It isn’t surprising that religion has been at the heart of many major conflicts throughout history. Religion is one of those topics that most of us try to steer away from. Whatever they may be, our religious beliefs are intertwined with our emotions. Things can get testy, when debating the things that people strongly believe in.
After all, a belief is not something that you can argue. By definition, belief is faith in an outcome or result for which there isn’t diffuse and overwhelming data. The difference between the devoutly religious and the atheists is simply the difference in their belief. If these two individuals were to argue, each would present evidence that the other would argue is not evidence. That is how the conflict arises.
In math and science these debates are far more tolerable. In these disciplines, debate and argument are part of the process. When a theory is presented and evidence submitted, peers are asked to review and argue the findings. When a scientist has a belief, it is called a hypothesis.
At their core, hypotheses are essentially beliefs that can then either be proven or disproven. Math is even more rigid. There are specific rules about how numbers interact. It’s not that you can’t prove that 2+2=5, it’s just that you have to use an accepted set of mathematical rules to prove it.
When math and science encounter an unknown, believe me there is a lot that mathematicians and scientists don’t know, they have a calculation for it. That calculation is called probability. Probability describes the likelihood that something is true. Essentially, it is the mathematical version of belief. It is the scientific version of faith.
Some scientists believe in the existence of aliens, because their calculations of that possibility reveal a high probability of alien’s existence. Other scientists have faith that aliens do not exist, because their calculations of that possibility reveal a low probability. However, they usually don’t start wars because of their mathematical and scientific differences. They simply battle with data, evidence and rules.
Well, what if we did that with religion? What if we tried to use mathematics to argue the likelihood or the probability of God’s existence? Now you’re paying attention! Before you get too emotional, let’s use mathematics, rules and evidence to compare two hypotheses.
Let’s assume that you believe in God. What are the probable outcomes from doing so? There are two. If you believe in God, do all the right things and he does exist, you will get to heaven. If you believe in God, do all the right things and he doesn’t exist, nothing will happen. In other words, if you believe in God there is a 50% chance of going to heaven and a 100% chance of not going to hell.
Now for the converse. Let’s assume that you don’t believe in God. What are the probable outcomes of that action? Again, there are two. If you don’t believe in God and God exists, there will be a lot of lightning bolts in your future. If you don’t believe in God and God does not exist, nothing will happen. In this scenario, not believing in God gives you 50% chance of hell and a 50% chance that nothing will happen.
Based on the mathematics, believing in God gives you a higher probability of having a favorable outcome than not believing. Of course, this does not prove that God exists. Your faith is still necessary for that. However, it does prove that believing in God gives you a higher probability of attaining a favorable outcome. It also proves that not believing in God has an uncomfortable probability of fire and brimstone.
O hell, I need to go to church!