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jimmydasaint

Pascal's Wager - Does this make sense?

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The gist of the Wager is that, according to Pascal, one cannot come to the knowledge of God’s existence through reason alone, so the wise thing to do is to live your life as if God does exist because such a life has everything to gain and nothing to lose. If we live as though God exists, and He does indeed exist, we have gained heaven. If He doesn’t exist, we have lost nothing. If, on the other hand, we live as though God does not exist and He really does exist, we have gained hell and punishment and have lost heaven and bliss. If one weighs the options, clearly the rational choice to live as if God exists is the better of the possible choices. Pascal even suggested that some may not, at the time, have the ability to believe in God. In such a case, one should live as if he had faith anyway. Perhaps living as if one had faith may lead one to actually come to faith.

Now there have been criticisms over the years from various camps. For example, there is the argument from inconsistent revelations. This argument critiques Pascal's Wager on the basis that there is no reason to limit the choices to the Christian God. Since there have been many religions throughout human history, there can be many potential gods. Another critique comes from atheist circles. Richard Dawkins postulated the possibility of a god that might reward honest disbelief and punish blind or feigned faith.

https://www.gotquestions.org/Pascals-wager.html

So you may or may not believe in God. However, rationality or reason cannot take us all the way to pure belief.  Disbelief may not be 100% either.  does Pascal give us a reasonable way to live, with eternity in the afterlife to follow?

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2 minutes ago, jimmydasaint said:

So you may or may not believe in God. However, rationality or reason cannot take us all the way to pure belief.  Disbelief may not be 100% either.  does Pascal give us a reasonable way to live, with eternity in the afterlife to follow?

Not really no, what's to follow is unknown... It's just a bet... What he fails to see is the heaven of now, the only time we know it can exist.

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It is a bet a wager, but the two sides of the coin land on eternity in Hell or eternity in Heaven. 

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, jimmydasaint said:

It is a bet a wager, but the two sides of the coin land on eternity in Hell or eternity in Heaven. 

If your coin lands on heaven, is that eternal or fleeting?

 

Edited by dimreepr

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Well, if you go along with the wager idea, and it has been criticised of course, then the Abrahamic religions would consider Heaven to be eternal, eating grapes, playing the lyre etc...

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Just now, jimmydasaint said:

Well, if you go along with the wager idea, and it has been criticised of course, then the Abrahamic religions would consider Heaven to be eternal, eating grapes, playing the lyre etc...

How do you know? 

 

Let's assume they were just as intelligent as we are and had no direct contact with God, what bet do you think they'd make?

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28 minutes ago, jimmydasaint said:

It is a bet a wager, but the two sides of the coin land on eternity in Hell or eternity in Heaven. 

Or, as the boy in The Matrix (nearly) said: "There is no coin."

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Posted (edited)

I will have to refer to the OP, before we go off on to a tangent:

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 If He doesn’t exist, we have lost nothing. If, on the other hand, we live as though God does not exist and He really does exist, we have gained hell and punishment and have lost heaven and bliss. If one weighs the options, clearly the rational choice to live as if God exists is the better of the possible choices. 

If God does not exist and we follow a moral code, which, in the West, is based on the old Christian moral code, we then live a moral existence before the end of our existence.  We, as moral characters of action have had a positive effect on society.  

Edited by jimmydasaint

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2 minutes ago, jimmydasaint said:

If God does not exist and we follow a moral code, which, in the West, is based on the old Christian moral code, we then live a moral existence before the end of our existence.  We, as moral characters of action have had a positive effect on society.  

If, the essence of a bet, but why wouldn't we follow a moral/ethical code if it didn't lead to heaven? 

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1 minute ago, dimreepr said:

If, the essence of a bet, but why wouldn't we follow a moral/ethical code if it didn't lead to heaven? 

I agree, you could lead a superb life for the sake of it and it would be rewarding as well.

 

However, and I am hoping I do not misquote Pascal here, you would need faith in God, real or not, to get to Heaven. But I suspect that you are going to answer that a version of Heaven and peace can be attained in this existence and I would respect your belief, if this is the case. 

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Just now, jimmydasaint said:

However, and I am hoping I do not misquote Pascal here, you would need faith in God, real or not, to get to Heaven. But I suspect that you are going to answer that a version of Heaven and peace can be attained in this existence and I would respect your belief, if this is the case

That's why you misunderstand why he's wrong, I don't need to believe in the heaven of a cool drink on a hot day... ;)

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jimmydasaint said:

does Pascal give us a reasonable way to live, with eternity in the afterlife to follow?

I’d posit no. It most certainly does not.

The wager suggests this all-loving and all-powerful god is so petty and insecure that it’d rather a person lie and pretend to believe in it than to instead be honest, authentic, and sincere about their stance... that it’s better to be a liar who says what they say only as a gamble than to be an honest person who openly acknowledges the true feelings of their heart and mind even in the face of potential eternal punishment. 

Further, the wager suggests we are mere slaves or serfs, and that our blind obedience is more important than our willingness to be honest. It suggests the god is not all powerful or all loving, but is instead a plantation slave master or schoolyard bully. It shows this god to be immoral and not worthy of our love or belief  

A 3rd problem is that the same wager could equally be applied to anything.

Why not believe there’s an invisible dragon below your chair who will char you to a crisp if you don’t believe it’s there? Why not believe that leprechauns control your wealth or that unicorns protect the health of your children... why not believe that you’ll lose all health and all wealth unless you accept these as true assertions.

The logic is the same, after all. It’s clearly the safer choice to accept these things based on Pascals approach, and yet we can all clearly see it’s nonsense once we remove the decades and centuries and millennia of indoctrination that has been conducted by the religious making us so often unconsciously treat them as different in our minds and reasoning.

Hitchens articulates it well in this short 2 min vid:

 

Edited by iNow

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4 minutes ago, iNow said:

I’d posit no. It most certainly does not.

Hi there iNow, hope you and the family are well. 

The wager suggests this all-loving and all-powerful god is so petty and insecure that it’d rather a person lie and pretend to believe in it than to instead be honest, authentic, and sincere about their stance... that it’s better to be a liar who says what they say only as a gamble than to be an honest person who openly acknowledges the true feelings of their heart and mind even in the face of potential eternal punishment. 

I think that Pascal thought that an initial appearance of faith would be later replaced by real faith which would be the money ticket. In any case, real faith supersedes fake faith.   I am assuming here that Pascal would have reasoned that an omniscient God would see through the fakes. I am not sure though - I will have to read a bit more on this...

Further, the wager suggests we are mere slaves or serfs, and that our blind obedience is more important than our willingness to be honest.

IMO, the point was that people should look to the signs of God in the Earth, e..g the birth of a child from a single fertilised egg, would be enough for people to believe.  Obviously the rise of humanism and the Enlightenment had a different dialectic. 

A 3rd problem, is that the same wager could equally be applied to anything. Why not believe there’s an invisible dragon below your chair who will char you to a crisp if you don’t believe it’s there? Why not believe that leprechauns control your wealth or that unicorns protect the health of your children... and you’ll lose all health and wealth unless you accept them as true assertions. The logic is the same, after all, and it’s clearly nonsense. 

Pascal's wager is based on an endpoint, although I agree that the logic is deductive but it is based on achieving Heaven as an end.  Whereas your assertions don't take this as an endpoint.

 

 

 

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Why does it matter?

46 minutes ago, Strange said:

Or, as the boy in The Matrix (nearly) said: "There is no coin."

+1, didn't want this to get lost in the noise...

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Likewise on the well wishes, Jimmy. It’s been a while and it’s nice seeing you online. 

Here’s a slightly longer video which digs deeper into the very criticisms you make. It’s only 7 minutes long:

 

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It probably had more importance in Pascal's times about 350 years ago.  You can live a perfectly moral life for the sake of it as I said earlier but in Pascal's time, there were only two choices to the gamble.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jimmydasaint said:

It is a bet a wager, but the two sides of the coin land on eternity in Hell or eternity in Heaven. 

.....I am in the hell of incompetence right now.. of people who what to destroy their planet by their own hands and with their own little brains... abusing environment...

Edited by Sensei

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9 minutes ago, jimmydasaint said:

It probably had more importance in Pascal's times about 350 years ago.  You can live a perfectly moral life for the sake of it as I said earlier but in Pascal's time, there were only two choices to the gamble.

There's only ever two choices to a gamble, win or lose... Time is irrelevant. 

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24 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

There's only ever two choices to a gamble, win or lose... Time is irrelevant. 

Agreed, IMO, he thought that belief had an infinite reward whilst  the opposite had a negative effect.  

42 minutes ago, iNow said:

Likewise on the well wishes, Jimmy. It’s been a while and it’s nice seeing you online. 

Here’s a slightly longer video which digs deeper into the very criticisms you make. It’s only 7 minutes long:

I have just watched the video iNow and have had a quick scan of Stanford encyclopedia

The video makes certain criticisms which are generally repeated. For example:

1. Alternative religions exist.  There are other cultures who have gods and goddesses who have an equal right to be considered in the same way as the Christian god. 2. The theory ignores other heavens and hells;  3. Belief involves a personal cost and sacrifice; it is not easy. 4. God can be fooled by false faith.  

Most of these are good arguments.  However, IMO the main points that Pascal made were contingent upon a wager where there would be infinite reward contrasted with finite loss, based upon the Christian religion and exegesis. Point 4 above can be easily dismissed by the omniscience of God.  In the end,  hearty atheists, like  the vast majority of people on the Science Forum, would be untouched and undaunted by Pascal's arguments.  Perhaps some arguments are bound to their own times. 

 

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20 minutes ago, jimmydasaint said:

the main points that Pascal made were contingent upon a wager where there would be infinite reward contrasted with finite loss

So, your position is that so long as I claim that invisible dragon sitting right now below your chair offers you an infinite reward (just like god), then the smarter choice here is to accept the truth of the existence of that invisible dragon? That seems odd to me. How is the magnitude of the claim relevant to its internal logic? 

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3 hours ago, iNow said:

So, your position is that so long as I claim that invisible dragon sitting right now below your chair offers you an infinite reward (just like god), then the smarter choice here is to accept the truth of the existence of that invisible dragon? That seems odd to me. How is the magnitude of the claim relevant to its internal logic? 

As long as the dragon has provided scriptural exegesis in the form of three or more books revealed by the messengers of the dragon to three or four unusual individuals and which serves to give peace to one quarter of the world's population and offers a story to why humans are on Earth and provides them with a purpose and moral parameters - yes. If the dragon also states that love of others, mercy and forgiveness are the order of the day and that the dragon's personal qualities of mercy and generosity are to be reflected by its creations-yes.  If the dragon offers a way to true peace on Earth with a promise of the essence of a soul reaching an eternal reward- yes. You cannot just posit an invisible dragon and then assign no personal qualities to it.  The acceptance of the dragon is contingent on its absolute, and not relative qualities.

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!

Moderator Note

A great many post having nothing to do with Pascal’s wager have been moved to the trash

 

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Pascal's wager is really about the atheist's concern that if they pick the wrong path, they'll be punished; but it's impossible to know which path is the right path.  However, if atheists belief that God doesn't exist, then nothing happens when they die.  Nothing means "no punishment". 

If there was evidence, if there was data of what happens to atheists when they die, it would be relevant to this conversation.  I would invite the atheists, and everyone, to look at the data without deriding it or dismissing it.  The answer you're looking for is there.  It is the answer to Pascal's wager.

 

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11 minutes ago, Wulphstein said:

Pascal's wager is really about the atheist's concern that if they pick the wrong path, they'll be punished

Blaise Pascal was actually a Catholic theologian. You’re quite simply and yet again badly mistaken, but that’s not stopped you before, so please feel free to carry on as if you were never corrected.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, iNow said:

Blaise Pascal was actually a Catholic theologian. You’re quite simply and yet again badly mistaken, but that’s not stopped you before, so please feel free to carry on as if you were never corrected.

 

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As you say, I could be badly mistaken, but then again, here is the wager.  So, it basically says if there is a God and you're an atheist, it says "eternal suffering" and there is a picture of fire.  Does that pretty much explain what Pascal's wager is?  Or should I make the picture bigger? 

I also brought into evidence, the testimonial of a lady who was an atheist, after beings a Christian, who went to Heaven and came back.  Does anyone dispute the video?

Edited by Wulphstein

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