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Mathematical appraisal of Pascal's Wager

by 2AlphaMales?!
Tags: appraisal, mathematical, pascal, wager
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2AlphaMales?!
#1
Jul5-12, 02:57 PM
P: 14
For those who aren't familiar with it, Pascal's Wager, in it's bluntest manifestation, is the idea that being religious (Christian or Muslim) is worth any finite cost, because the possible consequence (eternal damnation) of not being religious is of infinite magnitude.

There are several problems with Pascal's Wager although they're...conversational, and it's potency remains for many.

Is it possible to define the failings (or, indeed, the irrefutable truths) of Pascal's wager in terms of mathematics? My knowledge of maths is limited to say the least, but I'm thinking in terms of ill defined operands/independant variables as negating the valididty of the finite VS infinite quandry...perhaps.

On th other hand, perhaps the "infinite" component of the equation really does render all opposing factors inefectual - again, my maths is poor so I'm not sure of the mathematical definition of infinity, if, indeed, it is a mathematical concept at all and not a philosophical one.

Any thoughts about this would be very welcome, although I should probably remind that one need remain strictly academic in appraisal of this issue so as not to get into theism VS atheism arguments which could fall foul of the forum rules...I think : /...this topic is just about the mathematical realities of Pascal's Wager, not asserting that there is god or not.
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SteveL27
#2
Jul5-12, 03:06 PM
P: 800
Quote Quote by 2AlphaMales?! View Post
For those who aren't familiar with it, Pascal's Wager, in it's bluntest manifestation, is the idea that being religious (Christian or Muslim) is worth any finite cost, because the possible consequence (eternal damnation) of not being religious is of infinite magnitude.

There are several problems with Pascal's Wager although they're...conversational, and it's potency remains for many.

Is it possible to define the failings (or, indeed, the irrefutable truths) of Pascal's wager in terms of mathematics? My knowledge of maths is limited to say the least, but I'm thinking in terms of ill defined operands/independant variables as negating the valididty of the finite VS infinite quandry...perhaps.

On th other hand, perhaps the "infinite" component of the equation really does render all opposing factors inefectual - again, my maths is poor so I'm not sure of the mathematical definition of infinity, if, indeed, it is a mathematical concept at all and not a philosophical one.

Any thoughts about this would be very welcome, although I should probably remind that one need remain strictly academic in appraisal of this issue so as not to get into theism VS atheism arguments which could fall foul of the forum rules...I think : /...this topic is just about the mathematical realities of Pascal's Wager, not asserting that there is god or not.
By the same logic, you don't want to piss off the flying spaghetti monster.
micromass
#3
Jul5-12, 03:10 PM
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P: 18,346
Religious debates are not allowed on this forum.

If you're interested in questions like this, then you should probably research game theory a bit.


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