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Thread: Pascal's Wager

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    Pascal's Wager

    Pascal’s Wager states that it is more logical to believe in a god than not to, because non-belief is essentially a zero-sum game…you can NEVER win. One problem with Pascal’s Wager is that it assumes the Christian God to be the correct one. No problem, lets just take the spirit of his wager and pose a question:

    If you were new to the Earth, and decided to follow the logic of Pascal’s Wager, which god/religion would you choose and why? Given that there is no concrete evidence for ANY religion (that is not created by a religion's own mythos)(as in Red Planet: I’m hoping one day I will turn over a rock and on the bottom will be a stamp that says “Made By God.”) how could you possibly choose one religion over another? If you HAD to, which one would you choose?
    We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint. Scott, found in his diary after the party froze in Antarctica

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Please try to step outside your own belief (if you have one) and answer with the objective thought of a true outsider....
    We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint. Scott, found in his diary after the party froze in Antarctica

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Pascal's Wager is one of the silliest arguments available. It places a rather simplistic bet as you mentioned and it assumes that a deity would overlook the fact that the only reason that you are believing in him is for your own benefit. On the other hand, why would a God who created such a reward system for believing in him be so just to recognize motive. It is not an actual argument of rationality, it is a gambler's bet that acts as if there are less possibilities than there really are.
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by Neverending
    Pascal's Wager is one of the silliest arguments available. It places a rather simplistic bet as you mentioned and it assumes that a deity would overlook the fact that the only reason that you are believing in him is for your own benefit. On the other hand, why would a God who created such a reward system for believing in him be so just to recognize motive. It is not an actual argument of rationality, it is a gambler's bet that acts as if there are less possibilities than there really are.
    Agreed. I'm not trying to debate the Wager itself though...just using it to spice up my actual question....
    We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint. Scott, found in his diary after the party froze in Antarctica

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Well, I would have to choose Christianity of course, because it seems to have the best reward and worst punishment that is available. But if I were to fall for that logic, what would prevent me from...well nevermind.
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Well, I'd have to say Buddhism, because it looks like the best one that could lead you to the happiest life, and according to Buddhist beliefs, get out of the hell that is life.
    "The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent." 1984, By George Orwell. Part 2: Chapter 9.

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by PallidaMors
    Pascal’s Wager states that it is more logical to believe in a god than not to, because non-belief is essentially a zero-sum game…you can NEVER win. One problem with Pascal’s Wager is that it assumes the Christian God to be the correct one. No problem, lets just take the spirit of his wager and pose a question:

    If you were new to the Earth, and decided to follow the logic of Pascal’s Wager, which god/religion would you choose and why? Given that there is no concrete evidence for ANY religion (that is not created by a religion's own mythos)(as in Red Planet: I’m hoping one day I will turn over a rock and on the bottom will be a stamp that says “Made By God.”) how could you possibly choose one religion over another? If you HAD to, which one would you choose?
    Christianity. (You didn't expect something else, did you?) Here's my oft-repeated reasoning: Christianity is unique, in that it offers a solution to sin other than trying to "earn salvation." Sin is real, it's what separates us from God. Other religions either ignore it, or have some variant of "earning it." I believe humans are fundamentally separated from the nature of God, only God in human form could act as a mediator, and compared to any possible theological scenario, the atonement made by God incarnate makes the most sense.

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by Kev
    Sin is real, it's what separates us from God.
    According to Christianity. It can't separate us from God if he doesn't exist or is sinful himself.
    Other religions either ignore it, or have some variant of "earning it."
    Actually, in that sense, Christianity is the epitomy of pessimism abouthuman nature. It only looks at the bad (assuming you believe that the only way to heaven through Christ means as the Bible implies, that you need to believe in Christ) and you get no reward for the good other than that done if you believe Christianity. Hinduism has a system of reincarnation in forms that may be better or worse than your previous form, depending on karma.
    I believe humans are fundamentally separated from the nature of God, only God in human form could act as a mediator, and compared to any possible theological scenario, the atonement made by God incarnate makes the most sense.
    I believe that "sin" and human error are largely a result of our inability to adapt to a self-imposed system. Not that we would be perfect if we acted like cavemen, but we would not have many of the unnatural stresses that are not found in the wild.
    孟柏民
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    I was just going to create a thread on this, you beat me too it. Oh well.

    Pascal's Wager balances the following alternatives:

    You believe in god:
    -and god exists ->you go to heaven
    -and god doesn't exist ->nothing happens
    You don't believe in god:
    -and god exists ->You go to hell
    -and god doesn't exist ->nothing happens

    This is based on these assumptions:
    -If you believe in god (and live life as he says to), you get to heaven
    -If you don't, you go to hell.

    These may or may not be true, depending on what you believe about heaven's entry requirements.

    I've always seen Pascal's Wager as the only truly valid argument for theism (it's not so much about no religion vs a specific one, but theism vs atheism). However, it fails in one aspect in my mind. It doesn't take into account waste of life. Consider, most religions require you to go at least somewhat out of your way to follow them. Most make you attend a service of some sort on a weekly basis. Over a 60 year lifetime, if you regularly attended a 2 hour service, you'd waste 260 days of your life. This doesn't even counting time for prayer, or anything else you do in the name of god.
    Pascal concludes that it is nothing/infinitely-bad-situation vs nothing/infinitely-good-situation.
    However, if there is no god, than we don't exist for an eternity before and after our lifetime. This makes our time here infinitely precious (as the proportion of our remaining life to the amount of non-life we face will always be infinity to 1). Therefore, wasting your life is an infinitely bad thing, because it is infinitely precious. You end up with nothing/I-Bad vs I-bad/I-Good. This would seem to argue in favor of Atheism.

    However, such reasoning only works when you consider god having an equal chance of existing as not, as many agnostics do. This is why I am an agnostic-atheist.
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    I imagine something peaceful, such as Buddhism or Wicca, would appeal to me. I perceive too much competition, secrecy and corruption in other religions.
    My brain is trying to kill me...

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    I would most likely choose Christianity; it lays claim to most of the best philosophers (the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Aquinas, Newton, More, Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, Adam Smith, and half of Kant), poets (John Donne, John Milton, Robert Herrick, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert, Ben Jonson, Samuel Johnson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, King David, Alexander Pope, etc.), and people (St. Francis of Assissi, St. Patrick, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sir Winston Chruchill, etc.). The upshots seem to outweigh the downfalls (Inquisition, Crusades, Witch trials, the IRA, etc., etc., etc.).
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Christianity. (You didn't expect something else, did you?) Here's my oft-repeated reasoning: Christianity is unique, in that it offers a solution to sin other than trying to "earn salvation." Sin is real, it's what separates us from God. Other religions either ignore it, or have some variant of "earning it." I believe humans are fundamentally separated from the nature of God, only God in human form could act as a mediator, and compared to any possible theological scenario, the atonement made by God incarnate makes the most sense.
    You can't sell a miracle cure to people who are healthy. Likewise, you can't sell so-called "salvation" without first convincing folks that they're no-good terrible aweful lowly scumbag sinners. Christianity is a "cure" that also brings you a "disease" in one neatly wrapped little book (bible).

    Voltaire once said, "If god were not real, it would be necessary to invent him." Well if we take that one step further, we can see for Christianity to work one would have to invent sin.

    It's a ridiculously circular logic.

    As for Pascal's wager... there is no tenable position to take.

    1) One would have to worship ALL religions. Many world religions contradict one another, so doing this isn't an option. Example: The Christian god isn't so keen on idol worshipping or worshipping other gods.

    2) Even if you DID worship all gods / follow all religions you could be faced with a Grabzor situation where the real god hasn't yet revealed itself to humanity. So ALL religions could be wrong.

    In the words of the W.O.P.R. from War Games, "The only winning move is not to play."

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    ...according to Buddhist beliefs, get out of the hell that is life.
    This is also part of Hindu philosophy, which is why I would choose Hinduism.

    Well, I would have to choose Christianity of course, because it seems to have the best reward and worst punishment that is available...
    One of the reasons I would not choose Christianity is because I personally don't understand the logic behind infinite punishment for finite sin. In Hinduism, both heaven and hell exist, but are temporary locations; you die, you go to heaven/hell for punishment/reward, and you are reborn to reap the actions of your sanchita karma,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanchita_karma

    The point of Hinduism is moksha, or liberation from samsara, or the cycle of reincarnation

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara...ra_in_Hinduism

    Christianity is unique, in that it offers a solution to sin other than trying to "earn salvation." Sin is real, it's what separates us from God. Other religions either ignore it, or have some variant of "earning it." I believe humans are fundamentally separated from the nature of God, only God in human form could act as a mediator, and compared to any possible theological scenario, the atonement made by God incarnate makes the most sense.
    The idea that humans are separate from God is present in Hinduism, though whether the separation is "fundamental" or not depends both on your definition of fundamental and what Hindu school of thought you subscribe to.

    Why should God pay for YOUR sins? "Earning salvation" makes more sense to me than receiving it for believing in Jesus; to me, it almost sounds like a bribe/threat: Believe in me and you get eternal bliss, fail to do so and you burn in hell, even if you were not fortunate enough to have been "shown the light" by missionaries. Hindus believe that there are many paths to God, and any path is valid so long as it is practiced sincerely; thus, evangelism has never been a driving force in Hinduism. I agree with that practice also; as Gandhi would say: "My own veneration for other faiths is the same as
    that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible."

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by The Great Khan View Post
    This is also part of Hindu philosophy, which is why I would choose Hinduism.



    One of the reasons I would not choose Christianity is because I personally don't understand the logic behind infinite punishment for finite sin. In Hinduism, both heaven and hell exist, but are temporary locations; you die, you go to heaven/hell for punishment/reward, and you are reborn to reap the actions of your sanchita karma,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanchita_karma

    The point of Hinduism is moksha, or liberation from samsara, or the cycle of reincarnation

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsara...ra_in_Hinduism



    The idea that humans are separate from God is present in Hinduism, though whether the separation is "fundamental" or not depends both on your definition of fundamental and what Hindu school of thought you subscribe to.

    Why should God pay for YOUR sins? "Earning salvation" makes more sense to me than receiving it for believing in Jesus; to me, it almost sounds like a bribe/threat: Believe in me and you get eternal bliss, fail to do so and you burn in hell, even if you were not fortunate enough to have been "shown the light" by missionaries. Hindus believe that there are many paths to God, and any path is valid so long as it is practiced sincerely; thus, evangelism has never been a driving force in Hinduism. I agree with that practice also; as Gandhi would say: "My own veneration for other faiths is the same as
    that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible."
    How do you know what happens to people who never heard about the Bible?

    Second, how do you know that Hell is an "infinite punishment for finite sin"?

    Is Hell a punishment? Or is it simply the result of having voluntarily separated yourself from God? If the only two options are a nice, warm house, or a freezing blizzard outside, is it really a "punishment" from the homeowner if you refuse the invitation into the house?

    Is Hell infinite in duration? Do you know whether Hell is escapable? Could someone in Hell repent?

    Third, is the sin actually finite? Or is there some ongoing component while the person is actually in Hell?
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by CliveStaples View Post
    How do you know what happens to people who never heard about the Bible?

    Second, how do you know that Hell is an "infinite punishment for finite sin"?

    Is Hell a punishment? Or is it simply the result of having voluntarily separated yourself from God? If the only two options are a nice, warm house, or a freezing blizzard outside, is it really a "punishment" from the homeowner if you refuse the invitation into the house?

    Is Hell infinite in duration? Do you know whether Hell is escapable? Could someone in Hell repent?

    Third, is the sin actually finite? Or is there some ongoing component while the person is actually in Hell?
    The Bible states that no one will leave Hell, Clive. The rich dude who tried to warn his family wasn't even allowed to send a message back to his sinning family.


    The Bible's afterlife has an especially odd morality.

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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldPhoenix View Post
    The Bible states that no one will leave Hell, Clive. The rich dude who tried to warn his family wasn't even allowed to send a message back to his sinning family.

    The Bible's afterlife has an especially odd morality.
    Which leaves the possibility that there is a continuing component of the sin.

    The rich dude who tried to warn his family would tell them exactly what "Moses and the prophets" did: God exists, the Bible is true, etc.
    If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. - Soren Kierkegaard
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    Re: Pascal's Wager

    How do you know what happens to people who never heard about the Bible?
    Well, I'm no expert on Christianity, but according to my logic, if the ONLY WAY to salvation is belief in Jesus, and some people in the world (through no fault of their own) never hear of Christianity because missionaries never reach them, they would go to Hell, right? Because if they don't, and they go to Heaven based on some other requirement (good works, etc.) then it is indeed possible to reach Heaven WITHOUT believing in Jesus, something that, according to Christians, is NOT possible. Therefore, all nonbelievers go to Hell, according to Christianity. This makes no sense to me, which is one of the reasons why I'm not a Christian.

    Second, how do you know that Hell is an "infinite punishment for finite sin"
    ?

    Isn't the Christian view of Hell eternal? Isn't sin finite? If you live for, say, 100 years, you commit a finite number of sins, right? You cannot commit an infinite number of sins on Earth, because that would require an infinite lifetime in order to commit those sins, something that you definitely do not have. Thus, it seems that the Christian view of Hell is an infinite punishment for finite sin, something that I don't believe in.

    Is Hell a punishment? Or is it simply the result of having voluntarily separated yourself from God? If the only two options are a nice, warm house, or a freezing blizzard outside, is it really a "punishment" from the homeowner if you refuse the invitation into the house?
    That's the thing; I DON'T believe that people who don't believe in Jesus are "separating themselves from God." Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says "In whatever way men approach me, even so do I go to them." Some people call Him Jesus, others Allah, others Yaweh, still others deny Him. Atheism too, is a valid path, according to Hinduism. Or else, why would there be atheistic Hindu schools of thought, like Samkhya exist?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samkhya

    There is a story in Hindu scripture; an atheist firmly believed that there was no God. Before doing any task, he would tell himself "There IS no God! There IS no God" (in contrast to the Hindu practice of invoking God's name before doing any task.) In when he died, he achieved moksha, or liberation! Why? Because by denying God, he was able to constantly focus on Him!


    Is Hell infinite in duration?
    According to Hinduism, hell is temporary, as is heaven. Moksha, or liberation, is re-unification with God, and thus is beyond heaven or hell; you are not born at all.

    Do you know whether Hell is escapable?
    If it's temporary, then you leave after you serve your sentence to be reborn. In Christianity, no it's not, as far as I know.

    Could someone in Hell repent?
    Well, if Hell is temporary, you'll serve your sentence and be reborn whether you repent or not; the point is to achieve moksha, something you can't do unless you detach yourself from this material plane (stuff like crime and sin attaches you here.) If it's infinite...well, what's the point? You had your chance to avoid Hell, and you blew it. That's why the Christian view of Hell doesn't make sens to me.

    Third, is the sin actually finite?
    How could it not be? Your time on earth is finite, as I previously said, so I believe the number of sins you commit, (and thus the punishment associated with them) are finite.

    Or is there some ongoing component while the person is actually in Hell?
    According to Christianity, no, as far as I can tell.

 

 

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