I've recently been told that I am a nutbag. I grow weary of telling people that I prefer being called a whacko. When will they ever learn?
But I didn't bring up the subject of my whackoness in order to complain. I brought it up because rather early in my life I was confronted with a choice. I was raised in a culturally mixed environment. I went to a public school, with kids from all different backgrounds. My best friend was a Jewish atheist. We had many discussions about whether God existed.
When I thought about believing in God and in believing in an afterlife, one of the fears I had was that I would look foolish if it turned out that God did not really exist. Everybody would laugh at me. How embarrassing would that be? It caused quite a bit of anxiety until one day the thought occurred to me, "How would anyone ever know that I was wrong?" Afterall, the only way to know for sure that God did not exist and that there was no afterlife, was to wake up after one had died, look around and see that there was no God and that everybody else was dead. But of course, if one woke up after one had died, that meant that there was an afterlife. I experienced a sudden sense of great relief. If I chose to believe in God and an afterlife, and if I turned out to be wrong, there wouldn't be anyone around to laugh at me. Of course, people who hadn't died yet could laugh at me. But since I was dead, it probably wouldn't bother me very much. And if there was an afterlife, I would have the last laugh.
Or would I? There was still that nasty problem of Hell. But at least the fear of looking foolish had been overcome.