1 oct. 2011

Bad Arguments--Pascal's Wager

Pascal argued that if you bet against God and there turns out to be a God, then you would go to hell. If you bet the other way, and there was a God, you would be in good shape. If there is no God, you lose nothing by betting there is.

This is a stunningly cynical argument, designed to prey on the lingering doubts of those raised as a believers. With that ghost of a voice in the back of your head saying, "maybe it is true after all," you play it safe. Although Pascal hated the cynicism of the Jesuits, he produced a Jesuitical argument in this case.

I could no sooner believe in a religious doctrine to make a "wager" than I could affirm that Australia is in the Northern hemisphere. In either case I would be pretending to believe something. You can see why apologetics leads straight to atheism.

4 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

I feel a faint trace of curiosity to read how Pascal actually framed this -- because it's so crudely flawed as you state it. What if, for example, the true god is Cthulhu, and it turns out to be very angry that any of us should have wasted time or devotion on any other deity? The Pascal of the famous Wager seems not even to have considered any possibilities other than his own god, or nothing.

Jonathan dijo...

Pesons le gain et la perte, en prenant croix que Dieu est. Estimons ces deux cas : si vous gagnez, vous gagnez tout ; si vous perdez, vous ne perdez rien.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Indeed it's no better in the original (however crisply written). The chotomy, it is dire.

Andrew Shields dijo...

When I was about seven or eight, I told my Mom that it was better to believe in God than not, for the same reasons. She was quite pleased and surprised that I had come up with Pascal's wager on my own!

But I must have noticed that it doesn't really work, since I never abided by it!