I’m pretty confident that I won’t be praying before I die.
Never mind all that “no atheists in foxholes” bollocks. I’m confident in my non-belief. I’m not just petulantly refusing to believe in a god I secretly know is really there, and I’m not going to run crying back to him when I’m scared and suddenly want him to protect me.
I don’t even consider it worth it on the off-chance. Even taking a shot at picking the correct deity from the pantheon, and acting as if I thought there were a worthwhile chance they’d be able to do anything for me, would kinda undermine the whole rational approach I’ve been trying to build up here. I don’t touch wood, or throw salt over my shoulder, or conscientiously avoid opening umbrellas indoors, even “on the off-chance” that I might avoid some misfortune by just quietly going along with these little rituals anyway. Any god I might consider praying to is something I consider vanishingly unlikely to exist, so I stay similarly true to that.
But is it a principle worth risking eternal damnation over?
That’s what I would have had to decide if I’d been in this guy’s class at a university in Tennessee. He had his students sign a pledge voluntarily offering themselves to an eternity in Hell if they cheated on a test.
Questions of how appropriate (or, y’know, how really not) this is are more than I’m up to getting verbose over right now. But would I have a problem putting something like that in writing? When the stakes are quite so high, can it really be worth it, just for the sake of making a point and retaining a principle? Even being as sure as I am that there’s no conceivable way it could have any negative effect, would I really be blasé about signing a piece of paper that purports to hand over the rights to my immortal soul? I find it as close to impossible as to not be worth considering that a) I possess such a soul, and b) such a writ would be binding unto infinity… but isn’t it worth being careful?
… Actually, probably not. I’ve already committed the ultimate blasphemy, so that’s at least one god whose good books I’m effectively written out of. Why would this be any different?
I’m just thinking out loud, and too late at night for it to be very effective. Any thoughts? Hat-tip to PZ for the link. Oh, and the latest Skeptics’ Circle is up, and is once again really excellently put together despite my not being in it.