Author Topic: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]  (Read 880 times)

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Offline pianodwarf

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Hi there,
 
I read through a good deal of your website and I find several of your questions extremely appropriate for anyone who is being asked to believe in something as grand as the creator of the universe.  All your questions are valid and, while I believe that there are theological explanations for many of them, I just want to focus on something that we can actually prove.  I put together the below essay to demonstrate that the expected value of Atheism is less than that of beliefs in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers.  I believe that it demonstrates pretty unequivocally that, while you may never be able to prove God exists, you can demonstrate that belief in God, believing that existence ceases after death results in a lower expected value than belief in God, Heaven, and Hell.
 
Thanks for reading,
-Dan
 
Proof of the irrationality of believing in death’s finality
Introduction:
When I was younger, I was introduced to Pascal’s Wager.  Utilizing expected values, Pascal set out to demonstrate that Christianity was the logical choice when choosing between it and Atheism.  While Pascal’s Wager has been heavily criticized through the ages, I believe that Pascal was correct, but not necessarily for the reasons Pascal argued.  Rather, I believe that Pascal was only correct because his wager demonstrates that certain beliefs (e.g., Atheism) have a lower expected value than others (e.g., Christianity). In reality, Pascal’s Wager does a poor job in proving that Christianity is the most rational choice when choosing a religion; however, whether he realized it or not, his argument does provide the logical reasoning that believing in death’s finality (e.g., Atheism) yields a lower expected value when compared to beliefs in Heaven for believers and Hell for unbelievers.
 
In the spirit of full disclosure, I am in fact a Christian who faithfully believes in the truth of my religion.  This paper however, is not an attempt to prove Christianity.  This paper merely attempts to demonstrate that beliefs that posit that when a person dies, they cease to exist yield a lower expected value than beliefs that posit that, when a person dies, they are either eternally rewarded or eternally punished.  I do not think that anyone can “prove” Christianity is true.  I believe that everyone must faithfully search for truth on their own.  However, I am confident that, in this paper, I will demonstrate that certain beliefs provide a lower expected value than others and therefore, if a person is rational and unbiased, they will avoid those beliefs with lower expected values.
Expected values are a useful tool when outcomes are uncertain.  When different decisions have probabilities of different payouts, one can utilize expected values to understand the planned utility of making those decisions.  Because outcomes of most events are uncertain, expected values can be used to determine which decisions will most likely yield a higher utility.  If someone were to perform the necessary calculations to determine the expected value of two decisions and were to find out that one yielded a higher expected value than the other, it would be irrational for that person to choose the option that yielded the lower expected value.
 
Some may argue that, while expected values are useful when making decisions about what actions to take, they are not useful in choosing what to believe.  These people may argue that no one chooses what to believe, but rather, develops beliefs based on their experiences.  I believe this argument is inaccurate.  If a person does not choose what to believe, then who does?  Some may not feel that they consciously “choose” what to believe, but they are of course in control of how they interpret their experiences and how their experiences influence their beliefs.  Two people may have identical experiences but may choose different beliefs based on those experiences.  If beliefs are just robotic outcomes that are determined by a person’s experiences, then it opens up the door to remove accountability from all actions.  If people don’t choose what they believe, then they might not choose how they behave or what actions they perform.  I am not in a position to make the claim that the world is not deterministic; however, If you, as a reader, are under the impression that you have no control over what you believe, then I humbly ask that you include this paper in your set of experiences and let it serve as a piece of evidence that may influence your beliefs in a certain direction.
 
Another argument that this paper is sure to spark is related to the cost of choosing a particular faith.  In order to approach this subject, a much longer discussion would be required.  One would have to measure the total lifetime utility gained from all people of every belief and compare them to one another.  I firmly believe that the utility of one’s life is not determined by their belief system.  A person in any faith can live a more fulfilling or less fulfilling life than a person from a different faith.  It would be difficult to argue that living under any specific faith delivers more or less utility to a person while they are living.  Later in the paper, I will demonstrate the difficulty of demonstrating that the cost of belief in Heaven and Hell negates its expected value; however, the bulk of this paper will only focus on the utility gained post-mortem of the different beliefs.
 
I have put together the below argument to demonstrate how, regardless of potential scenarios, belief in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers will always yield a higher utility than belief in death resulting in the end of one’s existence.  The below argument makes certain assumptions, which are outlined below; however, when these assumptions are tested, it becomes clear that, regardless of what scenarios are possible, the results are always the same: the expected value of belief in Heaven and Hell always outweighs the expected value of belief in death’s finality.
Assumptions:
1.       Let n equal the count of all possible beliefs
2.       Let a equal the count of beliefs where, if you are wrong, you cease to exist.
3.       Let b equal the count of beliefs where, if you are wrong, you experience eternal torment.
4.       Let c equal the count of beliefs where, if you are wrong, you experience eternal bliss.
5.       Let x equal the count of your belief, i.e., 1
6.       Based on the above, x = 1
7.       Based on the above, n=a+b+c+1
8.       Let the utility gained by experiencing eternal bliss be a very large number represented by h
9.       Let the average utility gained by all “eternal bliss” concepts be represented by H
10.   Let the utility lost by experiencing eternal torment be a very large number represented by [h]
11.   Let the average utility gained by all “eternal torment” concepts be represented by [H]
12.   Let the average utility gained by eternal bliss be equal and opposite of the average utility lost by eternal torment,
13.   i.e., H + [H] = 0
14.   For the purposes of this paper, let the cost of believing any belief set be equal
15.   EVB = Expected Value of belief in Heaven and Hell
16.   EVA = Expected Value of belief in Death’s Finality

Proof:
Expected value of someone who believes that believers in his faith will go to Heaven and everyone else will go to Hell:
EVB = (x/n)*H + (a/n)*0 + ((b-x)/n)*[H] + (c/n)*H
EVB = H/n + 0 + (b[H]–[H])/n +cH/n
EVB = (H + b[H] + H +cH)/n
EVB = ((2+c)H – bH)/n
EVB = ((2 + c – b)H)/n
Expected value of someone who believes that he and everyone else will cease to exist after death:
EVA = (x/n)*0 + ((a-1)/n)*0 + (b/n)*[H] + (c/n)*H
EVA = 0 + 0 + b[H]/n + cH/n
EVA = (c-b)H/n
2 > 0
((2 + c – b)H)/n > (c-b)H/n
EVB > EVA
There is a higher expected value for belief in Heaven and Hell than there is for belief in Death’s Finality.
Examples:
EVB = ((2 + c – b)H)/n
EVA = (c-b)H/n
Example 1: Equal number of differing beliefs:
·         a = 100
·         b = 100
·         c = 100
·         x = 1
·         EVB = 2H/301
·         EVA = 0H/301 = 0
·         EVB > EVA

Example 2:  More Hell than Heaven beliefs:
·         a = 100
·         b = 200
·         c = 10
·         x = 1
·         EVB = -188H/311
·         EVA = -190H/311
·         EVB > EVA

Example 3:  More Heaven than Hell beliefs
·         a = 100
·         b = 10
·         c = 200
·         x = 1
·         EVB = 192H/311
·         EVA = 190H/311
·         EVB > EVA

Example 4:  More Death than other beliefs
·         a = 100
·         b = 10
·         c = 10
·         x = 1
·         EVB = 2H/121
·         EVA = 0H/121 = 0
·         EVB > EVA


Assumption Rationales:
Assumption 5 and 6: “Let x equal the count of your belief, i.e., 1” and “Based on the above, x = 1”
While a person may have multiple beliefs in afterlife (or lack of afterlife) scenarios, all of those beliefs constitute a single “belief.”  For example, if someone believed in the Christian Heaven and Hell, but also believed the Hindu gods exist and should be worshipped, that would constitute a comprehensive belief set.  In order for that person to be right, the Christian Heaven and Hell and the Hindu gods must exist as that person believes they do.
 
Assumption 7: “Based on the above, n=a+b+c+1”:
I am assuming that all beliefs have some concept of an afterlife or a lack of an afterlife.  In my argument, I am stating that all belief sets have one of three beliefs regarding the afterlife:
1.       The afterlife does not exist.  Upon death, your existence and consciousness end.  Beliefs in this set are Atheism, Secular Humanism, and some sects of Buddhism (among others). I denote the count of all of these beliefs as “a”.
2.       The afterlife exists and believers in a specific faith will go to a very nice place of eternal bliss while believers of different faiths will go to a very unpleasant place of eternal torment.  Christianity, Islam, some sects of Judaism and others are included in this set of beliefs.  I denote the count of these beliefs as “b”.
3.       The afterlife exists, but everyone goes to a very nice place of eternal bliss.  Universalism, some sects of Unitarianism and others are included in this set.  The count of these beliefs is denoted as “c” in this paper.

Some may argue that there is a fourth class of beliefs including beliefs such as reincarnation that posit that, after death, a person is returned to an existence similar to the one prior to death.  These beliefs all fall into the three mentioned above (Heaven, Hell, or ceasing to exist), as, after a number of reincarnations, the person will experience one of the following:
·         Reach the end of the universe and be unable to reincarnate (i.e., death is final)
·         Reach a Heaven-like or a Hell-like state determined if you eventually choose the correct belief during your lifetimes over a set number of lifetimes, if you never do, you go to a Hell-like state (i.e., eternal torment)
·         Eventually reach a Heaven-like state regardless of how long it takes (i.e., eternal bliss)

Even for beliefs that posit that a person would eternally reincarnate, the sum of the utility generated over their lifetimes would eventually, over eternity, reach an infinite positive number, an infinite negative number, or 0, which would put it in the same class of “eternal bliss,” “eternal torment,” or “zero utility” beliefs respectively.
 
Here, I would like to bring up a true fourth set of beliefs that would include all beliefs that believe only in an “eternal torment” afterlife.  These beliefs are all contained in the “b” beliefs, unless you are one who believes in this sort of afterlife.  If that is the case, then the belief is contained within the “x” belief set, which represents your belief.
 
I would also like to point out here, that my proof is only valid for those who believe in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers.  For those who believe that everyone will go to Heaven in the end, the proof presented in this paper is not valid.  It is also not the purpose of this paper, which is to demonstrate that belief in Heaven and Hell has a higher expected value than belief in Death’s finality.
 
Assumptions 8 and 10: “Let the utility gained by experiencing eternal bliss be a very large number represented by h” and “Let the utility lost by experiencing eternal torment be a very large number represented by [h]”
While it is very likely that both of these numbers are equal to infinity and negative infinity respectively, because infinity is an abstract concept, I am using a real-number-substitute in place of infinity.  While utilizing infinity as a utility calculation would render the calculations “undefined,” the concept behind the utility calculations is not lost by representing infinity as a very large number (either positive or negative).
 
Assumptions 12 and 13:  “Let the average utility gained by eternal bliss be equal and opposite of the average utility lost by eternal torment” and “H + [H] = 0”
These assumptions were made in order to simplify the math.  It could be the case that the average utility gained from all possible “eternal bliss” scenarios greatly outweighs the average utility lost by the “eternal torment” scenarios or vice versa.  As we will see below, the simplification of the math has no impact on the results of our analysis.
 
Testing Assumptions:
Assumptions 12 and 13:  “Let the average utility gained by eternal bliss be equal and opposite of the average utility lost by eternal torment” and “H + [H] = 0”
We have already shown the Expected Value results when the total utility gained by “eternal bliss” equals the utility lost by “eternal torment.”  We will now test the two other alternatives.
 
Test 1: In order to test this assumption we will first assume that the utility gained from “eternal bliss” is greater than the utility lost by “eternal torment.”
1.       Let eternal bliss utility be equal to B
2.       Let eternal torment utility be equal to [T]
3.       B > T
4.       B +[T] equals a positive number, equals (+)
5.       B – [T] equals a positive number, equals (+)
6.       B – T equals a positive number, equals (+)
7.       B + T equals a positive number, equals (+)

With this new information, the expected value of someone who believes that he will go to Heaven and everyone else will go to Hell will be:
EVB = (x/n)*B + (a/n)*0 + ((b-x)/n)*[T] + (c/n)*B
EVB = B/n + 0 + (b[T]–[T])/n +cB/n
EVB = (B + b[T] – [T] +cB)/n
EVB = (cB + B + b[T] – [T])/n
EVB = ((cB +b[T] + (+))/n
The new expected value of someone who believes that he will cease to exist after death will be:
EVA = (x/n)*0 + ((a-1)/n)*0 + (b/n)*[T] + (c/n)*B
EVA = 0 + 0 + b[T]/n + cB/n
EVA = (cB + b[T])/n
(+) > 0
((cB +b[T] + (+))/n > (cB + b[T])/n
EVB > EVA
There is a higher expected value for belief in Heaven and Hell than there is for belief in Death’s Finality even with the utility gained from eternal bliss being greater than the utility lost from eternal torment.
 
Test 2: We will now assume that the utility gained from “eternal bliss” is less than the utility lost by “eternal torment.”
1.       Let eternal bliss utility be equal to B
2.       Let eternal torment utility be equal to [T]
3.       T > B
4.       [T] + B equals a negative number, equals (-)
5.       [T] - B equals a negative number, equals (-)
6.       T - B equals a negative number, equals (-)
7.       B – [T] equals a positive number, equals (+)

With this new information, the expected value of someone who believes that he will go to Heaven and everyone else will go to Hell will be:
EVB = (x/n)*B + (a/n)*0 + ((b-x)/n)*[T] + (c/n)*B
EVB = B/n + 0 + (b[T]–[T])/n +cB/n
EVB = (B + b[T] – [T] +cB)/n
EVB = (cB + B + b[T] – [T])/n
EVB = ((cB +b[T] + (+))/n
The new expected value of someone who believes that he will cease to exist after death will be:
EVA = (x/n)*0 + ((a-1)/n)*0 + (b/n)*[T] + (c/n)*B
EVA = 0 + 0 + b[T]/n + cB/n
EVA = (cB + b[T])/n
(+) > 0
((cB +b[T] + (+))/n > (cB + b[T])/n
EVB > EVA
There is a higher expected value for belief in Heaven and Hell than there is for belief in death’s finality even with the utility gained from eternal bliss being less than the utility lost from eternal torment.

 
Assumption 14:  “For the purposes of this paper, let the cost of believing any belief set be equal”
Now that we have demonstrated that the expected value of believing in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers outweighs the expected value of belief in the end of existence after death, I want to demonstrate the difficulty of proving that the cost of belief would negate the expected value gain from belief.
1.       Let CB be equal to the cost of belief in Heaven and Hell
2.       Let CA be equal to the cost of belief in death’s finality

In order to argue that the cost of belief outweighs the utility gain from belief, one would have to demonstrate the following:
CB – CA > EVB - EVA
CB – CA > ((2 + c – b)H)/n – (c-b)H/n
CB – CA > (2H + cH – bH – cH + bH)/n
CB – CA > 2H/n
In order for this to be true, the cost of belief of Heaven and Hell must be so much greater than the cost of belief in death’s finality that the difference between the two is greater than 2 times the utility gained by eternal bliss divided by the total number of possible beliefs. While I cannot definitively state that the above scenario is impossible, it seems highly unlikely that this would be the case.  To demonstrate this, imagine that every person that ever lived on earth held a different belief, thereby making n equal roughly between 100 and 115 billion.  For argument’s sake, we will use 115 billion.
 
Even with such an enormous denominator, 2H/n is still likely to be an extremely large number.  If H is equal to the utility gained by eternal bliss, then it is most likely a number equal to, or at least much closer to infinity than 115,000,000,000.  To compound this, the numerator is not just one quantification of eternal bliss utility, it is two.
 
From the above, one can see how it would be extremely difficult to argue that the cost of believing in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers negates the expected value of choosing that belief.  While it is of course possible that the above calculation (CB – CA > 2H/n) could be true, it is extremely unlikely that any set of circumstances would result in the left side of the equation actually being greater than the right.
 
Conclusion:
This paper demonstrates that the expected value of belief in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers outweighs the expected value of belief in existence ceasing after death. I would strongly argue that, if a person is choosing a path that has a lower expected value than other alternative beliefs, the person is behaving irrationally.  This paper should not be the foundation of any person’s faith in any specific belief, but it should serve to introduce doubt into belief sets that contain the belief that existence ceases after death.  If you are committed to a belief that this paper demonstrates has a lower expected value, this paper should lead you to question your rationales for that belief.  It is strange that the universe exists in a way that pushes people away from belief in death’s finality.  I will not argue that this is God’s design (although I believe it to be), but it should definitely spark thoughts in the mind of the reader that rationality, being so critical to human strength and wisdom, would lead the rational person toward a belief in Heaven and Hell.
[On how kangaroos could have gotten back to Australia after the flood]:  Don't kangaroos skip along the surface of the water? --Kenn

Online One Above All

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2014, 03:58:56 AM »
Pascal's Wager, people. Nothing to see here.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2014, 04:00:09 AM »
Pascal's Wager with a bunch of additional math is still just Pascal's Wager.
[On how kangaroos could have gotten back to Australia after the flood]:  Don't kangaroos skip along the surface of the water? --Kenn

Offline Nam

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2014, 04:22:59 AM »
All I read was nonsense (of what I read); Pascal's Wager, or not.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline shnozzola

Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2014, 06:05:41 AM »
Here is the thought process for me, Dan.  I understand that your beliefs as to the truth, as a gamble, are good enough for you, proving that eternal bliss is better than eternal torture.

I am more interested in the truth than that.  More interested in truth than in me - because - there IS a truth, isn't there?  Maybe that is where we part ways. 

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing how your beliefs effect the afterlife of those who follow, say Sikhism, or Islam.  How about the Rastafari Movement?   I believe there are pages of gods available from an internet search.   I'm wondering if Native Americans from, say 1300, before they would have heard the "good news," could have made it to heaven, and what you think they are up to now - it's only been about 700 years in heaven, less than a drop in the bucket out of eternity to come.  If you are correct, then the argument about heaven and hell gets past Pascal's wager and  involves a planner, a designer - possibly a god, and we are back to square one on this debate.   What are your views on infants and toddlers that lose their lives?  How do you think that is handled?
 
Please consider becoming a member to continue the debate.

Quote
.......it should definitely spark thoughts in the mind of the reader that rationality, being so critical to human strength and wisdom, would lead the rational person toward a belief in Heaven and Hell.

Rationality - Certainly the world needs more of that. Of course, the Westboro Baptists are convinced their views are correct.  Hmmm. 
« Last Edit: May 25, 2014, 06:08:35 AM by shnozzola »
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2014, 06:07:09 AM »
Quote from: theist2809
This paper should not be the foundation of any person’s faith in any specific belief, but it should serve to introduce doubt into belief sets that contain the belief that existence ceases after death.  If you are committed to a belief that this paper demonstrates has a lower expected value, this paper should lead you to question your rationales for that belief..... it should definitely spark thoughts in the mind of the reader that rationality, being so critical to human strength and wisdom, would lead the rational person toward a belief in Heaven and Hell.

This is the crux of the "paper" - basically, that it is more rational to believe in whichever thing may potentially have the greater upside.

From this we can conclude also that it is far more rational to believe in Santa, because - in the event Santa turns out to be true - we would lose out by not believing.

Also, believe in Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy - because ( according to believer 2809) it is irrational not to.

And finally, do not base belief on evidence, but solely on the projected upside.  So clearly the MOST rational thing would be to concoct the bestest image of god one can from ones imagination, and ever after believe in that. 

Totally Rational.....according to believer #2809.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2014, 06:10:56 AM »
This is the crux of the "paper" - basically, that it is more rational to believe in whichever thing may potentially have the greater upside.

In that case...

Email sender #2809, you may want to become My worshiper. I offer nothing more and nothing less than godhood. Not kidding. If you are chosen, you, among all the living beings in this universe, will ascend and join Me and the other gods in omniscience and omnipotence. Of course, first, you'll need to be benevolent.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2014, 10:08:21 AM »
It's a nice change to see a believer who's willing to admit that he can't prove Christianity.

The problem with your approach is that the "expected value" of something has no bearing on whether it turns into actual value or not.  Indeed, it is quite easy for a person's expectations to fall through.  So these calculations you perform, while interesting from a mathematical perspective, are ultimately not very useful.  Furthermore, you have made 16 assumptions in order to concoct this proof; per Occam's razor, less assumptions are better unless more assumptions provides more explanatory power.  As your paper here does not really provide any explanatory power (aside from a couple of very general concepts), I cannot accept your conclusion as valid in the real world, although the math is accurate as far as I can tell.

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2014, 01:54:01 PM »
Hey all,

Just registered for the site.  I am the author of this little essay.  I think that you are right that this article is just Pascal's Wager with some extra math thrown in there to demonstrate the different possibilities. 

I think that the reason why Pascal's Wager gets discounted is because it is too ambitious in its attempt to prove something.  Pascal was using the Wager to try to prove that Christianity was true.  As I noted in my paper, I believe Christianity requires faith and cannot be proven true or false. 

As I believe I have demonstrated in my paper, Pascal's Wager is effective at demonstrating that different beliefs have different expected values, and some have lower expected values than others.

To Anfauglir,


This is the crux of the "paper" - basically, that it is more rational to believe in whichever thing may potentially have the greater upside.

From this we can conclude also that it is far more rational to believe in Santa, because - in the event Santa turns out to be true - we would lose out by not believing.

Also, believe in Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy - because ( according to believer 2809) it is irrational not to.

And finally, do not base belief on evidence, but solely on the projected upside.  So clearly the MOST rational thing would be to concoct the bestest image of god one can from ones imagination, and ever after believe in that. 

Totally Rational.....according to believer #2809.

My argument would not be good to demonstrate the validity of belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny, as you have an annual opportunity to test out whether belief in those figures would result in a benefit or a loss.  Also, the expected value of belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny is finite and could be easily offset or negated by the cost of belief in those figures (e.g., societal loss because you believe in something others find to be imaginary). 

To your point about my paper showing that the most rational thing would be to concoct the "bestest image of god one can,"  you are partly correct.  You would have to also concoct a the worstest image of Hell for non-believers in your God in order to generate an expected value comparable to the one I outlined. 

In Christianity, God is the bestest image of god one can imagine and Hell is the worstest place you could imagine.  Christian Heaven is infinitely good and Christian Hell is infinitely bad, so I don't think you could create a much better or worse place than infinity. 

Thanks for reading the essay by the way.  It is kind of a long thing.

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2014, 02:07:20 PM »
Dante Harnz, why have you ignored My post? Let me quote it for you:

Email sender #2809, you may want to become My worshiper. I offer nothing more and nothing less than godhood. Not kidding. If you are chosen, you, among all the living beings in this universe, will ascend and join Me and the other gods in omniscience and omnipotence. Of course, first, you'll need to be benevolent.

Or are you saying that being stuck in a place where you have to worship a god for eternity is better than becoming a god? Surely My offer outweighs your fake god's.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2014, 02:15:19 PM »
Christian Heaven is infinitely good and Christian Hell is infinitely bad, so I don't think you could create a much better or worse place than infinity. 

Wondered how long it would take to jump from the general essay to ".....and thus you should believe in Christianity".

Just for larks though - define "infinitely good" in a way that would make me prefer it over a heaven that is just "very good".

Or - better yet - present some evidence that anything you mention in your essay actually exists.  Because that's the crux, for me.  I place a lot of weight on NOT wasting the one life we all have, so unless there is a single spread of evidence you have for a "heaven", the rational choice for me is NOT to waste my life on any religion.  Especially since picking the wrong religion will not only screw your afterlife as bad as atheism (if not more), but will also screw THIS life.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2014, 02:18:30 PM »
Hey All above one,

Not ignoring it, just getting around to it. 

Your offer is not feasible with my definition of God.  You seem to be talking about godhood as if it is something that you can take on after you die.  That would be just a very powerful creature, something you seem to be calling a "god".  God, in my definition is all powerful, all knowing, all present and is not a created being.  There can only be one God in that definition and therefore, your offer would not make sense.

Anyway, if you are trying to argue that you have created a religion that involves becoming very powerful after you die, that is kind of like what the Christian Heaven is.  Except, in Christian Heaven, you are also in fellowship with a benevolent creator and are perfected by  His grace.

I guess what I am saying is that your offer provides me with a lower expected value than my religion does, so I think I will pass.


Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2014, 02:28:13 PM »
Just for larks though - define "infinitely good" in a way that would make me prefer it over a heaven that is just "very good".

Or - better yet - present some evidence that anything you mention in your essay actually exists.  Because that's the crux, for me.  I place a lot of weight on NOT wasting the one life we all have, so unless there is a single spread of evidence you have for a "heaven", the rational choice for me is NOT to waste my life on any religion.  Especially since picking the wrong religion will not only screw your afterlife as bad as atheism (if not more), but will also screw THIS life.

Hey Anfauglir,

I am not going to get you to believe in evidence that proves Heaven, or God, or Christianity are true.  I can show you After Death Experiences, or give you witness testimonies, or tell you that the Bible is God's inspired word so you should believe it, but I know that all of those things will fail to meet your burden of proof. 

I will say that, as I did in my essay, I have met a lot of unhappy Atheists and a lot of unhappy Christians.  I don't think either one of them is "wasting" their one lie any more than the other is.  I know Christians who travel around the world, help other people, and live extremely fulfilling lives, I also know Christians who sit around all day and do very little.  I know Atheists in both of those classes of people as well.  As I said in my paper, I don't think your religion is going to drastically impact your potential utility during your life. 

I would also like to point out that you are totally and completely wasting your life right now.  Everyone is.  In a billion years, everything on Earth will be dead.  Even if we end up leaving Earth and colonizing space, give it a few trillion more years and the heat death of the universe will have wiped out all matter in the universe.  At that point, everything that ever existed will be gone and every work that was ever completed will be for nothing.  I think that is kind of a waste in my own opinion.

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2014, 02:31:31 PM »
Hey All above one,

Wrong way around.

Not ignoring it, just getting around to it. 

My apologies.

Your offer is not feasible with my definition of God.

That's because your definition is wrong. It's not your fault. You are not omniscient.

You seem to be talking about godhood as if it is something that you can take on after you die.  That would be just a very powerful creature, something you seem to be calling a "god".  God, in my definition is all powerful, all knowing, all present and is not a created being.  There can only be one God in that definition and therefore, your offer would not make sense.

Again, you are wrong. On several things.
1 - You don't "die". You ascend. You transcend, one might say.
2 - I, as well as all the other gods, are omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
3 - I, as the first god and true, supreme and undisputed ruler of the multiverse, was not created. All other things, directly or indirectly, were created by Me. I have existed forever and will continue to exist forever.
4 - There can be more than one. Two infinities can exist at the same time. You just can't understand it, but you would if you were to ascend.

Anyway, if you are trying to argue that you have created a religion that involves becoming very powerful after you die, that is kind of like what the Christian Heaven is.

Your "Heaven" does not make you omnipotent. It doesn't even make you "very" powerful. It makes you blissful through mind-control. I do not. I offer eternal enlightenment. I'm not sure you can comprehend what that means.

Except, in Christian Heaven, you are also in fellowship with a benevolent creator and are perfected by  His grace.

In My case, you are perfected by Me or whichever god happens to be overseeing your universe. In your case it's Me.

I guess what I am saying is that your offer provides me with a lower expected value than my religion does, so I think I will pass.

I just showed how wrong you were, but I have no doubt you will reject My offer, as you don't believe in Pascal's Wager. Not really. You're just trying to trick yourself into believing there's a rational reason for believing in the irrational.
Must I summon my followers and a goddess to make you see how wrong you are?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2014, 02:38:58 PM »
It's a nice change to see a believer who's willing to admit that he can't prove Christianity.

The problem with your approach is that the "expected value" of something has no bearing on whether it turns into actual value or not.  Indeed, it is quite easy for a person's expectations to fall through.  So these calculations you perform, while interesting from a mathematical perspective, are ultimately not very useful.  Furthermore, you have made 16 assumptions in order to concoct this proof; per Occam's razor, less assumptions are better unless more assumptions provides more explanatory power.  As your paper here does not really provide any explanatory power (aside from a couple of very general concepts), I cannot accept your conclusion as valid in the real world, although the math is accurate as far as I can tell.

Hi jaimehlers,

Expected Values are only useful when you only know the potential outcomes of different decisions.  It is like gambling, you know the payouts of different bets, but not which bet will come up as "true."  With this situation, it is a little bit difficult because you don't actually know if the expected payouts are even real or not.  No one is going to know that until they are dead, so it is kind of a moot point.  We only have the knowledge we have to go off of, so we need to use that to the best of our ability. 

I also want to point out that it is not very fair to say my paper has 16 assumptions, most of my assumptions are really just definitions of the terms I am using in the paper.  Only about three or four really quality as true assumptions and I put some time into at least providing rationales for them and testing their validity. 

I do appreciate you considering my article as I appreciate different perspectives on it.  I would also love to hear if you think I flubbed the math anywhere as that would be helpful in me making sure I am not making any unsound arguments.

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2014, 05:14:07 PM »
st getting around to it. 

Your offer is not feasible with my definition of God. 

This is your problem: SPAG[1]. It's not supposed to be your definition, it's supposed to be the definition; I.e., the Bible's definition.

You lose. Have a wonderful day SPAGGING.

-Nam
 1. Self Projection as God
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2014, 03:40:32 AM »
  In a billion years, everything on Earth will be dead. 

Exactly.  That's why the one life we know we have is the one we need to make the most of, not waste it dreaming of a non-existent afterlife.

Oh, and well done about going for the meaningless argument and the "you won't accept anything I tell you" rather than actually present any evidence.  We get a lot of "wordy" theists here, you may want to talk with Lukvance, he likes assertions without evidence as well.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 03:42:07 AM by Anfauglir »
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2014, 01:24:51 PM »
I just showed how wrong you were, but I have no doubt you will reject My offer, as you don't believe in Pascal's Wager. Not really. You're just trying to trick yourself into believing there's a rational reason for believing in the irrational.
Must I summon my followers and a goddess to make you see how wrong you are?

Hi One Above All (got it right this time),

I do not believe that your religion's version of Heaven provides a higher projected utility than mine does.  I will tell you that the more responsibility I have gotten in this life, the more stressful it has become.  I can only imagine the level of responsibility that would come with being all powerful.  Plus, I do not think you have done a great job illustrating how more than one being can be all-powerful (i.e., if two beings are all-powerful, then their powers would conflict with one another and neither would be all-powerful).

Anyhow, the argument in my original post was not advocating for any specific belief, it was just advocating against certain beliefs, like Atheism.  The belief that you presented in your post is not Atheism, so my argument has no bearing against it. 

In order to advocate for your religion over mine, you would have to demonstrate not only that your proposed afterlife for believers is better than the Christian afterlife for believers but also that your proposed afterlife for non-believers is worse than the Christian afterlife for non-believers. 

Aside from subjective discussion about the merits of your religion over mine, I do not think that that conversation will go anywhere.  Furthermore, it was not my intent to demonstrate one Heaven and Hell religion's merit over another, my intent was to show that Atheism delivers a lower expected value than Heaven and Hell beliefs.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 01:26:24 PM by Dante Harnz »

Online One Above All

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2014, 01:35:22 PM »
Hi One Above All (got it right this time),

Yup. At first, I thought you had gotten it wrong on purpose, but I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I do not believe that your religion's version of Heaven provides a higher projected utility than mine does.

Who said anything about Heaven? This is not an afterlife. There's no such thing. This is ascension, plain and simple. You don't die; you just become perfect.

I will tell you that the more responsibility I have gotten in this life, the more stressful it has become.  I can only imagine the level of responsibility that would come with being all powerful.

Being perfect means you can deal with it. To be precise, you feel no stress, unless you want to.

Plus, I do not think you have done a great job illustrating how more than one being can be all-powerful (i.e., if two beings are all-powerful, then their powers would conflict with one another and neither would be all-powerful).

How much is infinity + infinity? It's still infinity. It doesn't conflict with itself.
Besides, your religion doesn't explain... well, anything. It just says "this is how it is", and that's it. No questions allowed. I, on the other hand, not only give you permission to ask questions, but I encourage you to ask questions. Knowledge is a good thing.

Anyhow, the argument in my original post was not advocating for any specific belief, it was just advocating against certain beliefs, like Atheism.

Atheism is not a belief any more than bald is a hair color or not collecting stamps is a hobby.

The belief that you presented in your post is not Atheism, so my argument has no bearing against it. 

But you did say that the outcome was better if one believed. I then gave you the outcome if you chose to follow Me. It is infinitely better than anything any other religion has ever or will ever offer. Ever.

In order to advocate for your religion over mine, you would have to demonstrate not only that your proposed afterlife for believers is better than the Christian afterlife for believers but also that your proposed afterlife for non-believers is worse than the Christian afterlife for non-believers. 

I don't punish people. There is no reason to. They will all die without ascension anyway. Besides, punishing people for eternity is evil, plain and simple. Giving infinite punishment for finite transgressions is mathematically and logically unsound.
Seeing as how you think a religion is "better" than another if it treats believers better and non-believers worse, I'm afraid I'll have to retract My offer to have you follow Me. You are clearly not ready.

Aside from subjective discussion about the merits of your religion over mine, I do not think that that conversation will go anywhere.  Furthermore, it was not my intent to demonstrate one Heaven and Hell religion's merit over another, my intent was to show that Atheism delivers a lower expected value than Heaven and Hell beliefs.

Given that there are an infinite number of gods and rules someone can make up, religion and atheism deliver the same expected value: 0. You also assume that Heaven and Hell are real, so...
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2014, 01:38:58 PM »
Oh, and well done about going for the meaningless argument and the "you won't accept anything I tell you" rather than actually present any evidence.  We get a lot of "wordy" theists here, you may want to talk with Lukvance, he likes assertions without evidence as well.

Hey Anfauglir,

You cannot prove anything with evidence.  For example, if I showed you a picture of God, one could argue that the picture is fake.  If God spoke to everyone on Earth and told them of His existence, it could be explained away by mass-hallucination.  If God came down to Earth and performed a bunch of miracles that were recorded in a book, one could argue that the book is lying or that the people who viewed the event were deceived. 

Evidence, in logic is extremely weak.  Especially due to the fact that all of our experiences are filtered through our less-than-accurate senses.  My argument was not meant to be a form of the scientific method, where I present a hypothesis, test it, analyze the evidence generated from the tests, and construct a conclusion based on the evidence.  My argument was meant to present premises that lead to a logical conclusion.  If you are looking for an evidence-based argument, my essay is not that.

I apologize if my posts are wordy.  I believe that, in order to communicate effectively, and not be misunderstood, one has to be as specific as possible in these sorts of discussions.

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2014, 01:52:21 PM »
Hi One Above All,

The Hell-for-non-believers aspect of any religion is what makes that religion have a higher expected value than atheism. 

I do not think you are correct about your assertion that religion and atheism have the same expected value.  That is actually the entire point of my essay. 

If you substitute infinity for n in my equations, you will of course get an undefined positive umber for the Heave & Hell believers and you will get 0 for the Atheists.  While we cannot be certain what that undefined positive number is, we know that it is positive, which, by definition, makes it greater than 0.

Unless you can demonstrate otherwise, I do not think your assertion is correct that religion and Atheism have the same expected value.

Online One Above All

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2014, 01:56:51 PM »
The Hell-for-non-believers aspect of any religion is what makes that religion have a higher expected value than atheism. 

Why? Do you get off on the idea of non-believers' eternal suffering? If so, I recommend you see a psychiatrist.

I do not think you are correct about your assertion that religion and atheism have the same expected value.  That is actually the entire point of my essay. 

And your essay is wrong, as it relies on Pascal's Wager, which was debunked from the moment it was first uttered.

If you substitute infinity for n in my equations, you will of course get an undefined positive umber for the Heave & Hell believers and you will get 0 for the Atheists.  While we cannot be certain what that undefined positive number is, we know that it is positive, which, by definition, makes it greater than 0.

And if you add 1 to 0, you get 1. Does that prove that atheism gives you a 100% chance of getting into Heaven? What's your point? You conveniently ignored the fact that there are an infinite number of possible gods and rules (and therefore an infinite number of religions), which is why atheism and theism both give the same chance of getting into Heaven: 0.

Unless you can demonstrate otherwise, I do not think your assertion is correct that religion and Atheism have the same expected value.

I just did. As My people say, quod erat demonstrandum.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2014, 02:21:28 PM »
One Above All,

In my essay, I end with the following utility calculations for Believers in Heaven and Hell and for Atheists:

Believer's Expected Value = ((2 + c – b)H)/n
Atheist's Expected Value = (c-b)H/n

If you create an inequality out of this and simplify both sides of the equation, you get the following:

((2H + cH – bH)/n ?(<, =<, =, =>, or >) (cH-bH)/n

because n=n even if it is infinity, you can multiple both sides by n to get the following:

2H + cH - bH ?(<, =<, =, =>, or >) cH - bH

if you add bH to both sides, you get

2H + cH ?(<, =<, =, =>, or >) cH

if you subtract cH from both sides you get

2H ?(<, =<, =, =>, or >) 0

as we know that 2 multiplied by the utility gained by Heaven is not negative (due to the definition of Heaven as being a positive source of utility), we can determine that the left side of the equation is greater than the right:

2H > 0

That is my argument.  I believe it to be sound.  It is only accurate if the left-side believers believe in Hell for non-believers.  Not advocating for the correctness of that belief, only that it results in higher utility.  I am not sure what else I could show you to argue my points.

Also,  I just want to throw this out there.  If I am right, I go to Heaven and you go to Hell.  If you are right about your "become a god" religion and I am wrong, you transcend and I die without ascension.  Because the loss associated with Hell is much greater than the loss associated with not ascending, the expected value of my belief is greater than yours and therefore, I would be moving from a superior expectation to an inferior one if I were to move to your religion from mine.


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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2014, 02:26:13 PM »
Hei, Dante!  Putting aside for one moment the problem of trying to cultivate belief in things that we find unbelievable, and magically making ourselves acolytes of exactly the right god so as to gain admittance to exactly the right heaven ...

... What trends do you see in your calculations as the number of possible gods increases?
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Online One Above All

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2014, 02:31:08 PM »
<snip>
because n=n even if it is infinity, you can multiple both sides by n to get the following:
<snip>

Actually, no you can't, because you can't divide infinity by infinity. This is a math thing.

Also,  I just want to throw this out there.  If I am right, I go to Heaven and you go to Hell.  If you are right about your "become a god" religion and I am wrong, you transcend and I die without ascension.

I won't ascend. I already am ascended. I just pop in every once in a while to experience things for Myself.

Because the loss associated with Hell is much greater than the loss associated with not ascending, the expected value of my belief is greater than yours and therefore, I would be moving from a superior expectation to an inferior one if I were to move to your religion from mine.

Inversely, because the win associated with ascending is much greater than the win associated with Heaven, your religion is inferior. Also, because the loss associated with not ascending (death) is much smaller than the loss associated with Hell, My religion is superior. Worse outcome means inferior. Better outcome means superior. My religion wins. Again, quod erat demonstrandum.
Also, I see Astreja has noticed this thread. I hope you have fun with a goddess.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline Dante Harnz

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2014, 02:44:19 PM »
Hei, Dante!  Putting aside for one moment the problem of trying to cultivate belief in things that we find unbelievable, and magically making ourselves acolytes of exactly the right god so as to gain admittance to exactly the right heaven ...

... What trends do you see in your calculations as the number of possible gods increases?

Hi Astreja,

That's a really good question.  This gets into a really theoretical discussion regarding the nature of infinities of differing sizes.  For example, I think that, conceptually, most would agree that 2*infinity is greater than 1*infinity, but mathematically, they are the same or incomparable.  This is further complicated because the expected value equations I use have the utility gained by Heaven (which is probably infinity) divided by the total number of beliefs that could exist (which could also be infinite). 

So, really, you end up with an undefined positive number if the number of beliefs becomes infinite.  This number could either be very very big or very very small.

If you could effectively argue that the number of potential beliefs is greater than the utility gained by Heaven (which are very difficult to compare values), you could argue that the utility gained by belief in Heaven and Hell is very small.  However, that would still mean that the utility gained by Heaven and Hell beliefs are a positive number, while Atheism gets you 0 utility in the afterlife.

At that point, you would have to rely on arguing that Atheism provides more utility while you are alive than the Heaven and Hell beliefs do, which would again be a difficult argument to make.

I touch on this in the essay with the below equation:

CB – CA > EVB - EVA
CB – CA > ((2 + c – b)H)/n – (c-b)H/n
CB – CA > (2H + cH – bH – cH + bH)/n
CB – CA > 2H/n

But yeah, it is a great question to think about, but I still believe my essay brings up a good question regarding why the universe has been designed to lead to beliefs in Heaven and Hell yielding higher post-mortem utility than atheistic belief-sets.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 02:58:46 PM by Dante Harnz »

Offline Nam

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2014, 11:15:02 AM »
I just did. As My people say, quod erat demonstrandum.

Namgod always says, "fatuus quisque". Which I always agree with.

;)

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.


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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2014, 12:57:15 PM »
Conclusion:
This paper demonstrates that the expected value of belief in Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers outweighs the expected value of belief in existence ceasing after death. I would strongly argue that, if a person is choosing a path that has a lower expected value than other alternative beliefs, the person is behaving irrationally.  This paper should not be the foundation of any person’s faith in any specific belief, but it should serve to introduce doubt into belief sets that contain the belief that existence ceases after death.
This doesn't really follow.  You're essentially saying that if your belief structure indicates a result that sucks more than a competing belief structure, then it is irrational to accept the 'result that sucks more' belief structure.  But I think the irrational part comes to play with basing one's beliefs on how awesome or how sucky the result is.

You can do the math thing all day long, but so far as I can tell, all of your math is based on trying to calculate the expected values of whether or not a belief has a result that sucks more or sucks less than another belief.  That is, the premise of your math is irrational, and so are the conclusions of that math.

Quote
If you are committed to a belief that this paper demonstrates has a lower expected value, this paper should lead you to question your rationales for that belief.
If you are committed to a belief based on whether or not the results suck more or suck less than an alternative belief, then yes, you should question the rationale for that belief.  Perhaps it would be time to commit to beliefs based on whether or not it coincides better with reality or coincides worse with reality than an alternative belief.

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It is strange that the universe exists in a way that pushes people away from belief in death’s finality.  I will not argue that this is God’s design (although I believe it to be), but it should definitely spark thoughts in the mind of the reader that rationality, being so critical to human strength and wisdom, would lead the rational person toward a belief in Heaven and Hell.
The universe exists in a way that pushes people towards the belief in the finality of death.  The universe provides no observable evidence that consciousness continues to exists post-death.  It is reality that gives every indication that death is final.  It is the imaginations of people - the desire for perpetuity of existence - that pushes people away from the belief in death's finality.  If you disagree with that, then I would imagine you find it strange that the universe exists in a way that pushes people away from belief in the sphere-like nature of the Earth.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

- Eddie Izzard

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Re: Why, logically, you should believe in Heaven and Hell [#2809]
« Reply #28 on: May 28, 2014, 03:19:26 PM »
In my essay, I end with the following utility calculations for Believers in Heaven and Hell and for Atheists:

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto
* Religion: institutionalized superstition, period.

"Many of my ultra-conservative Republican friends...have trouble accepting the idea God is not a Republican. " ~OldChurchGuy

"We humans may never figure out the truth, but I prefer trying to find it over pretending we know it."  ~ParkingPlaces