Why God is popular

If God had a facebook or myspace account, he would probably have more friends than anyone else. I know he would have more friends than I do. Millions of people believe in him, and millions of people worship him. Although God can take on many different forms in the thousands of different religions that there are, I am going to concentrate on Christianity. Why Christianity? Because it is what is all around me, it is what I was raised with, it is what I know.

So the way Christianity came to be - Jesus apparently lived and died, and some 50 years later four guys (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) wrote about his life. How they knew all of this information 50 years after his death remains to be explained, but nevertheless they did. People liked the message contained in these writings, and so the stories spread. People dedicated their lives to spreading the divine gospels, and the following of Christianity grew. Priests of the churches made it illegal to speak out against the "word of God", and from fear of persecution and murder nobody challenged the writings. As a result, more and more people accepted the writings to be true, and Christianity grew even more.

But why did so many people accept the writings and become Christians? Because it made sense. The bible speaks of what happens to those who die - They either go to heaven, or they go to hell. Those who believe in God and accept Jesus as their personal savior go to heaven, while those who refute either and/or both go to hell. It doesn't matter what kind of a life you lived, it doesn't matter who you have helped or the good deeds you have done, all that matters is your belief. So a logical person would consider the options:

1. There is a God who created the universe and mankind, and we must worship him and his only begotten son in order to live for eternity in peace.

2. There is no God, the earth and mankind evolved from cosmic dust and nothingness, and when we die our body decomposes.

Neither point of view can be proven, although there is evidence to support both cases. The evidence for the first claim is found in the books of the bible, which were written by men who claimed to be divinely inspired. The evidence for the second claim can be found in geologic records, fossil records, genetics, and a number of other scientifically valid sources. But even though there is more scientifically valid evidence for the second claim, it logically makes more sense to believe in the first. The reason for this can be found in a simple probability equation:

(The following proof is taken from the book Zero by Charles Seife, and was originally written by Blaise Pascal)

Using the concept of probabilistic expectations, we consider the possibilities. - When we die, either we fade into nothing, or there is an afterlife. If we fade into nothing, our concept of time ceases when we die. Let this equal zero. If there is an afterlife, we will live in this afterlife for an eternity. Let this equal infinity. Assuming that there is a 50% chance of there being an afterlife and a 50% chance of there not being an afterlife, we can calculate the expectation of what will happen when we die, based on what we believe. If we decide to be Christians and accept Jesus and God, when we die there is a 50% chance of having zero time, and a 50% chance of having infinite time in heaven.

1/2 x 0 = 0  --- 1/2 x infinity = infinity  --- Adding these two possible outcomes together, we find that the expected outcome of being a Christian is an infinite amount of time in heaven.

However if we refute God and decide that it is all just a fable written by a few wonderfully skilled authors, the picture changes. Upon death there is a 50% chance of fading into nothing still (zero), but there is also a 50% chance that we will go to hell eternally (negative infinity, or {- infinity}).

1/2 x 0 = 0  --- 1/2 x (- infinity) = (- infinity)  --- Adding these two possible outcomes together, the expected probabilistic outcome of not being a Christian is an infinite amount of time in hell.

Since not believing in the Christian God damns a person to hell, it probabilistically makes more sense to believe. If you are wrong and there is no God, you will never know. You will simply die and rot. However, if you choose not to believe in the Christian God and you are wrong, you will be damned to hell eternally. Even if there is a 0.000000000001% chance that the Christian God is real, 0.00000000001 multiplied by infinity still equals infinity.

So taking my stance and refusing to believe in a Christian God is a probabilistic gamble. There is no negative consequence of believing in Christianity and being wrong, but there is an extreme negative consequence of not believing in Christianity and being wrong. And this is exactly what the founding fathers of Christianity had in mind whenever they created the religion. If they make a logical argument giving people no good reason NOT to believe in Christianity, chances are that it would catch on. And low and behold, it did. But I am not afraid of betting against God. Although I stand to gain nothing, it is a matter of choice. I do not waste a significant portion of my life worshiping something that doesn't exist, and instead make the best of the time I know that I have on Earth. Why spend the physical life that we have now worrying about what happens when we die? If nothing happens and we rot, you have just wasted your life being devoted to a false cause. I would rather get as much enjoyment out of this world as I can, and live the best life I know how to. So when I die, there is a chance that I will go to hell for not believing. But if there is a God and he chooses to send me to hell not for what I have done, but for what I believe, I don't think I would want to spend an eternity with that sort of a God anyway. A persons true character should be who they are, not what they believe.