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Paging Blaise Pascal… Rick Warren Makes a Foolish Bet on Baby Jesus

Christmas Day is a fitting time to note that Rick Warren isn’t just a religious, sexual and gender bigot; he’s also got a bad gambling habit. I’m talking about Pascal’s Wager, which Warren invokes as his closing argument against atheism in Newsweek. This is why Rick Warren says he is a Christian:

We’re both betting. He’s betting his life that he’s right. I’m betting my life that Jesus was not a liar. When we die, if he’s right, I’ve lost nothing. If I’m right, he’s lost everything. I’m not willing to make that gamble.

Actually, if Rick Warren is wrong and there is no Christian God, then when he dies, then he has lost a great deal: the content of the only life he has, all spent following a series of fictional dictates dreamed up by a religious bureaucracy.

Rick Warren is right in a superficial sense when he says he’s not “willing to make that gamble” that “Jesus was not a liar.” But Rick Warren is more fundamentally wrong, since he has been making just the sort of gamble he mocks atheists for making over and over and over again throughout his life. Rick Warren is willing to gamble that Vishnu is a liar. Rick Warren is willing to gamble that Odin is a liar. Rick Warren is willing to gamble that the gods and goddesses of Olympus are liars. Rick Warren is willing to gamble that Zoroaster was a liar. Rick Warren is willing to gamble that animism is a pack of lies. Rick Warren is willing to shove all sorts of religions down the crapper. He’s willing to make the bet that hundreds of religious authorities and supposed deities with their rules and systems are complete bullshit. Christianity is the only religion exempt from his scorn.

What kind of moral exemplar is Rick Warren at the inauguration of the next president? He’s the kind of man who would for reasons of self-interest reasons pick one out of hundreds of evidence-less religious dogmas, then seek to impose the terms of his wild and arbitrary gamble on an entire country. Is that kind of reckless gambling habit the sort of moral example Barack Obama really wants to promote?

28 comments to Paging Blaise Pascal… Rick Warren Makes a Foolish Bet on Baby Jesus

  • Clicker

    It’s worse than that – Rick Warren IS betting that the Prophet Mohammed was a liar, and that Joseph Smith was a liar, because those are actual people that we know for a fact really lived. What Rick Warren doesn’t understand is that non-Christians often just don’t believe that Jesus was real at all. The parallels between the supposed life of Jesus and the life stories of purely imaginary figures of legend, such as Mithra, are too strong to ignore. We’re betting that Jesus wasn’t real, and that’s a pretty good bet.

  • Voltaire

    So, your answer begs the question.. What is real for you? We all make assumptions concerning the nature of reality. I was wondering what’s your assumption, and how you arrived at that conclusion?
    I often wonder if life is just the present, with death being a void of nothing. Is that how you see it?

  • Jim

    I assume from previous experience that the bills will probably come again next month. Other than that, I’m comfortable saying “I don’t know.”

  • Tom

    Interesting artilcle the AP did on Rick Warren today.

    It seems that this irresponsible reporter did not contact you before writing that ridiculas story. His story was full of misinformation, inane conclusions,and inaccurate information.

    And Clicker, how insightful. Just because Jesus was mentioned in numerous writings from several non biblical documents around the time of his so-called existence can’t prove a thing. And Constatine, what an idiot. Emporor of Rome converting to Christianity before having a chance to here from you 2000 years later. Where in the world was that goof ball getting his information?

  • Actually, Tom, Jesus was not mentioned in any documents during his supposed lifetime at all – including the gospels, which were written long after the supposed time of his death. As for Emperor Constantine, he remained a pagan himself. He converted the Roman Empire to Christianity for political, not religious reasons. Then Europe got centuries of societal degradation and barbarity.

  • Voltaire

    Jesus was mentioned by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus who was born 37 AD pretty contemporary.
    His few lines on Jesus are telling:

    3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

    so to say that there were no historical records of the actual Jesus is false. It appears to be a convenient line for those who want to discredit him off had. Along the same lines as saying there was no Jewish holocaust.

    I thing it is a better argument to say you think he was a liar and a fraud, than to say he never existed.

    At that point in time many things weren’t written down, as most common people couldn’t read or write, so oral tradition was very important.
    It’s better to stick with the “he was a fraud and liar argument”!

    And my final question for the day, “if he never existed why all the fuss”?

    • No, that’s not at all contemporary, V. Josephus was born after Jesus was supposed to have died – if he ever lived, and came of age a generation later. Josephus claims no knowledge of anyone that was actually involved in the legend of Jesus. It’s all second hand, third hand, fourth hand, fifth hand retellings of retellings of a legend.

      Ever heard an urban legend? They all claim to be true, to have happened to real people who exist in the present, but upon examination, the friend of a friend’s uncle turns out not to exist. Josephus doesn’t even achieve this much proximity to the legend of the Osiris-Mithras character of Jesus, and there’s nobody else anywhere even this close to the origin of the legend who talks about Jesus even as a fictional character. All indications are that, like Homer, like Siddhartha Guatama, and unlike the Prophet Mohammed and Joseph Smith, Jesus is either syncretic or a purely imaginary character.

      Writings of Josephus are no more “historical documents” of a life of Jesus than medieval tales of Robin Hood are “historical documents”.

      The fact that Christian pseudoarchaeologists have had to create fake artifacts to support the idea that Jesus was real is especially telling.

  • Voltaire

    Wow!
    Truman you have really put a lot of time into discrediting someone that never existed. Are the JW’s pounding at your door or do you have issues?
    I don’t believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny either, but I don’t get heartburn from those that do.

    There were also:
    Tacitus
    Lucian
    Mara bar Serapion

    I am still wondering why it is so important for you to prove to others that Jesus didn’t exist. In my whole life not a single person has tried to force me to believe. We are not talking about Islam here! If others believe in fairy tales, so what!

    I am pretty sure that in a hundred years much of what we now believe will be found false.

  • Voltaire, why are you so busy trying to avoid the strong problems in the idea of Pascal’s Wager?

    I’m not spending much time on this really, just a few seconds a day, V. But, to the extent that this issue is important to me, it’s because Christians are using the power they’ve gained through their religion to try to take away my rights, and the rights of other people. They’re trying to wreck my democracy, and they’re doing it in the name of Jesus, and that bothers me. People don’t use Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny as a rationale for attacking the Constitution.

    It’s not up to me to prove that Jesus did not exist. The burden lies with Christians who believe in the literal historical reality of Jesus. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof – and proof of the historical reality of Jesus is astonishingly sparse.

  • Voltaire

    Sorry Truman but you are wrong. Dead wrong. The only liberties you have are as a result of the implementation of Christian ideology. Prior to the development of OUR system of government, liberty was something granted by the Monarchy, not a right granted by our Creator. the idea of Rights inherent to the individual was a Christian transformation, the abolition of slavery happened first in Christian countries. How many Atheists Hospitals are there? Except when you factor in services from government facilities that have as their source funds stolen at the point of a gun from the average citizen, in the form of taxes.

    Democracy without values is like a fire loose in the trees. We live in a Democratic Republic…Tell me what right have you had taken away by Christians? The right to murder, the right to steal, the right to work on Sunday (Saturday if you so believe) the right to lie about your neighbor, to take his wife or property, or did you want to make that really big idol?

    I am no Christian, but I can still see that ALL the morality I claim is Christian based. Or did you believe that you would have come up with the Morality that you have if you were born in a non Christian environment?
    Even Science, which seems to be in a state of conflict with Christianity, has benefited from it’s Christian roots, where did the the age of Enlightenment come from? Christians, believed that nature was not a mystery that could not be unraveled, that it followed Laws set forth by the Creator that could be known through Reason. No other religion has been such a positive influence to Science. All other religion believe that God is unknowable!

    I often wonder at my level of compassion, given my belief system. I believe that man is the result of evolution, survival of the fittest. Where the smartest or most able survived, how then do I explain to myself that I have compassion for the weak? In my jungle I would just as soon rid myself of inferior genetic material. But the Christianity that I have adsorbed by osmosis refuses to let me.

    In MY world there is no God, why then do I not live entirely for the moment, constantly seeking sexual gratification and killing those who are obstacles to my success? After all there is no accountability in the hereafter. If I really believe that life ends at the grave, then all that matters is the immediate present and how many offspring I can produce with genetically superior women.

    Why don’t I live the way I believe? Because some Guy that didn’t exist 2000 years ago made more since than that part of me that desires to live like a animal. What’s your excuse, just good manners?

    It’s funny when people try to knock down something, all the while living like they believed it.

    Pascal’s Wager is for idiots…

    If there is no life after death, everything we do in this life is meaningless. Except to the extent that we enjoyed it while we did it, and as Solomon said:

    Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity.

    Or as Shakespeare’s Macbeth said:

    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    Or if there is a GOD, don’t be fool enough to believe He can be fooled by what you profess to believe.

    We all are betting on something… and you will be the only one there when the dealer shows his hand.

    • Ralph

      Voltaire, you and your fellow Christians have been pandered to and appeased quite enough.

      I’ve heard the claims you’re repeating here before. They are bull.

      The liberties we have are entirely the result of Christian ideology? For Pete’s sake, look up the term “democracy.” That’s what we have in the United States. It’s the foundation of our freedoms. It comes from the ancient Greeks. It’s Pagan, not Christian.

      All morality and values are Christian based? Go learn something about ethics in world religions and intellectual traditions other than Christianity. Yes, they exist. New word for you: “Confucianism.” Look it up.

      Please, educate yourself before you defend Christianity with such a display of proud ignorance. You’re an embarrassment to the perfectly intelligent Christians you misrepresent with your arrogant absurdities.

    • Voltaire, you’ve gone off the deep end. There is no freedom of the press in Christianity – because there was no press when Christianity was invented! There is no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no right to free assembly, no freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, and no right against self-incrimination. There is no right to a fair trial, either. There is no freedom from religious tests for public office – instead, there is a history of patriarchs and theocrats. Equality under the law? Nope, not from Christianity. Christianity was a source of justification of slavery, and it took the secular action of a President plus a constitutional amendment to end that. In your religion, those who defy authority get stoned to death, or burned in a lake of fire without chance of parole.

      Have you no knowledge of history at all, Voltaire? Monarchy was supported by Christianity, not opposed by it. Ever heard of the ideology of the divine right of kings? Go back to high school, Voltaire. Back to high school.

    • Jim

      There are a large number of secular hospitals in this country. They are a-theist.

  • len

    Truman,

    Surely you aren’t that big of an idiot.

    • len,

      Surely your behind isn’t that large.

      It’s easy for you to leave an insult stating that you believe I’m wrong about something, len. It would be more difficult for you to identify what you think is wrong and what you think is wrong about it. If you could do that, I would receive your comment more seriously.

      • Ralph

        But Truman, len is defending God. Didn’t you know that when someone defends God they are entitled to respect even if they don’t put forth a tenable argument?

  • Voltaire

    Ralph,
    You don’ read very well do you? Did I ever say that I am a Christian?

    Reminds me of a day a work several years ago:

    I was driving around the job site with a co worker Hugh. Hugh had a problem with this guy named Randy, for whatever reason…..As we were driving Hugh saw Randy and went into a vulgar rant that lasted way toooo long. After he was finished I looked at Hugh and said ” Hugh, hat told me more about you than it did about Randy”.
    Ralph your “problem with Christians” tells me more about you, than you might be comfortable with.

    Democracy was invented by the Greeks, the way that the US has used it is a vast improvement. It is a Democracy but not a direct one, rather it is a representative Democracy, and a Republic too. Look that up Ralph, don’t lecture me you feeble pud. You’re a nebbish bupkis.

    As for the Christians being intolerant of other religions, try building a Church in Iran….

    I’d much rather put my safety in the hands of a true Christian, than trust you with a inch. You buddo are a hateful zealot. Grow up.

    • Ralph

      Facts are facts, Voltaire. What you say simply does not follow from the facts. It is faulty reasoning.

      Democracy was a pagan idea. The republic was also a pagan idea. These are facts. Yet you argue that the foundations of the democratic republic of the United States are entirely Christian, and owe nothing to either the pagan idea of democracy or the pagan idea of the republic? This is absurd.

      There are ethics outside of Christianity. This is a fact. Yet you depict non-Christian ideology as completely devoid of any ethical underpinnings? This is absurd.

      I know much more than you and I reason much better than you. You would benefit greatly by paying careful attention when I lecture to you.

  • len

    Ok, maybe idiot was too much..maybe ignorant. The abolition movement didn’t start with Lincoln or an amendment to the constitution. It was started by Christian churches, most notebly the Quakers. Remember the underground railway? I’m pretty sure they taught that in High School too.The pressure the abolitionist brought to bear was the determining factor for the change in the political arena. Which iventually brought an end to slavery.

    The rest is just hateful blathering. Grow up.

    Voltaire, remind me never to get into an aurguement with you.

  • Voltaire

    Jim, to say that slavery was a Christian institution is disingenuous at best. Slavery has existed before the time of the Pharaohs. If you want to be exact, slavery was permitted in the Old Testament, with provisions made for allowing the slave to bond himself to his master permanently. Ear pierced on the door post thing. However American slavery was ended within 60 years of the founding of this Government. Whether that was the intent of the Civil War is very debatable, but it was still a consequence. To say that Africans were the only enslaved minority is a grave injustice, the Chinese, Irish, and others were also indentured slaves.
    The Arab’s who were responsible for bringing the Slaves out of Africa, continued the practice of slavery until the end of WWII. I always find it laughable when Blacks identify with Islam because the White Christians enslaved them. Actually Arab countries emported more Africans than the US, by a large margin. Some say that the practice continues to this day.

    • Jim

      Slavery in America was also started by Christians and justified by Christian churches.

      Now you say, “Jim, to say that Jesus was a slaveholder is disingenuous at best.”

  • phil

    Whoa…. that’s your retort?
    Jim, you got Schooled.

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