Why Man Should NOT Believe in God: A Game Theoretic Approach

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Why Man Should NOT Believe in God: A Game Theoretic Approach

Hello, long time lurker, first time poster.  I'm doing my doctorate in economics.  Yes, I know what the hell I'm talking about.

If you don't know what game theory is: THE MOAR YOU KNOW.

 

Consider the following payoff matrix:

                        MAN

_____________/ Believe / Do not believe /

GOD    Reveal   |  3,4     |     1,1            |
                       -------------------------------

          Hide      |  4,2     |     2,3            |

                       ------------------------------

How to read payoff: (God, Man)


In order to make meaningful interpretations in this scenario, we posit that all players "know how to play the game".  What we mean by this is that all playesr are fully aware of what's available to other players (and in this game, it's true, I'll explain).  Furthermore, all players are acting in their best, rational self-interest, e.g. they do whatever it takes to maximize their payoff.  In addition, all players are RATIONAL.  A rational player would not choose a payoff of 1 over 4.  Doing so doesn't make any sense.

Now, in this game, God has two strategies to play: to reveal or to hide Her existence (lol pronouns).  Man has two strategies to play: to believe or to not believe.  If Man believes in God, surely he wants to see the evidence of Her existence.  If Man doesn't doesn't believe in God, surely he doesn't want to see evidence of God.

There is no dominant stratey for man.  A dominant strategy is a strategy that is better than the others, regardless of how the player's oponent plays.  If God chooses to reveal himself, then a rational Man wants to believe in God (a payoff of 4, greater than 1).  If God chooses to hide Her existence, then the rational Man doesn't want to believe (payoff of 3, greater than 2).

In contrast, God does have a dominant strategy.  Regardless of Man's belief or disbelief, She prefers to hide Her existence.  Doing so yields a payoff of 4 instead of 3 for when Man believes in God and a payoff of 2 instead of 1 when Man doesn't believe.  A rational God will then hide Her existence.

If Man believes that God is rational, then Man knows God will not reveal Herself, since that is the dominant strategy for God.  A rational Man will then chooses to not believe in God.  We conclude that Man should not believe in God.

---------

Some problems with this argument:
1) How do you know God is rational?
2) How can Man play a game with God?
3) Are concepts of game theory applicable to a supernatural (outside what science can test, game theory is a science) being?


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LOL Nerd

LOL Nerd


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So what would I win if I

So what would I win if I ditch my belief?

 

 

 


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I have to say, one hell of a

I have to say, one hell of a good first post. Smiling 


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Very entertaining. I think

Very entertaining. I think that this could actually be re-worked to express Pascal's Wager in an unflattering light.

But to answer your questions:

1) When you say "rational", you mean "economics rational", right? Where an individual acts in their presumed best interests? Well with God, if you imagine an omniscient being that always knows and acts upon her best interests, then you have the Holy Grail of economic theory, the being that acts perfectly rationally. If the world were made of Gods, then economic theory might reflect reality more often!

2) Man can play a game with himself, so presumably, a game with an invisible friend isn't much of a stretch.

3) I think game theory gives us some fun results regardless of how hypothetical the situation is. You could pit a unicorn against the Loch Ness monster, and you'd still end up with a viable illustration.

As for the probably obvious disdain I've shown in (1), it's not entirely uninformed. I trade currencies, and often have heated arguments about market action with economists.

Welcome to the boards! Like Jill said, great first post.

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Cpt_pineapple wrote:So what

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

So what would I win if I ditch my belief?

3.

That's not a joke - you'd have a payoff of 3.

I love economics for comedy. My favourite is the concept of "utility", which can be given numerical values. That one never gets old.

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

So what would I win if I ditch my belief?

3.

That's not a joke - you'd have a payoff of 3.

I love economics for comedy. My favourite is the concept of "utility", which can be given numerical values. That one never gets old.

 

3 what? I want to cash in.

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:3 what?

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

3 what? I want to cash in.

Uuuhh, points?

                                      MAN

_____________/ Believe / Do not believe /

GOD    Reveal   |  3,4     |     1,1            |
                       -------------------------------

          Hide      |  4,2     |     2,3            |

                       ------------------------------

Wait, so how do we know that God will get more points for hiding?

Isn't God's goal simply to get people to believe in Him (Her?), so every believer should nab him an equal number of points while non-theists shouldn't get Him any points at all. Since revealing Himself will result in more believers, shouldn't his dominant stategy be, then, to reveal Himself?  

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:3 what?

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

3 what? I want to cash in. 

3 nothing - just 3. Like when units cancel out, and you're just left with a number. 3's a bigger payoff than 2.

Basically, you're selling your soul for 1. Hehe.

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Wait, so how do we know that

Wait, so how do we know that God will get more points for hiding?

Because this is what faith is: believing in the unseen without evidence.  More satisfaction is derived out of having your followers believe you without sending down any evidence.

Isn't God's goal simply to get people to believe in Him (Her?)

On the contrary, this is not God's goal.  This is the goal of Her followers.

If history has shown us anything, it's that God (if She exists) has adopted a pretty non-involvement strategy with Her creation.

Welcome to the boards! Like Jill said, great first post.
I have to say, one hell of a good first post

Thanks! =]

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 Now that's an obscure

 Now that's an obscure Tolkien reference if I've ever heard one.  Welcome to the boards.


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

3 what? I want to cash in. 

3 nothing - just 3. Like when units cancel out, and you're just left with a number. 3's a bigger payoff than 2.

Basically, you're selling your soul for 1. Hehe.

 

 

That's it? This game blows

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

3 nothing - just 3. Like when units cancel out, and you're just left with a number. 3's a bigger payoff than 2.

Basically, you're selling your soul for 1. Hehe.

 

That's it? This game blows

You don't want to miss out on 3, do you? Otherwise you're stuck with 2!

I so have 1 more than you do. It's awesome.

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Quote:More satisfaction is

Quote:
More satisfaction is derived out of having your followers believe you without sending down any evidence.

Eh, I guess.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:So what

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

So what would I win if I ditch my belief?

That depends what decision do you make that take input from your belief?  I would say would win out on not having to calculate those inputs into decision making.

Sounds made up...
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Magus wrote:Cpt_pineapple

Magus wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

So what would I win if I ditch my belief?

That depends what decision do you make that take input from your belief?  I would say would win out on not having to calculate those inputs into decision making.

 

 

Well I input it to make the decision to show love and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Well I

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Well I input it to make the decision to show love and compassion.

Wait... what? I make that decision for myself, no matter how likely God may or may not be. Gods existence has no part in love or compassion.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.

The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Magus

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Magus wrote:

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

So what would I win if I ditch my belief?

That depends what decision do you make that take input from your belief?  I would say would win out on not having to calculate those inputs into decision making.

Well I input it to make the decision to show love and compassion.

 

I don't see how that changes what you "win".  Still less calculations.  Maybe it would give you a chance to find out different reasons to show love and compassion.

Sounds made up...
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I'm going to trade my 3 for

I'm going to trade my 3 for a Shelby Cobra GT500.


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Magus wrote:I don't see how

Magus wrote:

I don't see how that changes what you "win".  Still less calculations.  Maybe it would give you a chance to find out different reasons to show love and compassion.

 

 

What exactly does it mean to "win" in this case?

 

 

 

 


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Game theory isn't about

Game theory isn't about winning.  It's about maximizing your payoff (or minimizing your losses) given the strategies of other players.  Whether or not you win is irrelevant.

BILLions and BILLions of stars! - Carl Sagan


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Crissaegrim wrote:Game

Crissaegrim wrote:

Game theory isn't about winning.  It's about maximizing your payoff (or minimizing your losses) given the strategies of other players.  Whether or not you win is irrelevant.

 

I've always been a risk taker.

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:I've

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

I've always been a risk taker.

Well you definitely picked the side for you then. Odds are not in your favor. Might as well bet on "Lasty" for the Kentucky Derby.

After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.

The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Crissaegrim wrote:

Game theory isn't about winning.  It's about maximizing your payoff (or minimizing your losses) given the strategies of other players.  Whether or not you win is irrelevant.

I've always been a risk taker.

I don't know how you sucker this many people into your web of ernest responses, Captain. You just reel them in.

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HisWillness wrote:I don't

HisWillness wrote:

I don't know how you sucker this many people into your web of ernest responses, Captain. You just reel them in.

 

I have to compensate for my lack of 3

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:I have

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
I have to compensate for my lack of 3

Flagrantly awesome.

I award you 5.


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lol wow... No theist has any

lol wow... No theist has any serious responses to this?  I think I may have definitively rectify the non-belief of God.  w00t!

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Crissaegrim wrote:Hello,

Crissaegrim wrote:

Hello, long time lurker, first time poster.  I'm doing my doctorate in economics.  Yes, I know what the hell I'm talking about.

If you don't know what game theory is: THE MOAR YOU KNOW.

 

Consider the following payoff matrix:

                        MAN

_____________/ Believe / Do not believe /

GOD    Reveal   |  3,4     |     1,1            |
                       -------------------------------

          Hide      |  4,2     |     2,3            |

                       ------------------------------

How to read payoff: (God, Man)

A number of religious tracts suggest that faith itself begets immediate payoffs (more commonly referred to as blessings) which are not dependent on a revelation of god.  I'm presuming that the four units of payoff for man in the believe column are something along the lines of - life, vindication, satisfaction and ultimate reward (as in heaven) if god chooses to hide then the believer doesn't get vindication and satisfaction but does get a full life and the reward at the end hence the 2 in the bottom left cell. If this is wrong then what I'm about to say won't follow, but assuming I'm right then "blessing" within a lifetime contributes at least one more unit of payoff to the believe column thus:

                  MAN

_____________/ Believe / Do not believe /

GOD    Reveal   |  3,5    |     1,1            |
                       -------------------------------

          Hide      |  4,3    |     2,3            |

                       ------------------------------

Given only one "blessing" to be had consequent to believing, man still doesn't have a dominant strategy, however, the suggestion of theology is that the number of times faith is good for an immediate payoff is unlimited, in that case, believing is the dominant strategy hands down.

 

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Quote:life, vindication,

Quote:
life, vindication, satisfaction and ultimate reward
The payoffs do not have units.  They do not necessarily stand for these qualities of life.

 

You can be non-religious and still have a very satisfying life by the way....

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Hey now, I think Eloise has

Hey now, I think Eloise has you on the arbitrary allocation of payoff scores. That knife cuts both ways.

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Quote:arbitrary allocation

Quote:
arbitrary allocation of payoff scores
Allocations are not arbitrary.  They are where they are from critical reasoning.  If you disagree, saying "How can you read the mind of God?"  "Maybe he'll have some of his payoffs in other places."

 

Well, in that case... the game really breaks down and game theory has no merit.  =)

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Crissaegrim

EDIT: ignore this post Crissaegrim, my bad.

 

Crissaegrim wrote:

Quote:
arbitrary allocation of payoff scores
Allocations are not arbitrary.  They are where they are from critical reasoning.

Can you give us an account of the reasoning please, Crissaegrim. I'm interested to know how you have allocated the payoffs, exactly.

 

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Crissaegrim

Crissaegrim wrote:

Quote:
life, vindication, satisfaction and ultimate reward
The payoffs do not have units. 

Ahh I see, no units. Thanks for clarifying.  So it's a scale of satisfaction? ranging from 1 to 4 at the end game, yes? In the case that we are only talking about end game payoffs I'm not sure I can concur with your value judgement, with, specifically, God revealing herself being less satisfying that hiding herself. Is knowing you've been trusted unconditionally more satisfying, objectively, than proving yourself to those who haven't trusted you?

 

Crissaegrim wrote:


You can be non-religious and still have a very satisfying life by the way....

Absolutely. If you stick around you'll discover i'm an irreligious sort too. Smiling

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Quote:I'm not sure I can

Quote:
I'm not sure I can concur with your value judgement, with, specifically, God revealing herself being less satisfying that hiding herself

Quote:
Can you give us an account of the reasoning please, Crissaegrim. I'm interested to know how you have allocated the payoffs, exactly.

Quote:
critical reasoning

Are you familiar with the story of Doubting Thomas (John 20:19-31)?  Thomas was a skeptic and doubted in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Upon seeing the Lord and offered to touch Her wounds, Thomas became a believer.  Jesus scolded him, saying he should've believed in the Lord.  Faith would've been enough.

According to the Bible, God is much more satisfied in man's belief without evidence.  So, She much prefers to not reveal Herself, even to believers. "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

As for non-believers.  Consider this... God prefers to reveal Herself to non-believers?  "HAHA stupid infidels~~  I really do exist, now go burn in hell.  I spite you non-believers by revealing myself!!!111!1"  God's character (new testament) doesn't allow for this.  It would be a petty thing to do.

As for man's payoffs:  These are explained in the original post.  Man prefers to belief in a God that would show herself; inversely, Man prefers to not believe at no-show.

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Crissaegrim

Crissaegrim wrote:
Allocations are not arbitrary.  They are where they are from critical reasoning.

Sure, but critical reasoning can lead us down all kinds of paths. I mean "arbitrary" in the sense that they've been based largely on your discretion and original assumptions. It's fair to pick apart the assumptions, isn't it? I'm really just giving you a hard time, and so (I think) is Eloise. Obviously, your original post was for fun - I'm being very serious myself.

Crissaegrim wrote:
If you disagree, saying "How can you read the mind of God?"  "Maybe he'll have some of his payoffs in other places."

As I consider God about as believable as the Tooth Fairy, that would be absurd. But surely disagreeing with your allocations in this game isn't tantamount to believing in a deity. My contention is only with the assumptions in the game.

Crissaegrim wrote:
Well, in that case... the game really breaks down and game theory has no merit.  =)

Haha! Well! I'm glad we solved that one.

No, seriously - game theory is very entertaining. I love teasing economists about their econometrics, though, so you may have to weather further abuse. It's all in good fun.

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Crissaegrim wrote:Are you

Crissaegrim wrote:

Are you familiar with the story of Doubting Thomas (John 20:19-31)?  Thomas was a skeptic and doubted in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Upon seeing the Lord and offered to touch Her wounds, Thomas became a believer.  Jesus scolded him, saying he should've believed in the Lord.  Faith would've been enough.

Good answer, Crissaegrim. I'm satisfied with that reasoning, thanks.

 

Crissaegrim wrote:

According to the Bible, God is much more satisfied in man's belief without evidence.  So, She much prefers to not reveal Herself, even to believers.

"Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

Minor point, this quote of itself doesn't imply that god is more satisfied with blind faith, it seems to be saying more specifically that blind faith is better for the believer, anyhow, you've made your case nonetheless as far as I'm concerned. Assuming God will play to maximise her payoff belief is only good for 2 satisfaction points,  compared to the 3 all of you infidels get. Eye-wink 

 

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