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 you 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 on 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 (or reason).
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.

Views: 795

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

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.

Caitlin "Ohhh well I'd rather believe in something that's not real than burn in hell forever!"

Adults still believing in a god is immaturity. Maybe that's why they get offended when we challenge them.


"Those damn Atheists are trying to take our comfort toys away and are trying to make us think for ourselves and not just accept everything we hear at face value. I'd rather believe than use energy in engaging my brain. Jesus don't like them smart people."


The galaxies expand within space, all of which is part of the universe, or the set of all universes comprising the multiverse, which is a closed system.  The God of Christians that intervene would be inconsistent with God being infinitely fair.  God would not violate Her own laws. If you remove all preconceived ideas about the Christian God, you can conceive of , or create, a God consistent with the axioms above.  Just remove the axiom of God being all good, which is inconsistent with the others.  Since all power is of this God, and since She is omnipresent, She encompasses both evil and good.  If you do evil, you will not offend this God.  You injure another, you disrupt the harmony of the space you are in, and more importantly you harm yourself.  You stunt your progress, or evolution, by being slow to learn about fairness and love, which are Godly attributes assumed in the proposed axioms.  So by inflicting harm you are denying yourself happiness.


Heaven and hell are not in the proposed axioms.  However, survival of consciousness after death is subsumed.  How?  You can assume anything untill that assumption is found inconsistent - then, you would have to assume its negation or revision.


This will interesting so long as we do not limit ourselves to the God of theists.  We just start with the few axioms and find out what God will be consistent with them. using nothing but logic.

Is this “new” god the origin or creator of this closed system? She would be a supreme being in the supernatural sense if omnipresent.


God would not violate Her own laws” It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind as to whether she wants to play fair or not. Who am I to know the mind of a female god ?


I understand doing harm to others is not beneficial to me. It does not feel right to do “wrong” to others. This makes more sense when we understand the reasons why - which we learn by understanding Evolution. It has nothing to do with god. Right and wrong is instinctive and common to all men and women. However, inflicting harm on others can be rewarding and pleasing if one is psychopathic by nature. Mutated wiring shorted out the moral (dna) code.


The survival of consciousness after death or a continuity of experience after death cannot be logical in this closed system. If the system is closed my soul would always have been there – since the start of creation – unless the act of my “creation” as an embryo meant this god then said “ok there is another life created – send it a soul that will last even after he dies” What would be the point of me having this soul? Why would an omnipresent god need to give me one?


“…so long as we do not limit ourselves to the God of theists”.


That is surely what a god is – a god of theists. Your axioms imply the same thing that almost any other god is considered to be. If I “remove all preconceived ideas about the christian god” and use your axioms I end up with virtually the same thing.


Maybe we should start again with this Entity but don’t call it “god”. Do not assume the axioms in the traditional sense of what god is. This “creator” would have no concerns for the welfare or fate of mankind, no interest in good or evil, reward or punishment. It would not be bothered or offended if we dared to disturb the universe. Maybe using logic it could lead us to something that was the “First Cause”. It could be something like a very “Large Explosion”.  More beer?



© 2022   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service