Saturday, December 18, 2010

Refuting Pascal's Wager

Before we get to the refutation, here is Pascal's Wager, for those who are unaware of it:

1."God is, or He is not"
2.A game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
3.According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
4.You must wager. It is not optional.
5.Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that god is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
6.Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

In other words, why not just believe in (my) god? If you do, and you're wrong, so what? You lose nothing. If you are right, however, you gain everything. Not believing guarantees that you lose.

I shouldn't have to do this, as Pascal's Wager is just plain silly, but there is still a contigent of the theistic population that still, despite how badly it has been decimated, trot it out as though it were some big AHA, GOTCHA! argument. Now obviously most of them are probably unaware that it has been so badly destroyed, but I have to wonder why its flaws have not occured to them, as they are fairly obvious.

Let's go through them:

-If we are wrong, we go to hell. Okay, what about if you're wrong? What if you have the wrong religion? Or even the wrong denomination, if you're Christian. Remember, there are 38,000 Christian denominations.

-You cannot choose your beliefs. You are convinced. If we try to believe but aren't convinced, your god will see through that. He is omniscient, is he not? I cannot force myself to believe, so are you asking me to try and fool your god?

-Living as a religious person if there is no god DOES cost you. Time and money for starters. Losing out on the things that you inhibited yourself from doing due to religious rule. In many, but not all, cases, you'll miss out on scientific knowledge. You'll also miss out on the knowledge that this life is it, and so we better make the best of it, because it's our one and only shot.


  1. Pascal's Wager is for pussies. :P "Oh, I'm afraid of being wrong, so I'll just claim to believe to hopefully save my ass in case there is a god."

    As you mentioned, a god would see right through that. Hell, omniscience probably wouldn't even be necessary to see right through that... lol

    If people want to believe in something, then fine...but Pascal's Wager is a flimsy excuse for doing so.

    P.S. When did Dragon become a contributor to The Thoughtful Gamers, and why am I just noticing this now? :o

  2. "Pascal's Wager is for pussies"

    That's succint and to the point lol

    Dragon became a contributor a week and a half ago or so. He seems to have disappeared again though. Hope everything's okay.

    How have you been?

  3. To me, this is the equivalent of scaring a child into believing in god. But instead of using fear, of the devil, your trying to trick them.
    Nothing more than bullying to be honest.

  4. Man to me that is like a kid hiding his head under the blanket to hide from monsters. Sure he feels warm and safe, but all he is really doing is blinding himself from what may be coming.

    Sorry for my disappearance. I was kidnapped again and didn't get back until today. I hope you health is at least a little improved since I've been gone.

  5. It is, somewhat, thanks, and welcome back, hoe.


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