Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'll Bet Pascal's Wrong

Pascal’s Wager

Wikipedia: “It posits that there's more to be gained from wagering on the existence of God than from atheism, and that a rational person should live as though God exists, even though the truth of the matter cannot actually be known.”

I’ve heard this put forth many times, most recently on a BBC documentary on the “god of the gaps.” What I’ve never heard anyone put forth is the logical fallacy; instead, it’s held up as example of the logic of believing in a god.

What Wikipedia fails to mention is that there is an unmentioned assumption here. The assumption is that not believing in a god would have negative consequences. That’s why Pascal thought it best to believe in a god, because he thought that any god—at least his god—would be really pissed off if you didn’t believe in him (it?) and make you suffer accordingly; but there’s no reason to assume that, if there’s a god, it would care at all what people thought of it. Pascal’s Wager only works if the god is a Christian god, but that’s never brought up.

At the very least, if anyone runs the Pascal Wager by you, you can cross them off your list for thinking things through. Pascal Schmascal.

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