Jewish Journal


November 12, 2008

Betting on God



In “Religulous,” Bill Maher asks a worshipper at the Trucker’s Chapel in North Carolina how he can be certain there is a God. I don’t remember the guy’s exact words, but the gist of his response was: I can’t be sure, but following Jesus is the only way I can be sure I won’t burn in hell.

“It’s like the lotto,” Maher remarks as they drive to their next location. “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

That is, in my opinion, a far too cynical slant on the trucker’s faith. You can’t just be Christian because it makes you a nice guy and, if you’re lucky, it’s your ticket to heaven. As Paul tells the church at Corinth:

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

But what if we were betting on God? What kind of odds would you get?

Odds on the existence of God have shortened from 33-1 to a mere 4-1 since news emerged of atheist Richard Dawkins’ forthcoming bendy bus advertising campaign with the slogan: “There probably is no God.”

Irish bookmakers Paddy Power have already taken £5,000 on scientific proof emerging for the existence of God after the book opened at 20-1 earlier this year to coincide with the switching on of the world’s biggest hadron collider in Geneva. When scientists were forced to delay the £14 billion project for six months, odds on the existence of God lengthened to 33-1.

But the bendy bus campaign, to be launched on buses in the Westminster district of London in January, has led to a spate of betting that proof will emerge for God’s existence after all, forcing Paddy Power to shorten the odds to a mere 4-1.

A Paddy Power spokesman said: “The atheists’ planned advertising campaign seems to have renewed the debate in pubs and around office water-coolers as to whether there is a God and we’ve seen some of that being transferred into bets. However we advise anyone still not sure of God’s existence to maybe hedge their bets for now, just in case.”

It seems like sunk money to me regardless of whether you bet on or against God. How in the heavens would you ever collect?

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