About once a week, I walk by two Jehovah’s Witnesses who have set up a stand with pamphlets and information depicting the approaching end of the world. They stand on the sunny boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX, and they have not once said a word to me.
For a group that believes that the apocalypse is soon to devastate the Earth and doom non-believers to an eternity of hellfire, you would expect a bit of urgency in convincing others of the good word, no?
What I have never understood about Western Christians is their seeming acceptance that their non-believer friends and family are destined, and deserving, of everlasting pain and suffering. Aren’t the roughly 78 years we have on this ephemeral world utterly trivial when compared to the eternal?
While I have not seen enough evidence to justify a belief in God, I do believe that if you believe in God, nothing in this world should take precedence over the mission to convince others of what you believe to be true. Can the stakes be any higher when considering the juxtaposition between a life of infinite pleasure and happiness in heaven and endless torture in hell?
So why aren’t those that believe in God doing everything in their power to convince others, especially their loved ones, that God is real and must be reckoned with?
Perhaps I’m not giving Christians and their related sects enough credit. Having been born in San Francisco and spending most of my life there, I’ll admit that I have not surrounded myself with devout believers in Christ. Most of those that I have encountered, however, have not impressed me with their efforts.
Some friends and family I would not have even found out that they were religious unless I asked them. In the ultra liberal and atheist communities of San Francisco, I think that many Christians are cautious in sharing their beliefs, but if their ideas are assumed to be true, keeping their religiosity to themselves is simply immoral.
Isn’t an uncomfortable conversation worth the risk when failing to convince me of the “truth” will doom me to an eternity of suffering? Don’t you want to share the unimaginable pleasures of heaven with me?
I’ll give Christians the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have not fully reflected upon the gravity of the reality in which they believe. Either that, or they don’t hold their beliefs with much certainty—or at least not enough to warrant telling me about them. Logically, however, this still doesn’t quite add up. Even if you were to prescribe a 1% chance to the existence of a God that requires you to follow a set of moral rules along with placing faith in his existence in order to avoid an eternity of suffering, 1% of infinity is still infinity.
Perhaps Christians are holding out hope that their non-believer friends and family will still get a ticket at the door. Their Bible does not promise them such, but shouldn’t good people get into heaven even if they don’t believe? I don’t think this is for them to decide. The book is the book. While I’d argue that making consignments to accord with modern ethics is a moral good, there’s nothing in the Bible that says you can pick and choose the scriptures that you’d like to follow. In this sense, I’ve always held some respect for fundamentalists for sticking to their guns, however wrong they may be.
So, what is the point that I’m trying to make? Many Christians don’t really believe what they report to, or at least their actions don’t suggest that they do. For if they really believe that everlasting hell is in store for those that do not follow the scripture, then you’d imagine they would place a greater precedence on converting non-believers. That or they haven’t intellectually grasped the concept of infinity and the ethical weight tied to their ability to save souls from infinite suffering.