Author Topic: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?  (Read 467 times)

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Offline eh!

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is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« on: April 10, 2014, 06:52:34 PM »
On logical grounds i think it is sound.  i would never be converted to xtianity from a creationist argument because it is self evidently flawed and only validity is based on the fundamental assumption that god is true. if you don't assume that from the get go then there is nothing of a viable argument in creationism. it is a defence more than a reason.

otoh pascals wager costs you nothing if you already live a moral life but in theory has a big pay off.

ie costs nothing so if you lose you lose nothing, if you win you get 7 virgins or whatever it is.

i am aware the counter argument of god is not that stupid not to spot a fake believer.  but still if someone was not decided would it not be rationally justifiable to take the bet even tho there is no rational argument to believe in god.

you could also argue there is no rational argument to pick a certain number in roulette. but both theists and atheists will bet on roulette. to the tune of billions every year.


just thought it would make an interesting discussion topic. personally i don't gamble.
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Offline Astreja

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2014, 07:13:57 PM »
The Wager falls apart mathematically as the number of potential gods increases.  If more than one religion is presented in a "Believe or burn!" context, and the bettor's motivation is to avoid being punished, how does one make the choice?  Bet on the god with the nastiest afterlife?  The one with the largest following?  The oldest tradition?  The most readable scriptures?  The funniest hats?  PW isn't that compelling as soon as other gods come onto the field.
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Offline eh!

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2014, 08:19:48 PM »
i see yr logic but to be pedantic you have rationalised away the inescapable fact that gambling in general is not rational. eg

you are saying the probabilities individually are;

1/(god exists) and 1/(you have picked the right god), the right god is a finite number if you only include all the known historical gods that offer a swell afterlife, guessing a few million?

combine under multiplying independent events to get;

1/(god exists) X 1/(you have picked the right god) = small number

yr cost has been zero if you live a moral kind of life and don't have to give up yr hobby of stabbing random strangers assuming that stabbing random strangers is not one of the gods requirements in the second probability.

so at no cost you still have a small but non-zero chance of an infinitely swell pay off, assuming the real god that exists promises this.

the worse  case scenario is that none of the known historical gods is correct and the real god is yet to reveal him/her/itself then and only then the maths gets tricky but bayes formula might kick in.

still the first formula using only the known historical gods is still greater than saying winning the lottery which is basically in your context is effectively impossible, mathematically, of winning but we know that it will be won by someone with 100% certainty.

so agree with some of yr approach but it ignores the fundamental human drive to gamble on anything which we know is both endemic and irrestistable to many, many unfortunate people.

so altho compelling, i find yr argument insufficient given the psychology of gambling which is not based on mathematics per se.


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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2014, 08:47:07 PM »
I don't worry about the Pascals Wager thingy.

All proposed gods are so obviously false that there is clearly no god with which to bet. Also, there is no way I am going to waste a minute of this life playing it safe on the tiny chance that there could be a heaven after death. I've got too much to do to take time out to be a sycophant, just in case. I don't care about the odds. They don't exist either.

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Offline jdawg70

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2014, 09:14:51 PM »
Pascal's wager is essentially placing a bet when no game is even being played.  Seriously - how does one place a bet, and how is an evaluation of win/lose/push done?

We're a bunch of people having drinks around an unmanned roulette table.  And some of the people in the crowd are wondering why some of us don't place money on the table.
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2014, 11:01:49 AM »
right god is a finite number if you only include all the known historical gods

And that is where your assumption creates your argument. That assumption is based on no evidence, hence it is unacceptable.
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2014, 11:03:15 AM »
You're right, eh!. You should worship a god, just in case. I recommend Myself.

If you can't see why this is stupid, I'm afraid there's no convincing you.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2014, 12:21:16 PM »
Pascal's Wager is nothing more than an attempt to hedge your bets - to pretend to worship a god in order to receive a reward or avoid a punishment, rather than because you honestly believe in said god.  Leaving everything else aside, a god that has the power to grant eternal punishment and/or salvation would probably be able to tell whether you were being a hypocrite or not.  Holding to your convictions is a better option than pretending to worship a god you don't really follow.

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2014, 02:12:02 PM »
I'll put my money on the god that wants atheists - the one who set it all up in such a way that there was no justification to believe it existed. We were never supposed to believe, folks! ;)
If you keep on living your life as though your purpose is to be saved and go to heaven, you are missing the heaven that you are living in right now.

Offline Willie

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2014, 11:00:10 AM »
There are several unfounded assumptions in this.

1. The assumption that there is some small, even if very, very small, chance that one of the proposed gods might be real. Given the absurdities and internal inconsistencies in the various god claims, I think it can be reasonably argued that the probability is actually zero. Not one in a trillion. Not one in a googolplex. Zero.

2. The assumption that there is no cost in worshiping a non-existent god if one is moral anyway. Do you know of any god who's moral rules coincide perfectly with your internal ones? If it isn't a perfect match, then there IS a cost. For some, a perfect moral match to a "betted on" religion will be a logical impossibility because they consider intellectual honesty, in and of itself, a moral imperative, and thus accepting ANY set of beliefs as a bet is always immoral. There is also an intellectual opportunity cost. To accept the claims of a religion based only on the idea that they MIGHT be true, one implicitly gives up the search for answers that ARE true. And that's the best case. Many go so far as to reject superior explanations that are supported by evidence and reason. How can that not be a cost?

3. The assumption that, even assuming that there is a real god, it is one of the ones on the figurative roulette wheel.

4. The assumption that to not bet is a sure way to not win. There is no way to know this. If there's a god who rewards intellectual honesty and punishes the lack thereof, then in the absence of evidence for any god, not betting would be the only way to win. There's no reason to believe that there is such a god, of course, but there's also no justification for judging that proposition to be any more absurd or any less likely than any of the others.

All of the choices have a potential cost, but the intellectually honest option of being true to oneself and not feigning (or even successfully self-inducing) belief on a mere bet is the ONLY option that does not have a definite cost.

Offline Willie

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2014, 11:42:01 AM »
The Wager falls apart mathematically as the number of potential gods increases.  If more than one religion is presented in a "Believe or burn!" context, and the bettor's motivation is to avoid being punished, how does one make the choice? Bet on the god with the nastiest afterlife?  The one with the largest following?  The oldest tradition?  The most readable scriptures?  The funniest hats?  PW isn't that compelling as soon as other gods come onto the field.

If one is going to place a bet at all, that does seem the most obvious choice, doesn't it? You can't avoid every hell, so just try to avoid the most heinous one. Punishing infidels by burning them alive forever is pretty hard to beat. It seems that one could improve this further by encouraging followers to mete out punishments for infidels in this life. Offering a carrot (heaven, acceptance in a community, etc.) along with the stick couldn't hurt either. Those do seem to be elements of the most successful religions.

I suppose that this could be grounds for a moral objection to Pascals wager. It favors the most brutal, most oppressive, and most calculatedly manipulative religions.


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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2014, 11:50:11 AM »
The core premise of Pascal's Wager is the notion of a god that needs human belief and obedience so badly that it will: A) threaten everlasting torture to get it; and B ) reward faked belief and obedience that's only in it for a promised payoff.  What sort of a god would be that desperate?

Obedience, praises, offerings of money, cattle, etc., are only valuable to an entity that is not much more powerful than the beings offering the obedience and gifts.  Q: Why did the Pharaohs need obedient Egyptians?  A: 'Cause the pyramids they wanted weren't gettin' built without 'em.  "Obedience," etc. is only of value if the beings doing the obeying can provide goods and services the ruler can't provide for him/herself with less effort than it takes to gather the followers.  So, the god of Pascal's Wager is necessarily a small god, not much more powerful than the humans whose belief and obedience it needs so badly.  That desperate need is its confession of weakness.

Furthermore, a god who needed human obedience (and/or money, livestock offerings, whatever) that badly would act to insure its access to those things, and could be expected to do all in its power to prevent any other beings from collecting the goodies in its place.  Yet what do we observe?  No god or goddess ever shows up to scoop the money out of collection plates or move in to the temple, cathedral, or parsonage, wear the fine robes and jeweled diadems, pleasure itself with the willing, nubile/virile young followers, or enjoy the power and status that comes with having its personal preferences passed into law.  Who does show up?  Human beings.  Clergy, "prophets," "gurus," and other quite ordinary human "spokesmen" (and they're almost always men) are always the ones who collect.  "On the god's behalf," of course.   

Do the math.  The answer's pretty obvious, don't you think?
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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2014, 01:08:50 PM »
...
All of the choices have a potential cost, but the intellectually honest option of being true to oneself and not feigning (or even successfully self-inducing) belief on a mere bet is the ONLY option that does not have a definite cost.

And any god worth their salt should want intellectual integrity. In fact, they should want people to be fully and completely their truest, best selves. This is one of the things I understand the least about the abrahamic faiths ... How small and limited they can be.
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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2014, 02:10:47 PM »
[fair description of the math that show that the odds against this being true are phenomenal]

Your cost has been zero if you live a moral kind of life
so at no cost you still have a small but non-zero chance of an infinitely swell pay off, assuming the real god that exists promises this.

No, you have paid a very heavy price indeed.

You have subjected yourself to
1. myth, superstition and ignorance to the damage of your intellectual potential.
2. In doing so, you have denied yourself the opportunity of truly helping others
3. You may have convinced others by word or deed to follow your faulty logic.
4. You may have prevented progress by opposing social advancement.
5. You may be responsible for the deaths of people killed in religious wars and conflicts.
6. You have placed yourself as subject to those who gain power through manipulation.
7. You will have spent many hours in worship when you could have done something useful.
8. If you are correct, and there is a god, it will have been quite impossible to obey all he commanded and you are damned.
9. You will have alienated some people for no good reason.
10. You have offended all who believe in another god or a different type of your god.

Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2014, 02:58:31 PM »
I get putting all your chips on the god wielding the biggest stick, but that stick can be passed around to any god you care to make up. That's the thing with evidence free concepts - they can be copied and reused for other evidence free concepts until you end up with potentially infinitely equal propositions and probability dissolves into nothingness.

So which of the countless gods do you opt for in this instance if they all threaten you with the same thing? Well, none of 'em. Put your money on the one you find most reasonable, or, if you're like me, put it in a high interest account for when a real rainy day comes along, because there is no reasonable justification for believing there is a god.
If you keep on living your life as though your purpose is to be saved and go to heaven, you are missing the heaven that you are living in right now.

Offline Willie

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2014, 05:55:43 PM »
6. You have placed yourself as subject to those who gain power through manipulation.

An excellent point. I don't know whether the Abrahamic (or any other) religions were created specifically for manipulation and power, but over and over they've proven to be very powerful tools for just that purpose.

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2014, 07:54:34 PM »
[fair description of the math that show that the odds against this being true are phenomenal]

Your cost has been zero if you live a moral kind of life
so at no cost you still have a small but non-zero chance of an infinitely swell pay off, assuming the real god that exists promises this.

To add to what Graybeard has already said, the claim that there is "no cost" to adopting Christianity is blatantly false, if Jesus is to be believed:

Quote
Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

--Luke 14:25-32, bold emphasis added.

Aside: doesn't this mean that Jesus has no disciples, i.e. no Real, True Christians except maybe for a few monks and ascetic hermits?

The thrust of Jesus' argument here is that a rational accounting of costs would probably lead one to decide against following him (especially the example of the king whose army is outnumbered 2 to 1 considering whether to go to war), so that you'll only join up of you're truly hardcore and dedicated to the cause.  This is logically incompatible with the doctrine of Hell and Pascal's Wager.  Otherwise the people in the audience would have said, "Sure, but the cost of not-discipleship is infinitely higher, so I guess we'd better sign on and start faking spirit-orgasms for you, right Jesus?  You'll accept pretenders who just play along for a shot at the streets o' gold, right?"

PW is also incompatible with Anselm's Ontological Argument, that Yahweh is by definition the Greatest Conceivable Being, and since a Being that actually exists is greater than one that doesn't the Greatest Conceivable Being must exist by syllogistic summoning incantation.  Is a god that will welcome mercenary worshipers who are just playing along on a bet that they'll get goodies after they die, while torturing for eternity anyone who has a shred of moral and intellectual integrity really the greatest being you can conceive of?  Really?!
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Offline eh!

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Re: is pascals wager not good enough odds to bet?
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2014, 11:13:01 PM »
gee great responses thanks a bunch.
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