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cho pilo May 7, '11 1:50 am

Pascals Wager
 
Argument from inconsistent revelations

Quote:

It asserts that it is unlikely that God exists because many theologians and faithful adherents have produced conflicting and mutually exclusive revelations. The argument states that since a person not privy to revelation must either accept it or reject it based solely upon the authority of its proponent, and there is no way for a mere mortal to resolve these conflicting claims by investigation, it is prudent to reserve one's judgment.
We can ignore the part about the unlikeliness of God's existence and just concentrate on the part about mutually exclusive revelations so far as it relates to the usefulness of pascals wager as an argument to accept religion.

cho pilo May 7, '11 7:39 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
I was watching some Heaven's Gate videos on youtube a couple of weeks ago (initiation tapes, exit statements etc) and one thing that struck me was the testimony about how many members had left the group but had later returned to it after realizing that life just wasn't fulfilling on the outside. As strange as some of the members were, they clearly felt a sense of divine purpose and belonging. What we can learn from this is that some people will even see divine revelation in the idea that the earth is about to be "recycled" and that we must all escape onto a spaceship trailing behind a comet by committing suicide. Since many of these people did in fact follow through with said course of action (and it was within a "cult" that didn't try to stop you from leaving if you wanted to) one can only conclude that a significant amount of faith was in play.

UnworthyApostle May 7, '11 8:33 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Hello my friend,
First, I think Pascals Wager is not a proof of God per se. To me, it is more of an appeal. It tries to appeal to someone's sensibility by saying "what do you have to lose?"

Secondly, a man by the name of Glenn Miller has a somewhat detailed method of discerning between different revelations which is probably much more than I could give here, so here it is: http://christianthinktank.com/process1.html

Here, are just 2 pennies for you.

Much Peace and Blessings

cho pilo May 8, '11 8:38 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by UnworthyApostle (Post 7847097)
Hello my friend,
First, I think Pascals Wager is not a proof of God per se. To me, it is more of an appeal. It tries to appeal to someone's sensibility by saying "what do you have to lose?"

What do I have to lose by trying to force myself to believe (and adhere to the teachings of) some random religion knowing full well that even if I picked correctly, it's unlikely that I will reap any of the rewards that are offered anyway because my faith wasn't genuine? Seriously?

Contrary to popular opinion among theists, it takes a lot more than open-minded investigation of religious claims to become religious. It takes someone who is also willing to put more emphasis on the usefulness of emotion than rational thought when it comes to determining the truth. Religion is ultimately about what "feels" right. Committing suicide to escape the recycling of the earth "felt" right to members of the Heaven's Gate cult.

Charlemagne II May 8, '11 1:06 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
cho pilo

We can ignore the part about the unlikeliness of God's existence and just concentrate on the part about mutually exclusive revelations so far as it relates to the usefulness of pascals wager as an argument to accept religion.

Religions needn't be mutually exclusive. Many religions make the same or similar claims, differing in some beliefs that are major and others that are minor.

Pascal himself spent a good part of Pensees examining the claims of different major religions around the world. He applied rational principles, and urged others to apply rational principles, when comparing religions. It is true that one might select the wrong religion, but it may be possible to select the right one. One does not sit safely on the fence refusing to choose any religion on the principle that God is going to favor those who refuse to gamble. And that's because you have already gambled ... on the notion that picking no religion is safer than picking the wrong one. :D

SteveGC May 8, '11 10:44 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7848033)
What do I have to lose by trying to force myself to believe (and adhere to the teachings of) some random religion knowing full well that even if I picked correctly, it's unlikely that I will reap any of the rewards that are offered anyway because my faith wasn't genuine? Seriously?

You're assuming that once you choose to wager that God exists, you would go through the rest of your life without genuine faith, without a growing, evolving faith. That position fails to recognize what the wager actually is. The wager doesn't infer that you have a solitary utterance or fleeting thought of believing, and that's it. The wager is to concede that God probably does exist, and then to live out the remainder of your life truly seeking Him. God takes care of the rest. It is your seeking that needs to be genuine. God rewards those who truly seek Him, and promises that you will find Him.

Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7848033)
Contrary to popular opinion among theists, it takes a lot more than open-minded investigation of religious claims to become religious. It takes someone who is also willing to put more emphasis on the usefulness of emotion than rational thought when it comes to determining the truth. Religion is ultimately about what "feels" right. Committing suicide to escape the recycling of the earth "felt" right to members of the Heaven's Gate cult.

Some "religions" may indeed be about what feels right. But Christianity is about what God has revealed about Himself to us. It is about genuine revelation, about objective truth. Emotional reaction to this revelation is common, but unnecessary for the human will to ascent to it.

Paraphrasing Dr. Peter Kreeft: "If all the religions in the world are like paths on a mountain, and God is on top of the mountain, then why aren't all religions the same? Simple. One path comes down the mountain, all the others go up. Christianity isn't man's word about God...it is God's word about man"

cho pilo May 9, '11 7:57 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7848715)
Religions needn't be mutually exclusive. Many religions make the same or similar claims, differing in some beliefs that are major and others that are minor.

Perhaps they needn't be, but many of them are. The problem with the idea that they are all true to some extent and that it doesn't strictly matter which one you adhere to is that you have to then concede that scripture is not the ultimate authority. Once it's integrity has been called into question you are left with the problem of trying to justify following one teaching at the expense of another in cases where all scripture is not in agreement. Ultimately you're left with a situation where you can't even be compelled to believe that Jesus died for our sins lest you be directly contradicting something like the Qur'an (which has equal claim to being the correct account of God's dealings with and what he expects from us).
Quote:

Originally Posted by SteveGC (Post 7850089)
You're assuming that once you choose to wager that God exists, you would go through the rest of your life without genuine faith, without a growing, evolving faith.

Unlike many atheists you might engage on these forums, I've had an inside view of what religion is. I understand what it feels like to believe in God; to have faith that borders on certainty. I used to think that this was something that only God could bestow upon someone since it seemed like such a positive affirmation of his existence; a reward or sorts. That "communion" seemed very real, and the emotional and psychological rewards were easily recognizable. It had to be "something" right?

Of course it was something. We are understandably willing to slip back into the mindset that we had as children, where adults were beings of great power and influence that protected us (or were at least in a perceived position to be able to) both physically and emotionally from the harsh realities of the world. Believing something like that once again brings us comfort and confidence. But what about the obvious benefits of communion (prayer) with God? Essentially no different from writing down your deepest thoughts and fears in a diary, or confiding in a friend who offers a supportive ear. Personally I am lucky enough to have a great bunch of intellectual and open-minded friends and I have come away from many a conversation with a clearer perspective and often a new inspirational outlook. But as previously alluded to, sometimes you already know what you need to hear, or what is at the core of a particular problem, and all that is necessary is for you to say it out loud, or write it down.

Finally, I've witnessed just as many spooky coincidences that I would previously have (at least tentatively) characterized as examples of "divine intervention" since moving beyond my faith in God as compared to when I felt certain that God was real. Often, things just happen, and it is we who attach a significance to them (that is usually consistent with what we already want to believe of course).

Since I now understand something about the psychology behind what people may describe as the tangible benefits of faith, the experience of those benefits no longer has any bearing on the question of the existence of the object of that faith. In other words, faith cannot sustain itself if one realizes that faith itself is evidence of nothing, unless one's rationality is overwhelmed by the emotional need to sustain it.

In the end it does indeed mean that my faith wouldn't be genuine because I would need to sustain it artificially, and I would know that I was doing it.

Charlemagne II May 9, '11 8:03 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
cho pilo

In the end it does indeed mean that my faith wouldn't be genuine because I would need to sustain it artificially, and I would know that I was doing it.

So I suppose, like Freud, you think everyone who believes in God is delusional?

If that is your attitude, how do you know you are not delusional with a superiority complex? :D

Perhaps they needn't be, but many of them are. The problem with the idea that they are all true to some extent and that it doesn't strictly matter which one you adhere to is that you have to then concede that scripture is not the ultimate authority.

This is a non-sequitur fallacy. No such concession has to be made.

Credo in Deum May 9, '11 8:18 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Faith is built on right reason and logic not delusion or feelings.

There are steps in being open to God (I dont like using the word finding since God is everywhere. We dont FIND Him. Also please note not everyone has to take these steps. Some are given the gift to already be at the last one)

Does God exist?

Who is God?

Where can I follow God?

In my opinion it takes an unreasonable amount of faith to be Athiest.

tafan May 9, '11 12:13 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7848033)
What do I have to lose by trying to force myself to believe (and adhere to the teachings of) some random religion knowing full well that even if I picked correctly, it's unlikely that I will reap any of the rewards that are offered anyway because my faith wasn't genuine? Seriously?
.

Have you read Pascal's Wager? I suspect not.

Charlemagne II May 9, '11 12:42 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Originally Posted by cho pilo View Post
What do I have to lose by trying to force myself to believe (and adhere to the teachings of) some random religion knowing full well that even if I picked correctly, it's unlikely that I will reap any of the rewards that are offered anyway because my faith wasn't genuine? Seriously?


How do you know the faith that is acquired does not become, in the course of time, genuine?

How does anyone know that his faith is genuine until he lives, acts, breathes, and loves by it?

Ask anyone baptized from childhood into the Christian faith and living his entire life in it whether he does not ask himself, from time to time, "Is my faith genuine?"

Mere assent is not sufficiently genuine, as Pascal would be the first to insist. It is too easy for us to lie to ourselves, never mind others.

You are not certain to be saved just by betting on God and throwing the dice. But if you don't bet on God, you are certain to lose. :eek:

Neil_Anthony May 9, '11 1:45 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7848033)
What do I have to lose by trying to force myself to believe (and adhere to the teachings of) some random religion knowing full well that even if I picked correctly, it's unlikely that I will reap any of the rewards that are offered anyway because my faith wasn't genuine? Seriously?

Contrary to popular opinion among theists, it takes a lot more than open-minded investigation of religious claims to become religious. It takes someone who is also willing to put more emphasis on the usefulness of emotion than rational thought when it comes to determining the truth. Religion is ultimately about what "feels" right. Committing suicide to escape the recycling of the earth "felt" right to members of the Heaven's Gate cult.

Hi Cho Pilo,
I would like to point out two lines of thought that might help answer your question:
1. The quote assumes that faith is based on accepting or rejecting revelation told to us by others. But there is such a thing as a personal call, where a person feels called by God. So people may choose their religion based on direct first-hand knowledge. I believe that anyone can come to know God if they devote sincere time to prayer.
2. Religious beliefs can, at least to some extent, be evaluated rationally. They aren't all equal. Some make more sense than others.

cho pilo May 10, '11 6:44 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7851090)
cho pilo

In the end it does indeed mean that my faith wouldn't be genuine because I would need to sustain it artificially, and I would know that I was doing it.

So I suppose, like Freud, you think everyone who believes in God is delusional?

There is a difference between being delusional and believing in God. I'm not one of those atheists who tries to suggest otherwise. Theists could only be classed as delusional if they continued to believe even after if it was proven beyond all reasonable doubt that God does not exist. But since that's not possible, it wouldn't be proper to classify them as such.

I do however think that some theists border on being delusional, but then again, so do some atheists.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7851090)
This is a non-sequitur fallacy. No such concession has to be made.

We can clear this up pretty quickly with a single example. The Bible teaches that Jesus died for our sins on the cross. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus was definitely not crucified, but was instead taken up to be with Allah. How do you reconcile this rather significant inconsistency with the idea that scripture is an ultimate authority on such matters?

Charlemagne II May 10, '11 7:50 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
cho pilo

We can clear this up pretty quickly with a single example. The Bible teaches that Jesus died for our sins on the cross. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus was definitely not crucified, but was instead taken up to be with Allah. How do you reconcile this rather significant inconsistency with the idea that scripture is an ultimate authority on such matters?


By observing that the documents upon which the Qur'an is based are the Old Testament and the New Testament. How can the New Testament be both false and true at the same time? Taken as the word of God it should be true all the way through. There is no way to justify changing the teaching, so the Qur'an fails to justify itself as to the New Testament teaching about the death of Jesus.

The fact of the matter is that the Qur'an would not exist if the Bible, upon which the Qur'an is largely based, did not previously exist. Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament and appeared in the New Testament. Mohamed was not prophesied in either Testament.

The Qur'an was not written during the first generation of those who followed the life and death of Jesus. How is it they would not be believed, but Mohamed should be believed as the manner of the death of Jesus?

cho pilo May 10, '11 7:56 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SteveGC (Post 7850089)
You're assuming that once you choose to wager that God exists, you would go through the rest of your life without genuine faith, without a growing, evolving faith. That position fails to recognize what the wager actually is. The wager doesn't infer that you have a solitary utterance or fleeting thought of believing, and that's it. The wager is to concede that God probably does exist, and then to live out the remainder of your life truly seeking Him. God takes care of the rest. It is your seeking that needs to be genuine. God rewards those who truly seek Him, and promises that you will find Him.

Any citation from Pascal available here? I am very interested on it.

Charlemagne II May 10, '11 8:04 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Any citation from Pascal available here? I am very interested on it.

Here it is:

“If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then, without hesitation, that He exists…. At each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognize that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing.” Blaise Pascal

cho pilo May 10, '11 8:17 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7854872)
cho pilo

We can clear this up pretty quickly with a single example. The Bible teaches that Jesus died for our sins on the cross. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus was definitely not crucified, but was instead taken up to be with Allah. How do you reconcile this rather significant inconsistency with the idea that scripture is an ultimate authority on such matters?


By observing that the documents upon which the Qur'an is based are the Old Testament and the New Testament. How can the New Testament be both false and true at the same time? Taken as the word of God it should be true all the way through. There is no way to justify changing the teaching, so the Qur'an fails to justify itself as to the New Testament teaching about the death of Jesus.

The fact of the matter is that the Qur'an would not exist if the Bible, upon which the Qur'an is largely based, did not previously exist. Jesus was prophesied in the Old Testament and appeared in the New Testament. Mohamed was not prophesied in either Testament.

The Qur'an was not written during the first generation of those who followed the life and death of Jesus. How is it they would not be believed, but Mohamed should be believed as the manner of the death of Jesus?

But this line of argument suggests that mundane reasoning is above divine revelation - because you are using mundane reasoning (ie. archaeological and historiographical records that state that the Bible is older than the Quran) to invalidate one divine revelation (in this case, the Quran) from being the superior one.

If you want to use mundane reasoning in one instance of judging what is to pass as divine and what isn't, surely you must use it in other instances too.
Mundane reasoning would say that it is immoral to condemn people to eternal damnation, for example.

Charlemagne II May 10, '11 8:59 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Would you mind defining "mundane reasoning"? It is not an expression with which I am familiar.

Pascal asks the atheist to reason his way to God. How is it that for the atheist Islam would be more reasonable than Christianity?

cho pilo May 10, '11 9:23 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7855117)
Would you mind defining "mundane reasoning"? It is not an expression with which I am familiar.

Common sense. The natural sciences. The social sciences.
That which is not divine reasoning.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7855117)
Pascal asks the atheist to reason his way to God. How is it that for the atheist Islam would be more reasonable than Christianity?

That would depend on the brand of his mundane reasoning.

Charlemagne II May 10, '11 10:57 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
I'm all for common sense. :thumbsup:

tafan May 10, '11 1:13 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7854886)
Any citation from Pascal available here? I am very interested on it.

The argument from Pascal Wager's, which I think is closest to what SteveGC posted:
Quote:

"I confess it, I admit it. But, still, is there no means of seeing the faces of the cards?" Yes, Scripture and the rest, etc. "Yes, but I have my hands tied and my mouth closed; I am forced to wager, and am not free. I am not released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?"

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour, then, to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness. "But this is what I am afraid of." And why? What have you to lose?
Lot's of people are critical of Pascal's wager, will comment endlessly on it, and never take the time to read it. I am always amazed by that.

Charlemagne II May 10, '11 3:17 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
tafan

Lot's of people are critical of Pascal's wager, will comment endlessly on it, and never take the time to read it. I am always amazed by that.

They read the paragraph or two they think is the only part that counts. They are too lazy to read any further. The entire Pensees (1,000 thoughts) is the wager argument amplified in every possible direction.

tafan May 10, '11 7:12 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7856618)
tafan

Lot's of people are critical of Pascal's wager, will comment endlessly on it, and never take the time to read it. I am always amazed by that.

They read the paragraph or two they think is the only part that counts. They are too lazy to read any further. The entire Pensees (1,000 thoughts) is the wager argument amplified in every possible direction.

Maybe, but not the way I would look at it. I have read all of the Pensees, most of them seem unrelated to the wager. I only wish people would read 233, that would be sufficient to address 90% of the comments made against it.

I think I see his wager as just one of his many thoughts, but we will never know, since he did not have a chance to organize them into a book.

tonyrey May 11, '11 3:38 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tafan (Post 7857367)
Maybe, but not the way I would look at it. I have read all of the Pensees, most of them seem unrelated to the wager. I only wish people would read 233, that would be sufficient to address 90% of the comments made against it.

I think I see his wager as just one of his many thoughts, but we will never know, since he did not have a chance to organize them into a book.

Pensee 226:

Quote:

What say [the unbelievers] then? "Do we not see," say they, "that the brutes live and die like men, and Turks like Christians? They have their ceremonies, their prophets, their doctors, their saints, their monks, like us," etc. If you care but little to know the truth, that is enough to leave you in repose. But if you desire with all your heart to know it, it is not enough; look at it in detail. That would be sufficient for a question in philosophy; but not here, where everything is at stake. And yet, after a superficial reflection of this kind, we go to amuse ourselves, etc. Let us inquire of this same religion whether it does not give a reason for this obscurity; perhaps it will teach it to us.[15]
That seems to confirm his intention in writing the Pensees... He was anticipating Sartre and the inevitability of commitment.

Charlemagne II May 11, '11 7:12 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
tafan

I have read all of the Pensees, most of them seem unrelated to the wager.

I have also read all of the Pensees, and draw the opposite conclusion; not that all of them are directly tied to the wager, but that they are tangentially tied to it in that Pascal was building a case to answer every objection that could be raised against the Catholic faith.

The original title that he meant to give Pensees was Defense of the Christian Religion. In all likelihood the wager argument was the crux of the defense so far as the atheists were concerned, but naturally to persuade an atheist to pick the Christian religion over all others, you would have to extend the wager argument to apply to every aspect of Christianity, including the wager that Christianity excels all other religions. This is very much what Pensees does.

As you say, these are notes for a planned book, rather than the final product. So naturally there would be reflections jotted down that might have been discarded in the final draft.

Don't we all do that? ;) I know I have.

cho pilo May 11, '11 8:18 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7855607)
I'm all for common sense. :thumbsup:

Are you saying that by means of common sense one can assess whether something is divine or not?

Charlemagne II May 11, '11 8:43 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
cho pilo

Not by common sense alone. But also by revelation, some knowledge of history, an open heart, quiet meditation, and the grace of God. Pascal brings all these elements into play in his Pensees.

Keep in mind Pascal is not writing the book for Protestants. It is written for all who are not Christian, including Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, etc. That he was conscious of the rise of atheism in France in his lifetime there can be no doubt. This is why the wager argument is central to his thinking and the single passage for which he is most remembered in all of his works.

cho pilo May 11, '11 8:45 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
tafan/tonyrey-
The passage you quote makes no difference for me.

Charlemagne II May 11, '11 9:18 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
cho pilo

The passage you quote makes no difference for me.

Probably didn't make any difference to Sartre either. Sartre had a closed heart, at least until the end, when there is evidence that he ceased to be an atheist. Apparently whatever he had read of Pascal (and no doubt he read at least some of Pascal) finally had its effect as Sartre neared the point when he realized that maybe he had bet on the wrong horse ... atheism. :rolleyes:

tafan May 11, '11 11:05 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

I have also read all of the Pensees, and draw the opposite conclusion; not that all of them are directly tied to the wager, but that they are tangentially tied to it in that Pascal was building a case to answer every objection that could be raised against the Catholic faith.
Of course they were trying to answer objections to the Catholic faith, that to me seems like it was Pascal's main goal; not to support his wager. His wager was just another one of his answers. That's all I was saying.

tafan May 11, '11 11:07 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7859042)
tafan/tonyrey-
The passage you quote makes no difference for me.

Have you read the pensees, in particular 233 in its entirety? You seem to be dodging that question. Maybe it makes no difference to your concern, because I provided a quote that is out of context to rest of the wager argument.

Joel PF May 11, '11 12:52 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Pascal's Wager is not meant as a proof of God for the unbeliever, but as a persuasive argument to the vacillating believer, who is in doubt whether it is worth it to live up to the calling of Faith or whether to reject it all and just "take it easy". It points that there is a lot to gain in accepting and living the Faith, and a lot to lose from giving it up.

Different religions increase the likelihood of God not existing? In a superficial sense, yes; but not any more than the different physical theories of the early Greek philosophers ("everything is water", "everything came from fire", "everything is made of atoms, some of which are spherical and therefore lighter", etc.) made physics less credible.

The harder a kind of knowledge is to obtain, the more people will make wrong conclusions about it (look at economics!). Theological knowledge is among the hardest and the most distant from our everyday experience; so it is to be expected that many errors will be made regarding it.

Most of what Catholics know about God came from divine revelation, and not through rational inquiry. But the existence of God can be proved, and therefore atheism can be rejected on rational grounds.

And the basic things about God that can be known by our reason unaided by Faith are very widely known: that God exists, that He is all-powerful, that there is nothing greater than Him, that He is intelligent, that He knows everything, etc.

SteveGC May 11, '11 1:29 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
pilo, have a listen to Dr. Kreeft.

www.peterkreeft.com

All of his work is compelling, but specifically, download the "Arguments for God's Existence" mp3. At the 34 minute mark, Pascal's wager is discussed.

-Regards,

Steve

tonyrey May 11, '11 1:58 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tafan (Post 7859541)
Have you read the pensees, in particular 233 in its entirety? You seem to be dodging that question. Maybe it makes no difference to your concern, because I provided a quote that is out of context to rest of the wager argument.

I have and you have not explained how and why it is inconsistent with 226 which
clearly states that "everything is at stake".

Charlemagne II May 11, '11 2:51 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
In the previous thread on Pascal that was closed we went over all this in great detail.

Clearly Pascal did not intend # 233 to be the only statement about the wager question. Though he did not organize the Pensees himself (it was done by others after his death) when you read the entire book from the point of view of what he was trying to do, you see that he is leading not only atheists but all others to the Christian faith by a process of reasoning that appeals to the knowledge of history as well as common sense and intuition.

For example, if the atheist can bring himself to be open to #233, the wager, he must begin to open himself to the question of which religion. There is no question that Pascal was marshaling together evidence for the Christian religion as the one most logically appealing to anyone who is looking for a God of "love and consolation" (his words).

There are other gods in other religions. Pascal asked if any one of them pretends to be, or proves himself to be, a God of "love and consolation." Why would anyone seek to believe in a God who is not a God of love and consolation? One might prefer to choose such a god, make up such a god, even worship such a god, but why? Why would one will to imagine and worship an evil god? Perhaps only if one intended to advance one's own evil purposes?

But if there is a good God, where do you find a better one than Christ?

I cannot offhand cite all the passages where Pascal makes these points, but I know they are there, and would have been there in even greater detail if he had lived to flesh out the book ... which I suppose you could say we are left to flesh out for ourselves by following the trail he has blazed. :shrug:

razredge May 11, '11 5:44 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
I personally think belief requires a gift of faith from God OR a leap of faith by the believer - belief really can't come about by mere intellectual assent.

Perhaps there should be an similar 'wager' where rather than just believing there is a God in case there is one, you should live your life as if there was a God, in case there is one.

I think that makes for a stronger proposition (it would avoid the problem of why God would reward insincere faith).

tafan May 11, '11 7:47 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7860240)
I have and you have not explained how and why it is inconsistent with 226 which
clearly states that "everything is at stake".

I am confused about this conversation, I thought I was asking another user a question, not challenging you. Sorry, I best bow out. I don't have time to do this.

cho pilo May 11, '11 7:52 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7858194)
Pensee 226:


That seems to confirm his intention in writing the Pensees... He was anticipating Sartre and the inevitability of commitment.

You are speaking with the benefit of hindsight.

And you seem to be alluding to Sartre's eventual renunciation of his existentialist philosophy and turning to Christianity.
(Supposedly Camus had made arrangements for a baptism too shortly before his death.)


I agree that commitment is inevitable, but it is not clear to what or to what extent.

This is an issue that is very much alive for me. It may sound proud, but I would gauge Pascal's stance to be one I was at until about two years ago.
I, too, thought "Well, just close your eyes and jump" - and at the time, it made sense, and I did it. But not for long. My "religious experiment" felt too much like a charade, it was a brute act of will, devoid of heart.
What Pascal says there simply strikes me as too simplistic.

cho pilo May 11, '11 8:20 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tafan (Post 7856163)
The argument from Pascal Wager's, which I think is closest to what SteveGC posted:


Lot's of people are critical of Pascal's wager, will comment endlessly on it, and never take the time to read it. I am always amazed by that.

Let's look at it.
Quote:

"I confess it, I admit it. But, still, is there no means of seeing the faces of the cards?" Yes, Scripture and the rest, etc.
He seems to be alluding to deism there. They are the ones who question the credibility of special revelations and hence 'can't see the faces of the cards'. But Pascal, in his newly heightened religiosity, feels the pull of scripture and tips his hat to it.
Quote:

"Yes, but I have my hands tied and my mouth closed; I am forced to wager, and am not free. I am not released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?"
I'm not sure what that means or who "you" is. God? Or perhaps he's addressing part of himself. This sounds like a cry of pain. Who or what ties his hands and closes his mouth? When he writes that he is "so made that he cannot believe", he seems to be suggesting that he still hasn't succeeded in throwing off all of his previous deist doubts.
Quote:

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour, then, to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions.
This seems to be an accusation directed towards reason, since it's what has brought him to "this". It isn't clear what 'this' is, but it likely refers to the existential predicament that he feels has trapped him. So if it's reason that got him into trouble, then he isn't going to be looking to reason to rescue him by increasing proofs of God. He needs to look elsewhere for the answer, to his passions, to his affective side.
Quote:

You would like to attain faith and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it.
I assume that he's addressing himself in the third person there, along with others like him who want with all of their hearts to have calm and confident faith but can't seem to find it.
Quote:

Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc.
But the people that Pascal so envies, the people who placidly go to church, who perform the religous practices, and who believe so easily, were never people like Pascal. They aren't intellectuals, they were never deist-style rationalists, and few if any of them have any sense that they are throwing dice into the dark.
Quote:

Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness. "But this is what I am afraid of." And why? What have you to lose?
And that's a very peculiar way to end. Does Pascal really dream of (and perhaps dispair of ever being capable of) deadening his own acuteness? The fear he refers to here seems to the fear of surrendering one's critical intelligence.

My impression is that this isn't really a straightforward presentation of the "wager" argument at all. Maybe he provides that elsewhere in another of his written 'thoughts'. This quoted one seems to be a rather eloquent and moving expression of his own inner struggles.

thecone137 May 11, '11 8:32 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Choosing God is the only smart option...



http://webenhanced.lbcc.edu/philml/phil6ml/bigpic.html

Charlemagne II May 11, '11 8:38 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
cho pilo

"But this is what I am afraid of."



My impression is that this isn't really a straightforward presentation of the "wager" argument at all. Maybe he provides that elsewhere in another of his written 'thoughts'. This quoted one seems to be a rather eloquent and moving expression of his own inner struggles.


You have completely misread the passage. Back up and start over. The passage in quotes is the atheist speaking to Pascal, not Pascal speaking about an inner struggle within himself.

cho pilo May 11, '11 10:43 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tafan (Post 7859541)
Have you read the pensees, in particular 233 in its entirety? You seem to be dodging that question. Maybe it makes no difference to your concern, because I provided a quote that is out of context to rest of the wager argument.

Here's 233 in entirety, and what seems like its continuation 234:


233. Infinite--nothing.--Our soul is cast into a body, where it finds
number, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature
necessity, and can believe nothing else.

Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to
an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the
infinite, and becomes a pure nothing. So our spirit before God, so our
justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion
between our justice and that of God as between unity and infinity.

The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the
outcast is less vast and ought less to offend our feelings than mercy
towards the elect.

We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature. As
we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true
that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It
is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition
of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and
every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite
number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what
He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many
things which are not the truth itself?

We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also
are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite
and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but
not limits like us. But we know neither the existence nor the nature of
God, because He has neither extension nor limits.

But by faith we know His existence; in glory we shall know His nature.
Now, I have already shown that we may well know the existence of a
thing, without knowing its nature.

Let us now speak according to natural lights.

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having
neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then
incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is. This being so, who
will dare to undertake the decision of the question? Not we, who have
no affinity to Him.

Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give a reason for
their belief, since they profess a religion for which they cannot give
a reason? They declare, in expounding it to the world, that it is a
foolishness, stultitiam; [28] and then you complain that they do not
prove it! If they proved it, they would not keep their word; it is in
lacking proofs that they are not lacking in sense. "Yes, but although
this excuses those who offer it as such and takes away from them the
blame of putting it forward without reason, it does not excuse those
who receive it." Let us then examine this point, and say, "God is, or
He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide
nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is
being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or
tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can
do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can
defend neither of the propositions.

Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you
know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this
choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who
chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The
true course is not to wager at all."

Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which
will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see
which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and
the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your
knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun,
error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather
than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point
settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in
wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain,
you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without
hesitation that He is. "That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may
perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of
gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one,
you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would
have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you
would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your
life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and
gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being
so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be
for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you
would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one
life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances
there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy
life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life
to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss,
and what you stake is finite. It is all divided; where-ever the
infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against
that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all. And
thus, when one is forced to play, he must renounce reason to preserve
his life, rather than risk it for infinite gain, as likely to happen as
the loss of nothingness.

cho pilo May 11, '11 10:45 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 

For it is no use to say it is uncertain if we will gain, and it is
certain that we risk, and that the infinite distance between the
certainly of what is staked and the uncertainty of what will be gained,
equals the finite good which is certainly staked against the uncertain
infinite. It is not so, as every player stakes a certainty to gain an
uncertainty, and yet he stakes a finite certainty to gain a finite
uncertainty, without transgressing against reason. There is not an
infinite distance between the certainty staked and the uncertainty of
the gain; that is untrue. In truth, there is an infinity between the
certainty of gain and the certainty of loss. But the uncertainty of the
gain is proportioned to the certainty of the stake according to the
proportion of the chances of gain and loss. Hence it comes that, if
there are as many risks on one side as on the other, the course is to
play even; and then the certainty of the stake is equal to the
uncertainty of the gain, so far is it from fact that there is an
infinite distance between them. And so our proposition is of infinite
force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are
equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain. This is
demonstrable; and if men are capable of any truths, this is one.

"I confess it, I admit it. But, still, is there no means of seeing the
faces of the cards?" Yes, Scripture and the rest, etc. "Yes, but I have
my hands tied and my mouth closed; I am forced to wager, and am not
free. I am not released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What,
then, would you have me do?"

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings
you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour, then, to convince
yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of
your passions. You would like to attain faith and do not know the way;
you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it.
Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all
their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would
follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow
the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the
holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you
believe, and deaden your acuteness. "But this is what I am afraid of."
And why? What have you to lose?

But to show you that this leads you there, it is this which will lessen
the passions, which are your stumbling-blocks.

The end of this discourse.--Now, what harm will befall you in taking
this side? You will be faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere
friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous
pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell
you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you
take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much
nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you
have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have
given nothing.

"Ah! This discourse transports me, charms me," etc.

If this discourse pleases you and seems impressive, know that it is
made by a man who has knelt, both before and after it, in prayer to
that Being, infinite and without parts, before whom he lays all he has,
for you also to lay before Him all you have for your own good and for
His glory, that so strength may be given to lowliness.

234. If we must not act save on a certainty, we ought not to act on
religion, for it is not certain. But how many things we do on an
uncertainty, sea voyages, battles! I say then we must do nothing at
all, for nothing is certain, and that there is more certainty in
religion than there is as to whether we may see to-morrow; for it is
not certain that we may see to-morrow, and it is certainly possible
that we may not, see it. We cannot say as much about religion. It is
not certain that it is; but who will venture to say that it is
certainly possible that it is not? Now when we work for to-morrow, and
so on an uncertainty, we act reasonably; for we ought to work for an
uncertainty according to the doctrine of chance which was demonstrated
above.

Saint Augustine has seen that we work for an uncertainty, on sea, in
battle, etc. But he has not seen the doctrine of chance which proves
that we should do so. Montaigne has seen that we are shocked at a fool,
and that habit is all-powerful; but he has not seen the reason of this
effect.

All these persons have seen the effects, but they have not seen the
causes. They are, in comparison with those who have discovered the
causes, as those who have only eyes are in comparison with those who
have intellect. For the effects are perceptible by sense, and the
causes are visible only to the intellect. And although these effects
are seen by the mind, this mind is, in comparison with the mind which
sees the causes, as the bodily senses are in comparison with the
intellect.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pascal/pensees.txt

Charlemagne II May 12, '11 7:16 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
"The end of this discourse.--Now, what harm will befall you in taking
this side? You will be faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere
friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous
pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell
you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you
take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much
nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you
have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have
given nothing."

This is what the wager offers at the end of accepting the wager. It is not merely a wager, but a state of salvation that has grown out of the wager. One takes the plunge, and realizes the payoff. Nothing insincere about it. In fact, it would be more insincere not to take the plunge, since the reason for not taking the plunge makes no sense whatever ... because there is no payoff.

You cannot win if you do not wager. But you have to wager. You either wager there is a God, or you wager there is no God. What is the payoff for wagering there is no God?

Nothing! Or if anything ... HELL!

tonyrey May 12, '11 2:50 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7861403)
Quote:

Pensee 226:

That seems to confirm his intention in writing the Pensees... He was anticipating Sartre and the inevitability of commitment.

You are speaking with the benefit of hindsight.

"anticipating" does not always mean foreknowledge!
Quote:

And you seem to be alluding to Sartre's eventual renunciation of his existentialist philosophy and turning to Christianity.
(Supposedly Camus had made arrangements for a baptism too shortly before his death.)
That is news to me!
Quote:

I agree that commitment is inevitable, but it is not clear to what or to what extent.
In the context of this thread to - or not to - belief in God.
Quote:

This is an issue that is very much alive for me. It may sound proud, but I would gauge Pascal's stance to be one I was at until about two years ago.
I, too, thought "Well, just close your eyes and jump" - and at the time, it made sense, and I did it. But not for long. My "religious experiment" felt too much like a charade, it was a brute act of will, devoid of heart.
It sounds as if you had a negative attitude rather than being genuinely open-minded..
Quote:

What Pascal says there simply strikes me as too simplistic.
Either we're committed to belief in God or we're not. Belief in God is strong or weak but it is still distinct from unbelief or disbelief.

tonyrey May 12, '11 7:59 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Correction:
Quote:

Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7864104)
In the context of this thread to - or not to - belief in God.

should be:
We have either commitment to belief in God or no commitment to belief in God.

cho pilo May 13, '11 5:34 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pascal, thought 233Our soul is cast into a body, where it finds
number, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature
necessity, and can believe nothing else.
None of this has been agreed upon with the atheist.

That "our souls are cast into a body" is something that is not universally accepted, yet it is necessary to go with Pascal's wager.

Atheists usually believe that we are our bodies, or at least that when the body dies, there is nothing more to us, to life.
So from this perspective, it is also meaningless to be concerned about what might happen to one after death.

So firstly, as far as the wager goes, it would need to be established that "our soul is cast into a body".
Quote:

Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to
an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the
infinite, and becomes a pure nothing.
That sounds like some atheists reversed.
Quote:

We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature.
This has not been established either.
Quote:

As
we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true
that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It
is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition
of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and
every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite
number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what
He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many
things which are not the truth itself?
If one doesn't know what something is, what point is there in saying that it is and that one knows it is?

cho pilo May 13, '11 5:36 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which
will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see
which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and
the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your
knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun,
error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather
than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point
settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in
wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain,
you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without
hesitation that He is. "That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may
perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of
gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one,
you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would
have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you
would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your
life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and
gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being
so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be
for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you
would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one
life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances
there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy
life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life
to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss,
and what you stake is finite. It is all divided; where-ever the
infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against
that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all. And
thus, when one is forced to play, he must renounce reason to preserve
his life, rather than risk it for infinite gain, as likely to happen as
the loss of nothingness.

For it is no use to say it is uncertain if we will gain, and it is
certain that we risk, and that the infinite distance between the
certainly of what is staked and the uncertainty of what will be gained,
equals the finite good which is certainly staked against the uncertain
infinite. It is not so, as every player stakes a certainty to gain an
uncertainty, and yet he stakes a finite certainty to gain a finite
uncertainty, without transgressing against reason. There is not an
infinite distance between the certainty staked and the uncertainty of
the gain; that is untrue. In truth, there is an infinity between the
certainty of gain and the certainty of loss. But the uncertainty of the
gain is proportioned to the certainty of the stake according to the
proportion of the chances of gain and loss. Hence it comes that, if
there are as many risks on one side as on the other, the course is to
play even; and then the certainty of the stake is equal to the
uncertainty of the gain, so far is it from fact that there is an
infinite distance between them. And so our proposition is of infinite
force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are
equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain. This is
demonstrable; and if men are capable of any truths, this is one.
This is the passage that is usually referred to as Pascal's Wager.
Quote:

234. If we must not act save on a certainty, we ought not to act on
religion, for it is not certain. But how many things we do on an
uncertainty, sea voyages, battles! I say then we must do nothing at
all, for nothing is certain, and that there is more certainty in
religion than there is as to whether we may see to-morrow; for it is
not certain that we may see to-morrow, and it is certainly possible
that we may not, see it. We cannot say as much about religion. It is
not certain that it is; but who will venture to say that it is
certainly possible that it is not? Now when we work for to-morrow, and
so on an uncertainty, we act reasonably; for we ought to work for an
uncertainty according to the doctrine of chance which was demonstrated
above.
My problem with PW is that it takes too much at once, too much in one step.
There is no real sense of graduality.

In comparison, in some Eastern traditions, they would expect a person first to gradually come to a point of mundane goodness, for mundane happiness' sake (which is something people can generally understand and strive for), and only after they have stabilized themselves at that level, begin to endeavor toward higher spiritual topics.

Abrahamic religions, on the other hand, expect people to make an enormous commitment right at the beginning, a commitment they do not understand and do not really know how to act on it on a daily basis.

Abrahamic religions are like enrolling an infant into kindergarden, grade school, highschool and college all at once, before the child even began attending to kindergarden.
So from the beginning on, the child already feels the pressure of being successful at college - even if that is still far away in the future, and all the requirements for it yet need to be fulfilled.

Although this perspective in Abrahamic religions is understandable - they have no notion of (serial) reincarnation, and are strictly limited to this one lifetime. With such an outlook, it indeed seems all or nothing, now or never.
With such an outlook, it is also easy to come to the point of presuming certainty about God.

(There is a parallel to this in those Western Buddhists who do not believe in reincarnation - they believe they will attain nirvana in this lifetime for sure, and it seems this also leads them to believe they have already attained it, even with very little practice and sins and impurities still in full bloom.)

cho pilo May 13, '11 6:33 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7864104)
"anticipating" does not always mean foreknowledge!
That is news to me!
In the context of this thread to - or not to - belief in God.
It sounds as if you had a negative attitude rather than being genuinely open-minded..
Either we're committed to belief in God or we're not. Belief in God is strong or weak but it is still distinct from unbelief or disbelief.

tonyrey,

I'm not going to reply to your posts here until you reply to my posts #47 & 48.

tonyrey May 13, '11 7:53 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7865907)
tonyrey,

I'm not going to reply to your posts here until you reply to my posts #47 & 48.

Thanks very much for telling me! Sometimes it's hard to keep track if we're on several threads at the same time. I'm always grateful when I'm reminded because it's very rude not to reply without giving an explanation. :)

tonyrey May 13, '11 8:10 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
[quote=cho pilo;7865802]
Quote:

Pascal, thought 233 Our soul is cast into a body, where it finds
number, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature
necessity, and can believe nothing else.
None of this has been agreed upon with the atheist.

That "our souls are cast into a body" is something that is not universally accepted, yet it is necessary to go with Pascal's wager.

Atheists usually believe that we are our bodies, or at least that when the body dies, there is nothing more to us, to life.
So from this perspective, it is also meaningless to be concerned about what might happen to one after death.

So firstly, as far as the wager goes, it would need to be established that "our soul is cast into a body".
I agree with you but Pascal preferred to attack atheism lock, stock and barrel rather than deal with details. He was probably right because his wager is that we have everything to lose - especially an afterlife - by not believing in God.
Quote:

Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to
an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the
infinite, and becomes a pure nothing.
That sounds like some atheists reversed.
Pascal wasn't infallible! The finite does not become a pure nothing.

Quote:

We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature.
This has not been established either.
As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true
that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It
is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition
of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and
every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite
number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what
He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many
things which are not the truth itself?

If one doesn't know what something is, what point is there in saying that it is and that one knows it is?
The point is that no reasonable person claims to know and understand God fully but that is a far cry from knowing nothing! The immense value of life shows that He is benevolent.

tonyrey May 13, '11 8:33 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7865806)
My problem with PW is that it takes too much at once, too much in one step.
There is no real sense of graduality.

But it is a question of all or nothing. Pascal is making the point that there cannot be half measures: either we survive after death or we don't. The gambler's stakes cannot be higher: win or lose all!

Quote:

In comparison, in some Eastern traditions, they would expect a person first to gradually come to a point of mundane goodness, for mundane happiness' sake (which is something people can generally understand and strive for), and only after they have stabilized themselves at that level, begin to endeavor toward higher spiritual topics.

Abrahamic religions, on the other hand, expect people to make an enormous commitment right at the beginning, a commitment they do not understand and do not really know how to act on it on a daily basis.
The distinction between loving and ignoring your neighbour is clear enough.
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Abrahamic religions are like enrolling an infant into kindergarden, grade school, highschool and college all at once, before the child even began attending to kindergarden.
So from the beginning on, the child already feels the pressure of being successful at college - even if that is still far away in the future, and all the requirements for it yet need to be fulfilled.
If you can't see very far you don't know where you're heading. We have to hitch our wagon to a star!
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Although this perspective in Abrahamic religions is understandable - they have no notion of (serial) reincarnation, and are strictly limited to this one lifetime. With such an outlook, it indeed seems all or nothing, now or never.
Why postulate many lifetimes when one is enough. Occam's Razor...
With such an outlook, it is also easy to come to the point of presuming certainty about God.
I agree but it's also easy to go to the other extreme and presume certainty about God's non-existence even though there are many factors to be taken into account. Only the fool oversimplifies the issue.

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(There is a parallel to this in those Western Buddhists who do not believe in reincarnation - they believe they will attain nirvana in this lifetime for sure, and it seems this also leads them to believe they have already attained it, even with very little practice and sins and impurities still in full bloom.)
There is hardly any limit to what people will believe - which is to be expected when life is such a great mystery!

Charlemagne II May 13, '11 10:05 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
This also from the Pensees.

“It is impossible that our rational part should be other than spiritual; and if anyone maintain that we are simply corporeal, this would far more exclude us from the knowledge of things, there being nothing so inconceivable as to say that matter knows itself. It is impossible to imagine how it should know itself.”

Pascal challenges the atheist to prove that his rationale part is material. I have yet to see any such proof, except that the brain is the seat of intellect.

How does an atheist explain how man can conceive the origin of the universe, the future fate of the universe, the possibility of God, the immortality of the soul, without there being some part of man that transcends mere matter ... that connects man not only to the vast universe, but to the possibility of Something far more vast than the universe?

If that is all illusion … why does the illusion not only exist, but persist in spite of every effort to crush it?

tonyrey May 13, '11 2:16 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7866478)
This also from the Pensees.

“It is impossible that our rational part should be other than spiritual; and if anyone maintain that we are simply corporeal, this would far more exclude us from the knowledge of things, there being nothing so inconceivable as to say that matter knows itself. It is impossible to imagine how it should know itself.”

Pascal challenges the atheist to prove that his rationale part is material. I have yet to see any such proof, except that the brain is the seat of intellect.

How does an atheist explain how man can conceive the origin of the universe, the future fate of the universe, the possibility of God, the immortality of the soul, without there being some part of man that transcends mere matter ... that connects man not only to the vast universe, but to the possibility of Something far more vast than the universe?

If that is all illusion … why does the illusion not only exist, but persist in spite of every effort to crush it?

I love the ensuing silence................................. ................

Charlemagne II May 14, '11 8:29 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Silence ... because ... they are sad?

"What use is it to us to hear it said of a man that he has thrown off the yoke, that he does not believe there is a God to watch over his actions, that he reckons himself the sole master of his behavior, and that he does not intend to give an account of it to anyone but himself? … Do such men think that they have delighted us by telling us that they hold our souls to be nothing but a little wind and smoke -- and by saying it in conceited and complacent tones? Is that a thing to say blithely? Is it not rather a thing to say sadly -- as if it were the saddest thing in the world?" Blaise Pascal

tonyrey May 14, '11 8:41 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
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Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7867328)
I love the ensuing silence................................. ................

............. in answer to your question................ :)

cho pilo May 14, '11 10:26 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
[quote=tonyrey;7866130]
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Originally Posted by cho pilo (Post 7865802)
I agree with you but Pascal preferred to attack atheism lock, stock and barrel rather than deal with details. He was probably right because his wager is that we have everything to lose - especially an afterlife - by not believing in God.

Then to Pascal, the distinction between loving and ignoring your neighbour was not clear enough.

razredge May 15, '11 4:48 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
[quote=cho pilo;7871310]
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Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7866130)
Then to Pascal, the distinction between loving and ignoring your neighbour was not clear enough.

I think rather than posing Pascal's Wager in terms of 'belief in a deity' it would be more persuasive if it was 'behaving and living as if there was a deity'.

As most religions are more concerned with how you live your life rather than what you believe (unless God is a Protestant!) so it would make more sense to be agnostic and act like there is a God rather than just having ingenuine belief in a God as some kind of hell insurance.

Charlemagne II May 15, '11 9:10 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
raz

so it would make more sense to be agnostic and act like there is a God rather than just having ingenuine belief in a God as some kind of hell insurance.

I'm trying to wrap my head around that notion ... you can be an agnostic and act as if there is a God? :confused:

You are assuming that "believing "as if" can never become believing "in truth." That is Pascal's argument. The more you believe, the more convinced you will be of your belief.

It's absurd to argue that Pascal believed that an "as if" commitment is where faith ends. You see just the opposite in his writings ... that the reasons of the heart will finally prevail, and that the more you love God, the better you will know that He truly exists. What began "as if" becomes "in truth." :D

razredge May 15, '11 8:09 pm

Re: Pascals Wager
 
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Originally Posted by Charlemagne II (Post 7872234)
raz

so it would make more sense to be agnostic and act like there is a God rather than just having ingenuine belief in a God as some kind of hell insurance.

I'm trying to wrap my head around that notion ... you can be an agnostic and act as if there is a God? :confused:

You are assuming that "believing "as if" can never become believing "in truth." That is Pascal's argument. The more you believe, the more convinced you will be of your belief.

It's absurd to argue that Pascal believed that an "as if" commitment is where faith ends. You see just the opposite in his writings ... that the reasons of the heart will finally prevail, and that the more you love God, the better you will know that He truly exists. What began "as if" becomes "in truth." :D

By that I meant being unsure of the existence of God but living in a moral way as if there was a God. Similar to how the original Wager supposes atheists should ignore their reasons to doubt God's existence and simply believe in Him anyway.

Many atheists argue that if Pascal's Wager is correct then God values blind belief in a deity without any real reason to do so besides avoiding going to hell more than using reason and basing your lack of faith on the lack of evidence for God.

So posing Pascal's Wager in terms of behaviour/morality rather than belief would seem to solve that issue.

tonyrey May 16, '11 2:14 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
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Originally Posted by razredge (Post 7871780)
As most religions are more concerned with how you live your life rather than what you believe (unless God is a Protestant!) so it would make more sense to be agnostic and act like there is a God rather than just having ingenuine belief in a God as some kind of hell insurance.

Pascal was no fool! He didn't believe faith is just a matter of belief. How we behave reflects to a great extent what we really believe. He is not asking any one to be insincere but to suspend their scepticism and live as if the teaching of Jesus is true: to pray and abandon their vices - which are the main obstacle to faith!

razredge May 16, '11 7:44 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
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Originally Posted by tonyrey (Post 7874330)
Pascal was no fool! He didn't believe faith is just a matter of belief. How we behave reflects to a great extent what we really believe. He is not asking any one to be insincere but to suspend their scepticism and live as if the teaching of Jesus is true: to pray and abandon their vices - which are the main obstacle to faith!

Oh yes, sorry I didn't realise - of course it wouldn't just be 'sola fide' if it was Pascal - the atheists usually object to Pascal's Wager as it suggests that insincere blind faith is rewarded over a moral life without faith so I was thinking the Wager was posed in those terms.

But if the terms of the wager are to suspend skepticism, seek the truth and live a moral life then it is the same as I was suggesting before.

Charlemagne II May 16, '11 8:23 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
Many atheists argue that if Pascal's Wager is correct then God values blind belief in a deity without any real reason to do so besides avoiding going to hell

Pascal's argument is no different than the position every atheist finds himself in as he nears death. Has he blown it by refusing to acknowledge and engage with God? Jean Paul Sartre and Antony Flew, two of the most famous atheists of the 20th century, as death approached found themselves nearer to God than they ever had been before.

In peril of losing God forever, they began to engage with Him.

This is Pascal's approach to all atheists. Live as though you had eight hour left to live. The mind gets wonderfully focused on what really matters in that condition. Instead of thinking you can get along just fine without God, you begin to think just the opposite. If there is a God and He wants a relationship with me and I have refused His advances into my heart ... how ungrateful I have been ... and what reward can I expect for such arrogance?

Better to live as if there is a God, learn gradually that indeed He exists and loves me and is worthy of my love ... that way lies my own best interest ... which is also God's own interest ... that I be with Him rather than without Him.

tonyrey May 16, '11 8:25 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
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Originally Posted by razredge (Post 7874859)
Oh yes, sorry I didn't realise - of course it wouldn't just be 'sola fide' if it was Pascal - the atheists usually object to Pascal's Wager as it suggests that insincere blind faith is rewarded over a moral life without faith so I was thinking the Wager was posed in those terms.

But if the terms of the wager are to suspend skepticism, seek the truth and live a moral life then it is the same as I was suggesting before.

A man of Pascal's integrity would hardly be so cynical as to advocate deceit or self-deceit for any purpose! He has been unjustly denigrated by those who distort his argument and fail to realise it is an attack on the futility of immorality as well as the sterility of scepticism...

Charlemagne II May 16, '11 9:02 am

Re: Pascals Wager
 
The central problem of the atheist is not prove or disprove the existence of God, but for the atheist to find out why he is fleeing from God. Nothing is more obvious in all the atheist literature than the fact that atheists want nothing to do with God. That seems to me a condition that the atheist would do well to examine in himself.

If one can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, why dedicate one's self so adamantly to opposing God? :confused:

Freud argued that religion is a neurosis. But why isn't atheism a neurosis? Because Freud was an atheist? ;)


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