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06:15 PM on 01/08/2013
Pascal’s so called wager: If you consider the consequences of believing and not believing, the potential rewards and potential losses show belief to be the more reasonable course.

Pascal’s is stupid!
First off let’s say that god isn’t just imaginary nonsense that was made up by lying theist. (LOL)
Now let’s pretend that this god is all knowing. Now say you don’t believe in god, but like the cowardly lion in the wizard of OZ, you’re a fearful person who is afraid of death and afraid of the “consequences and potential losses” of not believing in this god, so you decide you’re going to believe not because you actually believe god exist but because you fear the “consequences and potential losses”.

Wouldn’t you suppose that this all knowing god would know the only reason you believe is out of fear and not because you actually believe in this god?
11:33 AM on 01/09/2013
The wager is flawed in a number of ways, but the actual Pascal does not make the mistake you attribute to him here. He is well aware that deciding it is in your interest to believe in something does not make you believe it. But he had a good idea of how psychology works and advocated the kind of behaviors most likely to lead to an actual belief, going to church, hanging out with believers, getting the belief reinforced. That is Pascal understood that belief is not entirely rational. His contention was that having rationally determined that it is in one's interest to belief in God one could engage in behaviors which make that belief more likely.
03:41 PM on 01/09/2013
My micro-bio is empty.
05:20 PM on 01/08/2013
One either believes a thing or one doesn't; we cannot will belief, and have no control over that. According to Revelations 3:15-16, either cold unbelief or hot belief is fine with God, since it's real, but what is not fine is hypocrisy. If you are lukewarm, or just faking it, God will spew you out of his mouth. If you go through life going to the trouble of pretending to be faithful when you really don't believe, come judgment day you'll be damned anyway. Pascal's wager is, in other words, a sucker bet.
11:36 AM on 01/09/2013
Actually beliefs change through life. Look at the way that Republicans embrace or reject Keynesian stimulus depending on whether they will get credit for an improving economy.

As I noted in a comment just above (or just below if you are sorting comments the other way) Pascal did not think the Wager could produce belief in God, but he thought it could induce one to the behaviors likely to lead to belief, and he had a reasonable sense of what they are, repetition and tribal reinforcement are central as in the Republican case.
My micro-bio is empty.
05:27 PM on 01/09/2013
Republicans are tribal if anyone is; perhaps they ought to have their own reservation? I haven't read where Pascal supposed that modified behaviors might lead to modified beliefs, but of course that's not impossible. I do know, of course, that it didn't work for me. I spent my youth going through the motions of belief, by necessity, but put all that aside along with the rest of the things of childhood once I was old enough to think for myself.
04:51 PM on 01/08/2013
Two verses from Steve Turners satirical poem “Creed” capture the dilemma of modern man.
We believe that after death comes nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
They say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then it’s
Compulsory heaven for all
Excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn.

If chance be
The father of all flesh,
Disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
And when you hear
State of emergency!
Sniper kills ten!
Troops on a rampage!
Whites go looting!
Bomb blasts school!
It is but the sound of man
Worshipping his maker.
blogger; programmer; science fan
03:38 PM on 01/08/2013
"Thus, it is rational to put faith in a belief in God and to lead a life that conforms to it."

But which God? One of the Christian versions? Islam? One of the Hindu gods? What if the ancient Egyptians had the one true religion or any of the other untold thousands of religions that have existed? If God exists and is picky about us believing correctly, most of humanity is doomed. Mathematically, the chance that you've chosen the right one (or been born into the right one) is negligible.

Regardless, you can't choose what you believe. If someone threatens to harm you unless you believe in Santa Claus, it may make you *say* you believe in Santa, but it won't make you really believe unless someone can actually convince you.
Joel Petersen
I do desire we be better strangers
01:34 PM on 01/09/2013
Didn't South Park already answer this question? The Mormons are right. Shame 'bout Romney.
For a year and a day.
04:22 PM on 01/09/2013
let's go with the Greeks, I mean come on theyhad a god of wine
03:30 PM on 01/08/2013
I chose to be basicly moral and do some good, period. Whatever any possible afterlife holds is indifferent to me....what I do in this current life, is the important thing....
MENSA, Gay, Atheist, Married , age 58
02:48 PM on 01/08/2013
I think that basing your actions and feelings on a false premise guarantees that you will end up with an inferior result. So, picking one of the religions and then believing in it will just make your life inferior to what it might have been.
The relgious lifestyle choice is a choice that strong people need not make.
02:22 PM on 01/08/2013
If you are going to play Pascal's wager, then you have to decide which god(s) you will place your bet on.
02:20 PM on 01/08/2013
There is NO evidence of an afterlife. So why waste your time on it? What ever happens happens. There is nothing you can do now that will change it, so why bother?

In response to Pascal, I guess I choose to believe in my lord the heffalump, because if I don't I risk eternal punishment from his large hooves.
02:12 PM on 01/08/2013
The problem with Pascal's Wager is that you are positing a god with arbitrary features -- god wants you to do X and not do Y so you will get reward Z. But you can obviously plug in ANY features.

The "usual" one is that god wants you to believe in his existence and dislikes those who do not, and rewards believers in an afterlife. But that's hardly the only possibility.

For example, what if god prefers skepticism and dislikes faith. and rewards atheists with an afterlife and punishes all others? Suddenly, it's better to be an atheist.

Or what if god likes people who own elephants, and dislikes people who eat ice cream. Better buy an elephant and swear off ice cream, just to be sure.

But all of this is nonsense.