Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
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05-02-2016, 02:30 PM
Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
Nihilist Virus over at AF made a thread that had an interesting counter to Pascal's Wager. He gave me permission to repost it, here:

"Pascal's wager, for the one or two of you who don't know, says that because there is between a 0% and 100% chance of Christianity being true, and because the consequences of unbelief are infinite, one ought to believe in Christianity.  There are many rebuttals to this, but to me the most obvious one is that one cannot actually force oneself to believe in something that is irrational no matter what the stakes are.  Can you force yourself to believe in unicorns?

But if you already believe in Christianity, then you have to answer to the atheist version of your own wager.  You should sell all that you own and give to the poor, then wander the world doing good works and preaching the gospel.  There is clearly a 100% chance you'll get into heaven if you do this (provided your heart is right and all that jazz), but there is NOT a 100% chance that Jesus will accept you into heaven if you sit on your wealth while children starve to death.  Jesus did say that many will do good works, thinking they're Christian, but yet will still be cast into hell.  So if you live like a king in your Western world, occasionally going to church and giving a manageable tithe, there's no guarantee you will get into heaven.

You are saved by grace through faith, but faith without works is dead... so there is no guarantee that you are doing enough unless you do all that you can."




Here's my response to one of the Christian members who claimed the purpose of the thread was to make Christians look bad by pointing out that they're not perfect:


You're missing the point.

None of us particularly care about the "high ideals" of Christianity. Not only are they without basis, but they're unsustainable. If we all go around quitting our jobs to minister, living off of fruit on the edges of farms... there'd be no farmers.

The point is that Pascal's Wager is fundamentally flawed for several reasons. One of them, focused on this thread, is that the Christian expects their mathematical analysis of the possibility of infinite consequences for an action to convince the skeptic, yet they ignore the exact same line of reasoning when levied against them.

The point isn't to get all Christians to become proselytizing hobos; it's to get them to realize that anyone can come up with any "possible claim" and then say that the "logical" conclusion is to assume the claim is true. The infinite number of possible infinity-claims renders the outcome any such analysis to be completely indeterminant... which is exactly what you'd expect from a nonfalsifiable claim.
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05-02-2016, 06:08 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
(05-02-2016 02:30 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  "Pascal's wager, for the one or two of you who don't know, says that because there is between a 0% and 100% chance of Christianity being true, and because the consequences of unbelief are infinite, one ought to believe in Christianity.

God does not roll dice.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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05-02-2016, 06:16 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
(05-02-2016 06:08 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(05-02-2016 02:30 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  "Pascal's wager, for the one or two of you who don't know, says that because there is between a 0% and 100% chance of Christianity being true, and because the consequences of unbelief are infinite, one ought to believe in Christianity.

God does not roll dice.

It an argument from ignorance.
There is a "0" chance that Christianity is "true".
It fails in every conceivable way.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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05-02-2016, 07:04 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
Magic babies born with half their DNA? No.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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05-02-2016, 07:12 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
(05-02-2016 02:30 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  Nihilist Virus over at AF made a thread that had an interesting counter to Pascal's Wager. He gave me permission to repost it, here:

"Pascal's wager, for the one or two of you who don't know, says that because there is between a 0% and 100% chance of Christianity being true, and because the consequences of unbelief are infinite, one ought to believe in Christianity.  There are many rebuttals to this, but to me the most obvious one is that one cannot actually force oneself to believe in something that is irrational no matter what the stakes are.  Can you force yourself to believe in unicorns?

But if you already believe in Christianity, then you have to answer to the atheist version of your own wager.  You should sell all that you own and give to the poor, then wander the world doing good works and preaching the gospel.  There is clearly a 100% chance you'll get into heaven if you do this (provided your heart is right and all that jazz), but there is NOT a 100% chance that Jesus will accept you into heaven if you sit on your wealth while children starve to death.  Jesus did say that many will do good works, thinking they're Christian, but yet will still be cast into hell.  So if you live like a king in your Western world, occasionally going to church and giving a manageable tithe, there's no guarantee you will get into heaven.

You are saved by grace through faith, but faith without works is dead... so there is no guarantee that you are doing enough unless you do all that you can."




Here's my response to one of the Christian members who claimed the purpose of the thread was to make Christians look bad by pointing out that they're not perfect:


You're missing the point.

None of us particularly care about the "high ideals" of Christianity. Not only are they without basis, but they're unsustainable. If we all go around quitting our jobs to minister, living off of fruit on the edges of farms... there'd be no farmers.

The point is that Pascal's Wager is fundamentally flawed for several reasons. One of them, focused on this thread, is that the Christian expects their mathematical analysis of the possibility of infinite consequences for an action to convince the skeptic, yet they ignore the exact same line of reasoning when levied against them.

The point isn't to get all Christians to become proselytizing hobos; it's to get them to realize that anyone can come up with any "possible claim" and then say that the "logical" conclusion is to assume the claim is true. The infinite number of possible infinity-claims renders the outcome any such analysis to be completely indeterminant... which is exactly what you'd expect from a nonfalsifiable claim.

If all Christians DID become proselytizing hobos, the religion would die out very fast simply for lack of resources. Hurray! So maybe not a primary goal, but a secondary objective if the primary fails, sort of a Morton's Fork.

... of course if all Christians everywhere stopped working, the worldwide economy would collapse BIG TIME.

So, net loss. Probably not a good goal after all. Still, silver lining and all that.
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05-02-2016, 07:47 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
The wager would seem to me to say...
"I should believe EVERY religion that has ever existed in order to avoid all of those punishments, but if you do that, then you may end up in some sort of hell no matter what. The safest bet is not believe in any of them, but instead rationally live your life as best you can and not worry about things that we have no evidence for."

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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05-02-2016, 08:15 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
(05-02-2016 06:08 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(05-02-2016 02:30 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  "Pascal's wager, for the one or two of you who don't know, says that because there is between a 0% and 100% chance of Christianity being true, and because the consequences of unbelief are infinite, one ought to believe in Christianity.

God does not roll dice.

He plays cards.

[Image: ZF1ZJ4M.jpg]
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05-02-2016, 08:47 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
(05-02-2016 08:15 PM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(05-02-2016 06:08 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  God does not roll dice.

He plays cards.

Yup.

[Image: oh-god-you-devil.jpg]
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06-02-2016, 02:49 PM (This post was last modified: 06-02-2016 02:53 PM by Old Man Marsh.)
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
The only counter you'll ever need:

"... that's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard!"

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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06-02-2016, 07:53 PM
RE: Interesting counter to Pascal's Wager
In its original form, Pascal's wager was a bit more sophisticated.

Pascal narrowed it down to five possibilities:

Classical Paganism
Judaism (as practiced in the Christian era)
Islam
"Philosophy" (not atheism as such)
Christianity

He disposes of the first three by intricate arguments, but admits he cannot absolutely disprove "philosophy" (Epicureanism etc).

It still doesn't cover all the bases of course, but it's not so simple minded as the usual formulation these days.

Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is a very important science.
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