My Judgment Day service for Atheists – prices starting at $5

Hemant “The Friendly Atheist” Mehta questioned the ethics of atheists offering post-rapture pet care (featured here previously, there’s also a post-rapture greeting card service). I didn’t think anybody would pay money for that service – but I misunderestimated the psyche of the American survivalist.

Most atheists in the thread (and I agree) believe the practice is ethical – it is not based on trickery, but rather the application of probability based on one’s presuppositions about the existence of God.

I don’t want to let the atheists languish in this position of being the only people offering post-rapture services. So I am launching the “Lazarus Scheme” based on Luke 16 (see below for some key bits).

The Offer

For a paltry sum of $5 I will try my darndest to put in a good word for any willing atheists at judgment day. For just $10 I will even memorise a list of your five best good deeds and I will, if the opportunity arises, put them forward in your defence.

Payment Methods

I will accept direct debit payments, and potentially PayPal – but at this stage, payment should be arranged by making email contact (using the email link in the header of this page). I will email you a receipt that will double as a certificate of participation.

Disclaimer:

Let me say, right from the bat, that I have some theological misgivings about this offer – because I don’t think that when the time comes I’ll be able to perform my offered duty, nor do I think it will actually effect the outcome of proceedings on judgment day. I am a protestant (Presbyterian) theological student, I hope to have been a minister of religion for some time by the time judgment day comes around – and if we apply Pascal’s wager and assume that perhaps the Catholics, Muslims, or any other “good works” based belief is correct (just for a moment) then it is likely that I will have chalked up some merit points (in my own tradition these good works count for nothing – in fact, the apostle calls them what could be appropriately translated as used menstrual rags).

I offer no guarantees on this service whatsoever – in fact, I encourage you not to take up the offer. Actively. If, however, you choose to proceed, my conscience is clean because I believe I have abrogated any notion that my efforts will be successful. You may wish to proceed on the basis of balancing probabilities and covering as many bases as possible. Who am I to say no at that point?

Getting a pass from God at judgment day depends on choosing Jesus now.

Bible:

Here’s the key part of Luke 16, a parable Jesus told about two men and their post-death futures. Lazarus had been a God-honouring beggar, while the other man, a rich man, had sat inside his property ignoring the poor man on his doorstep. It’s a parable, which means it’s not a literal picture of stuff that happens, but a story with a theological moral:

22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.

30” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

Nathan Campbell

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Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His Daughter. His Son. Coffee. And the Internet. He is currently a campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of the last 8 years working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online.

10 responses to My Judgment Day service for Atheists – prices starting at $5

  1. Here’s the thing, Nathan.

    An atheist telling a Rapture-believer that they’ll take care of their pets is catering to something the Rapture believer actually thinks is true, even though the atheist doesn’t believe a bit of it.

    Your idea is catering to something atheists don’t believe in, and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t represent what you actually believe.

    I’m sure you see the difference here. I don’t think either is particularly ethical, but I also don’t think your analogy is apt.

    • Nathan Campbell July 31, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Mike and Jeff,

      Your idea is cater­ing to some­thing athe­ists don’t believe in, and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t rep­re­sent what you actu­ally believe.

      I don’t think either is par­tic­u­larly eth­i­cal, but I also don’t think your anal­ogy is apt.

      I don’t think this is all that different to the atheist pet minding service – the people running that business don’t believe they’re ever going to have to act according to the contract they are entering into. The only person in that situation and, if people take me up on my offer, in this situation believing that I might do what I’m offering to do is the person handing over the money.

      I don’t think anybody will. I’d just hate for you to miss out.

      Sec­onded, although it isn’t solely a mat­ter of whether or not it’s eth­i­cal; it’s offen­sive. Nathan is mak­ing light of the fact that he thinks we’ll burn (lit­er­ally or metaphor­i­cally) in a lake of fire for all of eternity.

      Nathan, I don’t know what kind of a “point” you’re try­ing to make here — but it’s com­pletely inap­pro­pri­ate. If you can’t see that, you’re seri­ously challenged.

      I’m not making light of the fact that you’ll end up in a lake of fire (I think, probably, metaphorically speaking – I don’t think hell will necessarily involve a fiery lake – it will be bad though), I made sure that my offer of service contained the mechanism by which you can avoid the lake of fire. It’s not like I’m withholding knowledge from you in order that you will burn. At this point it’s not my beliefs that are abhorrent. You believe I’m spending my life deluded and will face nothingness when I die. I find that offensive.

      I don’t see how my making light is anything different to the making light going on in the services I linked to – except that you know you’re being mocked, and the people handing over money to have their pets minded don’t.

  2. Your idea is cater­ing to some­thing athe­ists don’t believe in, and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t rep­re­sent what you actu­ally believe.

    I don’t think either is par­tic­u­larly eth­i­cal, but I also don’t think your anal­ogy is apt.

    Seconded, although it isn’t solely a matter of whether or not it’s ethical; it’s offensive. Nathan is making light of the fact that he thinks we’ll burn (literally or metaphorically) in a lake of fire for all of eternity.

    Nathan, I don’t know what kind of a “point” you’re trying to make here – but it’s completely inappropriate. If you can’t see that, you’re seriously challenged.

  3. It’s not like I’m with­hold­ing knowl­edge from you in order that you will burn.

    That isn’t the point. No one is arguing that we are ignorant of the Christian message. Your service isn’t an offer to minister to us so we won’t go to hell; it’s an offer to try to plead our case before God, which you admit you believe will be a useless gesture. I’m sure you don’t even really intend to do it; you’ll be too awestruck, or you’ll be busy praising his holy name, or whatever.

    I don’t see how my mak­ing light is any­thing dif­fer­ent to the mak­ing light going on in the ser­vices I linked to

    I shouldn’t even have to explain it. If you really can’t see the difference, there’s obviously some sort of cognitive deficit in evidence.

    • Nathan Campbell July 31, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      Jeff,

      “I shouldn’t even have to explain it.”

      Like I say, the pet people don’t believe the rapture is going to happen, they are mocking the people whose money they claim. And worse, they’re not making it clear that it’s mockery (which I think I am).

      The only difference I see is that my post makes fun of your kind (atheists) while the pet people make fun of my kind (although not quite my kind – Christians who take the Bible seriously).

      “If you really can’t see the dif­fer­ence, there’s obvi­ously some sort of cog­ni­tive deficit in evidence.”

      I love how quickly you’ve resorted to Ad Hominem.

      Here’s an interesting note from the “Eternal Earth Bound Pets” terms and conditions:

      “Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA (EE-BP) is not liable, and no refunds will be made, in the event of the loss, death, sale, or transfer of a subscriber’s pet(s) prior to the Rapture and during the coverage period of the contract.”

      That doesn’t sound particularly reasonable. Or ethical.

  4. I’d like to thank you Nathan for offering this service. I’m tempted to buy your services but I’m holding out for a slightly different product line.

    The way I look at things, if there is a heaven and hell, and if good works determines entrance to heaven, then I’m probably good to go. If it is based on belief (as you say), then I’m screwed. Therefore, I would rather put my money towards securing a better place in Hell. Perhaps some lake-side property. Or maybe I could be commissioned as a “2nd lieutenant” harpy. It would be neat to be able to fly around.

    Anyway, if there is a heaven and hell and if entrance is based on belief and if it turns out that both of our beliefs are wrong and you pass before me, can you offer a service that you will put in a good word for me in Hell so I can obtain some privileged position when I later arrive? I would buy that for a dollar.

  5. Mr. St. Eutychus, I would potentially enter into a business arrangement with you but I think you’re a little off on this one. The Pet Rapture service involves an atheist who doesn’t believe in the Rapture, and Christians who do. But there’s a service that the Pet Rapture people find more valuable then the $110 that the vendor is asking, and the vendor finds the $110 more valuable than the zero-probability of having to spend the effort doing this. The mismatch in the beliefs makes for different valuations and therefore a good opportunity for trade. But your deal for atheists doesn’t work because (even if we atheists are wrong) we don’t *now* believe in an eternal judgment (and I guess like car insurance once we’re about to be cast into the pit it’ll be too late – or at least you can jack the price way up then.) I think the key point is, as long as the good or service is being performed per contract and parties don’t misrepresent themselves, it doesn’t matter if the person believes in it. If some hippie who doesn’t believe in “unnatural” pharmaceuticals wants to sell me a 30-day supply of medicine they were just prescribed and they give it to me for pennies on the dollar, that’s fine – they can disbelieve in it all they want as long as I’m getting the medicine that they’re claiming it is.

    But, the spirit of the idea is a good one and it’s one I try to use as well. In point of fact there have been lots of arrangements throughout history of people from different faiths that restrict their behavior in some way making trade arrangements that benefit all involved (money-lending by medieval Jews in Europe when Christians forbade it is a great example.) I encourage you to keep trying to think of an example that (like the Pet Rapture service) relies on the current beliefs of both parties. In the meantime, I’m starting Young Earth Petroleum,** an oil exploration company that uses God’s word as revealed in the Bible to search for oil deposits. No WONDER the oil is “running out”, all these bungling geologists that think the world is billions of years old are running the show and looking in the wrong place! This way, believing Christians won’t have to put their retirement money in mutual funds that invest in secular mineral exploration companies, they can give it to me. Yes, I’m an atheist, but it doesn’t matter whether *I* believe the Bible, as long as I do what I said I would do. Either the Bible is true or it’s not, right?

    **Yes, I really am.

    • Nathan Campbell August 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm

      Michael,

      Firstly, in response to your criticism of my scheme:

      “The Pet Rap­ture ser­vice involves an athe­ist who doesn’t believe in the Rap­ture, and Chris­tians who do. But there’s a ser­vice that the Pet Rap­ture peo­ple find more valu­able then the $110 that the ven­dor is ask­ing, and the ven­dor finds the $110 more valu­able than the zero-probability of hav­ing to spend the effort doing this. The mis­match in the beliefs makes for dif­fer­ent val­u­a­tions and there­fore a good oppor­tu­nity for trade. But your deal for athe­ists doesn’t work because (even if we athe­ists are wrong) we don’t *now* believe in an eter­nal judg­ment (and I guess like car insur­ance once we’re about to be cast into the pit it’ll be too late — or at least you can jack the price way up then.”

      That is why I’ve kept the price at $5. How sure are you that you don’t believe in eternal judgment? If you’re even 5% unsure then $5 is probably a good deal. $110 is a significantly bigger ask. I, personally, would think it almost worthwhile to pay somebody $10 to have them learn by heart my five best good deeds. Even if there’s no eternal pay off.

      Onto your idea… which I think has some flaws. I’ve noticed amongst the Young Earth movement a certain reluctance to put their money where their science is. For example, counter intuitively, there’s a correlation between a young earth position and climate change denial. I actually think human induced climate change makes more sense if the planet is younger… I think there’s a general distrust of “mainstream science” in the Christian community. The only science we like is the science we (Christians) pay for. I think you’re going to need, like any good business (think the tobacco lobby) some good “science” to justify your approach to mining. Fundamentalists (and young earth fundamentalists in particular – have plenty of worthy causes to invest in anyway. Like finding evidence that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Which I think is a better bet for your business. Get people investing into exploring for dinosaur fossils, which can solve our “fossil fuel” dilemma, and prove that Jesus rode around Jerusalem on a triceratops. If there are Christians (and this is not a joke) who will donate money to trying to install a massive golden cross on the moon (I’ve posted about this somewhere in the past. It’s real) then there are Christians who will pay for mining exploration that is attempting to unearth dinosaur bones, perhaps of a dinosaur who choked while chowing down on a human.

  6. Also, for the record I think the $5 service you’re offering is absolutely ethical. I believe that these are your beliefs, and you would really perform the service as you’re claiming you would; you’re responsibly not even making any claims of efficacy. It’s ethical, case closed.

  7. Nathan,

    I’d like to point out another option for a belief-driven opportunity. The popular notions of a belief-driven “entrance exam” to heaven comes from the bible which, by the way, is a book written by people who believe in a belief-driven entrance exam. As such, atheists believe that the bible is therefore merely wishful thinking and there is consequently no real evidence that there is a belief-driven “entrance exam”.

    But lets suppose for a moment that there is an afterlife and there is a belief-driven “entrance exam”. One possibility under this hypothetical is that the bible is true (really is the word of God) and one must believe a certain body of stuff and accept certain premises to get in. But there are other possibilities as well. One is what if God actually prefers to spend eternal company with rational non-believers? What if God finds the behavior and belief systems of believers to be irksome and tiring? What if in an ironical and humorous act, God damns all believers to Hell and only accepts atheists into heaven? That would be funny.

    I happen to think that the probability is about equal for both of these stated afterlife scenarios (only atheists going to heaven versus only “correct” believers going to heaven) . Therefore, I’d like to offer a trade. If you put in a good word for me if you are right, I’ll put in a good word for you if the “atheists only” proposition proves true.

    I still think that if there is an afterlife, that it is singular (no dualism of heaven and hell). But in all honesty, since there is no evidence of an afterlife at all, its all just speculation and wishful thinking.