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Pascal's Wager (yet again)

Discussion in 'Religious Issues' started by ArtificialGrape, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. Given that I'm at the airport and my flight is delayed, why not yet another Pascal's Wager thread.

    We still see people advancing the wager on a regular basis. Here are 2 examples from the past day or so.

    In brief the wager is:

    (1) God exists or does not exist.
    (2) you must choose a side.
    (3) if God exists and you bet against existence then everything is lost.
    (4) if God does not exist and you bet on existence, then nothing is lost.

    The problem with (1) is that it is a false dilemma -- it does not consider that there could be other non-Christian gods. What if the Greek or Norse or ... or Islamic god is real. Do you find the wager a compelling argument that you should give a shout out to the God of Islam while on your death bed? Or even Geko45's scenario with an unrevealed God of Critical Thinking who rewards those who reject all man made gods, and punishes those who believed in any god.

    The problem with (4) is that it's obviously not true that nothing is lost (pardon the double negative). The observant Christian would have lost thousands (more likely many thousands) of dollars supporting the myth, as well as their valuable time. Then add to that the countless and long forgotten opportunities lost. For example our own Kingarthurhk has turned down a promotion that would have come with the expectation (or perhaps requirement) of working on the Sabbath.

    Another often overlooked point is that if your rejection of the god hypothesis is based on critical thinking, it would not be easy to just decide to believe, and I think we can agree that one could not bluff their way past God. Even if strongly motivated do you think you could change what you truly believe out of fear? So if you were told that you have 30 seconds to truly believe that unicorns exist, or a horrible fate awaits your loved ones, could you make yourself believe?


    Almost forgot, I fully concede point (3) in the case of the Christian God.

    And a few more examples...

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  2. scccdoc


    Dec 28, 2011
    I am so honored that you quoted me.:wavey:

  3. eb07

    eb07 Sharkin'

    Feb 19, 2010
    Third Rock From the Sun
    'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

    "'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

    "'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
  4. Roering

    Roering Sorting nuts

    Feb 14, 2008
    Costa Mesa
    Whenever someone mentions Pascal's wager I often think of the Apostles who spent time with Jesus during his ministry being witnesses to what He could do. With the exception of a couple they were devout Jews who used their last dying breath proclaiming the Divinity of Christ. Something that would have been considered blasphemy at the time to a Jew. A sin that could condemn them in the afterlife.

    I don't think they believed it to be a gamble at all. To them, I think they knew what they were proclaiming.
  5. Animal Mother

    Animal Mother Not Enough Gun

    Mar 22, 2004
    Setting aside the fact that we don't have authentic testimony from any of the Apostles who accompanied Christ, one has to wonder why if Jeuss/God were willing to provide such proof of His/Their existence at that time, why they don't do so now.
  6. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

    Nov 1, 2002
    Exactly, if I had a time machine and only one chance to use it, I would go to the sermon on the mount and find out for certain if jesus was what he claimed to be. If I could witness those alleged events first hand then I wouldn't call it a gamble either.
  7. scccdoc


    Dec 28, 2011
    No, you'd call him the predecessor to David Copperfield!
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  8. Geko45

    Geko45 Smartass Pilot CLM

    Nov 1, 2002
    Actually, I'd ask him who I am and where I was from. If he knew I was a time traveler from the future (as god incarnate should) that would settle the matter for me.
  9. scccdoc


    Dec 28, 2011
    It makes me happy that it would, maybe you'll have an opportunity in the future to get verification.

    It's much better to discuss our beliefs in a civil way, thank you Geko
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  10. Glock36shooter


    May 30, 2010
    You wonder if a time traveling sniper got him how history would have been different. I wonder sometimes. Would it have been better? The Dark Ages would have been different... but not necessarily any less Dark. I guess the bible would still have gone on... just without the new testament. More than likely Judaism and Islam would have slugged it out.
  11. neon


    Nov 3, 2003
    John 6:64and65

    But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believe not, and who should betray him. And he said, therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

    The Acts 10:41and42
    Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

    Luke 12:8
    Also I say unto you,whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:


    Romans 12:9
    Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
  12. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

    Jan 16, 2005
    You could say the same about the devotion of the followers of Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, David Koresh and countless others. In fact, we can cite many more recent and better documented examples of even more fanatical followers of many people who none of us believe to be anything special - in numerous cases, follwoers who would give up their lives believing in the divinity of the people they follwoed; Koresh and Jones being quick examples.

    I have to stamp that argument:
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  13. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

    Jan 16, 2005
    Really? :upeyes: I'd go to 1955 and buy McDonald's stock.

    I could go back farther and get a painting from Van Gogh and hide it away, but 1955 seems a lot easier and they had toilet paper and America and maybe I could bring back a cool guitar.

    You'd just end up wasting your shot at time travel.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  14. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    I don't endorse that at all, and I am a Christian.
  15. Glad to hear it, and I'm certainly not claiming or suggesting that all Christians make Pascal's Wager, but we do see it regularly.

  16. rgregoryb

    rgregoryb Sapere aude

    Oct 20, 2004
    Republic of Alabama
    who's this Pascal guy and why is he always betting on things?
  17. Sorry, I missed your question in the title, so my previous reply probably missed the mark.

    As far as why I accept (3), I would probably say John 14:6 combined with that whole eternal/unquenchable/lake of fire thing. I recognize that others portray hell as complete destruction rather than eternal torment, but even in the destruction scenario the non-believer would miss out on the opportunity of eternal life.

  18. Syclone538


    Jan 8, 2006
    What good is it that you think this does. Quoting a religious text to atheists makes about as much sense as pascals wager. (that is none btw) If I quote some Greek mythology, will that make you believe in Zeus?
  19. dbcooper


    Mar 2, 2011
    Well I suppose if I had been in the mans presence and watched him raise the dead or produce an everlasting basket of fish I may see things differently. Unfortunately all I have is a book of suspect origion used throughout history to control the masses and not a single shred of evidence anywhere. Not so much as a letter written by a contemporary saying " I was traveling through the valley with the caravan and saw this guy Jesus giving a speech". Nothing, anywhere.
  20. Certainly more members than the 2 quoted in the opening post have advanced Pascal's Wager. Where are the defenders of the wager?