Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
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13-09-2015, 09:20 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
Talking about fiction and worrying if that fiction is true or not are two very different things.

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Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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14-09-2015, 05:56 AM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
(12-09-2015 10:58 PM)jayc Wrote:  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.

It seems more reasonable to Christians, because they tend to parse theology in terms of "things that are Christian" and "things that aren't". They don't particularly care if any given thing in that second group is
  • A heretical sect
  • A different religion
  • Atheism
  • Philosophy that disagrees with Christianity
  • Science that disagrees with Christianity
  • A hypothetical, made-up religion to prove a point
And it's really that last one that tears Pascal's Wager in half. If people had actual, provable evidence of God, they'd just present that. Pascal's Wager exists because they lack that proof. It's meant to be a sort of "gotcha" in light of the fact that there is no positive evidence. Of course, once you've gone down that road, you can posit any hypothetical god you want. And for every god you posit that rewards faith and punishes the lack of faith, I can posit one that does the exact opposite.


(12-09-2015 10:58 PM)jayc Wrote:  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.

It worked on me, even for a while once I stopped being Christian. Before I was familiar with the term "Pascal's Wager", I used to bust out the same infinity math in college, thinking I'd proven something novel. Years later, when I stopped believing, I was still scared that maybe I'd failed some twisted test and that I might go to hell. I was scared of a hell I didn't believe in for about six months, until I could finally just shake the whole thing.

Although, to be honest, Pascal's Wager is really part of a much larger grouping of apologetics and social pressure designed to keep people in the fold. You have to break out of all of it if you really want to be free. If even one part snags you, you have to break out of it all, all over again.
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14-09-2015, 06:20 AM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
(12-09-2015 10:58 PM)jayc Wrote:  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

Yea, I highly doubt that Pascal's wager is keeping many people in the pews. Anyone troubled by it to that extent, where the wager serves as a thin line keeping them still with their religion, is likely to break anytime now.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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14-09-2015, 03:51 PM
RE: Pascal's Wager could be keeping some Christians stuck
I think it plays at least a small a part in keeping people in religion, even if they don't know what it's called. The threat of hell can be convincing. I always thought that any god who would throw me in hell for not believing in him even if I live a good life and I'm a good person would be an idiotic god.

A man should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. -Ferris Bueller

That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom. -Jack Sparrow
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