Pascal's wager refuted... or not

#1
I have been reading here and there that Pascal's wager has been refutted and I spent a bit of time looking at the arguments... I was hoping to find some good arguments to chew on and I felt like I wasted a bit of my time.
All the rebuttals made are based on the understanding of "religion" of a 10-year old. They use the same arguments that the people they are trying to disprove when I think they should took a few steps back and put things into perspective.

Arguments such as
  • "In fact, believing in a religion, comes with many responsibilities. Thus you spend time in sermons and preaching, time which could be invested elsewhere."
No it doesn't come with many responsibilities; religion is about "musts" not "have to's". "Religion" is about getting yourself closer to the divine and how to get there. YOU choose to be closer or not. Nobody forces you but yourself.

  • "Subsequently believing in the unknowable comes with multiple drawbacks. So, in return for investing time in something which is possible, but by no means certain, you waste time, you dull your intellect and take up questionable morals, on the only place where your rewards are certain and tangible, Earth."
Right. Questionable morals like the ones that judiciary systems in all western society's are based on... or should we base morals on the fact that "human condition is absurd", that "life is worth nothing but nothing is worth life". Let's have a look at societies that have chose a path away from religion/God.

But worse, you get into this in the end

  • "There's an infinite number of possible deities and/or religions, all of which are just as likely to be correct, due to their non natural nature."
Ah, the spaghetti monster, Zeus, and other tooth fairy argument so dear to Dawkins.

Right, so basically choosing not to bet is the best choice. I shall ask this person for ways of winning the lottery then. This guy is basically saying that by not playing you win. Smart move!
Basic maths here, a probability of 1 out of a million will still give you a better result than a 0 probability.


People's reasoning nowadays, especially people with anti-religious motives, anti-theist motivations has been completely devoured by their hate. They are so self deluded that they do not even realize that their emotions govern their thinking.

source: http://www.wikihow.com/Refute-Pascal's-Wager
 
#2
The arguments are interesting.

However personally I consider that the whole idea is based upon a misunderstanding, or several misunderstandings. Examples include the idea that there is a cost involved. Another is that any possible reward is out of reach, at some time in the future. For me on the contrary, it is a win-win. It costs nothing, and the benefits are immediate. Though in order to reach this view, it is necessary to discard the encumbrance of many obsolete and in my opinion misguided concepts of religion.
 
#3
It costs nothing, and the benefits are immediate.
I might add, that I consider the idea of some delayed possible "reward" as a potentially harmful concept in itself. I don't mean it is always harmful, but it is open to misuse.
 
#4
I have been reading here and there that Pascal's wager has been refutted and I spent a bit of time looking at the arguments... I was hoping to find some good arguments to chew on and I felt like I wasted a bit of my time.
All the rebuttals made are based on the understanding of "religion" of a 10-year old. They use the same arguments that the people they are trying to disprove when I think they should took a few steps back and put things into perspective.

Arguments such as
  • "In fact, believing in a religion, comes with many responsibilities. Thus you spend time in sermons and preaching, time which could be invested elsewhere."
No it doesn't come with many responsibilities; religion is about "musts" not "have to's". "Religion" is about getting yourself closer to the divine and how to get there. YOU choose to be closer or not. Nobody forces you but yourself.

  • "Subsequently believing in the unknowable comes with multiple drawbacks. So, in return for investing time in something which is possible, but by no means certain, you waste time, you dull your intellect and take up questionable morals, on the only place where your rewards are certain and tangible, Earth."
Right. Questionable morals like the ones that judiciary systems in all western society's are based on... or should we base morals on the fact that "human condition is absurd", that "life is worth nothing but nothing is worth life". Let's have a look at societies that have chose a path away from religion/God.

But worse, you get into this in the end

  • "There's an infinite number of possible deities and/or religions, all of which are just as likely to be correct, due to their non natural nature."
Ah, the spaghetti monster, Zeus, and other tooth fairy argument so dear to Dawkins.

Right, so basically choosing not to bet is the best choice. I shall ask this person for ways of winning the lottery then. This guy is basically saying that by not playing you win. Smart move!
Basic maths here, a probability of 1 out of a million will still give you a better result than a 0 probability.


People's reasoning nowadays, especially people with anti-religious motives, anti-theist motivations has been completely devoured by their hate. They are so self deluded that they do not even realize that their emotions govern their thinking.

source: http://www.wikihow.com/Refute-Pascal's-Wager
Are you talking about Pascal's wager as set specifically within a Christian framework (which it is) and having to do explicitly with the reward of eternal salvation or punishment of eternity in hell? Do you agree with Pascal's wager? If not, why?
 
#5
Are you talking about Pascal's wager as set specifically within a Christian framework (which it is) and having to do explicitly with the reward of eternal salvation or punishment of eternity in hell? Do you agree with Pascal's wager? If not, why?
ICan you please quote the extract in which Pascal says that it is only about the Christian god?
 
#7
Are you implying that it's not? Also, I would very much appreciate an answer to the question I posed.
I am not implying anything, I am asking you where it is mentioned that it applies to the christian God only.

Now to be able to answer your question one has to wonder what god Jesus was worshipping? Some christians say that he's God incarnate, some of them say that he was the son of God?

All I can say is that I agree with Pascal only to a certain extent.
I believe that God is all Love and forgiving. By not believing in Him one only chooses to shut the door on Him and deprives himself/herself from reaching the divine.
I believe that all religions are different paths leading to the same destination and I base that on the golden rule that you will find in most of them. By choosing one, one chooses a path. By not choosing one, you decide to stay in the dark.

http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/images/2008/03/11/871765615_54e46924af.jpg
 
#8
ICan you please quote the extract in which Pascal says that it is only about the Christian god?
Whether it is the Christian God or not, it is set with regard to deities whose policy is that belief in the deity and/or following the rules set by the deity = some major eternal reward and the disbelief or not following the rules = some sort of eternal harm.

For more benign forms, including many of the types conceived by some members on this forum the wager wouldn't apply as the odds evaluation would be completely different. The differences in expected value between belief and non-belief are much narrower in many contexts.

In fact, Pascal's Wager would consider those benign deities similar to atheism in terms of the bet hedging. Ie: Pascal would say that you are betting unwisely by believing in a universal consciousness and that we've all chosen to be here to play our roles, and then we go back, or get reincarnated choosing different roles and that we gradually evolve our spirit and learn valuable lessons. He would argue that the potential cost of not believing in that model is small, compared to the huge risk of not following a deity who demands obedience in order to reward you with eternity, and may not care that you believe in a universal consciousness because you didn't follow its rules and sends you to eternal punishment for it.

To sum up: Pascal's Wager involves probability theory. It is the enormity of the reward and the horror of the punishment that gives it any weight.
 
#9
I am not implying anything, I am asking you where it is mentioned that it applies to the christian God only.
A good place to start is Pascal's Pensees, in which he lays out his logical arguments for Christianity including the wager.

Now to be able to answer your question one has to wonder what god Jesus was worshipping? Some christians say that he's God incarnate, some of them say that he was the son of God?
I don't really follow. In the litany of things Christians debate about I don't think Jesus being simultaneously the son of God and God incarnate is one of them.

All I can say is that I agree with Pascal only to a certain extent.
I believe that God is all Love and forgiving. By not believing in Him one only chooses to shut the door on Him and deprives himself/herself from reaching the divine.
I believe that all religions are different paths leading to the same destination and I base that on the golden rule that you will find in most of them. By choosing one, one chooses a path. By not choosing one, you decide to stay in the dark.

http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/images/2008/03/11/871765615_54e46924af.jpg
I'm a big fan of the golden rule. But I am unable to wrap my head around what anyone is talking about when they mention God, unless they are specific about it which is often not the case.
 
#10
Whether it is the Christian God or not, it is set with regard to deities whose policy is that belief in the deity and/or following the rules set by the deity = some major eternal reward and the disbelief or not following the rules = some sort of eternal harm.

For more benign forms, including many of the types conceived by some members on this forum the wager wouldn't apply as the odds evaluation would be completely different. The differences in expected value between belief and non-belief are much narrower in many contexts.

In fact, Pascal's Wager would consider those benign deities similar to atheism in terms of the bet hedging. Ie: Pascal would say that you are betting unwisely by believing in a universal consciousness and that we've all chosen to be here to play our roles, and then we go back, or get reincarnated choosing different roles and that we gradually evolve our spirit and learn valuable lessons. He would argue that the potential cost of not believing in that model is small, compared to the huge risk of not following a deity who demands obedience in order to reward you with eternity, and may not care that you believe in a universal consciousness because you didn't follow its rules and sends you to eternal punishment for it.

To sum up: Pascal's Wager involves probability theory. It is the enormity of the reward and the horror of the punishment that gives it any weight.
I disagree on the shallowness ascribed to Pascal thinking. He is claimed as being a forerunner of of Existentialism, besides laying out the framework for Decision Theory, later formalized by Von Neumann and Nash.

He expressed an objective view of Ethics, than neither was doctrine from God or merely subjective to the person. From the SEP
Pascal's rejection of any naturalistic explanation of the human mind or soul, his emphasis on dread of an unknown future (because, according to his theology, we do not know whether we are saved or damned), the apparent insignificance of human existence, and the experience of being dominated by political and natural forces that far exceed our limited powers, strike a chord of recognition with some of the existentialist writings that emerged in Europe following the Second World War. This was philosophy in a different register. Rather than speculate about matters that transcend the limited capacity of the human intellect, Pascal invites his readers to recognize the description of his personal experiences as resonating with their own. While emphasizing the natural insignificance of individual human lives, he did not conclude that human existence was absurd. He pointed instead, as Christian existentialists have done since, to a source of meaning that would transcend the limitations of our thought.
 
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#11
I disagree on the shallowness ascribed to Pascal thinking. He is claimed as being a forerunner of of Existentialism, besides laying out the framework for Decision Theory, later formalized by Von Neumann and Nash.

He expressed an objective view of Ethics, than neither was doctrine from God or meerly subjective to the person. From the SEP
I'm not sure what part of my post you're responding to here. To be clear, my post should be read only in the context of the wager.
 
#12
I'm not sure what part of my post you're responding to here. To be clear, my post should be read only in the context of the wager.
The "wager" is loaded with structure that is open to logical analysis via the tenets of decision theory. You discounted its importance in a Buddhist framework. Further, by implication, its strength in ethical humanism. I do understand your comment and think it appropriate in the current paradigm.

However, I find the "wager" at full value in both an Eastern context (Karma) and in ethical humanism as soon as morality is not limited to "cognition in brains" - but in an extended mind worldview - where there is an objective moral structure in our social environments.

My stance is that no belief system has a contextual grip on moral behavior, as if each system is a special world The wager's pragmatic reach is only to actual resultant deeds and intentions. It applies universally, imho.
 
#13
To sum up: Pascal's Wager involves probability theory. It is the enormity of the reward and the horror of the punishment that gives it any weight.
I do sympathise with this view. Personally I find it a somewhat repulsive argument. The whole idea of reward and punishment, carrot and stick is not in itself satisfactory. When we choose how to live, in my opinion it must have relevance, here and now, in the current life.
 
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