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: 521

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Makes sense to me too. :D
Well, I tell you what, if this guy is right (HA!) then a very small amount of christians are going to heaven. In his eyes, you must live exactly by the bible to get through that "Narrow Gate" into heaven. So why even try to pretend to be a christian when even the people who think they are christians aren't even getting into heaven. Crazy, All of it.

It is about an hour long, but it really shows how delusional christianity truly is. Enjoy lol

I have been to a few similar just to watch the reactions of the flock - i mean audience. My brother just emailed me to say he has tickets for Dan Dennett for the end of January. Now I can listen to him no problem. I would say the man in the video is a false prophet - thanks for posting - I always feel uplifted after an evangelical gig :)
Logic doesn't apply to Pascall's Wager as it is premised on the existence of Judeo-Christian God(s). What of the millions who existed before Jesus and were not Jews? What of the millions who exist today and are not Christian? What of the Buddhists who are non-theists? Will the Dalai Lama go to heaven...a heaven he doesn't believe exists or is he destined for hell?
At the risk of being accused of punting my book, the following quote: "True belief should have a positive and beneficial effect upon our lives and upon those we interact with. If a religion results in intolerance, aggressiveness and even violence concerning other people’s beliefs, it is immoral, weak and unsustainable. Many of the verses in the Qu’ran clearly call on the followers of Islam to become the conquerors of all religions, the followers of which are referred to as idolaters . The same applies to many verses in the Torah where Yahweh calls on Joshua and Moses to exterminate their enemies. At the same time it is important to point out that religion should never be the reason why people behave themselves and neither should it be used to perpetrate violence on others. People should respect the rights of others without having to be threatened with dire consequences such as going to hell for your sins." (Moses was a Liar, Raider Books NY 2009)

and further in the same book: "Job curses the day he was born and argues with God and even says some nasty things about him, but he doesn't curse God. Like a child is rewarded for good behaviour Job is rewarded with a new, even better, family. The fact that the family who was killed suffered because of God’s games with Satan, doesn’t seem to bother people. To me this is an indication of a cruel and sadistic God who finds pleasure in torturing his faithful instead of standing by them and protecting them from evil. Of course, the blindly faithful will argue that that is God’s way of testing his subjects; it is his way to create undying faith and loyalty. I say to you, that the very notion that a god needs to be cruel and vindictive to create support is immoral and false. In any case why should a god want to test his subjects? If he is so almighty, surely he would know whether his subjects are faithful or not. It is no different from a dictator who abuses his power and tortures and kills his subjects to keep them loyal. I fear that these issues are but the machinations of man as underlying all man’s jealousies, man’s fears, man’s ambitions, man’s cruelty and yes man’s kindnesses, which find expression in his religions. Using a deity is merely the front that is used."
I understand that Christians have a personal connection to Jesus, but they have to concede that it would be the height of arrogance to assume that a being of such power is not capable of deceiving them. God is hypothetically capable of deceiving any human. It becomes a question of motive. Why would God deceive us? Well, we run into another issue here. It is equally arrogant to presume to know the mind of God and place limits on its motives. If we lack the ability to properly define God, how can we presume to define its motives?

I love this argument! I'd never thought of that before.
Good points Kris.
The thing is that theists do assume that god is a just god. They generally have never thought about the opposite being a possibility until I mention it to them. Then they inform me that their god could not be “unfair”. I just ask them to explain what they mean by “god” because most theists have only vague ideas of a concept. They then inform me what they assume god to be and what he would or would not do.

This is when I quote scripture to them and tell them not to presume to know the mind of god :)
I agree that many theists don’t “get” the paradox of believing in a god just to have your soul saved. This is when I introduce Smith’s idea to them. It is usually the first time they have to consider that idea of an unjust or unfair god. The idea of god to them is usually the “Perfect Being” – i.e. that which nothing can be greater. The fact we can have a concept of the perfect being, i.e. god means to them that god therefore must exist. This “ontological” argument is also unreasonable but theists use it to lead into Pascal’s Wager.

I agree that Pascal’s Wager is illogical but that does not matter if you have a brain that processes “logic” through faith rather than reason. It is correct to those who already think “there must be a god”. Because they keep using these arguments Smith’s idea can be a good rebuttal that (hopefully) compels the Theist to turn use some reasoning cogs in his head. Just me trying to spread the doubt :)
Interesting discussion. I normally simply answer Pascal's Wager with either

1. If there is no God then you've just wasted your entire life. or

2. God would know if I was just pretending to believe in him anyway so there's literally nothing I can do about it save hypnotism.
I gotta get that tune out of my head !! :)
Yes I like the analogy. It gives a good visual concept to the idea.
Hear! Hear!


© 2017   Created by umar.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service