Smelly's Wager (regarding the role of faith in rationalism)

SmellyBacon's picture
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Smelly's Wager (regarding the role of faith in rationalism)

I believe, with no way of proving it, that there's a universe outside myself, which was here long before I arrived and will probably go on for a very long time after I stop being aware of any of it. It is a faith in something that cannot be disproved. I'm dead certain my faith is stronger than that of any theist.

Having taken that leap, I find no further use for faith. If I believe there's really a world, that I'm not dreaming it all, then I want to be very careful what I believe about that world.

I hear, over and over, with or without invoking gods & devils, that we choose how we see the world, and it's what we have in our hearts that's the important thing. I can go along with that only so far. I believe we can chose optimism vs pessimism, that we can decide to make the most of today or to stay in bed and feel defeated.

As far as believing things about the universe, once I choose to believe it's real, and that it follows its laws whether or not we understand them, I have to have evidence. Anybody with enough sense to see past the end of their own nose will feel the same way.

So Smelly's Wager is a perversion of Pascal's, and probably not that original, but I like the sound of it. If there isn't a universe outside me, and I'm only dreaming, I have nothing to lose by pretending to interact with it, to explore and poke and doubt.

"Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that the universe is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that the universe exists."

I submit that believing in god is rejecting the outside world. I submit that this is suicidally insane.

"The more you know, the less often you get killed." - Larry Niven (an actual quote this time)

I confess to a certain sentimentality about the mythology of my childhood. Prayze Jebus!

Rigor_OMortis's picture
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Prisoner's Double

Prisoner's Double Dilemma.

Universe exists - 1, God Exists - 2, Man is faithful - 3, T=true, F=false

- 1T, 2T, 3T - man gains 3 - eternal bliss provided by God

- 1T, 2T, 3F - man gains 1 - eternal damnation provided by God, but man still lives this life

- 1T, 2F, 3T - man gains 1 - man can still live

- 1T, 2F, 3F - man gains 3 - man lives a healthy life, void of superstition

- 1F, 2T, 3T - man gains 2 - man lives an illusion, but gains eternal bliss

- 1F, 2T, 3F - man gains 0 - man lives a God-powered illusion and gets eternal damnation

- 1F, 2F, 3T - man gains 0 - man lives a total and complete illusion

- 1F, 2F, 3F - man gains 2 - man lives an illusion, but in a healthy superstition-free way

So the best sollutions would be when the Universe exists, and: if God exists, man is faithful, if God doesn't exist, man isn't faithful, and the worst cases are the opposite terms except faith.


...thus reducing it to an extended Pascal's Wager.

Inquisition - "The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on..."