Pascals Wager (Locked)

Sturmur
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Pascals Wager (Locked)

Unfortunately, you "rational" people have been disproved about 345 years ago.

Ever hear of Pascal's wager?

Quote:

Therefore, we are faced with the following possibilities:

* You believe in God.
o If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
o If God does not exist, your loss (the investment in your mistaken belief) is finite and therefore negligible.
* You do not believe in God.
o If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite and your gain is zero.
o If God does not exist, your gain is finite and therefore negligible.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager

That's about the long and the short of it.

Way to go guys!


Sapient
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Ok fine, Pascals wager is

Ok fine, Pascals wager is right, let's both believe in Allah, just to be safe.  We could even martyr ourselves in a jihad, just to be safe.  What do we have to lose right?

 Pascals wager became a bad argument, 344 years and 364 days ago.

Didn't think to avoid embarrasing yourself maybe you should read refutations?  There were plenty of refutations in your wiki article.... didn't even read it, eh?

 

FROM WIKI:

Assumes God rewards belief

Pascal's Wager suffers from the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy, relying on the assumption that the only possibilities are:

  1. the Christian God exists and punishes or rewards as stated in Christian theology, or
  2. God does not exist.

The wager does not account for the possibility that there is a God (or gods) who, rather than behaving as stated in certain parts of the Bible, instead rewards skepticism and punishes blind faith, or rewards honest reasoning and punishes feigned faith.

Suppose there is a god who is watching us and choosing which souls of the deceased to bring to heaven, and this god really does want only the morally good to populate heaven. He will probably select from only those who made a significant and responsible effort to discover the truth. For all others are untrustworthy, being cognitively or morally inferior, or both. They will also be less likely ever to discover and commit to true beliefs about right and wrong. That is, if they have a significant and trustworthy concern for doing right and avoiding wrong, it follows necessarily that they must have a significant and trustworthy concern for knowing right and wrong. Since this knowledge requires knowledge about many fundamental facts of the universe (such as whether there is a god), it follows necessarily that such people must have a significant and trustworthy concern for always seeking out, testing, and confirming that their beliefs about such things are probably correct. Therefore, only such people can be sufficiently moral and trustworthy to deserve a place in heaven — unless god wishes to fill heaven with the morally lazy, irresponsible, or untrustworthy. [2](Richard Carrier)

One should note that Pascal himself held the same view in his "Pensées", considering those that did not seek God or morality to be irresponsible. He in fact thought that God was hidden, and could only reveal himself to those who actively sought truth: "vere tu es deus absconditus" (truly you are a hidden God).

On the surface, this claim of a false dichotomy could be easily dismissed by limiting the question to the Christian God, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, after all, either is God or He is not. All other religions and atheism could easily be in the "Does not believe in Jesus Christ" column, thus confirming the validity of the Wager.

One of the core assumptions in the wager is that there is no punishment for choosing the wrong God. It assumes that "Belief is either rewarded or is neutral" and "Non-belief is either punished or is neutral." Belief is never punished, non-belief is never rewarded.

The possibility exists that a god or gods exist that may have a different reward and punishment system than the Christian God. God(s) could actively punish the "wrong" belief more sternly than belief in no God at all. This means that there could be a cost for belief or a benefit for non-belief.

[edit] Assumes Christianity is the only religion which makes such a claim

The wager, out of context, assumes that Christianity is the only religion which claims that a person will be judged, condemned, and punished by God if that person does not believe. However, there are other religions which also claim that God will judge, condemn, and punish people who do not believe in him and their religion. They include Islam, and some, but not all, denominations of Hinduism.

Therefore, if you claim that we should believe in Christianity (or any other religion), solely for the possibility of being punished for not believing in it, then what are you going to say about other religions which make such a claim? As a believer of a religion which makes such a claim, what do you think about their similar claims?

Even without similar claims from other religions, we can still find indefinitely many other possibilities offering eternal bliss and threatening eternal torment. For example, some unknown non-Christian gods might exist, and punish Christian believers for their failure to believe in them. Or some powerful entity might decide to punish those who believe in a god while rewarding non-believers.

In this way, Pascal's Wager can be used to deduce that it is advisable to believe in any or all of a variety of gods. However, the beliefs and claims of many separate religions have mutual exclusivity to each other. This means that they cannot both be true, or at least not both be the "one true religion". Complicating matters further, the belief systems of monotheistic religions require exclusive belief in the god of that religion, so the Wager is invalid when applied to such religions. This is the basis of the argument from inconsistent revelations. However, this problem does not apply to Hinduism and other pantheistic religions. The vast majority of the world's religions have been polytheistic. In polytheistic religions there may or may not be a fixed pantheon of deities; many or most pagan religions are open to the addition of new deities to the pantheon (although these additions are sometimes cast as new aspects of deities that were already in the pantheon). The Jewish faith expects a Gentile only to obey the Noahide Laws in order to receive reward in afterlife. In addition, some religions, including Buddhism, do not require a focus on a deity. A "many-gods" version of Pascal's Wager is reported by the 10th century Persian chronicler Ibn Rustah to have been taken by a king in the Caucasus, who observed Muslim, Jewish, and Christian rites equally, declaring that "I have decided to hedge my bets."

[edit] Is not an argument for the existence of God

The wager is not an argument for the existence of God, but for the prudence of having a belief in the existence of God - quite a different thing. Indeed, if it is the case that there is in fact no God, the wager is an argument that it is better to believe an untruth.

[edit] Does not constitute a true belief

Another common argument against the wager is that if a person is uncertain whether a particular religion is true and the god of that religion is real, but that person still "believes" in them because of the expectation of a reward and the fear of punishment, then that belief is not a true valid belief or a true faith in that religion and its god.

William James, in The Will to Believe, summarized this argument:

Surely Pascal's own personal belief in masses and holy water had far other springs; and this celebrated page of his is but an argument for others, a last desperate snatch at a weapon against the hardness of the unbelieving heart. We feel that a faith in masses and holy water adopted willfully after such a mechanical calculation would lack the inner soul of faith's reality; and if we were ourselves in the place of the Deity, we should probably take particular pleasure in cutting off believers of this pattern from their infinite reward.

In modern times, this criticism is often leveled against evangelistic Christianity, especially those who try to incite fear by portraying such events as the Rapture in popular media. Such a belief is sometimes called "afterlife insurance," "Hell avoidance insurance," or "Heaven insurance."

[edit] Assumes one can choose belief

This criticism is similar to the last one. The wager says that if one is uncertain whether Christianity is true or not, then one should still believe in it just in case it is true. But, in order to believe that something is true, then that person must know and be certain that it is true (in contrast with the statement made by St. Augustine, "I believe, therefore I understand.&quotEye-wink. But if a person doesn't believe that it is true, then that person doesn't know and is uncertain that it is true. But, it is not as if someone doesn't know and is uncertain that something is true, then that person could decide to know and be and become certain that it is true. Basically, this argument says that even with the wager, such a reason to believe, true belief, knowledge, and certainty of something can only come to actually knowing, being certain, and seeing evidences that it is true. But if we can see evidences that it is true, then it is unnecessary to resort to the wager, a precautionary principle, as a reason to decide why we should believe in it.

However, some individuals such as Kierkegaard considered that a faith one has never doubted is of little value, and that doubt and faith are inseparable.

Another point related to this is that some Christians, such as Calvinists, believe that the human will is so affected by sin that God alone can bring about belief. However, they would still affirm that God can use rational arguments as one of his means to this end.

Pascal acknowledged that there would be some difficulty for an atheist intellectual persuaded by this argument, in putting it into effect. Belief may not come. But in such a case, he said, one could begin by acting as if it had come, hear a mass, and take holy water. Belief might then follow. Anyway, Pascal was a Roman Catholic, and some Protestants believe and claim that Catholics are not really Christians, so Pascal himself might be going to hell.

There is also the argument that one could "game" the wager in a scenario where the deathbed conversion is possible, as is the case in some streams of Christianity. The person who converts on their deathbed could have failed to have been dutiful in fulfilling their doctrinal obligations, and still gain the happiness associated with the Christian concept of "heaven." The danger here is well known to most Christians, as this is a common theme of sermons in a variety of denominations. The risk of taking this gamble only to die suddenly and unexpectedly or to experience the tribulation within one's own lifetime is often portrayed as a risk too great to take. Some others consider that one cannot fool God, and that such deathbed conversions could very well be dishonest. There are also a few Christians, such as Roman Catholics, who disagree with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone and that God also rewards good works.

 

 

The link I would've showed you to:

http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/wager.html 

 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


Sapient
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Oh, and this thread is now

Oh, and this thread is now locked because we've refuted Pascals Wager dozens of times on our show, and many more times on our board.  Find a new argument, this one is broke.

 

- Brian Sapient


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