Was I indoctrinated to Atheism?

Hello skeptics the world over,

Recently, in a discussion with my mother about whether I should be heading to church on Sunday, she made the claim that I was indoctrinated by podcasts such as ‘The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe’ and other science and skeptical podcasts and websites, and said that I am ‘just as brainwashed’ as I claim Christians to be. I will be hoping to respond to this question in-depth tonight.

The first thing I will point out is the contrast of ‘indoctrinations’ between my skepticism and Christianity as a child. When I was indoctrinated to Christianity as a child, I was given the whole nine yards, Genesis creation, the flood and Noah’s Ark, Tower of Babel, Jesus, all the bible had to offer. When I was ‘indoctrinated’ into skepticism and atheism, it was almost the exact opposite. Instead of being given a list of things I had to believe, how to believe them and a book to read it from, when I was indoctrinated by The Skeptic’s Guide, I was only given a list of things which are logical, and most importantly, a list of things which weren’t logical. That’s why I am a champion of skepticism, not atheism. yes I am an atheist, but I am an atheist because of skepticism. Skeptics don’t tell you what to believe, they just give you the package of logic and evidence.

I wasn’t told to become a skeptic and an atheist by ‘the skeptics guide’, I was just told, “Hey, some of what you believe is not very logical and has no evidence to support it, look at what we think, be logical and look at the evidence, and make your decision.” and look at where I am now.

The other main difference between my two ‘indoctrinations’ is choice. When I was indoctrinated into Christianity, I didn’t know about atheism, humanism, naturalism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, or any other amount of religions. I was just having Christianity handed to me on a silver plate, with a bit of evolution thrown into the mix, as I still had to have some science. But there wasn’t much choice for me. When I was introduced to skepticism, I had heard about all the other religions and world-views, and I chose to go with agnostic atheism, and later onto agnostic anti-theism. That’s also why I am a champion of free-thought, because giving a child the choice is the most important thing they can have. I will talk about free-thought and children in a later post.

I was not indoctrinated into atheism or skepticism like the way children born into christian homes are indoctrinated, I was given a choice and I was not forced into it, and that is the key difference… choice. That’s all for today, I’ll leave you with a quote from an anonymous author/sayer of words, “Trying to close a mind that has not yet had the chance to be opened, is the worst form of child abuse.”

Agnostic Atheist Wager

Today I am going to be making my comments on a response by the atheist community to Pascals Wager, a common religion argument used by christian’s and people of other religions alike. But first, I should give a brief on Pascals wager. Pascals wager is an argument first presented by philosopher Blaise Pascal which shows that it is much better for a person to believe in god than to not believe in a god. It goes along the lines of:
There are two possibilities, either god exists or god doesn’t exist.
Lets say god exists, if you believe he exists, then you get infinite reward in afterlife, if you don’t believe he exists, you loose infinite with hell in the afterlife.
Lets say god doesn’t exist, if you believe he exists, you loose a little bit wasting your time praying etc., if you don’t believe he exists, you win a little bit by not wasting your time praying etc.

Now, when you look at it like that it seems that the obvious choice is to choose to believe in god. But its not quite that simple, there are actually quite a few problems with it.

The biggest one which is what I will talk about is the fact that there are more than one possible ‘god exists’ outcomes, because it could be the christian god, the muslim god, the islam god, zeus, odin, the flying spaghetti monster or the religion of some far flung tribe in south america. This means that belief in the wrong god means that you receive eternal hell-fire even though you thought you could beat the system by believing.

This guy is a genius

The other problem is that the god in question here would be able to see the reasons for your ‘faith’, and may reject you if you only pretend to believe because the odds are good. Believing in a religion only because of pascal’s wager is pretty sly and god would be very happy with your actions.

A response to pascal’s wager put forward by the agnostic atheist community is the AA (atheist agnostic) wager. It states that god would choose somebody’s afterlife fate based on their earthly actions, not on blind faith. This means that the wager can be expanded to the following:
god exists                 |you believe, live a good life, you get heaven.
|you believe, live a bad life, you get hell.
|you don’t believe, live a good life, you get heaven.
|you don’t believe, live a bad life, you get hell.

god does not exist|you believe, live a good life, people like you.
|you believe, live a bad life, people hate you.
|you don’t believe, live a good life, people like you.
|you don’t believe, live a bad life, people hate you.

In this table, living a good life will always result in the best outcome, irrespective of belief. A common rebuttal by religious people is that the god may care whether you believe in him or not, and the answer to this argument is: If this god does exist, and he lets in murderers and nazis if they believe, then hell isn’t looking like a bad place to spend eternity in.

Anyway, that’s all for me. I will leave you with a very pithy quote from one of the greatest skeptics from the last century,

“Extraordinary Claims require extraordinary evidence”

Carl Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and science popularizer of some note.