This is from an idea introduced by George H. Smith. I think it is worth knowing. I am bored of hearing theists using Pascal’s Wager which I think it is too simplistic. I would be interested in hearing what you think of the merits of its logic.

Pascal’s Wager summarized:

Reason can't prove or disprove the existence of God. If the atheist is correct, nothing will happen when we die, and nothing is lost. But if the Christian is correct, the nonbelievers are going to believe in Hell for eternity. So it seems like the practical odds would lie with Christianity. We should wager on Christianity because the practical odds are so important. If you wager on Christianity and there is no god, you don't lose anything.

The obvious problem here is that if you are an Atheist you would have to forego your intellectual integrity in order to believe just so you can be saved from going to hell. It is not possible to do an about turn in your mind when your reason tells you that there is no god anyway.

So I want to introduce "Smith's Wager." It can be used after Pascal’s is mentioned. This is the premises of his wager:

1. The existence of a god, if we are to believe in it, can only be established through reason.
2. Applying the canons of correct reasoning to theistic belief, we must reach the conclusion that theism is unfounded and must be rejected by rational people.

Now comes the question, "But what if reason is wrong in this case?” which it sometimes is. We are fallible human beings. What if it turns out that there is a Christian god and He's up there and He's going to punish for eternity for disbelieving in Him. Here's where Smith’s wager comes in. Let's suppose you're an atheist. What are the possibilities?

The first possibility is there is no god and you're right. In that case, you'll die, that'll be it, you've lost nothing, and you've lived a happy life with the correct position.

Secondly, a god may exist but he may not be concerned with human affairs. He may be the god of traditional Deism. He may have started the universe going and left it to its traditional devices, in which case you will simply die, that is all there is to it, again, and you've lost nothing.

Thirdly suppose that God exists and He is concerned with human affairs -- He's a personal god -- but that He is a just god. If you have a just god, he could not possibly punish an honest error of belief where there is no moral turpitude or no wrongdoing involved. If this god is a creator god and He gave us reason and intellect as the basic means of understanding our world, then He would take pride in the conscientious and scrupulous use of reason the part of His creatures, even if it led them to Atheism. Therefore, if a just god exists, we have absolutely nothing to fear from such a god. Such a god could not conceivably punish us for an honest error of belief.

Finally, suppose there exists an unjust god, specifically the god of Christianity, who doesn't give a damn about justice and who will burn us in Hell, regardless of whether we made honest mistakes or not – if we became Atheists because of the reasoning he allowed us to be capable of. Such a god is necessarily unjust, for there is no more heinous injustice we could conceive of, than to punish a person for an honest error of belief, when he has tried to the best of his ability to ascertain the truth. The Christian thinks he's in a better position in case this kind of god exists. I wish to point out that he's not in any better position than we Atheists.

If there's an unjust god and He really gets all this glee out of burning sinners and disbelievers, then what could give him more glee than to tell Christians they would be saved, only to turn around and burn them anyway, for the Hell of it, just because he enjoys it? If you've got an unjust god, what worst injustice could there be than that? It's not that far-fetched.
If a god is willing to punish you simply for an honest error of belief, you can't believe He's going to keep his word when He tells you He won't punish you if you don't believe in Him because He's got to have a sadistic streak to begin with. Certainly He would get quite a bit of glee out of this behavior. Even if an unjust god exists, then admittedly we live in a nightmarish universe, but we're in no worse position than the Christian is.

Therefore, if you're are going to make the wager, you might as well wager on what your reason tells you, that atheism is correct, and go that route because you won't be able to do anything about an unjust god anyway, even if you accept Christianity.

Smith’s wager says that you should always wager on reason and accept the logical consequence, which in this case is Atheism.

1. If there's no god, you are correct.
2. If there's an indifferent god, you won't suffer in hell anyway.
3. If there's a just god, you have nothing to fear from the honest use of your reason.
4. If there's an unjust god, you have much to fear but so does the Christian.

Atheism can be considered the use of Reason. Smith’s Wager takes it to a more logical conclusion than Pascal ever did.

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I am sorry to say, but this argument doesn't hold up to traditional christianity doctrine.  Christians won't accept it because it makes a reference to the INTENTION of why God would 'allow' (not send too) hell. 


They don't believe God sends anyone to Hell.  They believe Hell is a 'choice' we have.  It's fairly simple, really. 


God created us perfect.  But Adam and Eve sinned 6000 years ago.  Thus all of humanity has been immersed in Sin since the 'Fall'.  


So now God created the Hell, of which Jesus supposedly freed ... but didn't actually close the gate after he escaped the first time (Damn Jesus ... always forgetting stuff.) 


So Jesus saves people from Hell, but Hell is still available to go to. 


So here's the catch.  The supernatural afterlife is like a dichotomy between Heaven and Hell ... christians say that because you are immersed in Sin, the ONLY way to avoid punishment is to accept Jesus as your lord and saviour, and to give to him all your Love and worship.  


So it ends up being a 'choice' ... and God respects our 'Free Will' so much, that he 'honors' this choice ... and the default position of not accepting Jesus and being 'saved' ... naturally is Hell.  


So in the end, since this is the christian doctrine, and they state that God 'grants' the Free Will decision ... I'll just tell God I don't accept Jesus as my Lord and saviour because I find you to be immoral ... but I wish my soul to be destroyed completely.  


Thus God , associating respect for Free Will ... will have to grant my wish.  So in the end, it doesn't matter whether or not God exists ... 


To fight christian doctrine, you must fight it on their own grounds.  


I have won many arguments about Hell using that argument.  (I'm the pianist for a Lutheran Church.) 

Hi Dustin – thanks for reply. I just want to clarify a few points.  In the last 10 -15 years Ireland, where I currently live (Atlanta GA. next maybe) has become very multicultural which is great for the country. It had been 90% Catholic plus a mixture of a few other Christian and Jewish mainstream groups. However in this timeframe several new cults have arrived, including Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, African Pentecostal and several evangelical groups from America. They all call to my door on a regular basis. Once they discover I am an Atheist they will return (I don’t mind – I have “cured” a few) with their expert debaters to try to convert me. Game on.


Every single one of them has mentioned Pascal Wager to me – and always assumed I had never heard of it or would be unable to respond to the “logic” of their argument. This is where Smith’s Wager can help. It is logical enough to use against theists and counter the “logic” of their argument.


I only post these types of discussions so Atheists can improve their ammo against the great deluded. No matter what breed they are they all appear to have similar arguments I have compiled and honed my replies to them.


You mentioned:


“They don't believe God sends anyone to Hell.  They believe Hell is a 'choice' we have.  It's fairly simple, really.”


They can believe what they want. However if as I argued that god may be unjust he could send them to hell “for the hell of it” (ouch sorry).


“Thus God, associating respect for Free Will - will have to grant my wish. So in the end, it doesn't matter whether or not God exists”


Would unfair god respect freewill?  The theists I speak to have never considered this option until I mention it. If they want to deny this there are several examples in the bible of god being unfair.


Maybe god will be fair to those of us who chose to use our free will. He might want a bit of intelligent conversation now and then rather than having to listen to a bunch of sycophants for eternity. I mean he must sometimes wonder where he came from himself.

Good points. 


Reflecting upon the different justifications of theological doctrine for different religious sects, I suppose both arguments could work , depending on who you are speaking to. 


I wish I had people knock on my door to convert me.  I'd invite them in, and offer them tea and cookies, and have a bit of fun with conversation.  


But I also thought that the doctrines all state that God is INFINITELY Just (as if the word infinte is any more meaningful than saying REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY , REALLY (times 10) Just.)


Note:  I hate when theists use the word infinite ... and then say we feeble humans do not understand the concept of infinity ... which is what God is ... AGHHHHHH!!!  Then why the hell do you use a word you admit we don't understand to describe your imaginary friend!!!


Theists annoy me.  

Don't get annoyed, Dustin.  It's bad for your liver.  Annoy them, toy with them.  You know they don't have a leg to stand on.

How can theists create a God they can't understand? 

Ahh ... I just realized your argument is better to make the christian a bit uneasy about their afterlives ... God being unjust and all.  


My argument is more to let christians know ... actually , I'm NOT going to hell based off your own theological reasonings.  They can't ever say that God would deny my request.  Because I force them to answer yes to every point leading up to it.

Not so much to make them uneasy but rather to make them think about what they are actually saying they believe. Christians will still believe you are going to hell if you don't believe i god- no matter what you tell them. Beware of theological "reasoings". As Atheists we use logical reasoning. Theology is bunk. It does not matter whether Adam and Eve have navels becasue they did not exist. Getting several "yes" replies and then a "no" will only work to a point - unless you are a good salesman. It is also one of the tricks they use at the door but good to be aware of it.


Woody Allen can be quoted "Infinity is a very long time - especially towards the end". 

Dustin,  That line of reasoning is called "reductio ad absurdum".  Posit the existence of God, heaven, hell and all the dogma Christians hold true.  Assuming them to be true leads to conclusions that are absurd.  Therefore, some or all of all these assumptions must be false.  Good job!

I am proposing something else, above.  I am proposing to create God - the mathematical God of atheists - a concept I call the ultimate paradox.  We shall assume neither the existence or non-existence of God.  We assume, without proof, axioms a few simple statements that form the foundation of our mathematical system.  Among these are characteristics of God if She exists.  On these base we will erect a superstructure, held up by the axioms.  If the theorems, or conclusions, arising from these are inconsistent with the world as we know it, we shall negate or revise the axioms one at a time until we come up with a consistent mathematical system.

By this exercise in logic we may finally arrive at a concept of God that scientists and atheists can accept as plausible.

But then the definition of God has no actual practical meaning. If the universe is indeed a multiverse, which to me makes the most rational sense, even though we can't 'prove' it .... then I say damned yes there are beings out there much more powerful than us. Perhaps civilizations that evolved billions of years ahead of our own, and devised ways to scientifically make themselves invisible ... also giving themselves the ability to travel faster than the speed of light, and to be able to manipulate atoms by just thinking. But these 'beings' ... as powerful as they may be ... still are not Gods. They could possibly do everything a God in our understanding could do . Like think a planet and stars into existence ... but what's the point?  We know they are not the Judeo Christian understanding of God .... 


Once we allow the mind to consider Gods could exist, then the theists feel that they have a reason to believe in anything if they label it 'God'.  




Points 1-3 are all self contradictory. We could for the argument say 1-3 are “True” but all the evidence points to this not being the case. Why a god with such super powers create a world with evil in it. Why not intervene to help?  He would have foreseen my Atheism evolving to a point where I totally and completely reject its existence. Mathematically in infinite (multi) universes a god fitting you axioms could exist – using the “monkeys typing Shakespeare works” logic.


No I don’t think so.


 To say that a god exists is logically possible insofar as we understand it as a proposition that we can comprehend. The fact that we can comprehend it does not imply that there is any evidence for a god. It is still a coherent possibility but cannot be deemed true. If anyone were to attest to the truthfulness of the statement then evidence would be required of them to make it a material possibility for us.


The Law of non-contradiction comes into play here. God is logically impossible because the concept of a god is self-contradictory. The axioms only allow for the coherent possibility of a god but not the material one.


I do “get” what you mean. However these debates are difficult to conduct via this format and would be better discussed in person (in the bar usually) :)


Can an expanding universe be a closed system?

Oh my effing lord jesus christ shit fuck hellfire DAMN


I was about to make a thread about this. Someone just used that line on me. "Ohhh well I'd rather believe in something that's not real than burn in hell forever!"






Stop my fingers...hold me back...

You always have the coolest replies :)


I like that. I think I may have to go back to that post and be like "BOOYAH"

Doone - Your diagrams are as always to the point. Christians do not employ logic and reason properly. They only think that they do. If they did they would be Atheists too. They always miss the paradox of these arguments until it is pointed out to them. Its always a case of "doublethink" or not thinking.


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