Catholic schools should be teaching Pascal's Wager in 8th grade


#1

The repeated secularist media message is that religion is bunk. Catholic schools should at least be arming kids with the thoughts of Pascal. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager

I would argue that public scholls should be opening kids' minds too, but they only want to open them in a certain direction, not in all directions. So much for the education system being genuinely interested in getting kids to learn how to think. So much for the world being big enough for all different views.


#2

I think that Pascal's Wager is very overrated, but agree that they should put an emphasis on belief in God. this would probably be aided by reading ancient and medieval philosophy, so people realize that intelligent thinkers are not just 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st century anomalies.


#3

[quote="ManOnFire, post:1, topic:240442"]
The repeated secularist media message is that religion is bunk. Catholic schools should at least be arming kids with the thoughts of Pascal. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager

I would argue that public scholls should be opening kids' minds too, but they only want to open them in a certain direction, not in all directions. So much for the education system being genuinely interested in getting kids to learn how to think. So much for the world being big enough for all different views.

[/quote]

The pascal wager works only on those who still have some faith. An atheist will say there is no wager because one side is false.

I find Aquinas to be better taught in 8th grade


#4

A Great Books curriculum would include Pascal, Aquinas, and so much more....


#5

When I was in 8th grade I was capable of understanding things far more complex then Pascal's wager, which really is overrated, so it may do well to introduce more advanced philosophy.


#6

For those who say Pascal's Wager is overrated, why? Perhaps I should have mentioned PW as it relates to infinity and atheists. If atheist scientists are searching for a beginning or ending of time and space (Big Bang) as if no Creator has ever existed, then this would seem to be a hypocrisy. If there is/was never a Creator, then there is infinity of time and space. If there is infinity of time and space, then there is no beginning nor ending for atheist scientists to discover. According to their own beliefs, they are wasting their time looking, yet they are still looking. They claim the Big Bang arose from infinite gravity, but what produced the infinite gravity? If there is/was no Creator, then logically, there must ALWAYS be something that existed "before that" to help produce what came next. The very fact that we exist would imply EITHER some form of Creator, OR Infinity (which is illogical). I agree with Pascal's claim that many atheists simply close their minds to the more LOGICAL existence of a Creator for EMOTIONAL reasons. Where did the science, logic, math, physics, and cosmology go when atheist scientists choose to close their minds to logic and follow their Emotions to determine their beliefs??? Why have so many people worshipped peole like Steven Hawking without challenging them to explain how if there's no Creator, they'll never find the beginning nor end of time and space?

I find it odd that all the sicence, physics, math, cosmology, and philosophy is discarded by atheist scientists in favor of a simple Emotional choice that is not based on Science. They can choose between a Creator or the illogic of infinity, and they choose illogic of infinity, and yet they seek to find a beginning of the universe. Duh.

The Planck Spacecraft project, launched in 2009, is expected to yield data in late 2012. They expect this data to say that the universe is flat and infinite. If they declare the universe to be infinite, will they then stop looking for an end? Then sicence will NEVER be able to prove ALL. If science is flawed and forever inept to prove ALL, then how can so many people have a blind faith in the mantra that they only believe what can be proven when science has ZERO chance of proving the means of our very existence?


#7

AMEN!


#8

As an atheist Pascal's wager would be one of the least effective arguments you could give me. I would simply say, "Which god? What if I choose the wrong one out of the thousands of possibilities?"

Just food for thought.


#9

[quote="freethinker83, post:8, topic:240442"]
As an atheist Pascal's wager would be one of the least effective arguments you could give me. I would simply say, "Which god? What if I choose the wrong one out of the thousands of possibilities?"

Just food for thought.

[/quote]

Your input is actually very helpful because it demonstrates that even a rudimentary basis in Christian apologetics should be more thorough than simply learning about Pascal's Wager.


#10

Saint Anselm's Proslogion should be taught before all of that.
It provides an ontological argument for why it's impossible for God not** to exist! Pretty cool :D


#11

[quote="freethinker83, post:8, topic:240442"]
As an atheist Pascal's wager would be one of the least effective arguments you could give me. I would simply say, "Which god? What if I choose the wrong one out of the thousands of possibilities?"

Just food for thought.

[/quote]

Did you read the link's criticisms of PW? I think they are fairly weak. It seems to me to be a step by step process. Once one agrees that God exists, then one must choose which one. This prompts further learning and analysis. An analysis of the orthodoxies are most important since pop culture media has a way of reducing humanity into the desire for constant stimulation and entertainment of the Self. This perpetual desire to feel good places Self above Others. THis is the opposite message of Christ who says the deepest love is found when we lay down our lives for our friends. Many of Christians are functioning more like atheists because of the desire to entertain the Self, so we look like hypocrites to those who are discerning about religion. Catholicism would be much easier to practice and witness if we turn off the temptations in the media which are reducing us in a direction away from agape love.

IMO, somewhere between the Buddhist's beliefs that we "should" find the best in each other (with no punishment if we disobey), versus Islam's forced "submission" which insults the individual by attempting to take away adult free will and freedom, is our Catholicism which allows for free will and freedom as long as we are wise and strong enough to choose to live it in our acts.


#12

Pascal's Wager is the wrong way to think about faith. If we don't truly believe in God, we have no faith. We can't pretend to believe just because it's "likely" He exists. We must truly believe He does, in fact, exist.


#13

I do think Pascal’s Wager is often overrated and too much emphasis is put on it because it is entirely based on fear. The one making the wager is intimidated into making the wager out of the fear of Hell rather than pursuing the love and truth of God with an open and receptive mind. The one making the wager is a bit of an opportunist, refusing to commit one way or another but kind of plays both sides of the issue as an insurance policy in case he is wrong.

I suppose it should be taught as a point of view on why having faith in God is not ludicrous as many would suggest, but beyond that I don’t see it as having a lot of sway.


#14

[quote="Alexander_Smith, post:12, topic:240442"]
Pascal's Wager is the wrong way to think about faith. If we don't truly believe in God, we have no faith. We can't pretend to believe just because it's "likely" He exists. We must truly believe He does, in fact, exist.

[/quote]

The points I'm trying to make are:
1. Pop culture is promoting atheism, so we need to teach our kids to think
2. Any atheist who "cares" enough to ponder the question cannot, in good faith, choose to ignore the fact that science has NO scientific answer


#15

The problem, I feel, with Pascal's Wager is that it encourages a bad way of thinking. It creates a relationship based on fear of the consequences, not a relationship based around love in God. You should live well out of love, not out of fear you'll be punished if you don't.

Also, isn't science just an observation of what already exists--God's creation? People who "believe in science" don't seem to see it that way I guess.


#16

[quote="Redratfish, post:3, topic:240442"]
The pascal wager works only on those who still have some faith. An atheist will say there is no wager because one side is false.

I find Aquinas to be better taught in 8th grade

[/quote]

No, actually, the real problem with Pascal's wager is that there are hundreds of gods to choose from. So basically the dice are loaded in an either-or situation.


#17

SOMEONE WROTE: “The problem, I feel, with Pascal’s Wager is that it encourages a bad way of thinking. It creates a relationship based on fear of the consequences, not a relationship based around love in God.”

This is exactly right. Pascal’s Wager should be avoided on this basis. It should most definitely NOT be taught in schools. It would simply end up scaring children for absolutely nothing.

Putting pressure on anybody, especially young and sensitive children, to belong to a religion, ANY religion, amounts to coercion. Adults can often deal with such things for what they are. Children cannot. They are not mature thinkers. Such pressure inevitably drives people AWAY from the Faith, rather than towards it.

Also, Pascal was a Jansenist. Jansenism was a heretical belief system, and very fanatical. It does not follow the gentler, more balanced teachings of Roman Catholicism at all.

According to Wikipedia:

“Jansenism was a theology that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination, which Pope Innocent X condemned as heresy in 1655 — especially the relationship between human free will and efficacious grace”… Because the Jansenists identified themselves as rigorous followers of Augustinism, the Jesuits coined the term Jansenism to identify them as having Calvinist affinities.’

“…in particular, the Jansenist idea that Holy Communion should be received very infrequently and that reception required much more than freedom from mortal sin remained influential until finally condemned by Pope St. Pius X, who endorsed frequent communion, as long as the communicant was free of mortal sin, in the early 20th century.”

QUOTE ENDS.

Why such a strict “Wager” created by a harsh, fanatical heretic like Pascal should be pushed onto Catholic children is beyond me.

Even atheists have noticed the banality of Pascal’s Wager. I take this quote from a website by an atheist named T. Brooks. Although I think he goes too far in his rejection of Christianity, he is spot on in the area of Pascal’s Wager:

                       -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

QUOTE:

Blaise Pascal (1623-62), was a French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist who is considered one of the great minds in Western intellectual history. He was also a rigid Catholic (Jansenist) and his famous wager ought to be renamed “Buy or Fry.” Pascal said that people have everything to gain and nothing to lose by believing in Catholicism (Jansenism), and that they have everything to lose and nothing to gain by not believing in Catholicism. So, he concluded, people should believe in Catholicism. Like the meaning of life question and the argument from authority, this provides no way of determining the truth or falsity of biblical claims (or religion). It is just the bribe of eternal life and the threat of eternal hellfire, dressed up to look respectable.

…Additionally, if you accept Christianity and some other religion turned out to be true instead, you would go to its version of hell. Indeed, if we were to follow this wager to its logical end, we should just pick the religion with the worst hell, or believe in every religion at the same time so that all the bases were covered. This points up the most glaring problem with Pascal’s Wager: A person cannot genuinely accept religious claims based on a cost/benefit analysis.

I get downright gleeful when someone tells me he’s just making a rational bet that there is an eternal life. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: I love Pascal’s Wager. It’s such a craven argument.

Christian: What do you mean?

Me: Basically it says your belief isn’t very sincere, that you only believe because you expect this huge reward. I can’t think of a worse reason to believe in something.

This usually ends that exchange.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

QUOTE ENDS.

The Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that belief in God has more to do with Love, not fear. Pascal’s Wager makes belief a matter of fear. This makes it heretical. It is just another part of his strict Jansenism. And heresies destroy Love. That’s what makes them heresies.

I hear people going on and on about “Liberal” heresies. But most rational, committed Catholics are not swayed be “Liberal” heresies. It is Conservative heresies that do all the damage. They are strict. They are harsh and demanding. And people believe them. Because even a lot of Catholics (sadly) believe that the only way to Heaven is the harshest, most difficult way possible. And there is absolutely no need for that at all.


#18

I find Pascal's wager to be of some help. Not as an absolute reason for accepting faith, but as an initial prompt to explore it.

Regarding fear, the bible is quite clear that fear of God is very healthy and starts us on the correct path. Fear of eternal punishment is a first step towards thinking about our mortality and the choices we make through life.

Regarding a bet being a fairly insincere basis for faith, that's quite true. But it's just a stepping stone. I think of when many disciples were leaving Jesus and St Peter said "where shall we go, you have the words of eternal life". Peter had no real understanding at that time, but knew that Jesus offered something that could not be found elsewhere. Pascal's wager brings to our attention the meaninglessness of existence without faith. Ecclesiastes expresses this so clearly in the old testament,before Jesus came and brought faith to life. Without Jeses, life is meaningless. Without faith, what do we have. A short life and nothingness thereafter. That may be OK for some people, but to others it's deeply depressing. If God created us to be in a relationship with Him, it ought to be deeply depressing. Pascal's wager provides the springboard to explore the possibilities.


#19

YOU WROTE: “Regarding fear, the bible is quite clear that fear of God is very healthy and starts us on the correct path.”

The Catholic Church teaches that fear of God simply refers to having a healthy respect for God’s Power. It does NOT refer to us being directed in our faith by a focused fear of Hell. Fear of Hell would not motivate anyone who didn’t already accept Christianity, anyway. That’s why atheists often laugh at Pascal’s wager. Fear of Hell is not part of their belief system. It is quite inert to most of them.

YOU WROTE: “Fear of eternal punishment is a first step towards thinking about our mortality and the choices we make through life.”

No. It’s not. And I’m very sad you see it that way. MY thinking about morality was motivated by nothing but morality itself. My concern for moral behavior flows from a genuine belief in the beauty of moral behavior. So it is for virtually everyone. Very, very few people need the motivation from fear of Hell to “scare” them into behaving properly. Such behavior would not be sincere, anyway. It would simply be done, as stated, to avoid Hell and gain a reward. I see absolutely nothing inherently moral in that at all.

YOU WROTE: “Pascal's wager brings to our attention the meaninglessness of existence without faith.”

No it doesn’t. It brings our attention to a fear of Hell instead of the joy of morality. You have it precisely backward.

YOU WROTE: “Without Jesus, life is meaningless. Without faith, what do we have. A short life and nothingness thereafter.”

Any satisfying secular activity will bring meaning to life. Many people find meaning and purpose in racecar driving. Some people find meaning in serving the poor. Some in writing novels. I find meaning in creativity and intellectual achievement. Life remains short, anyway. And If life is short, that makes it even MORE valuable. What's worth more? Something you can have anywhere at all, or something that is rare, and that doesn't last long?

If there is no God, then it is clear that life does not continue after death. And if life does not continue, that makes it the most precious thing in the Universe. (Which it is, anyway.)

Asserting that "Without Jesus, life is meaningless" is not a true statement. Life would still have meaning. It would be even MORE precious, because it would not continue.

YOU WROTE: “That may be OK for some people, but to others it's deeply depressing. If God created us to be in a relationship with Him, it (life without Jesus) ought to be deeply depressing.”

I most certainly agree with you. Feeling all alone in the world is very depressing indeed. I was drawn to the Church out of Love for God. NOT because of a fear of Hell. Who needs more fear? There’s enough in the world as it is. Such a thing would only depress people even more. Religion should be the one place you can turn to get AWAY from fear. Not to welcome it in with you.

St. Francis of Assisi regarded fear as a virus that can grow in the heart and destroy love of the Lord. He recommended in the Rules of his Order that all Franciscans be on their guard against needless fear of God. Such fear is a seed from the Devil. It can remove happiness and replace it with despair about our salvation. And too many Catholics are overly fearful about their salvation. Anything that encourages such fear (like Pascal’s Wager) should be anathema.


#20

I think that Pascal's wager is something of a cul de sac.

Better to inform children that the mathematical chances of an "accidental" development of life are effectively infinity to one. The curious anomoly whereby Creation is pooh poohed as silly whereas the fantastically unlikely " it just happened" story is accepted without question is startling.


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