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    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    It always surprises me to see people repeating Pascal's wager as though it should be taken seriously. Basically, Pascal's wager states that believing in god is a bet you can't lose, because if there is no god you've lost nothing, and if there is a god you gain eternal life.

    This is wrong on so many levels and in so many ways that I can only touch the surface.

    The essential problem with Pascal's reasoning is that it assumes there are only two possibilities:

    Either:

    1. The Christian god exists, with all the attributes attributed to him by Christianity, such as omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence; and that he'll reward you for belief in him and punish you for not believing in him, etc.

    Or:

    2. There's no god at all.

    It leaves out the possibilities that there is a different god, who will punish you for believing in the wrong one; or a god who is not omnipotent and lacks the power to reward; or a god who wants something of you other than what Christianity asserts. There are hundreds of religions, and Pascal assumes that either his is right, or none is.

    While some Christian sects assert that belief alone is all it takes to be saved, and if you believe you are free to live your life however you like, others require certain standards, and some are quite strict. Thus, if you make Pascal's wager, and you are wrong, you may have wasted your entire life and given up all the joys and pleasures it has to offer, all for nothing.

    I suspect, though, that most people who make Pascal's wager believe that belief alone is sufficient, and they can live a fun life and still have eternal happiness just because they believed. But that's an assumption that is not justified if the more strict sects are right. Perhaps you make the wager, but lose because you lived your life wrong.

    In fact, Pascal's wager is nothing but a crap shoot. Pascal claims there are only two outcomes if you make the wager: either you were wrong and you've lost nothing, or you're right and you gain eternal life. But these are not the only outcomes by a long shot.

    Actual possible outcomes include (and this may not even be an exhaustive list):

    1. You're wrong, there is no god, and you've wasted your life.

    2. You're right that there's a god, but wrong about belief being sufficient, and you go to hell for living a wrong lifestyle.

    3. You're wrong about which god exists, and you go to hell for believing in the wrong one.

    4. You're right about there being a god, and he's happy you believed in him, but he does not have the power to grant you eternal life.

    5. You're right about there being a god, and he's happy you believed in him, but he is kind of a bumbler, and in trying to grant you eternal life he makes a mistake and destroys you. (But he makes up for it by creating somebody else and being more careful next time.) Christians will say "Nonsense! God is all powerful and cannot make mistakes." But that is an assumption supported by nothing but their own dogma.

    6. You win the bet and go to heaven.

    7. You win the bet and go to heaven but heaven turns out to be so boring that after a few years you wish you were dead.

    I could go on and on.

    Some will accuse me of being facetious because they cannot conceive of the existence of any god other than the one taught to them by their parents, or the one they think they see in the scripture they were raised with. But different Christians interpret the same Bible very differently, and different religions have different scriptures, and no rational person would be able to find any reason to accept one over the others. It's pure guesswork. Or the chance of where you were born. Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Yoruba, Santeria, Maya, all have their own sacred teachings, and most have written scriptures or equivalent, and it's a very narrow mind that, like Pascal's, sees only two possibilities: that either his own religion is right or none is.

    I personally think that none is, but I recognize that the possibilities are endless, and that the chances of winning Pascal's wager are infinitesimal, while the consequences of losing it are potentially very great indeed. Believing in one particular god, and being wrong, can turn out far worse than Pascal claimed.
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    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    The famous philosopher Homer....Simpson, that is....put it succinctly:

    "Suppose we've picked the wrong god? Every time we go to church, we're just making him madder and madder."
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    amm0bob Permanently Junior...

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    Fixed it for ya Bra... :D
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    Chuck. Honda Enzyte Driver

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    [IMG]
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    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    Chuck, I hunch this thread was started in response to a member's recent religious signature, stating their belief in what is known as Pascal's Wager.
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    Chuck. Honda Enzyte Driver

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    ^ Think you are referring to ETC(SS) sig ... he states the essence of it.

    ETC(SS) generally does not say a lot on the religion threads, so I'm at a loss as why his sig would be that provactive. At any rate, don't think it warrants a thread in response.
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    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    Yes, that's the one.

    I don't mind not discussing politics and/or religion at the dinner table, but chances are good I'll join in if the conversation's already started.
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    Silver bullit Right Lane Cruiser

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    This is SO wrong. When I bought my Prius the salesman made me an offer that I couldn't refuse. He said that if I made the purchase today that I would go to heaven when I die and I would have 70 virgins. I then became the proud owner of a spanking new Prius.
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    PriQ CT+iQ

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    Either there is a God or there is not.
    So it has to be 50/50.
    But the miracles, churches and Nature is evidence for God, so clearly God is more likely than not God, so it has to be 51/49.
    Now since the probability of God is greater than 0.5 and there are infinite many gods through history of man, clearly some God must exist!

    Thus, God is true.

    QED.






    OK. Troll mode off.

    These Atheists vs. Theists arguments are often based in logics or math. You have to remember than in order to be a theist, you must already have thrown away at least one logical/reasonable/scientificly based fact, namely that an existence of a God is highly unlikely and for many instances (omnipotent, omni*) easily provably impossible.
    Following this kind of reasoning (have faith in the religion), the outcome of the wager "I'm right. God exists, Jesus saves and I go to Heaven) might be just one of many outcomes, but its probability is thought as being very high, so the wager makes sense for a theist.
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    Stev0 Honorary Hong Kong Cavalier

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    Yes; the question is WHICH God (or Gods). Personally, I'm betting on the ones of the ancient Sumerians, since they were actually around closer to when everything happened, so they should know, right?
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    Trebuchet Senior Member

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    These continued strident arguments against Christianity convinces me more and more that a small kernel of Christianity exists within these protagonist. Similar to those who rail against homosexuality only to discover they harbor within themselves the same proclivities. Furthermore, the hatred towards this propensity compels them to choose contentious or disparaging methods of persuasion. Which as we all know is a waste of energy, time and has little to zero chance of changing anyone's POV.

    I hope some day that they can settle this conflict within themselves and live at peace with what little time they have on this earth. Because as we all know, no one gets out alive. In the end the dispute will be resolved or it won't and all the fighting here won't mean a thing.

    [IMG]
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    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    This is Fred's. Here, everything and nothing warrants a thread. I've always found Pascal's wager to be an insult to my intelligence whenever it's used in an argument with me. And people have seriously repeated it to me as a justification for belief in their own particular religion. ETC's sig was brought to my attention and I decided that Pascal's wager warranted a bit of discussion if people can still take it seriously. I'd probably have started the thread even if it had been someone on the street, or a friend, who had reminded me of it.

    In other words, you have to believe in order to believe. Or, if you believe, then it makes sense to believe.

    I have deep respect for many of the teachings of Jesus. The humanistic ones. The charity, the nonviolence, the non-judgmentalism, the eager acceptance of diversity in others. But throughout my life I have been excoriated by Christians for my non-belief, or (less often) for my Jewish ethnicity. When I was young, Catholic priests, and some Protestant ministers still preached from the pulpit, and many adults taught their children, that every Jew alive today is literally a murderer for having killed christ. I have been called a "christ-killer."

    Yes, I harbor a strident hatred for a belief system that will tell children that other children are murderers for something that happened two thousand years ago.

    Yes, I argue against a belief system that has taken one of the most beautiful philosophies ever propounded, and turned it into a twisted creed of intolerance that justifies war and tribalism.

    So perhaps you are right that there is a kernel of Christianity in me. Not the superstitious belief in a petty and capricious god, but the philosophy expressed in the Golden Rule.

    I do not argue with the hopes of converting any Christians. I argue to show people who want to reject the irrationality preached around them, that they are not alone, and that there are others who also reject the irrationality. There are many examples of people raised in religious homes, who find the irrationality, the hate, the insularism of religion intolerable, but who are not able to break out of the mental jail of religion until they find others who also reject religion. I argue so as to make it just a wee bit easier for such people to find the courage to stand up for themselves.
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    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    You missed one that I have always liked:

    There is a God, and if you 'believe' merely to curry favor with him, he sends you to Hell for bearing false witness. Honest agnostics get in to Heaven.

    With this interpretation, Pascal's wager gets you into Hell, and the win-win is to not to believe more than you have evidence for.
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    Trebuchet Senior Member

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    If you have respect for the teachings of Jesus and believe there is some beauty in this belief system. Then I think it would be better and you would make a much greater impact, for the good, if your brush were a fine pointed rapier than a bludgeon. I'm not saying a bludgeon isn't necessary, just not all the time.

    For instance both you and Corwyn hit upon a favorite topic of many within Christianity and that is belief or faith. They are synonymous and it's simply not true or biblical that a simple belief in God is sufficient to ensure your salvation. That belief has to produce some fruit but the beautiful thing is, it could be the tiniest of fruits. Just as the belief or faith necessary to produce that fruit can come from the tiniest of seeds, as in the mustard seed. Taking a tool as coarse and indiscriminate as a bludgeon to this topic turns aside all's desire to pursue it as it should be pursued.

    God Bless daniel and get out that rapier it's much more suited to your style.
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    ETC(SS) Aspiring Hypocommuter.

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    Dayum!

    Quite frankly, I wasn't aware that people payed much attention to my POSTS, let alone my signature. :eek:

    I had actually forgotten about Pascal's wager when I changed my sig, and I had to do a quick looky-see to find out what people thought that I meant.
    Quick digression: If you're genuinely uncomfortable with somebody mentioning "the G-word" on the forum, then I'd like to offer a similarly genuine apology. You have a few options... ignore the signature, turn signatures off, or run screaming to one of the mods.
    I certainly didn't mean to be provocative by mentioning the possibility that atheists might be wrong in their belief system.
    If I start racking up forum infractions, I'll change it. I've been to countries that punish apostasy and proselytizing rather harshly---like with sticks and stones. Getting a forum speeding ticket for mentioning the possibility of a supreme being isn't the Christians and Lions gig revisited.

    OK....so.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a GOD, and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't a GOD, and die to find out there is!

    This jut says what it says. Granted...it might be a little uncomfortable to the polytheists and especially the non-theists. After all, since you can't prove that there IS a GOD, by my very humble estimation you certainly can't prove that there ISN'T a GOD either. This means that you have to BELIEVE that there isn't a supreme being.
    From a scientific standpoint (IMHO) agnostics are the only people who can stand on logic with their beliefs, or in this case.....lack thereof.

    All of this isn't terribly deep philosophically speaking of course and YMMV.
    MY beliefs (FWIW) are based on the teachings of Jesus.
    His message was pretty simple. Love GOD. Love each other.
    Period.
    He also tasked us with spreading the gospel (Good News.) He didn't say anything at all about being hateful to the folks that got the Jesus memo, and crumpled it up "round filed" it. He didn't dis the Mohammedans (he couldn't....their weren't any around.)
    He was mute on many of the weightier issues than MAN (and women) have grappled with over the centuries that have passed since his ascension. I've had theists loudly proclaim to me that I will burn in hell for working on Sunday, eating red meat on Friday, drinking Alky-haul, being respectful to the LGBT folks, and a host of other infractions that usually have more to do with political power and revenue streams than it does with righteousness.
    Jesus himself was called on the carpet for "working on Sunday" and a host of other things that ran contrary to the religious beliefs of the day to say nothing of the folks that he kept company with.
    The reason that I usually remain mute on religion is because these "discussions" usually spiral downward into a base piss slinging contest that benefits nobody. If you want to believe that there isn't a GOD......then you're in luck! Chances are.....you're whacking away on a keypad in a country where you are free to do so.
    You're even free to equate the mere mentioning of the "G-word" as a hate crime if that's what you're into!
    Knock yerself out! ;)
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    Chuck. Honda Enzyte Driver

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    That's the only semi-rational reason for the secular members to have spent encyclopedic posts and vitrol on this - at least six years and counting. Even at that, I see this approach repelling those undecided. If this tack is so effective, why do sales people and public relations professionals do the opposite? (i.e. "You drive GM junk?!" ....after the rant, salesman tries to entice customer to buy a Ford. That's the Richard Dawkins approach it seems.)

    Think about those still considering what their belief will be...they see the usual handful of militant athiests and allies investing an enormous amount of time and emotions. When they are not personal, the delivery is often confrontational. And do they do anything else with their life? Is there balance? So for those not sure of their belief, does anyone think it's aluring for them to convert to atheisism so they can emulate a handful at PC spending much of their time in flamewars? Does that sound like an improved quality of life to aspire to?

    In other words, Bill Russell realized he was becoming the racist he loathed.

    Likewise, I view many of the secular postings on this topic on religious bigotry little different than the Rev. Fred Phelps and Jimmy Swaggarts out there other than the opposite POV....they are also intolerant and want to shove their viewpoint....cherry-picking Christianity while never addressing the weak links in atheism - definition of a spitting match instead of a discussion.

    I have other passions such as hypermiling - may make a spot this week on a local TV station. I won't be ranting about gearheads, nor will I make like this is the only thing in my life...I wonder about people that are one-topic, one-dimensional on any topic.

    Little did I realize when I joined PriusChat in 2006 it would end up this way. I'm a member at many forums, including a lot of automotive ones and the sum of them does not equal the amount of religious bashing here. However it started, I know it was not by a member of Campus Crusade for Christ pushing [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Spiritual_Laws"]The Four Spiritual Laws[/ame], but rather a defensive athiest that ranted before anyone did anything.

    It amazes me that whatever a forum's topic is (Prius, pets, gardening, home improvement, computers, etc.) that a few members will invariably get upset that everybody should ALSO agree on their politics or religion and go on and on and on. Sorry - 85% or so of the rest of the world is probably in disagreement.
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    PriQ CT+iQ

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    The problem of this is that people claiming a god exists are making the extraordinary claim.
    I claim the invisible pink unicorn exists.
    I can't prove it, but neither can you disprove it.
    No one has ever seen the invisible pink unicorn, so clearly I'm the one making an extraordinary claim.

    Your point of view is well reasoned.




    Atheists will keep attacking religion as long as the religion is used to affect people who do not share the beliefs of the religion. Now think of this: The invisible pink unicorn says straight marriage is sin and should be banned.
    This is how it feels for believers in non-homophobic religions (including Christianity in many versions) when homophobic religion is used to push homophobia in law.
    This is only an example, but it shows why you will keep seeing discussions about this.
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    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    People who don't believe in alien abduction are the ones most likely to have been abducted and probed. The last thing the aliens do is erase your memory, so if you don't recall being abducted, you probably were.

    Tom
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    spiderman wretched

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    :eek:
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    spiderman wretched

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    I have seen one.
    Where is there a push for a law? Just curious.

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