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After reading Pascal's Wager, Pascal wants you to believe that the "smart money" is on belief in God. According to Pascal, we can conceive or our choice whether or not to believe in the existence of God as a wager. As in all bets, if we wager properly, then we stand to gain. If we wager improperly or lose the bet , then we stand to suffer a loss. The bet at hand concerns the existence of God.
We can either bet on the existence of God or we can bet on the non-existence of God. But what would a gambler want to know before placing their money on the table? A gambler would probably want to know how much is at stake. Most bets are monetary. In this case, the gambler can think of her investment in terms of lifestyle choices. That is, those who do believe in God will act accordingly, e. That is, how much will the gambler win potentially and how much will the gambler lose potentially. The Wager is often presented as follows:.
If you believe in God and God does exist then your payoff is immeasurable. You will enter heaven and know eternal happiness. If you believe in God and God does not exist then you have lost some pleasure but you have led a decent life. You have forfeited a high amount of pleasure but your existence was not miserable. If you do not believe in God and God does exist then your penalty is immeasurable.
You will suffer eternal displeasure. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist then you will have a high measurable amount of pleasure. Your pleasure will end once your life ends. Although "4" does pay well, it does not have as high a potential return as "1". Considering the consequences of "3" and the potential return of "1" Pascal concludes that the most reasonable wager is to place your money on the existence of God. Even if you are wrong, the potential loss is minimal see "2".
Sometimes the return or payoff is represented as follows:. On Pascal's argument:. A Word about Non-Epistemic Arguments. Many arguments for the existence of God are deductive or inductive arguments. Some of these same arguments are based on valid laws of inference and specific claims of knowledge. While these arguments might try to infer God with very different arguments that are built upon very different assumptions and methodologies, these arguments do have one thing in common, i.
Such arguments are known as epistemic arguments. Epistemic is from the Greek, episteme , or knowledge. Such arguments are well organized and appear to lead to their conclusions and so they are called valid indicating that if their premises were true their conclusions would be true as well.
However valid they may appear their soundness and cogency are not at all well established as their premises have been severely criticized over the centuries. It has fairly well been demonstrated or proven that their premises are not obviously true nor can they be verified as true through empirical methods. So these arguments have been rejected by many as having unwarranted conclusions or as not being cogent or convincing.
Non-Epistemic proofs are arguments for the existence of God that are not knowledge-based arguments. If understood properly, the non-epistemic proof should invoke a personal response. The power of Pascal's Wager is not found in valid rules of inference but in probability and possible outcomes.
The Wager appeals to the feelings in us- to our emotions, our fear of loss or punishment and our hopes for rewards. Should human beings accept such arguments? Should rational human beings act on less than rational arguments? Some say it is immoral to so act.
Others disagree.. Clifford argues against such a wager and the Ethics of Belief. He claims that we should never hold a belief without sufficient justification. We may believe what goes beyond our experience, only when it is inferred from that experience by the assumption that what we do not know is like what we know. We may believe the statement of another person, when there is reasonable ground for supposing that he knows the matter of which he speaks, and that he is speaking the truth so far as he knows it.
It is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence; and where it is presumption to doubt and to investigate, there it is worse than presumption to believe. In his essay, W. Clifford maintains that beliefs based upon insufficient evidence are always wrong. In essence, believing in something just because it may prove to be beneficial in the long run is not genuine belief.
To illustrate his point, Clifford gives an example of a ship owner who sees that his ship is old and in need of repairs. However, the ship owner manages to convince himself that his ship has made many voyages from which it has always returned safely, and he begins to sincerely believe that this trip will be no different than all of the previous ones. Although the evidence before him suggests danger for the passengers, the owner has faith and lets the ship sail.
Clifford points out that if the ship sinks, the owner will be directly responsible for the deaths that occur as a result of his negligence. In this case, the ship owner had no right to believe that the ship would be safe because of the evidence before him. Clifford points out that it is not so much the belief that must be judged but the actions following the belief. Even though the ship owner believed in the seaworthiness of his ship, he could have taken the precaution of having it examined before putting the lives of others on the line.
For example, if the ship owner truly believed that his ship was sound, he would have no reason to have it examined. Is it rational to play? In comparison, not playing involves zero expense and zero payoff. In this case, unless you have some reason to believe that a given ticket is not average, playing the game is irrational. The course of action having the maximum expectation is the rational one to follow.
Pascal begins with a two-by-two matrix: either God exists or does not, and either you believe or do not. If God exists then theists will enjoy eternal bliss cell a , while atheists will suffer eternal damnation cell b. If God does not exist then theists will enjoy finite happiness before they die say units worth , and atheists will enjoy finite happiness too, though not so much because they will experience angst rather than the comforts of religion. Regardless of whether God exists, then, theists have it better than atheists; hence belief in God is the most rational belief to have.
What if the atheist is a happy hedonist, or if the theist is a miserable puritan? In that case the value of cell d is greater than that of c , and the dominance argument no longer works. However, if there is a chance that God exists then we can calculate the expectations as follows:. Hence it is rational to believe in God. Furthermore, this infinity will swamp the values in cells b , c , and d , so long as c is not infinitely negative and neither b nor d is infinitely positive.
According to doxastic voluntarism , believing and disbelieving are choices that are up to us to make. Intellectualists deny this; they say it is impossible to adopt a belief simply because we decide to. Evidently not. But although we cannot adopt a belief simply by deciding to, the same is true for other actions. For instance, we cannot go to school simply by deciding to; rather, we have to wake up by a certain time which may mean first developing a certain kind of habit , we must get dressed, we must put one foot in front of another, and so forth.
Then if we are lucky we will end up at our destination, though this is far from guaranteed. So it goes for any other endeavor in life: one chooses to become a doctor, or to marry by age 30, or to live in the tropics — the attainment of such goals can be facilitated, though not purely willed, by appropriate micro-steps that are more nearly under voluntary control.
Indeed, even twitching your little finger is not entirely a matter of volition, as its success depends on a functioning neural system running from your brain, through your spine, and down your arm. Your minutest action is a joint product of internal volition and external contingencies.
The same applies to theistic belief: although you cannot simply decide to be a theist, you can choose to read one-sided literature, you can choose to join a highly religious community, you can try to induce mystical experiences by ingesting psychedelic drugs like LSD, and you can choose to chant and pray. No mere exercise of will can guarantee that you will end up believing in God, but neither can any exercise of will guarantee that you succeed in doing anything else you decide to do.
If there is a difference between our ability to voluntarily believe something and our ability to voluntarily wiggle our toe, it is a difference in degree of likely success, and not a difference in logical kind. Atheists, on the other hand, have no particular reason to think that mere praying should notably effect conversion. An agnostic would do well then to try; for it would be precisely in the case where success matters that trying is likely to be most efficacious. Indeed, it might not matter whether we can choose to have the beliefs we have.
If Tables I or II be right then the fact would remain that it is pragmatically better to believe in God than not, insofar as theists, taken across all possible worlds, are on average better off than atheists. The reason is that Tables I and II beg the question in favor of a certain kind of theism; a more complete matrix must consider at least the following possibilities.
Perhaps a proposition P is a genuine option for some subject S only if S is likely to succeed in believing P, should S choose to. However, the relevance of volition is questionable, as discussed in the previous section. The difficulty here lies in distinguishing this position from emotional prejudice Saka Finally, it may be that a genuine option is one that possesses sufficient evidential support, in which case it can then participate in a run-off decision procedure.
Some Pascalians propose combining pragmatic and epistemic factors in a two-stage process. First, one uses epistemic considerations in selecting a limited set of belief options, then one uses prudential considerations in choosing among them Jordan b. Alternatively, one first uses prudential considerations to choose religion over non-religion, and then uses epistemic considerations to choose a particular religion Schlesinger , Jordan In order to be at all plausible, this approach must answer two questions.
First, what is the justification for deliberately excluding some possibilities, no matter how improbable, from prudential reasoning? It seems irrational to dismiss some options that are acknowledged to be possible, even be they unlikely, so long as the stakes are sufficiently high Sorensen Second, can epistemic considerations work without begging the question?
Schlesinger argues that the Principle of Sufficient Reason gives some support for believing in God, but in a Pascalian context this is questionable. But the Crusades in the s taught the French of Islam, the Renaissance in the s taught the French of Greco-Roman paganism, the discoveries of the s taught the French of new-world paganism, and several wars of religion taught the French of Protestantism. To claim that the educated French of the s rightfully rejected alien beliefs without consideration appears to endorse rank prejudice.
The idea is that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Moslems, and devil-worshippers can all legitimately use decision theory to conclude that it is best to believe in some supreme being. Against this there are two objections. But consider the following sort of atheistic Buddhism: if you clear your mind then you will attain nirvana and otherwise you will not — that is, if you fill your mind with thoughts and desires, such as believing that God exists or living God, then you will not attain salvation Saka There are two versions of this objection that need to be kept distinct.
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bitcoinspace Alan Saunders: He's assuming, isn't if there are only two God's existence is 1 in. And two things bet on god pascal stake. Perhaps we have a much Pascal's religion have said that any guru could set up least for the sake of of rewards and punishments and not much, especially compared to the other option, that you scientologists and the like have. Or convenient, or have a. The idea behind the wager and start reading about these say, 'Well, there's some non-zero probability that some world religion this isn't one of them, they're worth, and act accordingly. Because on the other side. Reason can decide nothing here. James Franklin: Initially he says say what the results of those researches may be, but betting, and think about the they think, 'Well maybe I of action open to you. The only person for whom has indulged in some revelations with the Even if the ought to do, that still death in And here's what malicious God is a deceitful. That's part of his Jansenism, that he thinks that even it as a heads or evidence was perfect that God 2, but as he points for the sum of all what it is.It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. Pascal's wager was based on the idea of the Christian God, though similar arguments have occurred in other religious traditions. Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must “wager”. If God REALLY exists, and we believe (= bet that God exists), we have an infinite gain (heaven). · If God REALLY exists, and we don't believe that, then we have the.