Who Has More To Lose...Pious or Atheist?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacFanBoyIIe, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. MacFanBoyIIe macrumors 6502

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    #1
    The Scenario:
    Two men are serving together in a war, standing in a foxhole that is about to be overrun by the enemy. They know they are going to die very soon. One of the men is deeply religious; take your pick of religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc). He truly believes his soul will live on for eternity in a better place. The other man is an atheist. He truly believes there is no such thing as a soul. When you die, you’re dead; there is no afterlife.

    The Questions:
    Which of these two men has more to lose by dying?
    Is the atheist more brave than the religious man?

    My Commentary:
    No doubt, you can say they are both very brave for standing their ground in the face of certain death. Both men are about to make the ultimate sacrifice. However, the religious man has a motivational edge because he truly believes that even though he will die here and now in this battle, his soul will live on in a better place, for eternity. But what about the atheist? Does it not take more courage for the atheist to stand there, knowing this is it, his one shot at life will be over soon and he will be dead, with no afterlife to look forward to?
     
  2. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #2
    Before I can answer, I need to know: What color hair does the atheist have?
     
  3. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

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    #3
    Do they have a choice whether to stand and fight and die?
    Or is surrender/getting away an option?

    If they have no choice then bravery has nothing to do with it. :)
     
  4. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #4
    They're both about to die so really the actual loss is the same. One is just more optimistic about it than the other because he thinks he's about to go to some Disneyland in the sky. The Atheist is probably just hoping he's accomplished enough in life to accept that this is the end.
     
  5. atszyman macrumors 68020

    atszyman

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    #5
    They both stand to lose the same. If there is no afterlife then both lose their life. Sure, upon finding out that there is no afterlife the more religious person might regret time wasted at church, or praying, that could have been used to enjoy life more or have more of an impact. However in the absence of an afterlife you cannot find out anything after death and you cannot have regrets because your consciousness ceases to exist.

    It's like asking who has more to lose, the person who buys a losing lottery ticket or a person who spends a dollar on a candy bar that the drop on the floor while unwrapping... Sure the person who bought the lottery ticket could have won millions but in the end both people lost a dollar.

    Of course this assumes that both individuals have similar lives at home. When you start differentiating with family then it can become obvious who has more to lose regardless of the religiosity.
     
  6. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #6
    The religious guy has more to lose because he has to spend his last few minutes wondering if everything he's done up to this point has pleased some invisible man in the sky
     
  7. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #7
    But the atheist might be worrying about if he/she has done enough for their loved ones right before the lights go out too. In fact, that is a bigger thing in my mind because they are a sure thing.
     
  8. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #8
    Regardless of your views on the afterlife, the courage to fight under fire is something incredible. A lot of folks run away when they go paintballing, and those shots aren't lethal.

    As for who has more to lose, both stand in a position to lose very little.

    The pious, as a true believer in his God, isn't going to question if he has lived a satisfactory life - he knows that he has done his best and could do no more. The most he could lose is that he could be wrong.

    The atheist, as a non-believer, isn't going to fear the judgement of God - he doesn't believe it could happen. Like the pious, I'd expect that he would have done his best to live a good life and could do no more. The most that could happen is that he could be wrong.

    Now, if one of them knowingly lived a bad life - well, that might be cause for afterlife concern (for the former if he's right, for the latter if he's wrong). As for the memories left behind - it doesn't matter how right or wrong they were.
     
  9. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #9
    The athiest is probably intelligent enough to know that war is ultimately futile and that his life will be lost in vain.
     
  10. MacFanBoyIIe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Disneyland in the sky...I like that....very clever! :D

    (And FWIW, I don't think you're a loser...) ;)
     
  11. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #11
    No, but I am... baby, so why don't you kill me?
     
  12. MacFanBoyIIe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Yes, but if you carry that too far it turns to nihilism.
     
  13. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #13
    The idea that, if there is a God, he cares more about whether or not you believe in him matters more than whether or not you've been a good person is almost too ridiculous to believe--and yet, it's the basis of several major religions.
     
  14. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

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    #14
    but who cares?
     
  15. MacFanBoyIIe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #15
    My point exactly. An atheist still cares about life.
    A nihilist doesn't. Which is why this scenario wouldn't work with a pious and a nihilist. The nihilist would embrace the "release" of death.
    Work with me here people! :D
     
  16. MacFanBoyIIe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    kill the headlights and put it in neutral!
     
  17. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

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    #17
    I think you missed iBlue's humour there… ;)
     
  18. MacFanBoyIIe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    ...and it's been the basis wars and millions of killings for thousands of years.
    Oh, the humanity! (or lack of...)
     
  19. MacFanBoyIIe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I got it..just helping out the "special" ones that didn't. I guess I should give more credit here huh? My bad.
     
  20. bamaworks macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Outstanding statement, I might have to quote you....
     
  21. NAG macrumors 68030

    NAG

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    #21
    Thankfully not all religious people think like that. I've met a few who think that the whole believe thing isn't like a contract you have to sign but rather is just another metaphor for living a good life (which you can do regardless of faith in a god).
     
  22. Apemanblues macrumors regular

    Apemanblues

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    #22
    Most religious people don't fully 100% believe in an afterlife, they just want it to believe in it, so they try to believe in it as hard as they can.

    I'd imagine they would both not wish to die and would both feel more or less the same.
     
  23. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #23
    Agreed. Most religious people I know interpret "believing in Christ" as embracing his message and doing one's best to live up to his example. I'm just flabergasted by the ones who don't interpret it that way.
     
  24. faintember macrumors 65816

    faintember

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    #24
    Who Has More to Lose...the OP or the Thread Readers?

    They lose the same thing: their life. I know that I may hold a different opinion on it that others that share my belief system (Christianity) but I want to experience life to the fullest and truly feel as if I have accomplished something in my years here on Earth. Yes, religious people may believe in a after life but I see the time that we are alive on Earth as special, as it is certainly different than what we know of Heaven (or other place of after life) and it is definitely much shorter than eternity. Despite the change of location/difference of time I want to know that I did enough for my loved ones as well as for others. I think Stephen King says it well in his The Dark Tower series: “You needn't die happy when your day comes, but you must die satisfied, for you have lived your life from beginning to end.”

    As I read through the thread I started to wonder what was the purpose behind the topic. As often happens on these forums, a post regarding religion/non-religion turns into a torrent of negativity towards religious people which I note in the following quotes:
    I am all for free speech and speaking your mind, but could we be a bit more tolerant as a whole? As a religious person I prefer not to have what I perceive as Heaven deemed a "Disneyland in the sky", I prefer to not have my God referred to as "some invisible man in the sky" and the inference that atheists are more intelligent than religious people holds little to no beneficial commentary on the subject, other than inducing negativity and slinging insults (in this case indirectly) towards people with a differing belief system.

    I know the way people respond can be partially determined by actions/interactions that surround the person. Maybe many people on these forums have felt ostracized, criticized, belittled, etc. by a religious person and feel the negativity towards religion is justified. I can understand those feelings, as I understand my own abhorrence towards what I see as unnecessary negativity towards religion. If the above case is correct, please know that I, and not all, people of religious backgrounds are out to condemn you, or attack you or make you feel like less of a person because you do not share a religion. It is not my intention to point any of the quoted people out (just trying to prove my point), just that I would hope to see a bit more respect shown towards religious (and non-religious) people on these forums. Maybe it is just my perspective, but it seems that religious people can become common whipping boys in threads like these.

    And I do apologize if (most) of my post is considered off topic, as it is not my intention to derail.
     
  25. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #25
    Good post faintember. We could all stand to be a little more respectful. It's a downside of the internet. It's easier to be rude to a screen than it is to a person.
     

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