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Gunter Beyser

The presumption that I can believe in something because I choose to do so, is already wrong. How can I choose to believe in a god when I perceive all the evidence pointing to the opposite.

Kagehi

Ok folks, gather around. We have 10 card games, several roulette wheels, and lots of slot machines. No more than one of these is using real chips, or real money, instead of monopoly money, arcade tokens, or bits of wood, painted to look like chips, none of which you can trade in for the real thing. Mind, none of them at all could be using real money, but you might get lucky and pick the one that is, assuming one of them does.

Get ready! Everyone place your bets!

Jon

The most concise way I've seen Pascal's wager turned on its head has been with the question: "How do you know it's Saint Peter at the pearly gates, and not the Marquis de Sade?" (I realize that in this crowd, the prospect of Sade at the gates may be more intriguing than terrifying, but the point ought to be clear.)

llewelly

Gunter Beyser | August 17, 2010 at 01:16 PM:

How can I choose to believe in a god when I perceive all the evidence pointing to the opposite.

Don't be silly. Choosing to reject reality is the most natural act in all of human thought.

Ray

A more concise or catchy rebuttal might make a stouter meme?

Perhaps Pascalx2's Wager? Some fellow named Pascal-Times-Two says that belief in his GodX2 gets you a better payoff than mere God. It makes more sense to believe in his version because of the better payoff.

Provides an entree to the idea of the multiplicity of fabricated dieties and the validity of argument-from-assumed-payoff, but in a simple form.

"...and then we're back to judging the validity of the god. We shouldn't have tried to sidestep this with such a silly notion as Pascal's Wager in the first place."

Greta Christina

Choosing to reject reality is the most natural act in all of human thought.

I don't know. Is it? Unconsciously rejecting reality is certainly one of the most natural human acts. But I'm not sure that's true of doing it consciously.

Bruce Gorton

I prefer pointing out:

Without evidence to back either one, a God who punishes faith is just as likely as a God who rewards it.

Martin Swinkels

The argument about different religions or GodX2 can be generalized as follows. Pascal's wager is based on the assumption that there is no other knowledge available about the existence of god(s). The fact that the wager then supposes a rather precise model of a deity, one that applies certain punishments and rewards for certain behaviors, makes the whole wager contradictory to it's original assumptions.

Martin Swinkels

And then there is the infinity trap. In probability theory, options are weighed by calculating their expected values. Expected value is defined as probability (numerical value from 0 to 1) of an option multiplied by the value of the outcome of the option. On the god-exists-side of Pascal's wager there are infinite outcomes, but as long as we calculate with infinitely small (agnostic) or zero (atheist) probabilities, the outcome is either undefined or plain zero.

On the other side of the wager there are the outcome zero's, suggesting that believing in God in vain is without any reward or (mental) cost. A lot of us will certainly not agree with that.

Greta Christina

I just want to say: I love how many different ways there are to dismantle Psscal's Wager. You could write a whole book just of arguments against Pascal's Wager.

And yet people still argue it, in all sincerity. That part, I don't love so much.

Valhar2000

The presumption that I can believe in something because I choose to do so, is already wrong.

I feel you, my brother! I also have a hard time understanding the concept of choosing beliefs. I can't choose what to believe: either I buy it, or I don't, and if I don't there is nothing I can do to change that, except study the matter more closely to see if new information will change my mind.

Jon

It is rather ironic that Pascal made some genuine contributions to formal probability theory- best known in math circles for "Pascal's Triangle" which is actually a pretty good guide to computing probability distributions in certain situations.

However, any idea is at best as good as its basic assumptions and the assumption that God rewards blind belief is troubling.

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