Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pascal's Wager revisited

One of the more commonly heard "reasons" to believe in the Christian god is Pascal's Wager. Simply, if you believe in the Christian god and he doesn't exist, you lose nothing. If you believe in him and he does, you gain everything. Meanwhile, if you don't believe in him and he doesn't exist, you lose nothing, but if you don't believe in him and he does, you suffer for eternity.

Many objections to this simplistic argument can be found, but more novel and interesting is an alternative wager postulated by a Darwin Bedford, the "Atheist Messiah and Spiritual Reality Therapist:

1. If you don't believe in God and you are wrong, after you die, so long as you have lead a moral life you should have nothing to fear. A compassionate god would not punish you for guessing which religion had an exclusive handle on the truth.

2. If you believe in God and you are wrong, you will have done foolish things such as wasting time praying when you should have taken effective action. You will have lived your life as if it did not matter because you erroneously thought it was merely a trial, preparatory to your real life after death. You would have lived an overly safe conventional life, keeping your nose clean and avoiding all adventure. You would have let evil thrive, because you felt dealing with that was God's responsibility, not yours. You would have done irrational things just because some hoary old book tricked you into it, like mistreating blacks or gays. You would have wasted much of your life in fear of the imaginary divine meat axe.

3. If you don't believe in God and you are right, you live a zestful life. Every second counts. It is all you have got. You don't fritter your time in ritualistic activities. You take responsibility for the planet. You make a difference. You made your decisions rationally, not based on fear of some lunatic bogeyman in the sky. You behave well not because you fear punishment, but because you know that such behaviour is globally and locally optimal, good for everyone and also for you. You are a blessing to the planet.

4. If you believe in God and you are right, you are more likely than not to be an insufferably smug hypocrite, looking down your nose at others and judging incessantly just as Jesus told you not to do. God judges your actions, not your beliefs. In Luke 13:25, Jesus warned you that mere praying would not get you into heaven; only good deeds would. You get punished doubly since you ought to have known better.


Blogger jeffyen said...

Intriguing initial wager by Pascal. I think it's a little simplistic, but not because it's simplistic due to the wager itself, but because of the assumptions that are bet on in the first place. I wrote a little about this in the comments of the previous post.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger war in the pocket said...

Regarding 4,

So what do you make of those who have faith and do works?

Thursday, October 27, 2005 4:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jude v14

Thursday, February 09, 2006 4:03:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home