Does Pascal's Wager provide enough reason to believe in God? Why? Why not?


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Most Helpful Girl

  • Pascal's wager is fucking stupid. If the only reason you believe is because you weigh it to be the better gamble, you're not a true believer and you're not getting into heaven anyways.

    I got kicked out of a religion class at my private Christian high school because of an argument I had with the teacher about this lol

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Most Helpful Guy

  • No, it doesn't offer any proof about God at all. It is simply an analysis of what belief structure would be most self-serving.

    The biggest problem, obviously, is... whatgod? It hinges on placing all your bets on a god so that if that god exists you get rewarded. But gods tend to be mutually exclusive. It says you should believe in god because if god exists you'll be rewarded, but if you believe in the god of the Catholics, and the actual god is... Odin, or something, then you're screwed. Or you believe in the doctrines of the Yazidi faith, but the 'truth' is actually that the Hindu faith had it right all along... There are a near infinite number possible faiths and interpretations that saying 'picking faith is the best choice because if you're right you'll be safe' is pointless. Probability suggests you will pick the wrong one.

    It also takes a fairly self-centered approach in that it implies that what is most convenient for you personally is the best course of action, and not what is best for the world as a whole. Strictly following the doctrine of a god whose tenets include the wholesale murder of every other person on the planet that does not follow the exact same doctrines is not going to be seen as the most moral course of action by most rational thinkers. Would it be the best course of action to kill innocents in order to save yourself? Is your one life worth more than a hundred innocent lives of others? The logic doesn't really stand up as moral when you look outside of the self.

    It also has some problems with the assumption that this one 'correct' god is going to punish every person that is good and moral but that doesn't follow it's precise doctrine. Someone who is good and moral and lives a life, but that was born in a different part of the world, and thus born into a different religious tradition, is essentially doomed to eternal punishment by the simple problem of geography. It also suggests that morally bad people will be saved through their belief. So this Wager sets up a scenario where good people are punished, and wicked people are rewarded, by virtue of guessing the right god. A god that is ok with that situation seems like a problematic god to follow, as obedience is clearly more important than morality, which suggests that the god being worshiped is not a 'good' god at all.

    There may or be other reasons for a person to believe or not believe in God, but Pascal's Wager sure isn't 'proof' of anything. It tends to suggest the opposite.

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    • He didn't say anything about proof. He asked if it provides a logical reason to practice religion or embrace beliefs. That is how Pascal framed it, not as proof of anything.

    • @zagor No, it does not provide a logical reason to practice religion. It's logic is flawed.

What Girls Said 1

  • What is that?

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    • It's the claim that:
      - If you believe in God and God exists, then you WIN because you go to heaven and happy end forever
      - If you believe in God and God does not exist, then you kinda win because you lived a fulfilling happy life as a Christian
      - If you don't believe in God and God does not exist, then you kinda win because you haven't lost
      - If you don't believe in God and God exists, then you'll be in eternal punishment which is bad

      So with that into consideration, you are more likely to "win" and less likely to "lose" if you DO believe in God, regardless of whether God exists or not.

      That's the claim anyways, but I think being a Christian if there is no God is an arbitrary limitation that will keep you from being truly happy, which is why I do not accept Pascal's Wager as a valid argument for religion.

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    • In that case I think it's a good argument

    • It certainly camouflages its bias well, doesn't it :P

What Guys Said 15

  • It really doesn't. It makes the assumption that living a Christian life makes you live a "whole, happy life which is inherently good for you", and that's objectively questionable considering it tells you all these things NOT to do (f. ex. "marriage outside of sex is prohibited", you also have to pray and put religion in front of every other aspect of your life).

    So what he sees as a neutral-win (you were a Christian but there is actually no God), he sees it as positive - but in reality, it's a loss for you. Therefore, Pascal's Wager is biased and did not convince me.

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    • Let's consider sex within marriage and only one sexual partner. Wouldn't that limit exposure to sexually transmitted diseases? And if widely practiced reduce the incidence rate immensely?

      As gentiles I don't even think half of the restrictions of the Old Testament even apply. For instance gentiles are not required to get circumcised as sign of covenant. God restrictions also don't apply not grooming. It isn't even impossible that martial rites were disrupted hence Paul creating the term fornication.

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    • Marriage then was quite a bit different though. But red tape is terrible and definitely enough to turn one off to god. :D

  • But what if I believe in the wrong god? 😱

    Also lets say you are internally a really bad person with dark desires but act good only out of fear of punishment in the afterlife. Like maybe you really want to kill lots of people but you hold back because you are worried about damnation. Would god still punish you just for having those desires?

    If so you're damned either way so might as well fulfill those urges and kill people.
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    • 1. The "wrong god" problem is not particularly strong as a counterargument because it's kind of like playing bingo. If you choose not to play you cannot win. If you choose to play you may. The only thing that the "WG" argument confirms is that it's a blind bet which doesn't establish it isn't with taking.

      As for the "urge v action" to my knowledge most myths presume humans have these urges and self control pays off. Depends on which god you choose though... If you choose to play.

    • Good point.

  • No for the very simple reason that it does not instill belief. You have to believe it in order to justify that reasoning if you don't believe then their is no hell no god to anger so your not going to believe. Its circular, it requires belief in order to scare you into believing but since you already believe it has no function. The contradictory nature of reality would be a better argument then that.

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  • No. The outcomes are not equal in probabilities.

    For example, if you roll a pair of snake eyes then you win. If you roll something else then you lose.

    Since you only have 2 out comes, are you willing to bet your life on that '50%' chance?

    Also, maybe the Christian got it wrong and the one going to heaven are those guys worshipping the spaghetti monster. Never thought about that now did ya?

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    • There are 4 outcomes.

      1. You play the game and you win.

      2. You play the game, the game is not rigged, and you lose.

      3. You play the game, the game is rigged, and you lose.

      4. You do not play the game.

      Thing is the cost to play is 0. You have no gain from refusing to play the game.

      "Rigged" and "Unrigged" in this scenario would be "At least one diety exists" and "no deities exist". If there are no deities then the game is rigged because you've nothing to gain by playing but also nothing to lose. If at least a deity exists then the game is not rigged because even if you make the blind bet you have nothing to lose.

      Choosing not to play is simply the worst option.

      For a more tangible option let's say someone walks up to you and gives you a scratch-off for free. When is it the best option to refuse to play? It's a blind bet to you still, you may win, you may lose fair and square, you may lose and the giver may know it's a dud ticket (rigged), or you refuse to play.

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    • A rigged dice do not have equal chances. You mighty not know the out comes but the probabilities are not equal. Lottery tickets do not have equal chances because there are more losers than winners.

      The belief and reward system you showed is flawed because it did not list all possible outcomes and did not list the probabilities.

      For example, you did not list the outcome that "believe in god then be unhappy and go to hell" or "not believe and go to heaven". These are possibilities! If the god is an evil god or the god you believed in is false then you wouldn't go to heaven now.

      Secondly, the probabilities are not equal. Picking up a joker in a deck of 52 is a possibility but highly improbable unless someone forgot to take the joker out. Picking up an ace in an unknown deck is also not equal to picking up a king because the might contain only aces.

    • Sorry bad example with lottery.

  • No. First, there are alternative possibilities that would make belief detrimental to self-interest. That's not considered.

    Second, acting as if you believe and truly believing are different, and if the Christian God exists, He will know and that's the important thing.

    Third, contrary to popular belief, Christianity does not require blind faith; active questioning and seeking truth are encouraged.

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  • It provides enough reason to believe in A god, but not WHICH god.

    The Christian god is one of only MILLIONS of gods who are ready to send you to hell for doubting their existence.

    I agree with Pascal that its unecessarily risky to reject ALL gods, but what makes him so sure that Christianity and Atheism are the only two options?

    No matter which religion you choose to follow, you only have roughly a one in a million chance of making it to paradise.

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  • 1) "I could kill someone if I drive at double the speed limit, but Sky Friend™ is going to give me a medal for that when I arrive in heaven, so why not do it anyway?" You could invent something idiotic like this to excuse every seemingly stupid or irresponsible action ever.
    2) Which god should I believe in? There are billions of them. Here's a list:
    http://i48.tinypic.com/10px942.jpg
    I'm sure that some of those gods won't like it when I believe in one of the others, will they?

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  • To believers perhaps, but than they already believed. To non believers probably not. But than, I'm a Presbyterian so I don't see believe as a choice. You'll either believe in God our you won't, there's nothing I can do to change anyone's mind if God doesn't will it.

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  • As a Christian no it doesn't work the way he describes it

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  • There is no physical proof of god. God is not real.

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    • There's no physical proof that God doesn't exist either.

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    • @Sara413 the burden of prove is on whoever makes the claim. If you claim science disproves God, than the burden of proof is on the person to disprove God. But lack of evidence, as it's been famously said, does not disprove.

    • @Sara413 do since he made the claim, the burden of proof would fall on him.

  • Hell does not work the way that dude thinks it works

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  • There is never enough reason to believe in good untill there is actual proof he exists

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  • Creations are made by creator
    Who denies this need to have a proof, not the other way

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  • YES.

    A) IT DOESN'T MATTER CUZ YOU'LL BE HAPPY ANYWAY

    B) SUSPICIOUS -_-

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  • Out of all the countless gods out there, what if you chose the wrong one? That doesn't make it a 50/50 bet then but really only improves your odds slightly over the atheist.

    Statistically the best bet would be to believe in all gods. So get on your knees and start praying to all these gods.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_deities

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