is literally bliss when it comes to faith, as no-one has a better combination of a stress-free life and happy afterlife than the moral atheist!



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