Better Ways Not to Believe in God

“So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are God’s child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:7

Let me give you three ways to lean towards God if you can’t or don’t believe.  The first comes from John Steinbeck’s book East of Eden.  The book turns on the meaning of the Hebrew word “timshel.”

Adam Trask’s Chinese servant, Lee, helps characters Samuel and Adam understand the Hebrew word timshel—’Thou mayest’— gives a choice. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ That makes us both free and great and that gives us stature with the children of the Gods.

Thou mayest trust God’s promise of freedom.  Thou dost not have to.  You can also choose to be a slave.

A second approach comes from Pascal’s famous wager, reinterpreted recently in an article by Professor Gary Gutting titled “Pascal’s Wager 2.0.”  This approach frees us for a different way not to believe. Pascal’s wager, made by the 17th -century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, holds that believing in God is a good bet at any odds, since the possible payoff — eternal happiness — far outweighs any costs of believing,  even of believing in a God who does not exist.  Gutting encourages us to disbelieve, leaning towards belief, rather than disbelieving towards unbelief.  It is just a lean.  But it is a better way to believe and to lean.

A third approach is to admit what Yogi knew: 90% of this game is half mental.

Anyway, I am not trying to convince you of God.  I am interested in how you live with less slavery and more freedom.


For the possibility to trust that we are not slaves, we pray.  Amen.

ddauthordonnaschaper.jpgAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.