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Pascal's Wager

  1. Jun 5, 2007 #1
    Pascal's Wager:
    If you believe in God, and God exists, you go to heaven.
    If you believe in God, and God doesn't exist, nothing happens.
    If you don't believe in God, and exists, you go to hell.
    If you don't believe in God, and God doesn't exist, nothing happens.
    Therefore, you can statistically maximize your gain by believing in God.

    There is a flaw in this argument. As a premise, it assumes that if God exists then God is a generalized version of the God portrayed in the Christian Bible. If you wanted to play the game correctly, you would have to consider the minimum requirements for eternal reward for each religion. Then you would have see if there is any degeneracy among these religions so that you could choose the set of beliefs that yields the highest multiplicity in result. Of course, this line of reasoning assumes an equal weighting for all possible relgions... which we have no reason to assume.

    Anyway, these wagers are really somewhat pointless. If God exists, and God is concerned enough about your personal faith such that this God is willing to damn you for eternity, I seriously doubt that "playing the odds" will win you any favor in the eyes of such a being.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 5, 2007 #2
    To expand on your explanation of the flaw, you not only have to consider every current religion, but all metaphysical possibilities imaginable. You have to consider that maybe humanity doesn't know the exact truth. Has never even thought of it. This is an impossible gamble.

    The second flaw, is that belief isn't determined by reward. You have to be convinced of it. So you can justify say, brainwashing someone, with that argument (ignoring the first flaw) because it'll give them eternal bliss, but just knowing it won't very well make you believe it just like that.
  4. Jun 5, 2007 #3
    I imagine that a fair and just God would not expect us to practice a religion which has not been revealed to us--a metaphysical possiblity. Unless, the situation were something like the Matrix... and God is only interested in saving those who can save themselves. I suppose however, that is the idea behind "finding enlightenment" in the Buddhist tradition.

    I suppose it is also possible that God is simply not fair and just. In this case, it probably pointless to search for a path of eternal life and happiness... because if God is that unreasonable, we're all screwed. Then again, I suppose that is the premise behind some of the Gnostic religions.

    Damn, it's almost like there is a religion for every possibility imaginable.
  5. Jun 5, 2007 #4
    Pascal's Wager is pointless.

    If you've read Thoughts, you'll understand how Pascal wastes most of the book by complaining about atheism and the way he thinks being irreligious is completely irrational. He makes too many assumptions, specifically about God and how he would act after death. In the face of Pascal's hatred for nonbelievers, I would more likely accept something called "the atheist's wager", which is this:

    "You should live your life and try to make the world a better place for your being in it, whether or not you believe in God. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent God, he may judge you on your merits coupled with your commitments, and not just on whether or not you believed in him"

    Makes more sense to me, there isn't a reason why God would care what the belief of a person were, just as long as they acted with a degree of selflessness and care towards others I suppose.
  6. Jun 5, 2007 #5
    Pascal's Wager is at first sight a very convincing argument. However, upon closer inspection it falls for at least two reasons.

    First of all, it can be used to argue for a number of nonsensical causes. According to the philosophy behind the Wager, you would statistically maximize your gain by believing in reincarnation, LaVeyan Satanism or any other religious dogma there is. The problem is that a lot of religions are mutually exclusive. Which one to choose? It would be a real downer if one spent one's entire life as a devout Christian to later find out that you would be reborn as a maggot, because your karma was bad.

    Also, according to Christian mythology, belief along won't get you to 'heaven'.
  7. Jun 5, 2007 #6
    There is a flaw in this argument. As a premise, it assumes that if God exists then God is a generalized version of the God portrayed in the Christian Bible.

    What if you dont portray god as in the christians, how bout the muslims, and what happend to all the people before any one of them were created
  8. Jun 5, 2007 #7
    people really need to read threads before posting.
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