This is my counter to Pascal's wager. Sure the Atheist's wager would suffice, but I find this to be a bit more fun. It helps point out the true absurdity of Pascal's wager.

  1. There are many different religions. Many of which are mutually exclusive. Many of which contain their own hell(s). It is also possible that all of these religions are false and we are all going to hell.
  2. Without being able to know for certain which one is correct, we have no way of knowing how to avoid these hells.
  3. We are more likely to end up in a hell, than to end up in a heaven.
  4. If we really want to hedge our bets, we should cultivate a spirit of detached masochism.
  5. If we enjoy being tortured yet do not yearn for torture (we could take it or leave it), then our hell would be at best enjoyable and at worst boring.

The "detached" part of this is rather important because it renders "refusal of torture" an invalid form of torture. I used to use this argument without adding that little bit. It worked well enough until I ran into someone who suggested that refusal to torture would be torture for the masochist. This may actually be a rather difficult trait to obtain... but I suppose it would be somewhat like my love of strawberries. I could eat strawberries until I was ill from it, or I could never eat strawberries again. I'm okay with it happening either way. Detached masochism might also be a trait that is impossible to cultivate. Perhaps it is a have/have-not situation. I'm not sure. Although if that were the case, perhaps god's chosen people are masochists... actually that might make a lot of sense.

Other little things to keep in mind is that it is incredibly easy to get into these different hells, so one could easily do what is necessary to get into all of them. This is far easier than trying to get into every heaven. In fact, since many of the religions are mutually exclusive, it would be impossible to get into every heaven even if it were possible to assure entrance into any hell.

It must also be noted that not every conception of hell lasts forever, and some even end with oblivion. Interestingly, this wager is entirely compatible with the Atheist's wager as it is possible to live a good life and develop detached masochism. At that point, all the bases are covered such that you have absolutely no chance of suffering anything more than boredom in the afterlife.

The best part about this argument is the looks on people's faces when they realize that you can use Pascal's logic to encourage S&M.

Views: 83

Tags: masochism, pascal

Comment by Darlene Edelman on September 27, 2011 at 3:46am

I was really needing a good laugh. Thank you.

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