I've just had an awkward and uncomfortable conversation with a very good friend. She is Christian. It was a classic Pascal's Wager; she's worried I'll be in Hell when I die if I'm wrong about religion.
She said she'd had this conversation before with a couple of atheists and left the impression that she might again. She tried to start up an analogy about "if you knew my plane was going to be hijacked, wouldn't you call me to tell me not to get on" and I had to stop her. We made a truce early on that we wouldn't talk about religion or atheism and that's exactly the sort of debate I didn't want to have with her.
This all ended well enough and we went back to normal after a while but I am extremely pissed off about the rubbish that's been put into her head.
So, I need a little help here.
1) A (preferably short) refutation of Pascal's Wager that explains the logical fallacy in a way that doesn't belittle Christianity or Christians. I know about Dawkin's "Atheists Wager" and that won't work for what I need. Basically, I'd like to convince her there is no need to have this awkward conversation with anybody else because the argument itself doesn't make any sense.
What I told her tonight was that every atheist has already dealt with this question on their own. Even if we are wrong and God exists, we couldn't just fake that we believe because he'd see through that anyway, so the whole argument is pointless. I don't know if that was convincing enough or not.
2) I know that the concept of Hell as some nasty place full of flames, demons and torture is fairly recent. As I understand it, the original Christian concept of Hell was that it was just this place you went when you died and there was nothing special about it. Does anyone know where I could point her (it would have to be online) to show that, even if I'm wrong and I do land in Hell, it is not the terrible place of torture that she thinks it is?
I don't want to try to convert her any more than I want her trying to convert me. I just want to point out to her what Christians originally thought Hell was. That concept changed at some point into what it is now and I'd like to be able to point her at a piece of history and say "this is where they got that idea." I don't want the idea of me being tortured by demons or whatever to be in the back of her mind when we're talking. She's smart and she listens to me, so I think that's doable.
I can't even tell you how pissed off I am that they teach this kind of crap to kids.