Over on Facebook, a Christian, named Shawn, attempted to challenge my atheism. He said: “The way I look at it you have a 50/50 chance of being right. So what happens if you are wrong? I will even ask you this: what happens if you are right?”

The following is my reply . . .


You’re paraphrasing Pascal’s wager, Shawn. According to Wikipedia . . .

Pascal’s Wager (or Pascal’s Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal that, even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

First of all, the odds are NOT 50/50. After all these millennia, if there’s still no concrete evidence of God (or anything else supernatural), the odds are vanishingly small that any exists.

As for Pascal’s wager, it’s already been debunked a long time ago. Pascal’s wager assumes that one can choose to believe. That is not the case. As Arthur Schopenhauer pointed out, “Man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills.“ If there is a God, does anybody really think we can hoodwink him into thinking we believe in him when we don’t? It’s not necessarily delusional to believe in (a cosmic) God but thinking you can fool him is just plain nuts.

Then there’s the matter of subordinating your life to fear. If you act as if you believe in God because you’re afraid of the consequences of not believing, then the core of your identity is wrapped around fear. It is far better to get off your knees, stand upright and seek answers.

And finally, I’ll turn Pascal’s wager around. What if there’s NO God and this is the only life you’ll ever have? Will you surrender your quest for truth and understanding to the authority of a single religion? After all, there’s thousands of them. NOW what kind of odds are we talking about, Shawn?

If I’m wrong and there really is a personal God who will condemn me to eternal torture in hell, then I’ll be proud to have lived my life without paying homage to such a monster. I’ll have all eternity to mock him.

If I’m right and there really is no God, then my purpose in life won’t have been wasted on an imaginary sky daddy. I will have lived without surrendering my quest for truth. And trust me, believing in impossible things (God, heaven, miracles, angels, etc.) IS surrendering your quest.


Originally posted at AtheistExile.com

© Jim Ashby, AtheistExile.com

Views: 64

Tags: Blaise, Gambit, Pascal, Pascal's, Wager, facebook


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Comment by Glen Rosenberg on April 10, 2011 at 7:54pm


You are a little overreactive to dis.

A little good-natured fun and you are ready for a throw down. Well I am ready. Yeah.

Comment by Gary Berg-Cross on April 10, 2011 at 11:30am

See the   Secular Perspective blog for a discussion of  Pascal's Wager http://t.co/30HXoYs

"Even with the vanishing low probability of a supernatural personal God, there is also the possibility that such a God would look more favorably on critical thinking and use of reason to find beliefs and moral principles which make the world better for ourselves and others. Thus even if God were to exist the rewards and punishments might be reversed from those imagined by Blaise Pascal."

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on April 10, 2011 at 11:03am

Shawn's response . . .

John, did you read the blog? He made those points. Straighten out your shit and I'll trow you on da show. That man will punch your mouth loo0se. How many pits in a pear?

Comment by Loren Miller on April 10, 2011 at 9:35am
I still wanna know how anyone expects to fool an omniscient deity by pretending to believe in him/her/it.

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