Winning Pascal's Wager
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13-12-2013, 05:24 PM
Winning Pascal's Wager
I'm going to assume that you're familiar with Pascal's Wager and the fallacies contained therein. I won't repeat them here except to note my own personal amusement at the fact that Blaise Pascal may have died from one of them. I've taken a little time to rewrite the Wager in a logically consistent fashion and hope that the results have Pascal spinning in his grave.

1 Either there is no god
Atheist Win for not wasting time and money worshipping our imaginary friend.

2 Or there is a god and
- 2A This god is rational and sane and doles out rewards/punishments proportional to the achievements/crimes
Atheist Win because most of us thought about our actions rather than doing what somebody else told us. We may be kept waiting outside the gate for a short time for our disbelief but that's nothing compared to what the legions of theists who committed atrocities on the word of some religious demagogue have coming to them.

- 2B Or god is insane (NSFW link), not entirely unlike the biblically literal interpretation, in which case a detailed forensic examination will be needed to distinguish heaven from hell
Atheist Win nominally because we didn't waste time worshipping The Lunatic but really a loss for all sides.
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14-12-2013, 04:44 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
1. Doesn't exist. We win.
2. It exists, is sane. We win.
3. It exists, is insane. We lose, but win by still not submitting to it.
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14-12-2013, 05:43 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
This is the eternal problem with Pascal's Wager; religious people tend to automatically assume that if there is a god, he'll absolutely send atheists to hell. If we simply add the one possibility of there being some deity who appreciates good deeds and a rational outlook on life then atheism is suddenly the statistically safer bet.

Try to get a christian to admit to that, though...
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14-12-2013, 05:54 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
(14-12-2013 05:43 AM)Elcarch Wrote:  This is the eternal problem with Pascal's Wager; religious people tend to automatically assume that if there is a god, he'll absolutely send atheists to hell. If we simply add the one possibility of there being some deity who appreciates good deeds and a rational outlook on life then atheism is suddenly the statistically safer bet.

Try to get a christian to admit to that, though...

This is an example of one of the things that always bothered me about criticism of Pascal's wager. In order to discredit the logic of the wager, one has to introduce new assumptions.
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14-12-2013, 06:05 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
(14-12-2013 05:54 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  This is an example of one of the things that always bothered me about criticism of Pascal's wager. In order to discredit the logic of the wager, one has to introduce new assumptions.
Why don't you try addressing Elcarch's actual argument instead of attacking a straw man you created?

He didn't claim that Pascal's Wager is an invalid argument; his criticism is directed towards the fact that it's not sound because its premises aren't true.

It is possible that there is a God who rewards people based on their deeds instead of their beliefs and thus the premise that unbelief automatically results in eternal punishment is false.

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14-12-2013, 06:35 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
(14-12-2013 06:05 AM)Vosur Wrote:  
(14-12-2013 05:54 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  This is an example of one of the things that always bothered me about criticism of Pascal's wager. In order to discredit the logic of the wager, one has to introduce new assumptions.
Why don't you try addressing Elcarch's actual argument instead of attacking a straw man you created?

He didn't claim that Pascal's Wager is an invalid argument; his criticism is directed towards the fact that it's not sound because its premises aren't true.

It is possible that there is a God who rewards people based on their deeds instead of their beliefs and thus the premise that unbelief automatically results in eternal punishment is false.

Its possible God exists and planted fossil evidence to test our faith thus the belief that fossils prove dinosaurs must have actually existed is false. You can discredit anything you want by adding in additional assumptions.

Pascal's default position was his religious belief. The wager was about rejecting his default position.....not an argument to convince others his religion is true or a method of obtaining the truth. The other assumptions you wish to add have nothing to do with the wager Pascal was contemplating.
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14-12-2013, 06:51 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
(14-12-2013 06:35 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Pascal's default position was his religious belief. The wager was about rejecting his default position.....not an argument to convince others his religion is true or a method of obtaining the truth. The other assumptions you wish to add have nothing to do with the wager Pascal was contemplating.

Considering Christianity isn't the only religion, Pascal's default position is automatically faulty.

It's somewhat like a vegetarian being confused that a lion wishes to eat him.

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14-12-2013, 06:57 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
(14-12-2013 06:51 AM)Cephalotus Wrote:  
(14-12-2013 06:35 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Pascal's default position was his religious belief. The wager was about rejecting his default position.....not an argument to convince others his religion is true or a method of obtaining the truth. The other assumptions you wish to add have nothing to do with the wager Pascal was contemplating.

Considering Christianity isn't the only religion, Pascal's default position is automatically faulty.

It's somewhat like a vegetarian being confused that a lion wishes to eat him.

Considering that there are beliefs other than atheism, a default position that God does not is exists is automatically faulty? No, other beliefs have nothing to do with atheism being true or untrue. Other religions have nothing to do with Pascal's religion being true or untrue. Pascal's religion is true or it isn't. His default position is not automatically faulty as you suggest just by virtue of other religions existing.
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14-12-2013, 07:02 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
It....it actually is.

Pascal concocted the wager under the assumption that Christianity is the only religion, and that the Abrahamic god would send nonbelievers to hell & believers to heaven.

Objectively, the wager *is* faulty because it fails to take anything else into consideration.

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14-12-2013, 07:15 AM
RE: Winning Pascal's Wager
(14-12-2013 06:35 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Its possible God exists and planted fossil evidence to test our faith thus the belief that fossils prove dinosaurs must have actually existed is false. You can discredit anything you want by adding in additional assumptions.
No, that's not how the burden of proof works. Pascal never supported his premises with any evidence; that alone is enough to dismiss the argument as unsound.

We've been going one step further and demonstrated that his wager is based on a false dichotomy by presenting alternative possibilities that have the same empirical support (that is to say, none).

(14-12-2013 06:35 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  Pascal's default position was his religious belief. The wager was about rejecting his default position.....not an argument to convince others his religion is true or a method of obtaining the truth.
You are, once again, attacking a straw man argument. Nobody in this thread said that Pascal's Wager is about convincing people of the truth of his religion or that it's a method of obtaining the truth.

(14-12-2013 06:35 AM)Heywood Jahblome Wrote:  The other assumptions you wish to add have nothing to do with the wager Pascal was contemplating.
It has everything to do with his argument. Here is the formal syllogism of Pascal's Wager:

P1. If God is real, then you either receive infinite pay-off for belief or infinite punishment for disbelief.
a. If you do believe, then you go to Heaven for eternity.
b. If you do not believe, then you go to Hell for eternity.

P2. If God is not real, then there are no gains or losses either way.
a. If you believe in God and it turns out that he doesn't exist, then you have not lost anything.
b. If you do not believe in God and it turns out that he doesn't exist, then you have not gained anything.

C1. Therefore, even if there is strong evidence against God, it is still better to believe than to disbelieve.
a. The pay-off for believing if there is a God is infinitely better than the benefit of disbelieving if there is no God.
b. The punishment for disbelieving if there is a God is infinitely worse than the loss caused by wrongly believing that there is a God.

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