Hookers for Heaven

It is said that everything has its price. When W. C. Fields (reputedly)
asked a beautiful young woman if she would go to bed with him for a million
dollars, and she answered yes, he then asked if she would render the same
service for ten dollars. “Of course not!” she exclaimed. “What
do you think I am, a prostitute?” “We’ve already established that,”
he replied. “Now we’re just dickering about the price.”
Which brings us to the main reason people cling to Christianity and
to Islam. A good Christian friend of mine once tried to convert me to his
faith by offering up Pascal’s Wager, which goes something like this: If
you “believe” in Christ and you’re wrong, you lose nothing. But
if you “believe” in Christ and you’re right, you gain eternal life
in heaven. Therefore the smart bet is to “believe.”
Now can anyone tell me the difference between W. C. Fields’ offer of
a million dollars and the Christian offer of eternal life in heaven? Both
are outlandish attempts at bribery, yet who among us would accept either
proposition for the proverbial ten dollars? Would you?
Of course there are differences that make W. C. Fields’ proposal more
fair and more attractive than the attempted bribes of Christianity and
of Islam. First, Fields probably could deliver his million dollar bribe,
but who do we know who has ever cashed in on eternal life? No one. Secondly,
both of the above religions couple their attempted bribery with extreme
extortion, promising eternal Hell and damnation for those who do not accept
the bribe. And since the bribes are mutually exclusive, how can you possibly
win?
Fortunately there is a way out for honest people, which really includes
everyone. People cannot honestly make themselves “believe” something
that they know to be false. There are hundreds of mutually exclusive religions.
Most of us accept (at most) only one religion and we are therefore freethinkers
who reject the outlandish claims and superstitions of the other 99+ % of
religions. With just a little less fear and a little more honesty we can
free ourselves of all superstitions. At our best we are all freethinkers.
Besides, Pascal was wrong. We do not “lose nothing” by “believing”
in another life. When we “believe” without evidence, we become followers, and those who blindly follow cannot be free. There is really nothing wrong
with prostitution so long as it is an honest business deal. But is it wise
to trade your freedom of thought for grandiose promises of heaven and barbaric threats of hell? In the words of the great humanitarian Robert Ingersoll, “When this world is sacrificed for another, a mistake has been made.”