Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
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12-09-2015, 10:58 PM
Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
While it seems that Pascal's Wager is generally discarded easily enough by sound logic, I do think it is still challenging to some folks raised in Christianity. I state this because while I didn't know about this Wager at the time, I do recall often contemplating was God even real through out a good part of my Christian life and some form of this Wager was one of the key things that kept me in check. What if your wrong seemed so much more ominous.

While things like other religions, friends leaving Church, Science at odds with Creationism did cause me significant doubt as a teenage Christian, the fear of hell (the big risk in the Wager) certainly felt like an insurmountable fence at the time. And once you bought into it, its quite easy to acquire a sincere belief (self delusion isn't that hard, under threat of hell) despite some folks thinking you can't choose to believe.

Perhaps this is so because ones whole view is warped when one is brought up Christian. You have to disprove God before you can safely leave, rather than the position of not believing by default and thus must be convinced of a specific God.

As a result while it is easy from the outside to dismiss Pascal's Wager, it is harder if you are raised Christian.

I have a lot of respect for folks able to break free of Christianity. In my case I can't claim logic initially broke me free. It took a realization that I couldn't really be a biblical Christian (bible is pretty damn harsh) to get enough distance to gain a better view point and this only really happened after almost 40 years of being a Christian. I marvel at those able to break free in the teens or earlier and wish I could have done so.

~Jay
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12-09-2015, 11:42 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
Well, god in the bible is pretty freaking dumb, like "I don't see you over there eating all that fruit, and shit;" and all "legions fall before me, unless they have iron chariots." Oh noes - not teh iron chariots!

Cause that's gotta be the only way Pascal's navel gazing has any teeth - the dumb god way - like "d'oh, you tricked your way into heaven with a clever ruse!" 'Cause what kinda god's gonna be all welcoming to the slick bettor who played the odds?

One ain't gotta disprove no god, one just has to realize that the trappings of god - religion - are just a form of societal control imposed by those who only want your complacency. They don't give a fuck about your "immortal soul," all they give a fuck about is the bottom line. And when the priests don't keep the peasants in line, by kingly decree guess who next ascends the gallows stairs?

Yeah, that. I've got more but it's prophet craziness, I save that for later, let the more rational types have a go. Wink

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13-09-2015, 12:45 AM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
One of the problems with Pascal's Wager that nearly everyone points out is that it is a false dichotomy, and the list of possible outcomes and possible strategies is far in excess of the two presented.

One of the strategies that almost never gets presented even by these critics is "take some time examining which is most likely so that it's less of a gamble in the first place, and decide once you actually have some evidence with which to make the call."

EDIT: But to your point, yeah. What if the wager is, "You can get into heaven, but you have to slaughter Canaanite children to do it."
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13-09-2015, 05:50 AM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
Yep, the whole atonement doctrine of Christianity is simply stupid, where Christianity really has a hold on people is the fear of hell, but considering that Pascal's wager is not an argument for anything, it's just a hell threat and that's what Christianity has to have to keep people within it.

So Christianity is like a pyramid with generic promises of happiness at the top, generic promises of prayers answered further down, then the fear of hell at the base, it's where everything rests upon.

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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13-09-2015, 11:25 AM (This post was last modified: 13-09-2015 12:45 PM by Free.)
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
Let us take a close look at what the wager actually says from Pascal's first publication of it. Listed below is the wage in long-form, with Pascal's words in bold type:

The wager is described in Pascal's Pensées this way:

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is....

Firstly, we observe that the above promotes agnosticism.

He begins with stating a possibility with the word "If," then makes a positive claim of "He is infinitely incomprehensible."

He has not provided reason or evidence to support this assertion, and therefore this assertion can be dismissed as being unevidenced to warrant any truth claim.

..."God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.

Here he wrongfully assumed that we cannot defend a claim that God exists or that God doesn't exist. We as atheists know that this is not true. Both claims of existence and non existence are positive claims and both require the burden of proof. The reason why a claim of "God does not exist" is a positive claim is because it asserts itself as a positive claim of truth.

For the theist, a positive claim of the existence of God requires the existence of God to be evidenced. This has never been demonstrated.

For the atheist, the positive claim of the non existence of God requires the non existence of God to be evidenced. This has indeed been demonstrated here and here.

Continuing on ...

Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."

Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

"That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite.


The wager is false because at the very beginning he asserts that if God exists, then "He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is...."

Right there is a contradiction in Pascal's Wager, He says right in his opening statement that "we are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is," but then he described this God as "infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us."

Question: If Pascal asserts that we, including himself, cannot know anything about this God, how then can Pascal describe this God?

In this respect, Pascal's Wager has been rendered as invalid by Pascal himself due to the contradiction and also for he cannot even ascribe any kind of identification of this supposed God if, as he himself states, "we are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is." This gives us another question:

Question: Can there be the possibility of belief in something if "we are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is."

Aside from assigning this god a gender (which he cannot do if this God is completely unknowable according to Pascal), with the use of "He," but also from whence then does the "belief" come from? How can one believe in something they know absolutely nothing about? And these are another couple of glaring contradictions.

Honestly, Pascal's wager is rendered invalid by Pascal himself for many reasons, but the main ones are what I stated because according to Pascal's own words, he is asking us to wager on the existence or non existence of a God that he himself says cannot be identified in any way whatsoever.

So people, a new question:

Question: What's the difference between a garage dragon and no dragon at all?

Big Grin

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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13-09-2015, 11:52 AM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
Then there's this pretty solid analysis and take-down.



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13-09-2015, 12:25 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
The irony as I see it is that the christian god is an atheist: he doesn't believe in a higher power himself. If the queat is to live up to god's standards, then being a theist is not godly. What if the different religions are all plants by this god to see which of his children will think for themselves and not blindly follow nonsense?

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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13-09-2015, 12:48 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
The video posted above does a great job of explaining the problem with the wager. The simplest argument IMHO is that under Pascal's thinking you need to believe in all god claims to truly cover your ass and that in and of itself pisses off at least one god.
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13-09-2015, 07:01 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
Let's add in a few more wagers, you know, just for the hell of it

Can your god send you to hell even if you pass all the qualifications to get into heaven ?
If it's part of his plan that you spend eternity in hell then I guess there isn't much you can do about it.

But then we have to bet on if he would or not. Given some of the things he's done to people in the bible, it's not a great bet that you'll find god very reasonable or rational. That mysterious scamp.

How about a wager on reincarnation. Some have the idea that people will live countless lives until they have spiritually earned the right to enter heaven.

How about a wager on if the devil can trick you into hell as a test from god to see if you are worthy ? Some would say that the devil is the supreme trickster and no human has been able to get into heaven yet.

Perhaps a wager on if your soul is strong enough to escape your body after death. You could be looking at a good number of years trapped in a coffin. And even if you were strong enough to get out, it's a safe bet, all the dinosaur ghosts would probably eat your soul before you could get very far.

I can literally keep going until your odds of getting into heaven are nearly zero.

You'd be much better off living as an atheist.
We don't give any if this crap a second thought.
We enjoy the one life we are sure to have.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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13-09-2015, 08:28 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
(13-09-2015 07:01 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  [Excerpt in which Rahn gives this crap a lot of thought.]

We don't give any if this crap a second thought.

Laugh out load

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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