Pascal's Wager: Pros and Cons

Pascal's Wager: Pros and Cons


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Posted Oct 17, 2010 - 4:02 PM:
Subject: Pascal's Wager: Pro's and Con's
I'm studying Pascal's Wager, trying to figure out the basic pros and cons of the argument. Would anybody like to give me their opinion of the argument? I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

Edited by Kamerynn on Oct 17, 2010 - 6:57 PM. Reason: apostrophe use
Hoak, Hogan.

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Posted Oct 17, 2010 - 4:28 PM:

It's bollocks. Entire thing falls apart when you consider how many metaphysically possible divinities there are (infinite). Especially when his justification for a wager was that the divine was infinitely incomprehensible. He can't then go on to partition the divine into two categories! That goes against the whole incomprehensibility thing.

Even assuming it's in the Christian-or-nothing sense Pascal wrote it to be, and even if we assume for a moment it should cause belief in people... His suggestion to anyone that didn't currently believe was to, if I remember correctly:

Attend religious practice to stupefy yourself

Which isn't guaranteed to work.

As an argument for belief, it fails, and even we grant it to work - it won't necessarily convinice anyone it was aimed at.

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Posted Oct 17, 2010 - 5:04 PM:

I have to agree with fdrake. If taken at face value, it seems to make sense, but once you start to think about it, it falls very short of being a logical argument in favor of theism.

There really aren't any pros to the argument. If your purpose is nothing more than spreading your own religion, then perhaps you can consider that a pro. Again, at face value, it would seem to make sense. Otherwise, the fallacious implications behind the wager are enormous. As fdrake states, the number of gods the idea could apply to are enormous, including the possibility of a god which prefers atheists. Furthermore, it presents us with a conflict in common sense when we apply it to Christianity - would a loving, benevolent god, who encourages honesty and truth, encourage his creation to delude itself into believing that they believe in something they truly do not believe in?

For that matter, would any God prefer someone to choose dishonesty over a POSSIBLE negative consequence, or would this God prefer doing the right thing in face of this possible negative consequence?

It also assumes that the possible negative consequence is, indeed, possible. If I told you that if you didn't get off your computer, RIGHT NOW, you were going to have a heart attack, well, you just might. So, you're risking having a heart attack if you stay on, but if you get OFF, all you'll have done is lost a little time on your computer. So which do you choose? You could very well have a heart attack. But there is no real connection between staying on your computer and having a heart attack. The same logic applies to Pascal's wager. Perhaps God doesn't care about faith. Maybe he cares about good works. Or, hey, maybe only if you live in Antarctica will you not be in danger of hellfire (Which would mean a whole lot of people are gonna burn).

Edit: Oh, I also missed one of my points... It's also entirely possible that if you stay on your computer, you'll be perfectly fine. Just as it is also possible that if you choose disbelief in God, you just might end up dying and not having anything happen (Or end up ending in heaven, in accordance with my atheist-loving God).

Edited by WizardDevil on Oct 17, 2010 - 5:31 PM

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Posted Oct 17, 2010 - 6:35 PM:

My god actually rewards atheists, and punishes theists with eternal hellfire grin
So I say: why risk it? If my god doesn't exist; I lose nothing. If he does, however; I gain everything.
My god also punishes those who don't like tomato juice. I never liked tomato juice before learning about that, but I do now.....I honestly do. Why take the risk, right?
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Posted Oct 17, 2010 - 6:58 PM:

mcchillin88 wrote:
I've studying Pascal's Wager, trying to figure out the basic pro's and con's of the argument. Would anybody like to give me their opinion of the argument? I'd greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

The problem with Pascal's Wager is that it assumes that there isn't a possibility that one can lose if they believe in God. In all choices there exists a possibility that one can be wrong in whatever choice they make. Because this is overlooked, Pascal's Wager is biased.

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Posted Oct 18, 2010 - 1:47 AM:

Odlov wrote:
My god actually rewards atheists, and punishes theists with eternal hellfire grin

Although it may sound like a joke, there is something along those lines that makes as much sense as any customary religious position. Assume that God chose to design us such that our only sources of information are the senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. But God chooses not to show itself to us, and remains hidden. That implies that God does not want us to believe in it. Therefore, people who believe in God are rebelling against the will of God. Only those who don't believe in God are consistent with its wishes.

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Posted Oct 18, 2010 - 2:41 AM:

Thanks to everyone for their responses. I appreciate all the insight!
St Giordano Bruno

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Posted Oct 22, 2010 - 11:09 PM:

I could use the Pascal's Wager with the old way we used to lie to children if they gurn their faces and the wind changes it would stay that way permanently. If the child believes it and does not gurn there is no consequences, but if the child does not believe it they run the risk that Mom may be right. But as mature adults we would not take that seriously at all. Atheists feel the same way about God. Same could apply to walking under ladders or living in the 13th floor in an apartment complex. The stance that you believe in God just purely out fear of being punished in Hell is just another superstition like walking under ladders.

Edited by St Giordano Bruno on Oct 22, 2010 - 11:16 PM
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Posted Oct 23, 2010 - 2:37 PM:

One can imagine a Pascal wagerer on Judgment Day:


You don't really believe in me, you just placed a bet on me because you figured you've got nothing to lose.

The wagerer:

Uh, is that against the rules?

The whole thing has always seemed surreal to me because it revolves around how someone who does not believe can somehow just decide to believe. As though it were analogous to flicking on a light switch.


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Posted Oct 23, 2010 - 6:54 PM:

Agreed. Overall this argument does not make sense. Especially for Christianity as Christianity requires belief to enter into heaven, not acts. So even If you bet on god and live life as if there was a god, if you never truly believed then it was all for nothing.

Maybe this works for something like reincarnation or any other religious belief that rewards good acts. Then again, when you put all religions into the equation you end up with alot of potential bad bets.

Any attempt to discover the existence of God is futile. There is just no way to be sure. You either believe or you do not.
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