If You Die Tonight, Do You Know Where You'll Go?


"If you die tonight, do you know where you'll go?" This is a favorite opening of evangelical fundamentalist Christians attempting to convert someone to their particular brand of Christianity. There they stand, smug look and all, thinking they are going to reach you when nobody else could. Oh, and please do not waste my time with any drivel about how only some "holy ghost" can convert people. If you really believed that, you wouldn't have bothered to initiate the conversation in the first place!

If I die tonight, I'm not going anywhere. This question presupposes that there is some part of us that endures death. As a materialist (i.e., nothing but matter and energy), I don't buy this because I have no evidence to support the existence of anything outside of nature. In fact, the very concept of "supernatural" makes no sense to me.

Of course, this question is a poorly concealed attempt to get me to think about whether I'm "right with Jesus." This is equally nonsensical. Even though there is little evidence to suggest that the particular Jesus character to which you refer ever lived, I can acknowledge that it is at least possible that someone like this lived a couple thousand years ago. The thing is, I have no reason to "get right" with any dead people. Even if I had the pleasure to know them while they were living, they are no longer around.

Who teaches these childish tactics to evangelicals? Who thinks they work? Maybe they aren't even supposed to work in the sense of converting others. Maybe they are more of a strategy to maintain the belief of those using them. Then again, maybe they do work. It is no secret that there are plenty of stupid people out there. Maybe this sort of thing does bring at least a few of them to Jesus.

Regardless of whether they work or not, there is something about this sort of evangelism that has always struck a nerve. I mean, who the hell are these people who claim to have enough of the answers that they stopped asking meaningful questions long ago? Can they really think I'd want to be like them, holier than thou and cloaked in smug self-righteousness? No thanks! Asking the questions is too much fun, and my mind will not be caged by mere fictions.

An early version of this post was written in 2008. It was revised in 2019.