In heaven, everything is fine

(Temporarily) taking Pascal’s wager at face value, it would be silly to choose to believe a religion that didn’t offer some serious benefits. I.e. don’t pick a religion that doesn’t offer much in the way of tangible rewards.

So, as a public service to anyone wavering about what religion to choose, I think a cost-benefit analysis is in order. I assume that you want a religion that offers less of a penalty for not being too devoted an adherent more than you want one with a really great heaven, so the quality of hells was the main ranking factor.

Heaven and Hell for a few major religions

Heaven and Hell for a few major religions

I’ve put them in order of their desirability. Obviously, the ones with the least burning/freezing or torturing come up top. Equally obviously, non-belief can’t offer any after-death benefits but it definitely has no after-death costs.

Sorry, Pascal, (Loved the programming language by the way :-)), when it comes down to betting on what’s going to benefit the believer the most, I reckon atheism is still ahead.

10 thoughts on “In heaven, everything is fine

  1. I think you’ve undersold the rewards of Roman religion. What better evangelism for a religion could you have than Vespasian’s last words? “Dammit! I think I’m becoming a god.” Not only that, but your deification isn’t dependent on the whim of other gods. It’s decided by Senate. That’s a business opportunity for people like me, who’ve just remembered they’re reincarnations of 1st century senators. For a small sum of money I can guarantee that you’ll be deified and worshipped like the goddess you are.

    I haven’t settled on the exact details yet. I’m thinking of some sort of sliding scale. For example if you’re into literature, for £5 you’d be the goddess of Jeffery Archer and Dan Brown novels. £100 would make you goddess of Chick-Lit and £1000 Goddess of Cookery Books with a TV tie-in. Worshipping could be handled by a computer which would run a worship script on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.

    It’ll all be guaranteed and if you’re not 100% satisfied with your new afterlife as a goddess simply turn up in person and I will refund you twice your fee.

  2. Alanus
    I admire the name and the guaranteed money-spinner. I can’t decide which goddess to be. I doubt I could afford to be all of them, although that’s my obvious first choice. I may just about run to goddess of daytime detective series repeats.
    Bah, yet another thing I think I’ve invented that turns out to exist in a better form elsewhere.

  3. A new approach to Pascal’s Wager! Excellent idea and worth remembering, given the number of people who seriously suggest it.

  4. Valhalla sounds like lots of fun actually. If they’d skipped the ice world thing, the Norse religion might have been appealing.

    Funny thing. To people living near the polar regions, a world of ice (a more extreme version of what’s familiar to them) sounds like hell. To people living relatively close to the equator, a world of fire (really intense heat) sounds like hell. The fact that the worlds of the afterlife look eerily like the known worlds of the earthly life indicates, to me, at least, that religions are fabricated; people who were unaware of other geographical possibilities could not envision worlds radically from the ones they knew.

  5. Eshu

    Thanks. If we get pressed to take Pascal’s Wager, we might as well shorten the odds.


    Yes, Valhalla seems like serious fun. That should have scored better but the Nordic hell seemed so bloody depressing so i downgraded it. But on reflection, any of these rankings could have gone a few places either way.


    I was slack by the time I got to Elysium, I admit it. I didn’t put much effort into finding out what benefits it offers. As you say, if it’s good enough for Gladiator, it should be good enough for anyone.

  6. There is a rich vein of new agers who are waiting to be tapped by this idea. You need to set up a stall at glastonbury…

  7. “standard hell things, standard heavenly things”
    HAHA I love it!

    I’m inspired to make something similar for american political beliefs…

    liberals – if you don’t believe in us, you’re going to get swallowed by rising sea levels & gas prices
    conservatives – if you don’t believe in us, we’ll… bring G.W. back?

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