An excerpt from a recent conversation about religion…
Me: Why don’t you believe in God?
Abby: I don’t need to. But if he was real, he would forgive me for not believing in him.
Me: Do you believe in the devil?
Abby: Absolutely. Because if the devil is real, he wouldn’t take too kindly to my non-belief. And I don’t want to take any chances.
Her logic didn’t quite compute. I wouldn’t answer the questions like she did, but I like to challenge my assumptions and tried to take an unbiased approach to the analysis.
If you rate this only on effort and benefit, then believing in the devil is actually the way to go. It takes no effort and you get some respect while you do it. But I believe Abby was looking at it from the risk perspective. God is supposed to be a forgiving character, so if you didn’t believe in him your whole life, he’d still be cool with you. Meanwhile, if you don’t believe in the devil, he’ll make you pay. According to Abby, a disbelief in the devil carries some major negative implications.
Belief in God may have its rewards, but I have a big issue with that reward. It’s the proverbial carrot being dangled before you. If you live a pious life, you can enjoy eternity in a luxury resort called “heaven”. But let’s be real… I’m guessing that the criteria of reaching heaven are always in flux, and acceptance is mostly based on how Saint Peter feels at that time, on that specific day. If he had a mile-long line of applicants at the gate and you were near the end, you might get the “sorry, but we’re at capacity” excuse while Pete impatiently checks his iPhone for any texts before meeting his buddies at happy hour.
In the end, although I would still answer the questions differently, it looks like Abby is on to something. Believing in the devil has less risk attached to it while being extremely easy to do. I try not to let people’s perceptions of me rule my life, so whether they think I’m a good person only provides a marginal benefit. And if they’re the type to un-invite me to their barbecue, then I didn’t want the invitation in the first place.