Saturday, September 13, 2008

No Need to Believe


P1 = I do not need to believe in God. I only need (at the very most) to live up to my own expectations of others, being in myself what I would want from anyone else.

This premise is necessarily true, if the following premises are undeniable. And they are. The following premises consist of two kinds: those that are necessarily true (as logically necessary truths, they cannot be denied by any consistent person) and those that are very certainly true (since the evidence I have for them is overwhelming and thus beyond any reasonable denial). The latter will be printed in bold (blue if they are facts I know first-hand and green if they are public facts anyone can confirm). If these premises are as true for you as they are for me, then you must also agree that P1 is necessarily true.


P2 = I do not judge any man by the trivia of his metaphysical beliefs, but only by the content of his character.

P3 = In judging, I only expect a person's character to trend well toward compassion, honesty, courage, and reasonableness, and all that these entail. I do not expect more qualities than these, nor perfection in any.

P4 = If God does not exist, then I do not need to believe in God.

P5 = Either (a) God exists or (b) God does not exist.

P6 = Therefore, if (b), then P1.

P7 = If (a), then either (c) God will judge me as I judge others, or (d) God will judge me against that standard.

P8 = The Christian Bible says God will judge me as I judge others ("with what judgment you judge, so you shall be judged," Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37-38).

P9 = Either (e) the Bible speaks falsely about God or (f) the Bible speaks truly about God.

P10 = If (f), then P8.

P11 = If P8, then (c).

P12 = Therefore, if (f), then (c).

P13 = But if (e), then Christianity is founded on a false book.

P14 = Any religion founded on a false book is false (i.e. such a religion entails at least some propositions that are false).

P15 = Therefore, Christianity is false.

P16 = If (a) and P15, then I should ignore all Christians as purveyors of false religion, and look elsewhere for God (and for what God wants of me).

P17 = If (d), then God will judge me against
P2 and P3.

P18 = I despise anyone who judges against P2 and P3 (at least to a degree proportional to how much against these they judge).

P19 = I would rather burn in any hell than eternally serve someone I despise.

P20 = Therefore, if (d), then I would rather burn in any hell than eternally serve God.

P21 = If I would rather burn in any hell than eternally serve God, then I do not need to believe in God.

P22 = Therefore, if (d), then P1.

P23 = If (c), then God will not judge against me if I don't believe in him.

P24 = If God will not judge against me if I don't believe in him, then I do not need to believe in God.

P25 = Therefore, if (c), then P1.

Summary P(c): Either (c) or (d), therefore if not (d), then (c), and if (c), then P1.

Summary P(d): Either (e) or (f), and if (f), then not (d), and if not (d), then (c), and if not (f), then (e), and if (e), then (d), and if (d), then P20, and if P20, then P1.

Summary P(c&d): Therefore, either (c) or (d), and if (c), then P1, and if (d), then P1.

Conclusion: Therefore, it is necessarily the case that P1 is true.

If it is necessarily the case that P1 is true, and the premises that entail this are undeniable (and they are), then I know with unsurpassable certainty that I do not need to believe in God. I only need to live up to my own expectations of others, being in myself what I would want from anyone else.

So all you evangelists, please go home.

21 comments:

David Fitzgerald said...

So glad we got that all settled! Now we can worry about things that really matter...

Pikemann Urge said...

Can't you use logic to prove anything?

JK! But maybe your final sentence should have been something like "Evangelists, lighten up."

BTW as you're probably aware, eternal hellfires are an invention by the later church. There's no need to consider, even rhetorically, the possibility of burning in hell.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Someone must have seen this argument coming since Mark adds, "and even more." Pretending like the Christian God is "reasonable" is unreasonable. You should know that.

Mark 4:24
"With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more."

Are you going to argue for scribal gloss? lol

Nikhil Rajwade said...

I normally follow your posts with great interest. This one however, does not quite meet your usual standards. I support your conclusion, but the post seemed like a narcissistic attempt at logical demagoguery.

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge said... Paul probably did not believe in a flaming hell, but it wasn't an invention of the later church. There were Jewish factions (and Pagans) already touting it before Christianity even existed, and Christian ideas of hell are largely borrowed from them.

If anything, Paul's (likely) abandonment of a place of torment (for him, I suspect, the unsaved simply ceased to exist) was a radical position, which (like Christianity's original flirtation with communism) was guaranteed to wash out as Church numbers grew from the ranks of those who believed otherwise. We already see the Jewish "burning in hell" put into the mouth of Jesus in the Gospels (e.g. Luke's parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man). And of course, it's standard fare among conservative Christians now (at least in America).

Of course, if we abandon the burning in hell and adopt the view that ceasing to exist is the worst we'll get for refusing to eternally serve a jerk, my argument becomes all the stronger. :-)

War_on_Error said... I'm not sure why you think Mark 4:24 affects my argument (even in jest). What is measured out are the punishments and rewards, not how they are assigned. I would certainly serve a God who judged as I do but was more generous with those he approved than I was, and harsher with those he disapproved than I was...unless the disparity was unreasonably large (which would make God himself unreasonable and thus a villain by his own estimation).

Nikhil Rajwade said... your...post seemed like a narcissistic attempt at logical demagoguery.

Huh?

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

My point was that the Biblical God obviously has his own brand of "fairness" and quoting the "standard you use" verse makes it seem otherwise.

Why wouldn't serving a god you despise be the lesser of the two evils? Surely such an evil god would make it at least slightly worth your while.

Richard Carrier said...

War on Error said... Why wouldn't serving a god you despise be the lesser of the two evils? Surely such an evil god would make it at least slightly worth your while.

Because the eternal misery of those unjustly condemned would haunt me to the point of unbearable misery. There is nothing a tyrant could do for me that would change that.

Even if we assume he merely destroys the unchosen, having to eternally compromise my principles and values just to stay alive (especially among people who mostly would not be admirable, since God won't have chosen them based on any values I admire) would be unbearable. I'd rather just not exist.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

I'm aware of your talking point there as you made it abundently clear on "The God Who Wasn't There". However, a god that can control brain chemistry could certainly, as I said, find some way to make it at least slightly more worth your while. And if I'm not mistaken this was a relatively early on issue, and the Patristic excuse was that you will be unable to feel sorry for the damned because you will be suspended in God's righteous judgment of them. Brainwashing, basically. I can go look up the quote if you like, but the point remains, conceptually, a powerful God could make it the lesser of two evils. I even came up with the idea myself before I noticed a so called Saint beat me to it. I imagine this would be a bit like being palace whores in a Middle Eastern tyrant's harem who keep themselves strung out on happy drugs. Pretty messed up, but there is plausibly worse and this is eternity we're talking about.

The bottom line is I see no way to make use of your position that's based on incredulity as it stands. "I just can't believe a super powerful being could dope me up for all eternity in one way or another." I'm sure you can do better than that.

Richard Carrier said...

Well, if God's going to alter my brain, then it's moot to ask me anything about what the redesigned me will do, since I won't have the freedom to choose the outcome or even be the same person (and thus asking the person I am now won't be helpful).

It's rather like saying "Wouldn't you be happier with a lobotomy?" Even if in some sense "happier" would be a valid description of what I would then be, such an action would essentially destroy who I am now, so the surviving entity wouldn't be me in any meaningful sense. Again, why not just be dead?

Same goes for future drugging options. Why would I choose now to be meaninglessly strung out on heroine for eternity? If God forces it on me, then he will have essentially destroyed me (or put the real me in the coma of a drug haze), in which case I would ask him now: please just kill me instead.

If God doesn't force it on me, but gives me the option, I won't choose it. Why would I? It's a life that has nothing to recommend it, and even insofar as there would be anything to recommend it, it wouldn't be "me" living it, so what "I" think is irrelevant.

"I" don't want that life. Not under any circumstances. And what a re-engineered me would want is moot to the present, since I'm not him.

Incidentally, if you want to explore an analogy rather a propo, watch the Angel television series: he must constantly struggle with the possibility of what is essentially a "switch" that turns him into an evil monster who would quite like the Biblical God and all his craft. But the "other" him doesn't want to be that evil person, and wouldn't submit to it, no matter how fun it would be (and on more than one occasion he chooses to cease to exist rather than survive as an evil man--of course, deus ex machina, he always unexpectedly avoided destruction, except arguably in the last episode of the series).

There's nothing unrealistic about his choices in that regard. You are asking the same thing: essentially, would I choose to be evil if it would be eternally fun? No. Because I don't ever want to be that sort of person, and would rather do the world a favor by not becoming it. As in the concluding scene of The Rapture: thanks but no thanks.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Rick!

There are *two* options. Eternal torcher or being the fun loving monster. Clearly two evils on the table (and one includes fun)...and you keep pretendin like you gots another "no thanks" option. :p How many times do I have to reiterate!?!?!

Ben

Richard Carrier said...

You are asking what I would choose if I can't destroy myself, yet I'm telling you that your option 2 entails my own destruction (since it would necessitate turning me into a person I am not now). The only difference between your option 2 and my complete destruction is that your option 2 leaves an additional monster in the world at my own choosing.

Hence I would be content to endure eternal torture knowing I chose not to unleash such an evil on the world--and chose not to support the greater monster (your imagined evil God) who would leave no other choices--my resistance to such an evil would intrinsically be a joy. That satisfaction would be greater than any torture I can imagine (and I have a very fertile imagination), since I would revel in it as a means of overcoming all misery.

Of course, if for some reason the torture were so awful it would drive me insane, that would again constitute destroying me, in which case I will, again, be destroyed, but without producing a monster. Win-win.

If you want to probe this any further, however, you will have to stop speaking in the abstract and start describing specific scenarios that will realize what you have in mind. Then I can tell you what the actual options are in the scenario you describe and explain(as specifically as you have done) why I would choose one over the other.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Well in order to make this the most plausible version of what we are supposed to be discussing, it would appear that the only difference between a you now and a you that is magically suspended in God's righteous judgment of the damned (as a saint) would plausibly entail the artificial suspension of the feeling of empathy when in direct consideration of their plight as well as the artificial instigation of the feeling of righteous approval...and only in those circumstances (a la mind control). Someone might trip and fall in heaven right next to a damned person (assuming that is plausible, but just for the sake of argument) and you could in fact feel normal empathy for them. It's deus ex machina mind control on a line item. I'm not sure what that would necessarily do to someone in general to have their right/wrong compass artificially reoriented on just one thing. From outside of this situation we might call these people monsters, but the experience of it (if God knew what he was doing) would be the creation and maintenance of a heavenly "in group" vs the hellish "out group." It would seem you could be relatively normal when dealing with "in group" just as racists and bigots can be for their own friends and family. I personally don't see a conceptual problem with this.

Richard Carrier said...

War_on_Error said... ...the artificial suspension of the feeling of empathy when in direct consideration of their plight as well as the artificial instigation of the feeling of righteous approval.

And yet me without my empathy would not be me, it would be bizarro me, anti-me. That's like saying Hitler would have been a great guy if we had injected him with my empathy while he slept. Well, yeah. But then he wouldn't have been Hitler. He would have been unHitler. When talking about what Hitler should or would do, appeals to what he would or should do as unHitler are moot, except insofar as you argue that Hitler should become unHitler, but you aren't positing scenarios in which God honestly persuades me to have an empathotomy, so that analogy is out.

I'm not sure what that would necessarily do to someone in general to have their right/wrong compass artificially reoriented on just one thing.

In principle, I agree it may be possible to artificially arrange any universe (like Heaven) so that any set of principles and values (even any random set pulled out of a bag of all logical possibilities) would be the best principles and values to have, for people who lived there, depending perhaps on how you orient the purpose of living (something of a problem for heaven-proponents, since it's not inherently clear what the point of life would be there, other than boredom). I give examples of "monster" societies in my book, for instance.

But though I'm not entirely sure there are not logical roadblocks here that actually do constrain the kinds of viable societies there can be (as there are for such societies without the omnicapable intelligent design of them, a point I propose in Sense and Goodness without God), my point is not that such universes can't be constructed, but that if I were in one of them, I would not be me, but someone else. So it's pointless to ask what Rick{1} would or should do by talking about what Rick{2} would or should do.

If God is going to radically redesign my character so I'll fit into some bizarro alterverse, then he will be destroying Richard Carrier (of the here and now) and replacing him with an entirely different person--in parallel, I still think quite well, with the vampire metaphysics of the Buffyverse and Angelverse: Angel and Angelos are not in fact the same person, despite overlap of some defining characteristics like memories, and talking about what would be good for Angelos can have no bearing on talk of what would be good for Angel. Angelos would be quite happy breaking the necks of innocent people. Angel would not. And Angel would sooner kill himself than allow himself to become Angelos. I concur.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Rick,

I do understand what you are trying to say, but what I'm talking about is much more like the Stargate SG-1 episode "Revisions" than a person who has their entire moral compass oriented one way or the other in the Buffy-verse. In that episode, SG-1 arrives on a planet where a force field is covering just one city and protecting it from the extreme conditions outside. Over time, the system has lost power and has been forced to contract the size of the force field little by little. This doesn't leave enough room for all the people, so the super computer "revises" everyone's memories so that for instance they wouldn't remember "the Johnsons" who lived near the outskirts of town or even that there was a that far out of town. Everyone is jacked into the system and they don't even have any idea what is going on. Everything is networked around their normal affairs without their knowledge. They are still themselves for the most part.

You are trying to argue that the pattern that constitutes "you" would be *entirely* undermined and I don't think this is a fair assessment of the hypothetical scenario. It is much more like you wouldn't know the people in hell existed in an emotional sense...or rather you'd be forced to feel one way on that *one* line item. For instance, your wife, too, could go to "heaven" with you and your relationship would not be practically different. Both of you would simply be unable to feel empathy for the people in hell and would artificially think they deserved it. I agree with you there'd be no "normal" way for God to persuade you this was actually morally justified. It would just be a double standard you had not control over and likely would have no conscious knowledge of. You'd still function basically the same way in terms of all the people of heaven and would be your same empathetic self in that regard.

You can argue that it still isn't you enough...but that's not very convincing to me. It would at least be the lesser of two evils as I've been arguing all along.

Ben

sackpac said...

How pathetic, I'll pray for you ;-)

Richard Carrier said...

Sackpac said... How pathetic, I'll pray for you ;-)

I thought praying was pathetic?

War_on_Error: Neat example from SG-1 but not at all relevant here. To carry the analogy over, you're asking if I would change my behavior now (deciding to worship God in this life), in order to ensure I end up in the collapsing city (after my death). Why would anyone do that? To the contrary, I'd rather take steps to avoid ending up in such a place (unless the only alternative were worse, yet death would not be worse from Rick{now}'s perspective). So God's offering me the opportunity to live in the collapsing city won't motivate me to believe, whereas if nothing I do will affect whether I end up there, then there still remains "no need to believe," either way the very conclusion of my argument. And this follows no matter what you substitute for the collapsing city. So I don't see what bearing such scenarios can have here.

To wit: It is much more like you wouldn't know the people in hell existed in an emotional sense...or rather you'd be forced to feel one way on that *one* line item. There are only two ways to do that: lie to me (change the data available to me) or alter my values (so that even knowing the truth I don't care). The latter would destroy who I am now (and it's the me now faced with the decision what to do or believe, not the me then), and the former would be a circumstance I would never volunteer for (hence I could have no reason to worship God now in order to ensure he successfully deceives me later--just as I have no reason to worship God now in order to ensure he performs an empathotomy on me later, since Rick{now} has no interest in becoming Rick{then} and has no values that would ever motivate such an interest).

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Rick,

"I'd rather take steps to avoid ending up in such a place (unless the only alternative were worse, yet death would not be worse from Rick{now}'s perspective)."

Duh, who wouldn't? Obviously you only had two options here and you added a third which has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the situation in question. "Rick, you have either heaven or hell to go to after you die. Which would you choose?" Rick: "Something else."

[*eyeroll*]

You pulled the comments you chose to respond to out of context of each other rather than put them together in order that they would complement each other. You ONLY had the option of either being placed in the collapsing city, or suffering outside of the field (in which case for the analogy to mean anything would equal hell). You've said you have no motivation to be in the collapsing city and obviously that is bullshit. The ignorance (in this case emotional) is clearly better on the inside rather than the outside. You expect God to only be able to change your core moral values rather than your mere perception of the facts as would be PERFECTLY obvious from the "irrelevant" example I gave. Your core Rick values would still apply in the bubble and you'd still be mostly you. You'd just be forever confused on the issue of what it means to be outside the city.

Ben

Richard Carrier said...

War_on_Error said... Obviously you only had two options here and you added a third which has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the situation in question.

No, I only used death as one of the possible second alternatives that people usually consider worse, since you didn't describe hell.

But assuming it's eternal torture or something (i.e. something imaginably worse than death), Rick{now} would still have to choose it, since choosing the alternative you describe eliminates Rick{now} and thus Rick{now} wouldn't get to enjoy it (even insofar as it could be enjoyed).

In other words, you are only giving me the option "hell or death," where "death" consists of killing Rick{now} and creating a completely different Rick{then}. Maybe Rick{then} will be content, but he wasn't the one making the choice. Rick{now} is the one making the choice. And from his perspective, the options are "Rick{now} goes to hell" or "Rick{now} ceases to exist" (since Rick{then} is not Rick{now}).

Your core Rick values would still apply in the bubble and you'd still be mostly you. You'd just be forever confused on the issue of what it means to be outside the city.

Then that's the second option I described: I would be lied to. It's one or the other: eliminate my empathy in some way, or deceive me. The former consists of my destruction, and the latter isn't any more desirable.

Rick{now} cannot choose to be eternally deceived about the torment of those in hell, since Rick{now} would know the truth (i.e. the truth follows necessarily from the scenario you are asking him to consider) and would not choose to ignore it (and thus would not choose to undergo a procedure that would cause him to ignore it...no Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is tolerable here).

Thus, just as with an empathotomy, Rick{now} would never choose to be Rick{then}. Therefore, replacing Rick{now} with Rick{then} would destroy Rick{now}. Whereas if Rick{now} gets to continue being the person he wants to be, then he can only enjoy heaven by being deceived (in effect having a memorotomy), so Rick{now} would have to choose to be deceived about the people in hell. Which Rick{now}'s character forbids him from ever choosing.

Think of the deceit option this way: if I told you I was going to torture and kill all the Jews in Europe tomorrow (and there's nothing you can do about it, ever), but if you want, I'll prevent you from ever finding out that ever happened or remembering I ever said any of this, in exchange for a billion dollars.

Would you choose the cash?

Now suppose the only options are: take the deal for the cash, or I'll eternally torture you (using advanced biomedical tech to keep you alive).

Do you take the cash then?

I'd rather defy the monster with my rejection of his perverted deal, an eternal reminder that I'm better than him. That's just the way I am. I wouldn't want to be any other sort of person. In other words, I would never want to be the sort of person that choosing the cash would make me. Even if I was promised I would later forget having made that choice, since that's a promise to a different person, the one I'll become, not the one I am now.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Crazy virtue ethics, *ftw! You are either a much better person than me (like, by many orders of magnitude), or you are incredibly self-deceived. You are choosing perpetual extreme psychological abuse for all eternity (like your worst nightmare where you are still you, but you have no warm feelings to keep all the bad things from happening to you over and over again--ahem, no reveling in your virtue--unless you can do that in your worse nightmares...maybe you can...again that makes you superhuman--remember, please pick that one worst nightmare where you couldn't do it, b/c it would certainly be just like *that* one) or...being forced to accept the lesser of two evils as I've been saying(a policy you clearly advocate is acceptable elsewhere when they are not better options)i.e. the billion dollar pay off for bliss. No sane person would pick the former, imo. Therefore you must be insane. :D No one is questioning whether you would want to reject the rather messed up psychological masquerade you would be submitting to on its own terms. That's obvious. If that's all it was, I would totally agree. Mere death (ceasing to exist) was never part of the scenario, and you are still plenty Rick enough on both sides of the decision to have the desire to avert the worst possible condition a conscious mind can be in. Your only argument against that is mere incredulity as though a clever god couldn't figure out a way to preserve the core you, but maintain the empathetic delusion on just that one line item and no others. I didn't describe hell, because I assumed you already "got the idea" and didn't need a primer to exercise a rather mild dose of interpretative charity. All I have to do is show that there is one basic option to the problem and your long standing talking point that I've seen you use against numerous Christians in message boards, video, and probably audio clips (for at least a decade, maybe?)is in error. This isn't even a new solution. I have commentary on the Lazarus parable from ancient Christians that actually advocate this incredibly fucked up idea. Therefore, there could be at least one setup compatible with the mainstream Christian worldview that would make it worth your while to serve even the maltheistic god as basically presented in the Bible, billions suffering in hell and all. It would not be impossible for the basic Rick of today to go to that heaven. You'd have to argue you don't want to become the Rick from the time you make that decision to the time you die (since obviously God isn't going to turn on his delusion ray until then), but if this were a real option (like you actually believed this setup to be the case), you might get over that part. No matter what hell that is, obviously the hell I described above would be worst. And much like Anakin Skywalker reverted to the point he turned bad (thank you special editions), we might imagine God could revert you back to that state upon death and still make it worth that dysfunctional while in the meantime (so there is one extra ad hoc assumption the ancients didn't tack on, since they didn't think God was evil, they just realized they might not like feeling sorry for those in hell for all eternity). Obviously this is still a myopic view since any god could offer the same lesser of two evils, and it wouldn't trump not having evidence one way or the other.

*for the win

Ben

Yewtree said...

I plan on going to Valhalla myself... the company, the apr├Ęs vie activities, and the food are better.

I also rather like this story: Heaven or Hell? - A dog story. (Just relax and enjoy, never mind the existence or non-existence of various afterlife destinations.)

Richard Carrier said...

War_on_Error said... You are either a much better person than me (like, by many orders of magnitude), or you are incredibly self-deceived. You are choosing perpetual extreme psychological abuse for all eternity (like your worst nightmare, where you are still you, but you have no warm feelings to keep all the bad things from happening to you...).

If you mean now that your proposed "hell" scenario also involves altering me so that I can't even recall or enjoy the feeling of defying evil (etc.), then I'm not even choosing such eternal torture for me, but for someone else (the "altered me" that doesn't now exist but will only exist at God's making when he chooses, and who won't remember the original me or why he chose as he did or understand that). That doesn't require superhuman will. You just have to do the math and make a choice: either way, eternally tortured people will still exist, yet you won't be one of them--because God will have to destroy "you" and replace you with a degraded copy, merely in order to fulfill the wicked promise you posit.

Since in that case, either choice (heaven or hell) results in our destruction (followed by our replacement with a different person who only shares some of the same traits and memories, and only this new person undergoes the heaven or hell scenario posited), it's destruction for "us-now" no matter what. Plenty of tortured people will exist anyway, no matter what we choose (that's the point of this exercise: what we think of taking metaphorical "cash" from an evil God who tortures countless people eternally, in exchange for an empathotomy or memorotomy allowing us to be one of the privileged elite treading on the backs of eternal holocaust victims).

So the question is, is there a choice I can make that would produce a person I would want to exist? The answer is no (since the scenario now posited eliminates any such choice, due to the interference of an evil God who destroys the real me no matter which way I choose). So the question then becomes, which sort of person do I want to exist as a result of my choice, of those I have a choice to produce? A tortured defier of evil, or a comforted but mind-mutilated accomplice to torture? If I choose the latter, I am rewarding evil. If I choose the former, I am succumbing to evil. I'd rather do neither. But if I have to choose between only those two options, I'd rather succumb to evil than reward it, although on a suitably rigged dichotomy of options neither would be a preferable choice (so you may as well flip a coin).

Of course, any hell I then ended up in, I'd make every attempt to rebel against, and the possibility of such rebellion can only be ruled out logically, not empirically (i.e. we can posit 100%-rebellion-preventive scenarios, but we can never know whether we are actually in one). In contrast, any heaven I ended up in I'd never enjoy, because it wouldn't be me enjoying it. I'm not sure you grasp this point.

...or being forced to accept the lesser of two evils as I've been saying

But being empathotomized or memorotomized destroys the "you" that exists at the time of the choice. So how is that the "lesser" evil? Either way you choose (in your new, much more elaborate version of the scenario), you are choosing to be destroyed and have God create a new person in your place. So the question is only who you create, not who you get to be--because you get to be no one ("you" will cease to exist, having gone through a metaphysical meat grinder). So: is creating a pampered oven-stoker really less evil than creating another victim for the ovens? I don't see the math working out that way.

But even if it could, notice how implausibly Rube Goldberg you have to get even to attempt to create the circumstance you want to imagine--the disconnect between that as a mere logical possibility, and any probability of our ever even knowing that that scenario exists, already destroys the scenario's utility in real-world decision-making. There is no evidence of any God forcing on us this bizarrely convoluted choice, and even if there were such a God, there'd be no way for us to know this on present evidence, so the scenario is moot. It's like debating how many angels must be pushing the moon to make it orbit the earth.

I can conclude the debate on this point alone (i.e. adopting your own ethical stance), by inserting this sub-argument:

P19.1 = I would (g) rather burn in any hell than eternally serve someone I despise unless (h) I was empathotomized or memorotomized in such a way as to not know or care that I had avoided burning in a hell by eternally serving someone I despise.

P19.2 = There is no evidence of (h) being on offer from any God, nor any credible reason to expect any such God to exist, and no one whose judgment I trust actually believes any such God exists or expects me to believe any such God exists.

P19.3 = If there is no evidence of (h) being on offer from any God, nor any credible reason to expect any such God to exist, and no one whose judgment I trust actually believes any such God exists or expects me to believe any such God exists, then there is no reason to believe in such a God.

P19.4 = Therefore, either (g), and therefore P19 (and therefore P20 and therefore P21 and therefore P22 and therefore P1) or there is no reason for me to believe in God.

P19.5 = If there is no reason for me to believe in God, then I don't need to believe in God (and therefore P1).


Your only argument against that is mere incredulity as though a clever god couldn't figure out a way to preserve the core you, but maintain the empathetic delusion on just that one line item and no others.

But you are only trading on speciously undefined concepts here like "core you." What's that? Even if you keep everything I am now but erase only my empathy, I am still not me, but a radically different person. So there is no relevant "core" me without my defining character traits. There is thus no logical way to erase just one of them and claim any relevant "core me" still exists.

Likewise for erasing or interfering with my memory: to do that on the scale your scenario requires cannot in any relevant way preserve who I am now (who is someone who has full knowledge and memory of the scenario and the wickedness of the deity compelling it and so on). And even if it could, I (as in the man I am now) don't want to be the sort of person who would take that deal, and I could not (now, as I live here on earth) live with myself knowing I was that sort of person. The fact that later on (after death) I'll forget all this is irrelevant to the choices I make here and now, which affect the current me here and now, especially because the guy who will forget won't be me or even the sort of person I'd ever want to be. Maybe he'll be happy, but since he won't even remember me or ever being me (since to do so would entail, for example, remembering the information I had, the choice I made, and the basis for that choice), who cares?