All religions assume people live forever, albeit most believe only a person’s soul lives on after bodily death. They also claim to offer a way to everlasting happiness—eternal life in heaven. This is the big payoff in Pascal’s wager. The actions required to gain eternal grace is simple, making religion quite attractive. In economic terms, its good value. As Jim Baker candidly stated: “We have a better product than soap or automobiles. We have eternal life.” This is why the televangelists are so wealthy. They can promise everything, and have to deliver nothing. For those who are not so easily bribed, hell was invented. If you won’t believe to obtain eternal life, then to avoid eternal torment, you had better think twice.
The idea of a heaven in an afterlife is a great feeling to those who have little hope in this life, but today, there should be few of us who feel such disappear. Life is good and opportunities abound for more people than ever before. This is especially exciting when you realize that you yourself determine if you achieve your goals, whether they are for happiness, health, or wealth. Prayers will get you nowhere. Too often, it is the religious among us telling us we are not really happy. The first of the Buddha’s four noble truths is: “Life is characterized by suffering.” According to Pope John Paul: “This world, which appears to be a great workshop in which knowledge is developed by man, which appears as progress and civilization, as a modern system of communications, as a structure of democratic freedoms without any limitations, this world is not capable of making man happy.” The leader of the world’s largest religious organization said this and it is simply not true. Although it is a message expounded from pulpits of almost every denomination, it is not true. To people who are unwilling to act but ready to pray, it may seem all to genuine. People who won’t take charge of their own life, but would rather wait for God to bless them, will find they don’t achieve the happiness they want. Hearing that no one else on earth is happy may take some of the pain out, but it does not make it true. We are not all unhappy. People really can enjoy life’s adventures. We live with 5 billion others with 5 billion different personalities, wants, desires, and goals. Certainly there are those in need. Many are suffering. Many are abused, neglected, and mistreated. Many hope for more than they can achieve. But few suffer because the world cannot help. They suffer because they cannot help themselves or others will not. It is not the goal here to discuss such a complex issue as world happiness, but rather to point out that there are happy people living here. Life is good. Even the convicted murderer living in jail will desperately fight for his life. People like living. It may not always be a rose garden, but happiness can be found all over. Look into the eyes of people, and you will find happiness there. From the simple joy of the mother cradling her new born baby, to the teary-eyed gold medal athlete listening to her nation’s anthem, everyone has moments of joy that make life great. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not capable of happiness. We all have a fundamental right to pursue our happiness. Go for it now and don’t be surprised when you actually find some.
This is only a short summary of this chapter. To find out more, please read Why Adam and Eve Created God.