Dealing with Pascal's Wager
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06-02-2018, 08:37 PM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2018 08:49 PM by Free.)
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
(06-02-2018 06:51 PM)kingschosen Wrote:  This is currently the argument that certain religious family members like to use against my atheism. I've explained the flaws in it, but they keep using it.

How do y'all combat it? Because I've gotten to point of just saying, "Google the flaws in Pascal's Wager if you want to understand."

The entire argument is dead on the very first premise.

The Wager uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):

Quote:1. God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.

False

"God is" has not been proven.

"God is not" is demonstrated by the Evidence of Absence and Proof of Impossibility.

"Reason" has just decided between the two alternatives.

Welcome to 21st century logic, Mr. Pascal.

Thank you, and have a great day!

Drinking Beverage

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06-02-2018, 09:03 PM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
(06-02-2018 06:54 PM)Anjele Wrote:  They would rather have you pretend to believe?

Like their god can't tell?

Other than that, how are things going?

I'm all right. Life is still tough.

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06-02-2018, 09:17 PM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
(06-02-2018 09:03 PM)kingschosen Wrote:  
(06-02-2018 06:54 PM)Anjele Wrote:  They would rather have you pretend to believe?

Like their god can't tell?

Other than that, how are things going?

I'm all right. Life is still tough.

I am familiar with that. Confused

(05-06-2017 04:14 PM)Gawdzilla Wrote:  Are you as ugly as you post? ...
And you can come get my guns if you'd like to try. I'll take you to the range and give you three rounds headstart.
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06-02-2018, 09:25 PM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
(06-02-2018 06:51 PM)kingschosen Wrote:  This is currently the argument that certain religious family members like to use against my atheism. I've explained the flaws in it, but they keep using it.

How do y'all combat it? Because I've gotten to point of just saying, "Google the flaws in Pascal's Wager if you want to understand."

You could tell them that you don't believe in god(s) due to lack of evidence and that Pascal's wager provides no evidence, it's just a passive-aggressive threat. Assume god is real and be afraid, then pretend obedience. For the wager to even be viable presumes a naive god that is easily fooled and lacks basic knowledge about human nature. The argument undercuts their concept of an omniscient god, so in that respect it defeats itself with it's own assumptions.

Or you could be flippant, tell them to go clean out the emergency rooms in the nearest hospital with god magic and then get back to you. Drinking Beverage

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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06-02-2018, 09:39 PM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2018 09:43 PM by outtathereligioncloset.)
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
Let's see if I can articulate this...

If I AM wrong and the christian god does indeed exist, then such a petty, cruel and vengeful god is not one with whom I would wish to spend an eternity after death. In fact, such a god would owe me quite a few apologies. And heaven? I have no desire to go to a place where the price of admission involves saying the magic words to an invisible sky daddy:
"I repent of my sins and accept jesus christ as my savior" and in doing so I can then be allowed to spend an eternity after death in a place that surely must, by now, be overrun with hypocrites as well as serial murderers, rapists, pedophiles, etc. who have "repented" on or near their death beds, including the very same pedophile who "chose" me. At age nine.
No thank you.
I'll take my chances with hell.
More of my true friends would apparently be there and they would certainly be better company.

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07-02-2018, 12:06 AM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
I wrote about this recently, addressing some often overlooked extra flaws in this "argument". I'll copy it below.

RE: Various philosophical musings
Pascal's wager revisited.

I realized an extra layer of stupidity regarding this argument. It normally begins:

"You may as well believe in God, because if you're right you get to go to heaven; and if you're wrong you lose nothing."

But this assumes an awful lot of things. Let's put them in, and see what it looks like then.

"You may as well pretend to believe in God, because if there is a being handing out afterlives who rewards people for pretending to believe it exists even though it provided no evidence of its existence then you get to go to heaven; and if you're wrong you lose nothing."

(This is leaving aside the extra stipulations it wants such as worshipping it in a particular way and picking the correct religion, and the correct sect of that religion, and so on.)

How utterly stupid does that supposed win/win statement look now? We can even ignore for the time being the fact that you do in fact lose quite a bit by carrying on a fake belief system and engaging in whatever weird rituals and rules that might entail. It boils down to this:

"You may as well pretend to believe [statement X] despite there being no evidence for it, just in case you get rewarded somehow for pretending to believe in [statement X] despite there being no evidence. If you're wrong, you lose nothing."

So by this argument, you should pretend to believe in as many random statements as possible. This is obviously ridiculous. However, it's not as simple as that:

"Pretending to believe in [statement X] despite there being no evidence for it carries the risk of you somehow being punished/penalized for pretending to believe in [statement X] despite there being no evidence."

So for each of these fake beliefs you carry around, you're just gambling. Of course, this second idea of punishment is absurd, but it's no more so than the original premise. Simply put, you can't guess your way to success through an unknown landscape of weird rewards/punishments for fake beliefs. It's a total waste of time. If you're just going to assume there's no risks involved, you should also assume there's no rewards, since both situations are equally "supported" by arbitrary hypotheticals.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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07-02-2018, 12:23 AM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
To me PW isnt stupid because of the wrong premises, but i think its (intellectually) offensive to the god people claim to believe in.

Lets say that someone post PW here and convinces me that its safer to believe. Lets assume god does exist, and can read this forum. Now, do you think he woulnt notice that i dont actually believe in him, but am trying to place a safe bet, to basically cheat his whole "love me, in spite of no evidence or evidence pointint towards my nonexistence"?

How offensively stupid must a believer think his god to be when he suggests to you that you should basically fake belief, just in case god exists, in the hope to cheat on him?
The fact that some day in the future you may actually, sincerelery believe, doesnt change the fact/past that currently you didnt. Again, if god exists and is happy with your fake belief just because later you are buying your own bullshit....how stupid must god be?

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07-02-2018, 05:11 AM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
I would say to check out this article on Rational Wiki, it has some good points:

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

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07-02-2018, 08:34 AM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
Ditto on what most have said. I think the stakes are so high with someone that believes in forever lasting life and has to make such a choice - the risk is just too scary to even consider an alternative. Presenting other examples of mythical gods and bible passages may point out the flaws, but convincing the faithful to drop the act is not that easy. I would also keep pressing on the fear component of the bargain as the primary reasoning for taking it all on faith. Fear of the unknown is powerful.

Is it true you have deconverted? That must be tough in a highly religious family. My family were casual Catholics so the pressures were not at all that annoying. Good luck.

“Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up, must come down, down, down. Amen! If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.”
— Dan Barker —
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07-02-2018, 08:55 AM
RE: Dealing with Pascal's Wager
It's nice to see you back. I took about a year off, and you'd left in that time.

(06-02-2018 06:51 PM)kingschosen Wrote:  How do y'all combat it? Because I've gotten to point of just saying, "Google the flaws in Pascal's Wager if you want to understand."

I bring up two points:


1) This is effectively an argument from force. The skeptic raises doubts and the apologist responds "but what if you're wrong!?", without providing any evidence. Now, if there were evidence God existed, bring that to an argument, not nonfalsifiable threats.

Granted, this may or may not devolve into some other debate about the merits of "evidence", such as intelligent design, the cosmological argument, Biblical prophesies, or whatever. Still, the point remains: Pascal's Wager is an argument from force made in lieu of actual evidence.


2) That being said, there are other gods that could exist, and Pascal's Wager only deals with one. So, if we take Allah into account, you now have a situation where choosing YHWH risks a threat of pissing off Allah, and vice versa. Of course, they'd still rightly say that the math is still in favor of choosing something rather than nothing...

...but we still have the problem that we're positing a god with no evidence, followed up with a nonfalsifiable threat. There's not just one god to consider, or two, or a hundred; there is an infinite amount. I'll posit a god named Steve, who rewards skepticism with heaven and punishes faith (even in him!) with hell. Sure, this idea is absurd but, what if you're wrong!?


Now, there are a lot of viable complaints to levy against my claim of Steve, and all of them can be levied against YHWH. This is what happens when the linchpin of the argument is nonfalsifiability. You end up with indeterminate results.
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