One of these days if I find myself feeling sufficiently bored, I'll have to indulge the Christian a bit and allow this absurd argument to play out a bit longer than I usually do.
I imagine it going something like this:
Christian: You talk about wanting to be rational, but it seems far more rational to do everything one can to avoid hell.Okay, that's enough of that. The point is simple: why on earth would I possibly want to worship something that has so little compassion for me that it would torment me forever just for questioning its existence? I wouldn't.
Me: So maybe I should believe in your god in order to avoid hell?
Christian: Yes, but also because you want to go to heaven.
Me: If I'm understanding you correctly, you are saying that I should believe in - not just believe in but also worship - a god who would torture me forever simply for doubting that he/she/it exists.
Christian: No. You should believe in god because he loves you and sent his only son to die for your sins...
Me: And if I do not believe in your god, this god will torture me for all eternity in hell. If such a god existed, surely it would be my enemy.
Christian morality appears to be based on fear and guilt. This is hardly a satisfactory basis for an ethical system, at least not one I'm inclined to advocate.